When can I dress my Preemie?

Can NICU babies wear clothes? If so, WHEN can they wear them? One of the biggest milestones for a Preemie Mom is the day when you can finally start dressing your little one in his or her adorable preemie clothes. For those parents wondering when that day will finally come, here are a few milestones your baby will possible need to hit before they can wear clothing:

  1. Depending on how premature your little one is, it may take a few weeks for his or her skin to be developed enough to wear even very tiny preemie clothes.
  2. Until your baby’s cardiac, respiratory, and digestive systems are stable, nurses and doctors will need to keep his or her chest bare so that it’s easy to see and assess.
  3. Umbilical lines have been discontinued: Even stable babies may have umbilical lines, which are IV lines in their umbilical cord stumps. These must be removed before babies can wear preemie clothes.

It has gotten easier to find preemie sizes in stores and on websites, than it was when we got started back in 1993, but not all preemie sized clothes will work for every premature baby. A baby’s size, condition, and medical equipment all play a role in what preemie clothes he or she can wear.

Hats - are a must in the NICU, even for the smallest preemies. Covering the head helps babies stay warm, we have many options available. The Assorted knot hat, or 3 pack of caps can be the best for variety and cost.

NICU-Wear - These are the items we make for easy use in the NICU. They range in size from 1 1 6lbs. We have multiple styles offering many different options from plastic snap closures (NIC-Sac) to velcro (NIC-Suit and IV Shirt). Most all of them have open shoulders from easy dressing and diaper changing. The Sweet-Tee is a step up with no open shoulder, but a fun diaper cover.

Booties - Although it can be hard to keep booties and socks on tiny feet, they are adorable and can be worn by even very small babies with complex medical conditions.

Bodysuits - like Gerber Onesies ™, can be worn by stable babies without umbilical lines, whose skin is fully developed. Bodysuits with snaps up the front are also very nice for a little easier dressing.

Playsuit - One-piece pajamas with long sleeves and feet are a great basic styles for NICU stays through going home. They are a great grab and go outfit. We do suggest styles that snap up the front, as monitor cords can be threaded out between the snaps. Zippers are harder to work with. The Perfectly Preemie Playsuit has two side snaps that are extremely easy for dressing and working with any monitor cords that are still necessary.

How to Wash Preemie Clothes

Preemies have sensitive skin and delicate respiratory systems, and strong odors or harsh chemicals may cause allergic reactions. Preemie clothes should be washed in warm or hot water, in a smoke-free environment, using detergent that is perfume and dye free. Fabric softeners and dryer sheets are not recommended due to the high perfume and fragrance factors.  We suggest always pre-washing your items before having your preemie wear them.

Benefit of Clothes in the NICU

Not only do preemies look adorable in tiny preemie clothes, but there may actually be some specific benefits to dressing preemies, The biggest benefit is helping parent feel part of the process. Even the smallest task of washing the clothes and bring them to and from the hospital, helps a parent "feel more normal". 

Babies temperature is better controlled when they are dressed because they don’t lose heat as easily from drafts or from cold surfaces.

Moms and dads tend to feel more comfortable around their babies when their babies are wearing clothes like a "real baby" instead of a NICU patient, or just another baby. With the ability to dress the baby it helps them personalize their baby and environment.

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