Premature Baby Clothing & Gift Buyer's Guide
Hello! I'm Gill, founder of Little Mouse. I have worked with hundreds of babies and parents during my time as a Neonatal Nurse and I really wanted to produce a Buyer's Guide to help friends and family buy gifts with confidence for babies in the NICU and beyond.
Having a premature baby is a unique experience
Hearing a baby has been born early, or needs specialist support is a scary time, but mostly for the parents involved. The whole experience of having a 'well' newborn is totally different for these parents, and they often don't get to experience the flurry of texts, well wishes and presents as people often want to give them space.
Well meaning friends and families don't know what to do for the best, but after working with lots of families I have found the parents mostly want this new beautiful life to be celebrated.
You may feel that you don’t want to contact the new parents as you don’t want to disturb them. But send texts to congratulate them on their new baby, and to let them know you are thinking of them. Tell them you don’t expect a response, and keep in contact. And yes, don't hesitate to buy their little new baby a gift, just make sure it's something that's suitable! (That's what we're here for!).
In fact buying gifts for a premature baby is probably even more important as it's likely to be a surprise early birth, so the clothing the parents have already bought is unlikely to fit.
I hope you find this Premature Baby Clothing and Gift Buyers Guide useful. If you need any more ideas or help please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org and I will try and get back to you ASAP. Also if you have had a premature baby and you would like something added that you would have found helpful please get in touch, I would love to hear from you.
Founder of Little Mouse Baby Clothing and Gifts Ltd
Former Senior Neonatal Nurse
Clothing Guide (1lb-7.5lb babies)
The definition of a 'premature' or 'preterm' baby is one that is born before 37 weeks, so there is quite a range of ages and different sizes of premature baby. A baby born 'full term' can also vary in size and weight by several pounds, with some term babies being smaller than a premature baby.
Clothing manufacturers use different sizing ranges and numbering systems which can make it hard to buy the perfect gift.
To make it easier for you to shop with us, we use the following classifications:
- Premature baby clothing (1lb - 4 lbs)
- Tiny baby clothing (4 - 7.5 lbs)
- Newborn baby clothing (typically 7-10 lbs)
What do you need to know about the baby?
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).
Premature baby clothing (1lb-4lbs)
These little ones may have lots of tubes and wires that make dressing difficult.
So it's important to buy premature baby clothing that is wrap-around to provide easy access. Our NICU premature baby clothing is designed with care and consideration for babies who need specialist care. They use:
- Soft cotton
- No harsh seams
- Wrap-around design
- Gentle velcro closings.
A popular option is one of our incubator vests, this is designed to wrap around the baby, no matter what tubes they have. And small velcro fixings keep it in place. As the name suggests they are mostly used for babies in an incubator which is keeping them warm.
For those babies who need a few more layers, we also supply wrap-around dresses:
And wrap-around tops for little girls and boys:
Another must-have purchase are scratch mittens, and importantly ones that actually stay on. Parenting forums online are awash with people looking for stay-on scratch mittens that don't fall off! We recommend the stay-on mittens by Goumikids.
A lot of passion and money has gone into perfecting their two part stay-on closure system and they are available in premature size. Not only do these stop babies scratching themselves, they are excellent at keeping little fingers from pulling on things they shouldn't, like wires or lines.
Tiny baby clothing (4-7.5 lbs)
These babies typically benefit from being able to wear the sort of stylish clothing a term baby would wear, because they are not restricted due to wires and lines, they are just smaller. But finding clothing for tiny babies remains a challenge!
Tiny babies are normally in 'open' cots so keeping them warm is super important. The best way to do this is with clothes that fit.
Clothes that are too big are not as effective at keeping the heat in as clothes that are nice and snug. It's also important to layer up, and when outdoors dress them with a hat and maybe gloves depending on the weather.
We have a variety of tiny baby clothes, including some gorgeous cozy cardigans, leggings, bodysuits, vests and even snow suits. These clothes are very stylish as well as practical and some of these items come in Newborn, 0-3 months and 0-6 month sizes too.
