Preemie Clothing

Choosing the Right Clothing for Premature Births

preemie baby swaddled
Pregnancy is a time of exhilarated planning and expectation. With nine months laid out before you, there is time for shopping and nursery design, showers and layette collecting. When babies arrive early, the focus is immediately shifted to health concerns, and often, parents are not prepared with clothing or nursery essentials. Preemie clothing has come a long way over the years. Manufacturers have grown to realize that although this clothing line must be appealing and adorable, there is also a great need for practicality. One of the best places to find preemie clothing is online. You can also find it in some department stores and boutiques, but it pays to call before visiting. Some retailers only have a couple of preemie outfits in their clothing line, while others will be able to fill complete layette requirements. Good sales help is key when purchasing preemie clothing. If the salesperson does not seem knowledgeable, there is nothing wrong with requesting assistance from an expert. Discuss the baby's weight and level of care. If the baby is in NICU, clothing will need to be selected very carefully to ensure that there are comfortable openings for leads and monitors. Micro Preemie Clothing Micro preemie clothing, designed for premature infants weighing less than three pounds, is the most difficult size to find. Very few manufacturers sell the micro preemie size because it is difficult to produce. Standard sewing equipment is too large to properly manufacture the tiny seems and curves required for correct sizing. Additionally, size interpretation may be incorrect. It is essential to have the actual measurements when purchasing micro preemie clothing to ensure that the size is accurate. Premature Clothing Premature clothing is designed for infants born earlier than 37 weeks into gestation, weighing more than 3 pounds but less than 7 pounds. Once again, sizing depends largely on the manufacturer's interpretation and may not be correct. If your baby is in between sizes, it is always best to purchase one size larger. Hospitalized Preemies Once NICU staff confirms that the baby is ready for his or her wardrobe, ensure that clothing is soft and comfortable. Many hospitals prefer polyester with its flame retardant properties, while parents may want the pure comfort of cotton. Ensure that clothing will allow easy access to the baby. Basically, you want garments that can be easily removed without causing a big disturbance. Additionally, clothing must be equipment ready with appropriate openings for monitors (which can be on feet, toes, fingers), IV tubing and leads. Recommended Clothing for Babies in NICU Since babies in the NICU have special requirements for monitor accessibility, the following items are usually recommended for their ultimate comfort:
  • Front tying t-shirts: The front tie will allow for easy access to the chest area.
  • Preemie pants without attached feet: Feet and toes are often connected to pulse ox monitors. You can always add socks to keep feet warm while still ensuring easy access to feet.
  • Sleepers/Pajamas: Front snapping sleepers (with snaps that start at the neck and continue down to the feet) will create little spaces for accepting lead wires without disturbing the baby.
  • Baby gowns: The open bottoms make diaper changing easy while allowing for wires, monitors, and baby's comfort. Nonprofit Organizations Some families may discover that they don't need to purchase preemie clothing because non-profit organizations donate large quantities of beautiful handmade clothing and blankets to area hospitals. Additionally, families of "graduated preemies" often donate layettes and special apparel to NICU divisions. Medical advances continue to create safer environments and promising futures for our preemies. Remember not to buy too many clothes. In just a few months, you may look at your growing child and find it hard to believe that he or she ever fit into those tiny clothes.

  • Written by: Carol S. Rothchild