The Children’s Hospital at Saint Peter’s University Hospital Opens New Baby Boutique for NICU Parents

August 9, 2023

The Children’s Hospital at Saint Peter’s University Hospital  Opens New Baby Boutique for NICU Parents
Boutique offers new donated items to parents and siblings of babies admitted to the neonatal intensive care unit, allowing for normalcy during a challenging time

New Brunswick, N.J. – August 09, 2023 – The Children’s Hospital at Saint Peter’s University Hospital, a member of Saint Peter’s Healthcare System, has opened the Bless U Baby Boutique, a shop stocked with donated items and gifts for parents of babies who have been admitted to the hospital’s neonatal intensive care unit (NICU). In partnership with Saint Peter’s Foundation, the shop, located across from the NICU, is filled with new toys, books, outfits, hats, blankets, personal care items for parents and more. All the items are given to parents free of charge.

The idea for the boutique was spearheaded by Dolly Allen, DNP, MSN, RN, CCRN, C-ELBW, NEA-BC, director of Adult Emergency Services at Saint Peter’s University Hospital, while she was in her previous role as nurse manager of the hospital’s NICU.

“I have seen that the parents of unwell or premature babies often get cheated out of the best part of being new parents. They sometimes don’t have the opportunity to have baby showers, and holding their babies is sometimes delayed because of illness,” said Allen. “The Bless U Baby Boutique offers a first in-class experience for NICU parents and siblings, providing a sense of normalcy and control of their environment during a very challenging time.”

“Families with a baby in the NICU are often caught off guard by their baby’s early arrival. This has left them little to no time to shop for those essential items needed to care for their baby at home,” Allen said. “Our NICU families experience varying emotions and challenges while we are caring for their baby in the NICU, which sometimes can be for a few days or several months. In our Bless U Baby Boutique, families can feel a sense of normalcy as they select items for their baby while thinking about the day they get to take them home.”

In addition to the donated item parents can select, they can also choose a pair of booties or mittens. Every family is also given a set of rosary beads. Through the boutique, parents who have other children at home can shop for a toy to bring home to the baby’s sibling, helping them realize their importance in their growing family.

All items are packaged with luxury wrapping, adding even more to the experience for new parents.

“Some families have support and others have none. Saint Peter’s Bless U Baby Boutique provides an equitable experience for all NICU parents,” Allen said.
“You may not have the means or resources to go shopping, but you can come here and enjoy a similar experience in this boutique. You can make some choices for yourself and have fun doing it. This is so important for these parents who have so little control over what’s happening to them.”
Jamie Gunderman from Flemington knows firsthand how important family-centered care in the NICU is. Her twin boys, Jacob and Joshua, were born 12 weeks early at Saint Peter’s University Hospital in 2011. One of her sons was in the NICU for 84 days while the other was there for 96 days. Due to a collapsed lung, one of the twins was on a ventilator during his stay in the NICU.

“It was scary. There were complications with the pregnancy, so we knew the boys were going to come early, but we didn’t expect them to come quite so early,” said Gunderman. “No matter how much you prepare yourself ahead of time, hearing that your babies have to be admitted to the NICU is scary and not truly what you imagine your experience to be with your newborn.”

Gunderman, now a volunteer at the Bless U Baby Boutique, hopes the shop will give parents a sense of calm between the tumult of caring for and visiting their babies in the NICU, caring for their other children, and juggling other responsibilities.

“When my babies were admitted to the NICU, I was a nervous wreck, but I knew that the doctors, nurses, and other staff here were taking incredible care of my boys. I’m still so thankful for that to this day. I want other parents to know that their babies are in good hands at Saint Peter’s,” said Gunderman. “I like to volunteer at the boutique and share my story with other NICU parents so they know they’re not alone and there’s hope.”
Her twin boys are thriving today. Now at the age of 11, Joshua enjoys playing violin with his school orchestra and Jacob’s favorite sport is flag football.

“Family-centered care is the gold standard of care at Saint Peter’s. By offering this shop to the families of babies in the NICU, we hope to bring them a sense of celebration and joy during a stressful time,” said Mark Hiatt, MD, director of Saint Peter’s NICU and chief of the Division of Neonatal Medicine at The Children’s Hospital at Saint Peter’s University Hospital.

Saint Peter’s is home to a state-designated Regional Perinatal Center that provides an exceptional level of care to women experiencing a high-risk pregnancy and operates a Level IV Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) where premature or fragile newborns receive the highest level of specialized care. The hospital is certified in Perinatal Care by The Joint Commission and is the state’s first to be verified as a Level IV Maternal Care facility by them. Its midwifery-led Mary V. O’Shea Birth Center is one of the few hospital-based, midwifery-led birth centers in the country and features birthing suites designed with a home-like atmosphere. Since 1997, Saint Peter’s has been the sole New Jersey hospital-member of The Council of Women’s and Infants’ Specialty Hospitals (CWISH), a collaborative of 14 hospitals across the country that works together to establish best practices in support of programs, and national policy for women’s and infants’ healthcare services. Saint Peter’s University Hospital been named to Newsweek’s list of America’s Best Maternity Hospitals 2023, a prestigious award presented by Newsweek and Statista Inc., the world-leading statistics portal and industry ranking provider. This is the hospital’s second consecutive Best Maternity Hospitals ranking.
To make a monetary donation in support of the NICU or the Bless U Baby Boutique, please visit
About The Children’s Hospital at Saint Peter’s University Hospital

The Children’s Hospital at Saint Peter’s University Hospital is a state-designated acute care children’s hospital and Regional Perinatal Center sponsored by the Roman Catholic Diocese of Metuchen. The Children’s Hospital at Saint Peter’s provides families with access to a full range of pediatric specialties, including a nationally renowned Level IV Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, a dedicated Pediatric Emergency Department, adolescent medicine, cancer care, diabetes, orthopedics, surgery, developmental pediatrics, gastroenterology, allergy and immunology, infectious disease medicine, cardiology, nephrology, neurology, pediatric intensive care, pulmonary/sleep medicine, audiology and physical therapy. Other programs and services include Medical Genetics and Genomic Medicine, which counsels, tests and treats children with rare diseases; the Craniofacial and Neurosurgical Center, which offers corrective surgery and multidisciplinary support for children born with cleft lip, cleft palate and other facial deformities; the Dorothy B. Hersh Regional Child Protection Center, a state-designated regional Diagnostic and Treatment Center for child abuse prevention; and the Center for Diabetes Self-Management and Education, which diagnoses and treats children with diabetes and other endocrine disorders.

Saint Peter’s has received Perinatal Care Certification and Level IV Maternal Levels of Care Verification from the Joint Commission and the Beacon Award for Excellence from the American Association of Critical-Care Nurses for its Neonatal Intensive Care and Pediatric Intensive Care Units. Saint Peter’s University Hospital has been redesignated as a Magnet® hospital by the American Nurses Credentialing Center of the American Nurses Association for 2020-2024, making Saint Peter’s one of only five hospitals worldwide at the time to receive this designation for six consecutive terms.

Visit or call 732.565.KIDS [5437].

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