Back in November Kate, the Stanford NICU nurse in charge of the quilt project, came and spoke to us about her Blankets for Babies project. This is the name of the project under the umbrella of which we donate quilts to the NICU at Stanford. She was able to dispel many of the myths that have been perpetuated about this project. Your editor got the impression that the whole group was more fired up about making charity quilts for Stanford after she spoke.

Kate is a self taught quiltmaker. She started about 15 years ago when she bought her first machine. She started Blankets for Babies around the same time.

She told us about the services the NICU provides, which was very helpful as many members do not have experience of the NICU.

The babies come to the NICU and stay for 1 day to 6 months and longer because of infections, birth trauma or because they are premature. She follows the NICU babies through their entire hospitalization. The NICU is frightening sterile environment. The blankets and quilts enrich this stressful, sterile place. The quilts:

  • can be the first gift the baby receives
  • can help soften the technology and help families overlook it
  • bring families comfort, love and warmth
  • act as a beacon for families – they are drawn to the quilts
  • cover Isolettes to block out the light and act to dampen sound

Generally, each baby gets more than one quilt because they grow out of them. Parents are often thrilled to receive such a gift. Families are very proud of  the quilts they receive. Kate never has enough and values and hoards them.

The whole department gets excited when a new batch of quilts arrive. They are excited to see the new colors and patterns. If they were to receive a load of 100 quilts on Sunday, all the quilts would be gone on Tuesday. They get a lot of quilts at Christmas and summer months are lean.

Suggestions when making NICU quilts:

  • 30 inches – 45 inches max
  • quilts should be super soft – avoid scratchy fabrics*
  • stay away from religious themes (Christmas quilts are not always appropriate)
  • stay away from political themes
  • try to be culturally sensitive – e.g. no cows (Indian), no pigs (Jewish)
  • quilts should be light and fluffy
  • quilt should be cheerful
  • No buttons or embellishments
  • quilts do not have to be pastels, but stay away from all beige/depressing fabrics
  • prewash all fabrics (Nota bene: Karen washes all quilts before she takes them to Stanford! Thanks, Karen!)
  • Check for pins!!!
  • OK to label quilts. In fact she likes it as families often ask who whom they can show gratitude

 Thanks to Karen M. for setting up this lecture. Go make some quilts!!!

*they take knitted and crocheted blankets/afghans as well, but find that some yarns can be scratchy as well.