How to clothe a NICU preemie

How to clothe a NICU preemie

5 Things you must know about buying clothes for a micro preemie

This video demonstrates the use of three different NICU-friendly clothing styles that meet the five criteria shown below.

Only a handful of manufacturers offer clothes for micro preemies weighing between 1 to 5 pounds. However, garment size is not the only consideration.

Since extremely low-birth-weight preemies are unable to survive without intervention, they are kept in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) and connected to several monitoring and medical devices. Traditionally styled garments will not typically accommodate the wires and tubes attached to your baby.

“NICU-friendly” clothing is especially designed for this purpose. There are 5 things to look for when shopping for micro preemie clothing.

1. Monitors and sometimes a PICC line are attached to the preemie’s head, and often, an endotracheal tube and/or a feeding tube will be inserted through the nostrils or the mouth. Therefore, clothes that pull over the head (sometimes a cap is okay) must be avoided.
2. Pulse oximeters are often attached to a hand and a foot and therefore you don’t want clothes that require threading hands or feet through sleeves.
3. EKG probes, temperature monitors, and chest tubes are attached to the baby’s torso. That means that these connections must be able to slip through front, side, or bottom around any closures in the garment. Zippers should be avoided. Snaps can also be problematic because of the force required to close them.
4. Clothing styles that open to a single layer that lies completely flat and then wraps around the baby is the least likely to disturb equipment connections and is the least invasive for your baby.
5. Since the skin of a preemie is oven very sensitive, at the very least, all clothing that touches the skin should be constructed from 100% cotton.

Although medical studies demonstrate that involving parents in the care of their extremely low-birth-weight neonates can greatly improve medical outcomes, it is also important to discuss these issues with your baby’s caregivers prior to attempting to dress your NICU preemie.

Preemie Clothes Mart at carries several NICU-friendly styles that meet these criteria. These include: NICU wrap shirts, NICU wrap gowns, NICU kimono gowns, NICU kimono shirts.


1. Bhutta ZA, Khan I, Salat S, Raza F, Ara H. Reducing length of stay in hospital for very low birthweight infants by involving mothers in a stepdown unit: an experience from Karachi (Pakistan). BMJ. 2004 Nov 13;329(7475):1151-5. PubMed PMID: 15539671; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC527694.

2. Cruz H, Guzman N, Rosales M, Bastidas J, Garcia J, Hurtado I, Rojas ME, Hodgman JE. Early hospital discharge of preterm very low birth weight infants. J Perinatol. 1997 Jan-Feb;17(1):29-32. PubMed PMID: 9069061.