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Whether you have had a preemie or not, you’ll probably want to create some kind of memory of your hospital stay (or NICU stay) to look at years down the road, to see how far he/she has come. Today, I’ll show you what I put into Leander’s shadow box. It’s easy to make, and there are no rules to follow (well, maybe one: don’t stuff too much into it! There are other places you can display baby memories, for example in baubles on your Christmas tree).
Just don’t throw anything away you used in the hospital right after baby’s birth! Who knows what you might be able to use it for….
Start with picking a shadow box that is deep enough for the things you want to display. If you have only photos and other flat items, they don’t need as much depth as clothes, bottles, or a first toy, for example. For the height and length, 14×10 should do, and for the width, I would pick 3 inches for thicker items, such as baby’s first shoes.
Let’s see what I put into Lyons Cub’s shadow box:
- His first onesie from Carters; it was blue with stripes and cute, green monster shoes. I love to look at it now and see how much he has grown!
- His first cap, a gift from the hospital (Vanderbilt in Nashville) where he was in the NICU. It’s pink and blue striped, and every newborn had the same one, boys and girls alike. His head was so small it fit into the palm of my hand.
- One of his preemie diapers. It’s so tiny! I remember it was too big for him (he weighed 3 lbs) and had to be rolled at the top. If you had a micro preemie, it will be even smaller than that. So if you have some tiny diapers left over, definitely keep one for your shadow box. If you had a normal sized baby, you might leave out the diaper and take a baby bottle instead, or some other item, like a bow if you had a girl.
- His tiny blood pressure cuffs. They fit around my thumb. They were big on his arms.
- The green pacifier he got from the NICU (and didn’t use. My son did not use pacifiers as soon as we were home).
- His wrist band. I think that’s the most important item in a shadow box, because it has the baby’s name. (Or, at least, it says “boy” or “girl” on it and your name.)
- The blue piece of paper with his date and time of birth, gender, and weight. Ours stuck to his isolette in the NICU.
Of course, you can integrate other things, like ultrasound pictures, syringes or pill bottles from IVF treatment, baby bottles, baby’s handprints or footprints, etc.
The next question is how to make all this stick so it doesn’t fall down in your shadow box when it hangs on the wall. Some people fixate the items with little needles. I used Scotch tape that I rolled up in a circle and attached to the underside of the things (duct tape is even stronger). So far, so good. At one point, they’ll probably fall down and I need to glue them on or staple them. Try different things and just make sure whatever fixture you use doesn’t show on the front side. Some shadow boxes already come with pins.
That’s it! Now, all that’s left is to find a good place to hang it up (or, give it to grandma as a memento).