Baby/child in the ICU? Some tips & tricks

Just a few things that I've learnt from our time in the Pediatric Cardiac Intensive Care Unit (PCICU) at Advocate Children's Hospital in Oak Lawn, Illinois.

Baby/child (or patient, same things probably apply right?)

  • Read stories to your baby and record yourself reading them. Tell the nurses to play them back to your baby when you're not there. It was a real hit with our baby, apparently our voices calmed her when we weren't there.
  • Hospital provide clean/sterile baby clothes, so you're pretty much left with feet/hands/hair. Our lil baby had her defining pig tails since she was a few weeks old. She also had some UGG open toe slippers, and some crocheted Gucci flip flops, and various other shoes, bows, socks, mittens, etc.
  • Stuff to aid their development
    • A sturdy modular hose to secure stuff to/on their bed, such as toys, mirror, etc.
    • Take advantage of (and try be involved in) all therapy that your child is offered by the therapists in the ICU. They will have special aids to help your child, and their advice is golden.

Health & wellbeing 🙏

  • Lip balm, moisturizer, etc. it's hella dry in an ICU.
  • Practice the Wim Hof Method, focused-breathing, and end every daily shower with a 1-2 minute cold shower, breathe, you got this.
  • My wife swears by happyheathhippie's joy filled.


  • Bring condiments, hospital food gets bland quick. It's amazing what some Frank's RedHot or some ranch can do to food.
  • Buy re-usable cutlery. You will end up with an abundance of straws, and knives, but no forks or spoons. Decline straws, buy a reusable one, and/or a Yeti.
  • Breast-feeding mothers get 3 hot meals a day, but they always have sandwiches, crisps/potato chips, etc. It's thrown out if not eaten, so have at it.

Comfy clothes/shoes

  • Sweat pants, stretch denim jeans, etc. Don't be uncomfortable.
  • Wear a different pair of shoes/slippers than the ones you arrive with.
  • If you're ever chilly or doing skin-skin, ask for a warm blanket, they are wonderful.


  • Kodak Luma 350 Portable Smart Projector
    • Small size makes it perfect for watching Netflix/Hulu/Prime in an ICU.
    • Protect your investment by buying a hard case.
    • Use a GorillaPod to secure it out of the way.
  • Internet/Hotspot
    • Use hospital wifi if available, or phone hotspot plan. My wife and I have 10GB each (20GB combined ~6hours @ 1080p or ~40hours @ 480p), wish we could buy more, but apparently ATT don't allow one-off data purchases.
    • If no wifi or hotspot, purchase a Skyroam Solis Lite Global 4G LTE Hotspot. We use this when we run out of hotspot data. It's expensive, so buy day passes when they have them on offer. Don't use + in your email (e.g. [email protected]).
  • Get a small speaker for the projector like a 3w mini aux-in portable speaker. What's nice, it's small, plugs directly into 3.5mm audio output, and has a built-in 350mAh lithium battery that you can charge from the projector's USB.
  • Google Chromecast, fits nicely in the projector's HDMI & USB.
  • Extension cord, phone chargers. Ideally, one that has built in USB ports so you can charge your phone without a USB block.

Planning, bills, appointments, events, life, etc.

  • A felt board with letters. We would create a new board on big days, such as "x Months old", or having a surgery today, often though, we'd create memes of the doctors/surgeons.
  • USB fairy lights. We decorated our ICU room with some basic Christmas decorations, fairy lights made it more homely.
  • Write down everything
    1. every procedure, medication changes, surgeries, outpatient appointments, etc. I recommend a good 5 Year Planner. Everything goes in here. My wife also adds it to her phone's calendar, but the planner is the single source of truth.
    2. Journal about day-day stuff, write down big things that happened (i.e. "EXTUBATED 🎉🎉🎉") or a big milestone your child hit that day, how you felt, etc.
  • Opt for the green/paperless options. Download all bills as .pdf and store them somewhere safe.
  • Bit extra: OCR all the letters you receive. I'm currently testing paperless-ocrmypdf on a NAS. Shred the papers with a good cross shredder. Compost the shredded paper. ??? profit.

My wife's suggestions

Here are a few of my wife's suggestions.

  • Pumping bra
  • Small blanket
  • Room slippers
  • Please, just leave the hospital and go get your nails done. Seriously!
  • Super hydrating face lotion/oil (hospital sucks the moisture out of everything)
  • Scrunchies or hair ties
  • Cute lounge outfits, you still need to feel cute!
  • Tummy control leggings (these were my favorite after having a c-section)
  • Comfy neutral shoes that go with everything
  • If you’re feeling real boujee like me, I suggest getting
    • lash lift and tint (so you don’t look as tired)
    • low maintenance hair color (who knows when you will be able to get it done again)
    • facial tan mist, because who doesn’t like a little tan