Recently while visiting the state of California and speaking at the Tahoe Encampment, I discussed with the ladies there some service ideas for reaching out to non-Christians in our communities. Following one of these sessions a sister approached me to share an idea that the ladies in her congregation have adopted. I love this project!
Most of us have Neonatal Intensive Care Units in our local hospitals. As you may know, the babies in these units, mostly preemies, are usually kept alive for a time by incubation and other life-saving technology that prevents the babies from being held or nursed by their mothers, for an extended time. Research indicates that it’s helpful to introduce these babies to the scent of their mothers even while in incubation so that once a baby is able to be held and nursed, he is already familiar with the “smell” of his mother and even the scent of her milk.
Here’s where the women in your congregation can come in. The following instructions are for little NICU dolls. These tiny dolls are made by Christian women and delivered, along with some information about the church, to the NICU nursing staff. The staff then distributes the dolls to the mothers of the NICU babies. The mothers sleep with these little dolls in their gowns or even in their bras, transferring their own scents to the little dolls. The dolls are then placed in the NICU cribs, so that each baby becomes accustomed to the unique maternal scent of her own mother. This makes the transition later from NICU to mother’s arms feel a bit more secure. The new environment just feels a little less foreign to the baby who has survived the initial struggle for life.
So here you go. Call up your hospital and see if you can be the first to minister to babies and mothers in your area in this sweet way. I believe a new mother just might want to visit the congregation and meet the ladies who cared enough to reach out in this tender way during her baby’s struggle for life. It might even be a good idea to include a parenting book in the package with your doll–a book that includes the plan of salvation. A new mother could make good use of the reading time while she waits to be able to hold her precious child. “Suffer the little ones to come to me, for of such is the kingdom of heaven.” (Instructions borrowed from the “Threads of Love” program.)
- Tube Socks (Toddler size 24-36mo)
- Hypoallergenic fiberfill
- 1⁄4” ribbon
- non-toxic fabric markers (permanent) in red and black
- Yarn or Crochet thread
- Needle and thread
Note: 20 oz of fiberfill and 10 yd of ribbon makes about 32 NICU dolls
- Stuff sock to where the pattern of the knitting changes. Stuff until it measures about 8” around and 8” long.
- Tie open end of sock securely with yarn or crochet thread. (the ribbed part of the sock will be above the yarn)
- Measure down from the tie approx 3” Tie 1⁄4” ribbon to form neck. Tie ribbon into bow.
- Fold cuff/ribbing down to form a bonnet. Fold a small ‘cuff’ curving around the face and covering the ‘ears’ and ‘neck’ to make the bonnet.
- Use matching thread and needle to secure the bonnet into place
- Tack bow securely with needle and thread so baby can’t untie it.
- Sew label, with scripture or name of your congregation by hand to bottom front. If you prefer to machine sew, you can attach label to the top of sock before stuffing. Make sure to position label so that it will be right-side up when the ‘cuff’ of the hat is formed, and on the front side of the doll.