Clothes Tips & Hacks

What Size Is Preemie Clothing?

Finding the right baby clothes for a preemie is not easy, because there are some things you need to consider which aren’t necessary when dressing a full term baby.

If you are shopping for preemie clothing, you’re probably wondering how the sizing works.

This types of clothing is for babies that weight less than 6lbs, and have been born before the 37 week mark.

But how many sizes are there?

And what special attributes do you need to look for when selecting clothes for a preterm baby?

Let’s take a look.

Preemie Sizing Explained

My daughter was born premature, so as a result I needed to learn all about how preemie sizing worked.

One of the first things I discovered and that you should be aware of when buying preemie clothing is there is not one single size.

Depending on the manufacturer, there are usually 2-3 preemie sizes that cater for babies ranging from as small as 1-3lbs, all the way up to 5-6lbs.

That can be pretty confusing for parents like us, but unfortunately that’s just the way it is.

So beware that just because the manufacturer states their clothing is “preemie”, it doesn’t automatically mean it will fit your preterm baby.

How Do You Choose Clothes For Premature Babies?

I found that when choosing clothes for a premature baby it’s important to consider your baby’s size, rather than their age.

You should also look for soft, breathable clothes that allows for easy access to your baby’s body and that are easy to take on and off (more on these points later).

Preemie vs Newborn Clothes – Here’s The Difference

Quite simply, preemie sizes are smaller than newborn.

Newborn baby clothes are usually for babies who weight 5-8lbs and are up to 22 inches in length.

While preemie clothing is for babies as light as 1-3lbs all the way up to 6lbs or more.

Will Preemie Clothes Fit A Newborn?

If your newborn baby is relatively small, you may be wondering if preemie clothes will fit them, even though they’re not technically premature.

The answer is yes, and shopping for preemie clothes may be exactly what you need to do to ensure the garments fit your baby correctly.

The thing to always remember is that you should be guided by your baby’s size (weight and height), rather than the classification that the manufacturer has given to the clothing.

What Age Is A Baby Considered To Be Premature?

Babies who are born before 37 weeks are classified as premature (also know as preterm).

5 Tips For Buying Preemie Clothing

From my research I found that buying clothes for your preterm or premature baby is different to buying clothes for a full term baby.

Here are some useful tips that I discovered along the way when I was tasked with dressing my premature baby.

1. Soft Material

The soft, delicate skin of a newborn is up to 30% thinner than an adult, but premature babies have even more sensitive skin than full term babies.

You should therefore aim to buy clothes that are very soft to touch in a breathable fabric such as cotton.

It’s also recommended to buy organic cotton, because this should reduce the chances or skin irritation.

2. Wash Clothes Before Use

Again, because the skin of a preterm is particularly sensitive, you should pre-wash anything that directly touches their skin before they first use it.

Even new clothes can contain dust and dirt particles, so washing before first use will avoid any preventable irritation to your baby’s skin.

3. Easy Access

Preemie clothes should be designed with NICU in mind, so look for clothes with open shoulders, easy front access for IVs or cables, and plastic snaps which won’t interfere with x-ray machines.

4. Don’t Buy Too Many

Depending on your baby’s age and health, the doctors may not allow your little one to wear clothes until IV lines have been removed and they are in a stable condition.

But even if your preterm baby is at the stage where they’re wearing clothes, they will still grow and change very quickly, so there’s no point buying too much as they’ll quickly grow out of them.

5. Remember Hats, Mittens & Other Accessories

Preterm babies can lose a lot of heat quickly through their head if it’s not covered, so when they’re not in an incubator it’s important to wear a hat.

You may also want to dress them in a pair of booties to keep their little feet and toes warm.

Lastly, a preterm baby will often have wires and tubes coming out of their hands, so a pair of mittens will help prevent your baby pulling on the wires and scratching themselves.

We didn’t actually have any mittens in hospital, so as a work around I used a sock to cover my daughter’s hand and that also worked just fine.

Related: The Complete Guide To Buying & Caring For Baby Clothes

Tori is mama to 3 year old Isabella and co-founder of Rockinbaby. She has a BSc in Psychology, is a certified yoga teacher and is a working mom. In her free time Tori loves cooking delicious foods and baked treats, entertaining and working out. Learn more about Tori here.

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