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Anastasia's first year (2005)

Eating & Reflux (year 2, 2006)

Back to Sleep! (2007)

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Celebrate a Preemie!

How to hold a baby shower for a premature infant

Many people mostly think of baby showers as a way to celebrate a baby's entrance into the world. Perhaps that's why so many feel uncomfortable about giving baby showers for preemies. Especially if the baby is born extremely premature or is quite sick, it may feel strange to throw a party.

But parents of premature infants long for the normalcy of a baby shower. I'll never forget when my sister and mother threw a baby shower for Anastasia. It gave me a day of fun among many days of worry and stress. After the party, I shed tears of joy.

Too, there are many ways to make a baby shower for a preemie the sort of event that provides a great deal of help to busy, stressed parents. Here are a few ideas:

First, carefully consider when to throw the shower; ask the mother of the preemie what day and time is best time is for her. Moms of premature babies often spend most of their time in the hospital's NICU, and may feel guilty if they break away to go to a party. If that's the case, choose a time when the mother is usually at home anyway.

Ask the mother what location is easiest for her. If it's her house, be sure to have someone clean for her before the party, otherwise you'll just be adding to the mother's level of stress. Be sure to have a clean up crew after the party, too.

Some people like to have the baby shower after the preemie comes home from the hospital, but have the mother check with her baby's doctors first. Often doctors won't want preemies exposed to crowds for several months after her or she comes home, since premature babies are more apt to catch bugs and develop health complications.

It's a good idea to note on the shower invitation that the baby's already born, since this may influence what friends and family bring to the party. You might ask the mother what sort of items she needs, since she might not have time to register at a store.

Few, if any, gifts should be preemie sized. The NICU supplies all the baby's diapers until he or she comes home, and when the infant does come home, he'll likely not need preemie diapers any more. As for preemie-sized clothes, very few, if any will be need. (To read more about how to select preemie clothes, click here.)

Other creative and useful gifts include homemade coupons for housecleaning or chore running, and frozen meals and restaurant gift certificates. (Click here for other ideas on how to help parents of preemies.)

Part of the baby shower might also include helping the parents prepare their home for the baby. When babies come unexpectedly early, parents often haven't had time to paint the nursery or put together baby gear like cribs and swings.

It can be fun to decorate the shower location with photographs of the baby and have preemie diapers, hats, blood pressure cuffs and other mementos handy for guests to look at. One nice idea for party favors is to create magnets with a photo of the baby. You could also include the baby's birth weight and date, a Bible verse, or a saying to remind friends and family to pray for the baby.

But the most important thing when throwing a preemie baby shower is to help the mom relax for an hour or so, taking some time to simply enjoy the fact that she is now a mommy.