What kind of clothing do you need for the tiniest babies on earth? Finding clothing that is custom designed and manufactured for preemie babies is not something you will find at many department or discount stores. Even though over 500,000 premature babies will be born in the United States alone this year (30,000 in Canada), that is still considered a “small” market for most baby clothing manufacturers. Not only that, but there are important and distinct details that are necessary to build into any preemie specific design.
First of all, it’s important to pay attention to the sizing requirements of your precious little one. There are really 2-3 distinct size ranges in Preemie clothing, in addition to the mainstream “Newborn” size of 5-8lbs that is more widely available. The typical size breakout works like this: Micro (1-3lbs) and Preemie (3-6lbs). We at Perfectly Preemie add a third size that fits in the middle of these that we call Teeny (2-4lbs). Some manufacturers use different descriptions or slightly varying weight brackets, but please realize that just because the label says “Preemie” does not mean it will fit all premature babies.
Though all preemie clothing should be soft to the touch, this is most important for the Micro Preemie’s sensitive skin. Also, very important to have in this size are easy to use openings on the shoulders or sides in addition to the front. These openings will allow easy access for the various wires and tubes needed in premature baby care at the hospital. Other features that are beneficial are fold over cuffs for the hands and feet that provide scratch protection and extra warmth.
Usually you will find tiny T-shirts, gowns and bodysuits in the smaller preemie clothing sizes. Some of the outfits may include tiny hats – a great idea to keep the baby toasty warm! As the preemie grows into the 3lb range, many more clothing options open up, from various styles of sleep sacs to footed one piece sleep n’ plays and beautiful dresses. Once your precious baby grows past the 5-6lb range, they move into the large category of Newborn which has so much to offer from designer styles to the simple basics and everything in between.
Some other essentials you should consider are mittens, booties and hats. Mittens are recommended if the baby is wearing something without foldover cuffs, to keep their face free from scratches. Some hospitals have times when they may not want the preemie dressed, so having some cute hats ready to help hold in their body heat is a great idea.
Photo courtesy of a happy customer showing off in one of our Side Snap Gowns