Non-clothing gift ideas for premature and tiny babies
At Little Mouse HQ, we think these are some solid gift ideas for new premature babies, in addition to clothing. Or if you are unsure of the babies size or situation then these neutral products can be bought as a safe alternative to clothes.
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.
This little blanket 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!).
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 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.
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.
Other useful resources
Bliss is an amazing charity, they have a great website with lots of information about premature babies. www.bliss.org.uk
For parents, the neonatal team around you are an incredible resource and source of information.
Glossary of terms used in the NICU
This is a list of common terms and support given in the NICU (Neonatal Intensive Care Unit). These have an impact when it comes to buying gifts for these little warriers, especially clothing choices.
This is only a small list in comparison to the big world of neonatal care, but it aims to give you some idea of what is happening.
Breathing tubes: Sometimes, especially when babies are born very small, babies need machines to help them to breathe. You may hear parents say that the baby is on a ventilator. This is a machine which breathes for the baby, it uses a breathing tube into the babies lung. This is a very precious tube and needs to stay in the same place for it to work.
When babies need less support, they may be using CPAP or highflow/optiflow. These are machines which help the baby to breathe, but the babies are also doing a lot of the work. The babies are sometimes cycled on and off this machine. The baby is connected to the machine through little prongs in the nose.
Developmental Care: These tiny babies should still be inside their mum, all cosy and warm, in a dark and 'relatively' quiet space. There is a lot of research about trying to replicate this when they are in the SCBU. This includes handling them as little as possible (so clothes need to be quick to put on), keeping them warm and contained so they feel safe, and minimal noise and light.
Feeding: Little tiny babies may not be able to feed milk or only tiny amounts. They will be given special fluids through their veins called PN (parental nutrition) which will help them grow until they can get all the nutrition from milk. When they start having milk it may be via mouth or through an NG tube (see below). Over time feeds will be increased both in volumes and gaps in between feeds until they are fully fed either by breast or bottle. Some babies may need to come home with a feeding tube.
Gestation: A normal pregnancy is 40 weeks long. Babies can be born anywhere from 23 weeks to 40 weeks and survive. A baby is considered premature at under 37 weeks, but is typically 'Tiny Baby' size close to 37 weeks.
Humidification: When babies are born 23 weeks – 28 weeks (although this can vary between units) their skin is super thin and they need to be in humidity (warm air with water in) for a few weeks to enable them to stay warm. This means they can't get dressed as their skin needs to be in contact with the humidity. Also their skin is super fragile.
Incubator: When babies are born small they need to be nursed inside an incubator to keep them warm. Also bigger babies may need to be undressed so the nurse can keep a better eye on them, so they are popped in an incubator to keep them warm.
Jaundice: When babies are jaundiced they often need to be nursed under a special lamp, this means they need to be undressed so the lamp can work on the most amount of skin.
Kangaroo care or skin to skin: This is when babies are put on one of their parents chest (without clothes hence skin to skin) and allowed to settle. They are covered with a blanket to keep warm, although the body heat of the parent helps to regulate their temperature. This has been shown by research to benefit both parents and the baby. The baby must be stable enough to have kangaroo care and this is determined by the team looking after the baby.
Long line: This is a special tube which can be inserted in different parts of the body, normally hands and legs. The fluids attached to the line can be drugs or a special fluid called PN which allows the baby to grow whilst they are not being fed. These lines cannot be disconnected by anyone apart from the nurses to keep the tube clean. Therefore dressing can be difficult unless the clothes are specially made.
Monitoring: In order for the nurses and doctors to know how the premature baby is they are often attached to wires and probes from which readings are displayed on monitors. These are normally attached to the body on hands and feet (for oxygen monitoring) and on the body with little pads (heart rate monitoring).
NG tubes: these are little tubes in the babies nose (or mouth) which go down to the stomach and can be used to give babies medicine, food or to empty the stomach if they are not being fed.
Nurses: These lovely people are highly trained to keep the baby safe and to monitor to react to any problems them little one may be having. They also look after the families and are a great resource.