September is a special time of the year because it’s Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) Awareness Month. My daughter Kate’s early arrival at 33 weeks resulted in a 3-week NICU stay at Blank Children’s Hospital. It was a relatively short stay compared to the 100+ days some families experience, but that’s not to say we didn’t grow to appreciate the work NICU professionals take on or become keenly aware of the difficult journey some families go through.
That’s precisely what September is dedicated to: honoring NICU patients, families, and professionals.
Maybe you haven’t been through this journey yourself, but you might have a friend, family member, or co-worker who has. Lending your support is one of the greatest gifts you can offer. Regardless of what shoes you’re in, you might be at a loss on how you can contribute. There are a number of initiative days throughout the month which are outlined below, along with information on how you can get involved!
September 15: Neonatal Nurses Day
September 26: NICU Remembrance Day
This day is dedicated to remembering and honoring the little ones lost in the NICU. You can show your support by:
- Engaging in random acts of kindness, like paying for a stranger’s coffee or helping a neighbor, in memory of a baby gone too soon.
- Making a donation to your local NICU in honor of a NICU angel.
- Sending a card to someone in remembrance of their baby.
September 27: NICU Giving Day
Simple ways you can give back to your local NICU include hosting a donation drive by asking friends and family to donate books and other items that can be donated to your local NICU to support families, or delivering a boxed lunch or other on-the-go snacks to families in the NICU.
September 28: NICU Staff Appreciation Day
NICU staff members play such an important role in a family’s NICU journey. This includes the nurses and doctors providing care for your baby and the cleaning crew coming into your room daily. Show your appreciation by sending notes of gratitude to staff working at your local NICU or delivering meals, snacks, and other goodies on this day for staff to enjoy. I also like sharing stories of what a difference these caring individuals made and you can do so too using the hashtag #NICUAwareness.
September 29: Sibling Support Day
A NICU stay impacts the whole family, including the siblings of the little ones fighting in the NICU. You can honor the siblings of NICU babies by collecting books to deliver to your local NICU for siblings, sharing your story on social media, or donating care boxes to be given to NICU siblings. These care boxes can include puzzles, coloring books, or other quiet activities to keep siblings busy. Click here to download printable coloring pages for NICU siblings.
September 30: NICU Awareness Day
The end of the month culminates in NICU Awareness Day, aimed at honoring past, present, and future NICU families. You can contribute by sharing your story with the hashtag #NICUAwareness. You can also volunteer your time at your local NICU (check your local COVID restrictions), donate items, or provide an act of kindness to a NICU family.
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Other ways to contribute:
- Light it green. Place a green lightbulb outside of your house or write to your local businesses using this template asking them to light their building green in honor of NICU babies.
- Wear green and encourage others to do the same. You can help spread awareness and contribute to the cause by purchasing a NICU Awareness T-Shirt here.
- Spread the word. Help raise awareness by using the hashtag #NICUAwareness on your social media posts. Share your story, change your profile picture, or post a #SeptemberSelfie sharing with others who you are honoring this month. Free graphics and other information can be found here.