What Size Preemie Clothes Should I Buy?

Micro... Teeny... Preemie...NICU-Friendly... are all Terms you may not be familiar with! What is the difference? What do they refer to? What size should I look for? 

These are questions asked by many a parent, grandparent, or friend when a premature baby has entered their world and they begin to think about buying preemie clothes. Whether the baby is 2 pounds or 5 pounds, finding clothing that will fit well and have enough growing room to enable them to wear the garment for more than a week or two can be difficult. On top of figuring out what size preemie clothes to purchase, you may run into the fact that each manufacturer sizes garments to their own specifications. So what do you do? 

Well, let's dive in and see if we can break it down for you!

First let's break down the sizes:

Micro size is 1-3 pounds. Sometimes manufacturers will refer to Mini Micro, or Nano. Perfectly Preemie's breaks it down more by offering Micro 1-2.5# and Teeny which is 2-4lbs. We have referenced their size chart above, so you can see how the size and weight corresponds.

Preemie is 3-6 pounds, this size is also often expanded by some companies to be 4-7 pounds. This is why we provide you with sizing charts from all our manufacturers and have linked them to the product descriptions. Some of the size charts are actual measurements of the garment so you can better choose the correct size. 

NICU-Friendly refers to clothing items made with the medical needs of preemies in mind. We have added NICU-Friendly Option filters such as:

  • Open Shoulders
  • Easy Front Access
  • Footless

The Open Shoulders are the number one feature that I recommend. Dressing around IV's, monitors and such will be much easy with this feature. It is also a big benefit when it comes to easy dressing such a little baby. To read more about NICU-Friendly styles, I recommend reading THE BEST OF NICU-FRIENDLY CLOTHES.

Other recommendations to keep in mind when buying preemie clothes. 

First, level up. If your baby is close to the weight limit listed for a garment, I recommend ordering the next size.   We offer multiples sizes for just this reason. Many of the brands we carry fit into the Micro (1-3lbs) and Preemie (3-6lbs) sections of the store. This is where the extra size available from Perfectly Preemie Teeny (2-4lbs) can come in handy. This size is beneficial to those little ones that weigh 2-3lbs and could be in the middle of the other sizes, one being too small and the other too large. Also, many hospitals will not allow preemie clothing until the baby hits a certain weight, unfortunately the micro sized clothes will be outgrown before this milestone is hit. So having a size ranging from 2-4lbs maybe more realistic. I think having a couple little things ready for when your baby hits the clothing milestone is wonderful! Nothing better than being ready for those great days.

These little shirts come in multiple sizes

Secondly, consider the length of the baby you are buying for, not only the weight. We know some babies can have long arms and legs, while others can be shorter and have those cute little rolls, so purchasing garments for both body types that weigh four pounds is much different. You may want to consider an open bottom gown for the slim little one, and you can think of a closed base for the shorter little guy. The same may apply for footies, finding one with built-in feet for one and the opposite for the other. Take these same considerations into account for the growing room desired. You may have already figured that the open bottom items will provide more growth and work wonderfully with any medical needs preemies may require. Here is a Crossover Baggette by Perfectly Preemie that has the open shoulders for great NICU access and an open bottom, which also closes up with their fold-over bottom styling. 

Crossover Baggette works great for open bottom styles

Third, I suggest layering. I am not referring to the undershirt, shirt, coat, etc. You can save that for when you are all at home and the snow is blowing! I am referring to the options of hats, mittens, shirts/gowns, leg warmers, and booties. I recommend this often, because preemies usually can wear the accessories long before they can wear the clothes. So start with what you know will work, and add to it. We love it when we see orders come through and customers have purchased multiple items that can work together or stand alone. Here is an example, if you buy a cute little cap and match it up with a shirt or gown, then pick out some matching leg warmers or booties. You now have your favorite preemie covered from head to toe! These purchases then allow the nursing staff to start with one of the accessory items and add the shirt/gown when the baby can officially wear clothing. Space is often at a premium in the NICU, so purchasing solid color accessories to go with multiple items is also a great idea.

Sea Life Gown works great for the NICU
        Sea Life CapSea Life Mittens

 Finally, if you are purchasing a gift for a friend or family member and are still unsure what size or style of garment to buy, I highly recommend you consider a gift card. Mom will be thrilled to go shopping as soon as her baby has been approved to wear clothing. She will know what size, style, and requirements are needed and get to choose a print that speaks to her heart.

Preemie Store Gift Card

I hope this has been helpful,  



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.