Section: Saint Barnabas Medical Center News

Things We Couldn’t Live Without… Ideas from The Neonatal Intensive Care Unit Family Advisory Council at Saint Barnabas Medical Center


Livingston, NJ -- There’s no way around it, having a baby in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) is hard, incredibly hard. However along the way you may find things that make at least part of your life a little bit easier. We, as former NICU parents, put together a list of items that we thought were helpful, some during our babies’ hospital stay and some after they came home. We are not suggesting you run out and buy all these things, but wanted to share ideas that saved us time or energy and might do the same for you. Hope you find some of them helpful too.

Things we couldn’t live without at the hospital:

  • Insulated lunch bag/mini cooler - “Helpful to transport meals for parents and breast milk to hospital.”
  • Notebook and pen - “It may seem ‘old school’ but it was best way for me to keep track of my endless questions and the answers I got.”
  • Family picture of us in isolette - “It made me feel so much better knowing that even when we weren’t there our daughter could see us.”
  • Snapfront pajamas for baby - “Snaps were the best with all the wires and tubes attached to the baby. A must have with a feeding tube.”
  • Receiving blankets - “I initially didn’t realize that I could bring my own in, and I liked knowing she had something from home with her.”
  • Hand free pumping bra - “Takes half the time to pump both breasts each time you pump, need we say more?”
  • Nursing tank tops - “It was so much easier for me to nurse in these than having to carefully lift up a regular shirt.”
  • Soothies pads -”These are great for sore nipples, especially in the beginning, anything that makes nursing easier and more comfortable was good.”
  • Medela microwave sterilization bags - “This was the easiest and quickest way to sterilize pumping equipment.”
  • Prepared food section at grocery store (for example Whole Foods has a good selection) - “There are only so many times you can eat fast food or pizza.”
  • Supply of easy snacks - “Having things like granola bars or trail mix on hand was key for me as I was always hungry when I was nursing.”
  • Hand Sanitizer - “We kept this EVERYWHERE. “While traveling back and forth from home to the NICU to see our girls, the hand sanitizer was in our cars, our purses, everywhere. Once we got home, we had bottles of it all over the house for us to use and for our guests and older kids to use too.”
  • “My Breast Friend Pillow” - “ Was recommended by the lactation
    • consultant to help with positioning during breastfeeding”
    • Boppy pillows - “When the twins were big enough we propped them up in them and gave them bottles at the same time.
  • Newborn lounger - “It’s a circular pillow that we found at Babies R Us and was the best money we spent!”
  • Fisher Price Newborn Rock ‘n’ Play Sleeper - “This is an alternative to bassinets, I can’t say enough positive things about these things...portable, comfortable, secure, inclined for reflux issues, etc, etc. The boys slept in them until we moved them to their cribs.”
  • Arm’s reach co-sleeper - “Was so helpful for my family, especially for those middle of the night feedings.”
  • Wedge for crib - “Very helpful to keep babies with reflux raised up a bit”
  • Ultra sonic mist humidifier - “For the little ones whose respiratory system is affected; when they have a cold it’s a huge help!”
  • Sound machine or soother - “Creates ‘white noise’ to help baby sleep.”
  • Dr. Brown’s formula mixer pitcher - “A great product for getting powder formula completely dissolved in no time”
  • Other staple at home items: video monitor, bouncer, swing, activity gym, front carrier, Aden + Anais muslin swaddles and sleep sacks, Halo sleep sacks, Happy baby wrap

The Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NIUC) Family Advisory Council (FAC) at Saint Barnabas Medical Center (SBMC) provides valuable input directly from the families to the NICU. Through development of the FAC, SBMC gathered family members’ opinions, experiences and suggestions and used them to transform its NICU from a clinically focused department to a family-centered unit. The advisory council’s guidance led to the development of several resources, including a NICU Parent Handbook, a Parent-to-Parent Support Group, a Parent Mentor/Buddy Program, a NICU Orientation video and staff training in family-centered care. In addition, there were a number of physical changes to the area including creating a NICU Family Lounge, a Library and a breast pumping room for mothers who cannot breastfeed their children. The result? A unit that provides the best in clinical – and emotional – care.

For more tips, suggestions and ideas from the NICU Family Advisory Council at Saint Barnabas, check out

Date: March 13, 2013

Contact: Samantha Anton
Assistant Director Marketing/Public Relations

Categories: Children's,Press Releases,Women's Health