Parents of premature babies cannot take even the most basic things for granted. From feeding to changing nappies, caring for a premature child requires extra special effort along with the love, care and support required of all parents. Thank goodness that premature baby clothes are out there.
Depending on the size and weight of the baby at birth, parents might be able to use normal infant clothes and just wait until the baby grows into them. But the earliest premature babies would disappear in full-term clothing. They need the smallest of nappies, sleepsuits, bodysuits, mitts and hats. Where that clothing comes from will vary from one family to the next according to their unique circumstances.
Parents who need help finding premature baby clothes should not hesitate to ask nursery workers at the hospital for some advice. The internet is also an excellent source of information, and parents can shop online from specialist providers who offer clothing for both boys and girls.
It is absolutely normal for parents to want to dress their premature babies in premature baby clothes while still at the hospital. This may or may not be an option depending on hospital staff. Often, hospitals prefer to use their own tiny gowns and bodysuits because these are specially designed to accommodate the premature babies’ unique medical needs. If hospital staff are agreeable to clothing provided by parents, they welcome the opportunity to teach parents how to dress and undress their children.
Another consideration is that of incubation. Premature babies tend to need incubation for quite some time after birth. The controlled environment of an incubator is such that babies do not need to be clothed during this time. Bringing a baby out of incubator involves simply wrapping the child in a blanket to help him/her stay warm.
Of course, long-term incubation is not ideal. So hospital staff will work as hard as they can to get the baby to a point where incubation is no longer necessary. Then clothing will become an issue. It's probably best for hospital staff to use their own nappies and bodysuits in the short term, then add in premature baby clothes purchased by parents later on.
Leaving the hospital is when clothing becomes a real issue. If a baby has not gained enough weight to be able to work well with full-term clothing, parents have to be prepared with premature baby clothes. Thankfully, there are enough channels out there to build quite a little wardrobe for the premature baby heading home.
In all likelihood, parents of a premature baby will receive at least one or two outfits as a gift from the hospital. Those gifts are made possible by a number of charities whose sole focus is on supplying hospitals with premature baby clothes and burial gowns, along with blankets and additional small gifts to be given to parents. Such care packages are a good starting point for when it's time to take the baby home.
Beyond that, some charities are more than happy to supply parents with numerous pieces of clothing to get them through until the baby reaches full-term size. Perhaps the most challenging part of this is knowing how long that will be. Premature babies tend not to grow as fast as their full-term counterparts and, if some sort of developmental disability is present, growth may be extremely slow. Such cases may dictate that parents go out and buy clothing to supplement what is provided by charities.
There are retailers that sell a limited inventory of premature baby clothing. You can find them online simply by searching the right terms using your favourite search engine. Between department stores and specialist providers, you should be able to find everything you need as the day to take your baby home approaches.
First and foremost, the premature baby will grow and add weight as time goes on. Some babies grow very quickly while others do not. Therefore, parents need to be careful to not to spend a small fortune on clothing and other accessories baby will eventually outgrow. Parents may want one or two special outfits they plan to keep as a reminder of those precious early days, but most of what is purchased will eventually be outgrown and donated to charities, hospitals, or other parents in need.
Premature baby clothing, like the clothing for full-term babies, is sold by weight and/or age. Common sizes include:
Using weights to classify clothing is probably the best way to do things, for obvious reasons. But parents should not stress over it. If something in the 5-pound range is appealing even though a baby only weighs 4 pounds, this should be accommodated. Parents should use the opportunity to purchase clothing as a means of self-expression and completing the separation from the hospital. There are no rigorous rules here.
As the parent of a premature baby, you have a lot to think about. Hopefully, you have access to the support you need to help you through this challenging time in your life. All being well, your search for premature baby clothes will be more a search of love than labour; hopefully, you will find everything you need through a combination of hospital donations, charitable organisations and retailers.
When your baby no longer has need of the specialist clothing purchased, perhaps you will consider donating it to your local hospital or a charity specialising in helping parents going through the same thing. Being able to give back goes a long way toward supporting the entire community of parents with premature babies. The premature baby clothes you have cherished for your child would be just as cherished by other parents in the future.