Simple things like dressing your baby are actions many mothers have been looking forward to since they saw the positive pregnancy test results!

The fact your baby is in the NICU leads most parents and grandparents to ask a ton of questions! As well as being overwhelmed by the amount of questions and new things they are learning. One question that can be overlooked is, when can my baby can wear preemie clothes? This may seem like a simple or even silly question when so many things maybe are going on in the NICU. However, we have a different opinion and feel that this is a very important question.

First, know that many parents are suddenly thrust into a situation they never expected. There may be times they have a heads up. Perhaps they previously had a preemie and the likelihood of them having another is high. However, most of the time the world of the NICU has come entirely out of the blue. One minute they are celebrating the fact they are expecting, and before they get the nursery painted and decorated, they find themselves in the NICU with a teeny little one fighting for its life. 

That is where the desire for "normal" comes in! I think we can all understand this a little more since the onset of Covid-19 and the stay at home orders and restrictions. I have felt many times that I want things just to go back to normal; see my friends, have dinner parties, go to the club, and visit people I have not seen in months. Multiply these feelings for preemie parents! They want a little bit of ordinary and dressing their little one is a simple desire. However, tiny preemies, especially those classified as Micro-preemie, will have hurdles to jump over before this can happen. 

  • First, micro-preemie skin is very undeveloped; it is fragile, and wearing clothing may irritate it. Therefore, the medical staff will monitor your baby to see how their skin is developing. After you get a go-ahead with clothing, keep in mind the softness of the items you plan to purchase. Soft flannels, cotton and bamboo are great choices. We keep this in mind when we buy things to sell in our store, so you do not have to.
  • Secondly, Your preemie’s condition needs to be stable; the medical staff will be monitoring your baby's respiratory, heart and digestion to make sure they are all working correctly. They will want to keep the chest bare to help in their assessments. 
  • Thirdly, many hospitals will require the umbilical lines inserted through the umbilical cord to be removed before clothing is allowed. Regular IV lines will not be a problem and the NICU-Friendly clothing we carry is designed to work around these medical needs.

These are just three milestones your NICU may require your preemie to reach before clothing will be allowed. This is why I recommend parents speak to the nursing staff to see what their hospital requirements are. That way you are not surprised like one mother I talked to. She came in one day to find her baby girl dressed, and was a little sad not to have had the chance to pick out her first outfit. You will probably find an extra special attachment to one or more nurses, so asking an early question maybe helpful. The nurses will be aware of your desire to be apart of the "first outfit" and give you an heads up when your baby is close to this milestone. 

First Outfit

When you do get the go ahead to bring preemie clothes into the NICU, here are a few things we suggest you consider. 

First, as we mentioned above, look for soft fabrics, cotton, flannel and bamboo. The little NIC-Suits by Perfectly Preemie are made from 100% cotton flannel and give you two looks in one small garment. This option can be excellent because the storage space at some NICU’s will be minimal. These little garments and others in our NICU-Friendly section will work around your baby's medical needs in the NICU. They will have velcro or plastic snap closures on the shoulders, so closing up around IV's that are still in place is possible. Being able to do this is much easier than trying to run the line up a sleeve. The other nice thing about many of these garments is the ability to access the chest area without undressing the baby all the way. We have found less is often times better when we are talking about preemies. We love the idea of laying the baby down on a garment and dressing around them instead of pulling clothing over the head and squeezing little arms into sleeves.  

For more info on the NIC-Suit, click on this link: What’s Not to Love About Perfectly Preemie’s NIC-Suit?


Secondly, start small. I am not referring to size here. Even though you will find these in Micro! I am talking about the little things that might be allowed before shirts, dresses, and footies. Preemie accessories like hats, booties, mittens, and diaper covers can be just the item to brighten up a little incubator. They also play a vital role in keeping body temperature up, fingernails away from delicate skin and adding some flair with a cute cover over a plain white diaper. Besides protecting from scratches, little mittens can help prevent little ones from pulling out feeding tubes and other medical equipment.

When I wrote the blog post, What Preemie Clothes Should I Get to Dress My Preemie? I suggested this very idea of starting with these basics. Most hospitals will be happy for parents to start the involvement process with their little ones by bringing small capsmittens, and diaper covers into the NICU. Parents must connect and bond with their new baby, and this is just a start. 

Hats, booties, and legwarmers are great starts.

The next step will often be kangaroo care, which is something every parent is sure to enjoy. To read more on the benefits of kangaroo care, explore this blog post: The Wonderful Benefits of Kangaroo Care.

Kangaroo care is so great for preemie babies.

It will not be long before your preemie is gaining weight and will no longer resemble the teeny little one that you first laid eyes on. I am always so amazed at the pictures I see of growing preemies. It is exciting to see the personality and fight come through when parents post little videos of these amazing fighters. When your preemie grows past the constant monitoring of heart monitors, pulse ox, and others, you can start looking for clothing that doesn't have the open shoulders and quick velcro closures. We offer fun footies, outfit sets, dresses, and much more in sizes Preemie (3-6lbs) and Newborn (5-8lbs). The newborn size is also great for newborns born full-term but are lower in birth weight. If your baby has more medical needs and grows past the NICU-Friendly items in the Preemie (3-6lbs) range, we carry clothing in the PICU category sized up to 12-17 pounds. 

I hope you can find whatever clothing your baby needs here at the Preemie Store. Please reach out and let us know if you are not having any luck and we will be happy to help. You can chat with us if you see Melissa's face at your computer screen's bottom corner. Or email us at customercare@preemie.com, and we will get back to you as soon as possible.

Thank you for taking your precious time to read this blog post today.

Have a great day,