The Best of NICU-Friendly Clothes

NICU-Friendly? Why wouldn't it be Friendly? What does NICU stand for?

The one thing I have learned over the decades of working with preemie clothes is there are always a lot of unknowns that lead to many questions. It is my goal with our blog to help parents, grandparents and friends breakdown these questions into a better understanding. 

Today we are going to help tackle NICU-Friendly clothing! Let's first start with NICU - Neonatal Intensive Care Unit. We have all probably hear of the ICU - Intensive Care Unit, well the Neonatal, straight from the dictionary:

  1. relating to newborn children (or other mammals).
    "special attention is given to mortality in the neonatal period"

So basically an Intensive Care unit just for newborns! We often refer to preemies in the NICU, but full term babies can also be in the NICU, if they have a medical condition that requires extra hospital care.

So, now let's talk about the clothing part of the equation! My favorite part...

Even though you may have a nursery full of all kinds of adorable baby clothes! It may be a few years ago, almost 40! I still clearly remember when I found out I was pregnant with my first baby and the desire to buy those cute little things was hard to resist. The drawers of the small dresser quickly filled up with undershirts, gowns, sleepers, dresses, receiving blankets and so much more. But your are now facing a different issue, all those cute little newborn clothes don't fit your new preemie. Who might just be hooked up to an IV, or a heart monitor or pulse oxygen machine.

The question then is how do I dress my baby around all that stuff!

It's not only the smaller sizing, but the ease of dressing and working around a preemie's unique medical needs that provide new hurdles in regards to finding preemie clothes that actually work. These are some of the reasons we started designing preemie clothing many years ago. When I was first introduced to the world of the NICU, I became aware of the need for NICU-Friendly clothing: Items that parents can use in the NICU and not leave an arm hanging out of the sleeve or sleeves getting rolled up five times because they are way too long. Preemie specific clothing that was designed with monitor leads and IV tubes in mind.

To help you determine what is NICU-Friendly we have added  NICU-Friendly Option filters in each of the categories under the sizes. 
  • Open Shoulders
  • Easy Front Access
  • Footless

Let's look at three things to consider when clothing a preemie in the NICU:

One – Open Shoulders: I believe this is the most important option to look for in the best NICU-Friendly garments. This will allow you to dress your little one around any monitors, IV leads or any other medical equipment your baby may require in the NICU. We offer two different options for closures on the shoulders with the most popular and simplest being velcro closures. This allows you to easily close and open the garment while also providing you with some growing room. For example, the NIC-Suit from Perfectly Preemie has 1 1/2" velcro on the shoulders, sides, and crotch, giving you a great fit all around. The second option is the plastic snaps found on Perfectly Preemie's NIC-Sac. They work great in the NICU because they don't warm up in any of the warmers, nor do they interfere with X-Rays, and they are easy to snap. The snaps down the front of the gown provide openings for monitor leads. Both give you easy NICU-Friendly dressing with the two front sides folding down over the shoulders, and the sides wrap to the front velcro closures. The number one thing that all these styles provide is a lay-flat dressing option. This gives parents the ability to dress baby without going over the head. Just lay your little one down and dress up and around! This keeps everyone nice and calm, giving new parents a great baby clothing experience.


The NIC-Suit is one of our styles with the adjustable velcro for easy closing.


The NIC-Sac has the plastic snaps that don't warm up and are X-Ray friendly.


Two – Size: This may seem like a basic for preemie clothes; however, not everyone makes items small enough for the littlest preemie. We have taken care of this by carrying styles from multiple manufacturers, providing three sizes: Micro (1-2.5lbs), Teeny (2-4lbs) and Preemie (3-6lbs) fully covering the large range in premature baby sizing. A few ounces or pounds can make a big difference in how things fit these little ones and that is why we have designed our sizes this way. We all want to celebrate the accomplishment of gaining weight, but this also makes having the ability to purchase garments in the correct size range important. We don't offer many styles in the Micro (1-2.5lb) size because we understand that every hospital approaches dressing preemies differently. This is why we recommend that before you purchase any clothing you ask your NICU nurse what parameters your preemie must meet before clothing can be worn. Which may lead to...

Three – No Clothes at All: This seems kind of silly that a preemie clothing company is posting "no clothes!" As I mentioned above, some NICU's will not let you dress your preemie until they reach certain milestones. However, even with these requirements, most will let you bring in hats, diaper covers, leg-warmers and such. That is why we provide great options for you, with caps and diaper covers that are sized from 2-6lbs. They have extra long velcro in the front so they will be able to grow with your little one. They match a lot of the NIC-IV shirts and NIC-Dresses from Perfectly Preemie, so you can start with a diaper cover and when a shirt is approved you can match them up. The leg-warmers are also great because they help keep your preemie warm, look cute and don't get in the way of diaper changes.
Great little preemie hat, bootie and legwarmer set.

Why should we even worry about dressing little preemies?

That is a question I have heard many times over the last 30 years. There are many studies that show the interaction between mother and babies is very important. Dressing your little one is one of the basic instincts we have as mothers. There are so many things we can't do as a new parent of a baby in the NICU. Being able to dress your little one in a cute outfit and even doing their laundry makes you feel normal and those "normal" things are very welcomed. We love to help facilitate the bond between mother, father and baby! NICU functional clothing that showcases the beauty of your preemie eases the difficulty of having a baby in the NICU by bringing smiles to the face and warmth to the heart.

This review we received recently sums up how we feel about the importance of NICU-Friendly items.

I hope this helps you in your quest to purchase preemie clothes. We have tried to make shopping as easy as possible by breaking down the categories into size. If you have any questions or want help in finding something, please let us know by phone, online chat or email. We love helping you find the perfect garment for your little one!
Thank you for reading,
Cressie Baerg
Cressie started the Preemie clothing brand Perfectly Preemie designing preemie clothing that fit the needs of preemie babies in 1993. She acquired the Preemie Store in 2018 to continue to offer great preemie products to parents all around the world.