Childbirth is a time of joy and excitement, but when a baby is rushed to the intensive care unit, the parents’ joy can quickly turn to anxiety and concern. During this challenging time, older siblings are often left wanting comfort and attention.
Staff members in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) at Sharp Mary Birch Hospital for Women & Newborns noticed that parents visiting their babies were often distracted as they tried to split their attention between their infants in need and their older children. Not only were the siblings feeling the stress of the situation, they also quickly grew bored and restless as they waited.
The NICU team wanted to find a way to occupy the older siblings to allow the parents to spend more time with their newborns. One nurse proposed they create an art cart, a mobile pushcart loaded with art supplies to keep little hands and minds engaged. The resulting artwork could be used by staff to personalize a baby’s crib or space.
The nurse put together the cart in one night, stocking it with every art supply imaginable — scissors, glue, stamps, stickers, markers, crayons, letter punchers, construction paper, ink pads for handprints, among many other items.
Families and staff began using the supplies immediately. They created name signs for every baby in the unit, along with “milestone cards” to celebrate important events, such as a baby’s first time breathing on his or her own.
According to the team, the milestone cards go a long way in giving families hope and encouragement. The name cards add a personal touch, and bring a smile to parents’ faces.
By creating artwork, siblings also feel they are an important part of their new brother’s or sister’s recovery. It is a simple idea that has made an extraordinary impact, showing that a little extra effort can make a big difference in a family’s life.