What a year! So much has happened in the past year. Covid became a very familiar word! Working from home has become a regular thing, now some of us might be dreaming of going out to work. Zoom meetings, social distancing, and mask-wearing will always be terms lodged in our heads. Similar terms and experiences can quickly become normal for parents and family members of premature babies. One moment they are celebrating the beginning of a new year and the anticipation of a baby to come in just a few months, then in a moment, their world is turned upside down. Who can think back to when the letters NICU would have meant nothing to you?
In my previous blog post, “The Preemie Curve Ball,” I gave a few suggestions on how to better cope with a preemie baby's early arrival. I briefly mentioned preemie clothing and how it can improve the connection between parent and baby. The simple act of clothing a preemie, bringing dirty laundry home and back, helps normalize the abnormal time parents are going through. I realize this may be the only time that doing laundry is welcomed. Quickly the piles will grow faster than appreciated.
When you begin your search for preemie clothes, you may quickly find all kinds of footies from great companies like Carter's, Target, Old Navy, and more. But what if your baby needs something else or is smaller than the 5lbs many of these garments are designed for? What does the Preemie Store offer that you can't find anywhere else?
The answer: The most extensive selection of NICU-Friendly clothing in the world! Your next question probably is, where do I start?
First, what medical equipment do we need to consider? If your preemie has been given the go-ahead to wear clothing but still has an IV or other medical equipment, that would make putting their arm in a sleeve difficult. This is where to start. You will want to look for clothing that has open shoulders. We have several styles offered by two different brands: Itty Bitty Baby Clothing Company and Perfectly Preemie. They both start in sizes Micro (1-3lbs) and move up to Preemie (3-6lbs).
Itty Bitty Baby Clothing Company makes shirts, gowns, and fit n flare dresses, all with a simple velcro dot closure on the shoulder fold-over flap. The front laps over about an inch with another velcro dot closure. These velcro dots provide quick and easy dressing for parents and hospital staff. They are all made from exceedingly soft cotton interlock knit and we are happy to offer many cute prints, from honey bees to under the sea fun.
We love all their matching accessories, booties, mittens, and legwarmers! They are excellent choices for matching a favorite outfit or perfect when you haven't been given the ok for full clothing just yet. Your little one can wear the accessories while waiting for the thumbs up on preemie clothes.
Perfectly Preemie is the only company to make preemie clothes in three sizes: Micro (1-2.5lbs) Teeny (2-4lbs), and Preemie (3-6lbs). They have a Take-me-Home size that adds to their NICU-Friendly styles for those babies still in the PICU. Their NICU-Friendly designs include shirts, bodysuits, dresses, gowns and jumpsuits. These are offered in short and long sleeves. They all have velcro closures on the shoulders and each side of the kimono style fronts. We like that they make the velcro a little longer on the kimono fronts and bodysuits, providing a little more growing room. Perfectly Preemie also gives parents many fun prints to choose from! We love the big, bold florals and the cute small pastels. I think every parent should be able to find something that they will love to see their preemie dressed in.
Perfectly Preemie also makes a NICU-Friendly gown with plastic snaps on the shoulder and down the front. This is the only item we carry with the plastic snaps. They started making this gown many years ago. The snaps do not warm-up like traditional metal snaps and can be worn in an X-Ray environment. These gowns come in multiple sizes and are loved by both parents and nurses alike for their ease of use.
Secondly to consider is your preemie’s size. In the above text, we mentioned the different sizes offered by two of the brands we carry. You will find on our website this is how we breakdown your shopping experience: Micro (1-3lbs), Preemie (3-6lbs), and Newborn (5-8lbs). We have tried to make it easier for you to find the NICU-Friendly items by creating a category just for these items. We have also included filters so parents can look for open-shoulder, easy front access, or footless. We have found in our experience that these some of the most looked for requirements in preemie clothing. We have added the Perfectly Preemie size Teeny (2-4lbs) in both categories for your convenience. Perhaps it should be called “Inbetweeny!” One important thing to keep in mind when looking at sizing is growth. If your preemie is on the edge of a size, let's say 2lb 12oz, I would recommend purchasing the 3-6lbs size. The garment will be a little oversized at first, but having some growing room will quickly be filled up. Also, there may be some shrinkage that may occur during the first wash. If you are looking for something that fits great for an immediate picture or particular reason, definitely go with the Micro (1-3lbs), your preemie will look adorable!
When your preemie moves forward and open-shoulders are no longer needed, you are ready for some of the footies we spoke of earlier. Two things to keep in mind, snaps or zippers! Many footies have recently added the zipper front to this simple garment, and we have heard from many parents how they love the ease of use from the zipper. However, if your preemie still requires leads and monitoring, the nurses will prefer snaps so they can place the wires between them. The sizing on the footies can vary between manufacturers but we try to offer the brands that we believe run true to size. Please refer to the sizing charts, when available, just below the description.
Some parents prefer the ease of dressing their preemie with NICU-Friendly styles even when it’s no longer necessary. That is one reason Perfectly Preemie started making their popular jumpsuit! It is a complete outfit with velcro closures at the crotch, sides, and shoulders. The jumpsuit lays completely flat and provides the most comfortable dressing experience while making diaper changes super easy!
These are just a few of the items we carry for your preemie but there are many more additional goodies and necessities. We have shoes, socks, hats, bereavement gowns, christening outfits, dresses and other preemie gear. We offer several different pacifiers from Micro preemie to Newborn. Milestone cards, journals and special outfits for major holidays. We hope you can find exactly what you are looking for and if not, please let us know. That may be just the thing I need to keep hunting for!
Thank you for reading,