Crocheting and knitting for children is so close to my heart – and I know that many of you like to donate your time and efforts to worthy causes as well! So I’m happy to be able to bring you this guest post from Johanna Farnham today! And if this speaks to you, please do consider helping out!
By Johanna Farnham
As a nurse who spends long hours caring for the tiniest and most fragile of infants in the NICU (Neonatal Intensive Care Unit) at Strong Memorial Hospital, I’m excited to share this project with you. I heard about it through my sister, a mother of preemie twins who spent their first month in a NICU, and who still holds on to the tiny handmade hats she received in the hospital during that time as treasured mementos.
Knit Big for Little Lungs is asking people to donate their time and materials to knit/crochet blankets and hats for donation to NICUs at selected hospitals around the US. RSV (respiratory syncytial virus) is a common virus in young children, and for most, the symptoms aren’t any more serious than the common cold. But for some of the tinier, more high-risk infants, like preemies and those with heart & lung issues, RSV can be very dangerous, even fatal. Many parents have never heard of RSV until their baby is hospitalized with it. We are hoping that by increasing awareness of RSV – parents will have a better understanding of the disease and ways to prevent it.
By knitting hats and blankets for donation, you will not only help spread the word, you will also provide parents with much more than that. The time families spend in a NICU can be stressful. Most of the time, these premature babies have not had a baby shower yet, and don’t have clothes or blankets of their own. At the hospital, we try to make this time easier by finding ways to personalize the babies’ environments.—and a handmade hat or blanket are perfect for doing that. When some of these babies are born, they are taken away from their mother almost instantly, until they are stable. Before bringing the baby back to the parents, I will often carefully select a hat that feels right for that baby and present the infant to their parents wearing it. It can make that moment even more special. We also use the blankets to cover the incubators at night, to help darken the incubator from all the hospital lighting and help the babies develop a natural circadian rhythm. For babies under phototherapy lights, we will use the blankets as decoration to personalize the environment and make it feel more like home.
I can’t stress enough how much these handmade items mean to the parents in this time of stress and change. My sister, Sarah, has shown me her memory box that she carefully set aside for the twins. Along with the hospital bracelets and even some of the monitor wires, she has kept the tiny knitted hats that were given to the twins in their first week at the NICU.
So how can you participate? It’s pretty easy. Here are the details:
Knit or crochet infant clothing (blankets, hats, etc) with your favorite knitter friends and family between now and the end of October. Please use soft, machine-washable materials. For help with pattern suggestions, see this link http://bit.ly/2d0aaRx. We would love for these items to match the color palette shown here, but will gladly accept items in any colors.
Share pictures of your knitted masterpieces online using the hashtag #LittleLungs.
Send your creations to Knit Big for Little Lungs, P.O. Box 7588 Princeton, NJ 08543 by the end of November, with a mention of you or your group’s name so we know who to thank. We will deliver the items in your name to babies at select children’s hospitals.
And finally, if you have any questions, please email [email protected] for more information or visit LittleLungs.com.