Your Guide to Buying Premature Baby Clothes

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Your Guide to Buying Premature Baby Clothes

Buying baby clothes for a premature baby often causes new parents some anxiety. Because premature babies are much smaller in size than full-term babies, parents cannot dress their little ones in regular-size infant clothes without causing a premature baby some discomfort. Although clothing options for premature babies can be limited, clothing specifically designed for premature babies is readily available in baby specialty shops and online at large scale retailers, like eBay.

Parents who hope to give their premature child the best clothing options should place an importance on safety, especially if a premature baby suffers from health problems that require specialised medical care. Baby clothing manufacturers use a number of different types of materials for infant clothing, with each type of fabric providing certain benefits. Additionally, premature baby clothes can include a number of features that increase a baby's comfort and a parent's ability to change clothes with the least amount of fuss. When purchasing premature baby clothes, buyers should carefully consider sizing, safety, materials, features, and flexibility to be certain the clothes they purchase match a premature baby's needs.

Sizing for Premature Baby Clothes

Perhaps one of the most perplexing issues that new parents face when shopping for premature baby clothes is determining which sizes to buy. It may be difficult because there is no industry standard that specifies the dimensions of baby clothes. Manufacturers are also free to employ different terms on their size labels to differentiate between their sizes. The lack of standardisation leads to confusion for parents hoping to purchase properly-fitting premature baby clothes. In general, manufacturers refer to their premature baby clothing sizes using either quantitative or qualitative terms.

Quantitative Sizing

Quantitative sizing focuses on the weight and length of a premature baby to make a distinction between this category of clothing as opposed to clothing created for full-term newborns. The smallest sizes of premature baby clothes are designed to fit babies ranging in length from 25 to 46 cm. Babies of this height typically fall under 2.72 kg in weight. Some manufacturers explicitly express on their labels the appropriate length and weight of an infant for their premature baby clothing, while others establish a numbered size, such as 000, for their clothing. In the case of numbered sizes based on length and weight, buyers should research a manufacturer's sizing standards by visiting the manufacturer's website before purchasing any clothing to be certain of the dimensions.

Qualitative Sizing

Instead of employing a weight- and length-based reference for naming premature baby clothes sizes, some manufacturers opt to use words to refer to this category of clothing sizes. Terms applied to describe premature baby clothes can include: premature, prem, preemie, and tiny. Buyers who see these descriptions should also look at the clothing's labels, which often provide details about the size dimensions of the clothes.

Safety Issues

Like all infants, premature babies need to be protected from hidden dangers on clothing that can cause a baby to choke or break out in a rash from irritation. It is, therefore, essential that buyers check a piece of premature baby clothing thoroughly for any items that may lead to trouble. Closures that include sewn-on buttons should be avoided because of the risk of a button falling off of a garment. Decorative details, like pom-poms and bows, can also be ripped off of an article of clothing, causing danger to a baby. Loose threads along seam lines have the potential to snag a baby's fingers and toes and should be trimmed from clothing before it is worn.

Materials for Premature Baby Clothes

When choosing clothing for premature babies, comfort must take precedent over style because the skin of a premature baby is very delicate and susceptible to irritations. Buyers looking for premature baby clothing should limit their choices to materials made with cotton, or a blend of cotton and polyester, because cotton provides both comfort and absorbency. Cotton and cotton-based fabrics are also manufactured in a variety of thicknesses, which allows parents to change a premature baby's clothing when necessary as temperatures change.

Organic Materials

For environmentally-conscious buyers, premature baby clothes made from 100 per cent organic cotton may be a great purchasing option. These buyers should be aware, however, that clothing labelled 100 per cent organic cotton generally refers to the methods used to grow the cotton that the clothing contains, not the processes employed to create the fabric after the cotton is harvested. Cotton labelled "100 per cent organic" is cultivated without the use of pesticides and other harsh chemicals. Once the cotton is woven into fabric, synthetics can be applied to the cotton without changing a manufacturer's ability to promote the fabric as 100 per cent cotton. Because of this, buyers interested in purchasing synthetics-free premature baby clothing must read labels carefully for specific language that states that no synthetic materials were used to manufacture a clothing item.

Premature Baby Clothing Features

A premature baby requires delicate handling, so buyers of premature baby clothing should choose features that make changing clothes and nappies easier. One-piece outfits provide premature babies with coverage that does not constrict blood flow, particularly in a baby's midsection. Avoiding any pressure around a baby's waist is critical, especially before a baby loses his or her umbilical cord. Clothing with a large neck hole allows parents to change a baby without moving the baby's head excessively, and should be featured on any pullover types of clothing for a premature baby.

Creating a Complete Wardrobe for a Premature Baby

Although premature babies, like most newborns, spend most of their time sleeping, parents should outfit a premature baby's wardrobe with a number of essential clothing items. These different types of clothing items help to protect a baby by providing warmth and protection when a baby is out of its cot.

Infant Gowns

Infant gowns are simple, full-body coverings that open completely at the bottom. The bottom opening and unrestrictive design of these gowns make them helpful clothing items to use when changing a premature baby's nappy. Some infant gowns have front openings that allow parents easy access to a premature baby's body if the parents must apply protective skin creams or administer other health-related remedies to the baby.


New parents can purchase boys' or girls' T-shirts for moments when a full-length infant gown provides too much coverage, like hot summer days. When buying a T-shirt, however, parents should remember to focus on simplicity. T-shirts with a minimal amount of ornamentation contain fewer seams and help to avoid the irritation that can be caused by decorated T-shirts, which may feature appliques and logos. Buyers should also remember to purchase T-shirts with unrestricted necklines that can reduce the risk irritation.


Premature babies can benefit from the heat retention that a cap provides. Studies have shown that a cap placed on an infant reduces the amount of heat that an infant's body loses, which helps to reserve the infant's strength. For premature babies, this protection is critical for the baby to remain healthy. Caps are also beneficial when transporting a premature baby to hospital for routine doctor visits.


Mittens for premature babies offer a number of health benefits. Since hands are in the extremities of the body, they grow cold faster than other parts of the body, like the torso. Mittens help to protect a premature baby's hands from growing cold and promote the conservation of the baby's body energy. Since babies lack dexterity, mittens also prevent babies from accidentally scratching themselves with their own fingernails.


Parents can use socks to help keep the feet of their premature baby warm. Like the hands, feet are susceptible to chills because of the distance that exists between the lower legs and the human heart. By utilising socks, parents have greater control over their choices for dressing their premature baby to regulate a baby's body temperature. For instance, on hot summer days, parents can choose to dress their premature baby in a T-shirt and socks instead of a full-length gown.


Finding premature baby clothing can be a challenge for new parents because a number of special issues must be taken into consideration to provide the best care for a premature baby. The smaller size of a premature baby prohibits parents from buying clothing designed for full-term newborns, so purchases must be limited to sizes specifically developed for premature infants. Unfortunately, manufacturers do not use a standardised approach when labelling clothes that fit into the premature baby size category. Buyers must, therefore, do some research before shopping to be sure that the dimensions of a potential purchase fit their babies appropriately.

Buyers can ensure the safety and comfort of their premature babies by avoiding embellishments on clothing and choosing materials made from natural fibres like cotton. Ease-of-use is important when handling a delicate newborn, so buyers should look for clothing features that make changing and care convenient. Buyers should also choose a range of clothes to keep their premature babies comfortable in different environments. Luckily for buyers, eBay offers a wide selection of premature baby clothes in a range of materials and styles that match every premature baby's needs.

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