Gift Buyers Guide - Advice on buying gifts for a premature baby
This Premature Baby Gift Buyer's Guide has been written by our Founder Gillian who has over 13 years experience as a Neonatal Nurse.
Should I even be buying a gift for a premature baby?
Yes! You most definitely should send a card and gift to someone who's had a premature baby! Too often well-meaning friends and family delay getting anything for parents of a premature baby 'just in case', but these parents need support and messages of love even more than most.
In my time on the neonatal wards I've seen healthier babies and their parents surrounded by new baby cards and gifts, while babies in the NICU and SCBU have received very little and it's heartbreaking.
If you know other friends of the baby's parents please encourage them to send a gift too; why not send them a WhatsApp or text message now! Help make sure these parents get the gifts they deserve!
Are clothes an appropriate gift for a very premature baby?
Yes! Every new parent dreams of their baby's first outfit and that includes parents of a baby on the NICU/SCBU in hospital.
What's more, a premature birth is often not planned and the clothes the parents have already bought are for a full-term baby. They don't have clothes that will fit, so getting them right-sized clothes can really help them out.
Sometimes hospitals will stock basic ranges of hospital baby clothes and these clothes do a good job, but not every parent wants their baby in basic pink or blue clothing that's been worn by another premature baby before, and although they're grateful for hand-me-downs they also want something special too.
* Some hospitals will restrict what clothes are worn and when, but even the gesture of buying a little outfit will be gratefully appreciated, and parents often keep these clothes as a keepsake.
I do want to buy clothes, but what should I buy?
A very premature baby in hospital will be either on the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) or the Specialist Baby Care Unit (SBCU). The smallest babies will be in an incubator and any baby in the NICU or SCBU will be connected to lines and wires to monitor them or provide support with breathing or feeding.
With this in mind clothing for a premature baby must allow for easy dressing around these items, so a wrap-around design is most practical, preferably wrap-around clothing that adjustable as baby grows.
A baby in an incubator is obviously being kept warm, so often an incubator vest is all that's needed in addition to a nappy. An incubator vest should be truly wrap-around, allowing for easy dressing with minimal disturbance to the baby.
As well as being designed for easy dressing of baby, premature baby clothes should be cotton, which is soft and breathable, ideal for their sensitive skin.
What do you need to know about the baby to get a gift of clothing?
To buy premature baby clothing all you really need to find out is:
- How much does the baby weigh?
- Is the baby having specialist care? (i.e. in an incubator, attached to monitors, lines, etc).
- Is it a boy or a girl? (although we have plenty of gender neutral products too).
You can then browse our specialist premature baby clothing store where we have collections for babies in 3 size categories:
You can filter by gender, style, brand, etc.
What could I buy instead of clothes?
If you're not sure about the size and circumstances of the baby, and would prefer to play it safe then there's still lots of gifts you could send toshow you're thinking about them.
At Little Mouse HQ, we think these are some solid gift ideas for premature babies.
A premature baby octopus toy
We discuss the benefits of a premature baby octopus in this article. Research has proven they can help comfort a premature baby and they are an excellent gift.
2 x toys or rattles
This means that the baby can have a toy next to the bed, and the family can have a matching one, which when they have to leave the baby they can take with them to make them feel closer to the baby.
Snuggle blanket or comforter
A little blanket or comforter can be given to baby, then the mum can take it with them so the gorgeous new baby smell can help with expressing. There is a lot of science behind this, go on have a Google!!
A muslin swaddle blanket is a must-have for any parent. In fact we recommend having several muslin blankets!
These helpful muslin clothes are large enough to cover the incubator to stop excess light coming in, to be used as bed sheets to brighten up the incubator and to cover the babies when they come out for a cuddle.
They are also ace for a cover up when breastfeeding. (Not that we are saying you need to cover up, some mums may just want a bit of cover in the busy NICU!).
Milestone cards for a premature baby
Milestone cards have become increasing popular in recent years; they're a really cute way of documenting a baby's important events in your photo album or on social media.
We feel that a premature baby in the NICU and SCBU has even more milestones to celebrate, so these would be a really thoughtful gift.
That's why we designed our own range of premature baby milestone cards, with milestones like 'Kangaroo care time", "Today was my due date" and "Today I'm completely tube free".
For each set of milestone cards sold we donate £2 to the premature baby charity Tommy's.
Even though it may be a while until they come out for a cuddle, it will be nice for them to have a super soft blanket ready to keep them warm. We even have blankets infused with silver, well known for its antimicrobial properties.
Specialist premature baby mittens, socks & booties
We stock tiny stay-on scratch mitts with velcro ties that are excellent at keeping little fingers from pulling on things they shouldn't. These are tried and tested and actually work; which often isn't the case with other 'stay-on' scratch mitts.
They are even proven to reduce extubation which can be a problem with babies in the NICU/SCBU in hospital.
Tiny stay-on booties and socks are also a really practical gift, especially if baby is out of the incubator and will be going home during colder months.
Don't forget the parents!
On a side note.....these are presents for the babies, but don't forget the mums and dads who are probably in need of a treat! Good ideas are a local coffee shop voucher, coins for the vending machine for emergency chocolate, moisturiser for the sore hands from all that washing, a notepad to write all their questions, and if you live close, meals for the freezer, childcare and lifts to the hospital.
What should I write in a 'congratulations' card?
You may be wondering if it is insensitive to send a congratulations card when baby is poorly in hospital, or would like some advice on what to write.
In this article we show you what parents of premature babies say (and yes they want to receive cards!), and give you advice on what to write in a card.