14 ‘Thank You’ & Holiday Gift Ideas for NICU Nurses

Contributing writer, former long-term care admissions counselor and social worker

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A NICU nurse is a registered nurse who works in a neonatal intensive care unit. NICU nurses treat and care for babies born prematurely or with medical complications. 

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Whether a NICU nurse helped to save your baby or you’re in awe of your NICU nurse friend, you might want to offer a gift. We’ve put together a list to help you decide on a NICU nurse gift that’s a perfect fit. 

Holiday Gift Ideas for NICU Nurses

Nurses get into the profession knowing that they will need to give up many nights, weekends and holidays to work. Instead of eating cookies around the Christmas tree, they keep tabs on tiny babies. 

All NICU nurses deserve holiday gifts and there are plenty of things a nurse might want or need. Here are a few holiday gift ideas.

1. Badge clip 

An important part of nurses’ work attire is their badge. It’s important that they identify who they are for families. It’s common for nurses who work with young children to dress up their scrubs any way they can.

This includes badge (and stethoscope) clips! During the holidays, you might buy a snowman or Santa Claus badge clip for a NICU nurse.

2. Compression socks

Many nurses swear by compression socks. Compression socks help blood flow through the body and help with pain in their feet and legs during long shifts.

Like any other socks, they come in all kinds of colors and themes. Holiday-themed compression socks could be a fun, useful gift! 

3. Backpack

You may consider spending a little more money on your NICU nurse, so consider a heavy-duty backpack. Nurses often live out of their backpacks and fill them up with meals, books, extra clothes, and anything else they might need.

Do some Googling to find highly recommended backpacks for nurses — this gift will be appreciated. 

4. Tumbler

A large, personalized hot and cold temperature tumbler can help a nurse during a morning routine and also offers a great refill option throughout shifts. It’s a perfect way for your NICU nurse to sip a favorite hot drink during cooler weather.

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‘Thank You’ Gifts for NICU Nurses

You might want your gift to be more meaningful than a pair of socks. Here are some cost-effective ideas that can help you thank the NICU nurse in your life.

5. Care package

Take some time to create a care package for your nurse. A care package can include protein bars, pens, healthy snacks, Tupperware, hand sanitizer, and other hygiene and food items. Present this gift with a tote bag or basket.

6. Spa gift card 

A spa gift card could be a great option for your NICU nurse, depending on how much you want to spend. A NICU nurse works through a lot of stress and emotional situations — this is a great way to help him or her relax. 

7. Photo of the patient

Many healthcare professionals meet and treat patients for a short time but often wonder how they’re doing once they return home.

Frame a photo of your smiling baby — it could be a great reminder to a NICU nurse! It’s a great addition to the nurses’ station or at home to show that what he or she does really matters. 

8. Letter 

Writing a letter emphasizes how the nurse impacted you and helped your baby. This means more than any gift. Use some nice paper to include how and why you appreciate that nurse.

You can even include a photo (like #7) in your envelope as an extra touch. Your nurse can pull out the letter on tough days. 

Tip: Read our guide on the best Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN) gifts for more ideas.

Inexpensive or DIY NICU Nurse Gift Ideas

There’s no need to break the bank to give a great gift. Since nurses receive holiday and thank-you gifts throughout the year, you might worry that you’ll give him or her something he or she has already gotten. You can avoid this problem by going the DIY route! 

9. Baked goods 

Get in the kitchen and make something yummy! Food is always a great gift option, whether you want to make some fancy appetizer or go with some easy chocolate chip cookies.

Check out recipes for quick protein-packed treats that could be useful for your busy (and hungry) nurse. You can also consider getting a basket of baked goodies delivered to your nurse if baking isn't your strong suit.

10. Artwork 

Try your hand at DIY artwork, including iron-ons for shirts or tote bags, coasters or even pottery. A fun idea would be a fingerpaint masterpiece done by the child the nurse helped treat. You might get some happy tears out of this one! 

11. Card 

A thank you card from the store works just fine, as long as you include some words of your own.

A unique alternative to a store-bought card would be a card decorated by your baby. This can be as simple as a handprint on the front that could be a nice keepsake. 

12. Coffee gift card 

Coffee isn’t expensive, but it adds up day after day. Help your NICU nurse by paying for a coffee or two. A nearby coffee shop will offer gift cards for as little as $5! 

13. Self-care items 

Shop around for inexpensive options or you can go the DIY route for this one. Self-care items are important for your nurse when he or she is off the clock. Check out candles or bath bombs or you can get artsy and make them yourself. 

14. Pens 

A pen might seem like a boring gift, but pens go missing all the time. If you’re more inclined to get better-quality pens, consider getting fancy no-smear black pens

Your Gift will Be Appreciated 

Your NICU nurse didn’t get into nursing for the recognition — it’s all about saving babies' lives. Nurses deserve recognition and thanks, but it doesn’t need to be expensive. Many DIY options are also appreciated! 

If you need more ideas on how to say 'thank you', read our guide on how to write a thank you card to a nurse and the best gifts for nurses.

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