8 NICU & Preemie Clothing Tips

preemie clothes folded in a pile

Everybody loves an adorable baby outfit, but clothing choices can get a bit more complicated when your baby is in the NICU. Since “can I bring clothes for my baby to wear in the NICU?” is a NICU FAQ, I wanted to break it down for you in this post!

Many preemies won’t be candidates for a cute outfit right away. Preterm babies require lots of monitoring, and nurses need an unobstructed view to keep a close eye on their breathing and other vital signs. 

Premature babies also need to be able to regulate their body temperature before they can wear clothes, and it could be a few days, weeks, or even months before your little one is ready for an adorable ensemble.

But when you get the go-ahead to go shopping for your little trendsetter, we’ve got some great tips to help NICU moms, dads, and families choose NICU-friendly outfits!

1. Choose Outfits with Snaps or Magnetic Closures

Your baby has a lot of extra accessories and equipment in the NICU, and all those cords and wires have to go somewhere! Outfits that fasten in front with snaps or magnetic clasps keep clothing changes simple. They allow your nurses to run cords right between the closures.

2. Avoid Onesies That Go Over the Head

If your baby is on c-pap or other breathing assistance, it becomes far more difficult to dress them in clothing that goes over their head. Stick to front-fastening gowns, sleepers, or onesies.

3. Keep Those Sweet Feet Free

Footed sleepers are adorable, but they don’t always work well in the NICU. Lots of hospitals use pulse oximeters that are wrapped around baby’s foot to monitor their oxygen saturation, so it can be better to dress your little one in sleepers without feet or gowns that are open at the bottom for easy access.

4. Save the Special Pieces for When You Come Home

If you have a stack of heirloom baby outfits, you probably don’t want to bring them to the NICU. Clothing WILL get stained, and they might get misplaced, so it’s best to stick to pieces that are easy to clean and don’t hold a great deal of sentimental value.

5. Choose Outfits That Aren’t Too Form Fitting

Be sure to leave room for all the aforementioned cords and wires, so size up if needed to ensure there’s plenty of space for your baby’s equipment.

6. Stay Away from Zippers

Even though zip-front sleepers and gowns are easy to put on, there’s no easy way to arrange cords or make room for monitors or other devices. 

If your baby isn’t quite ready for a full wardrobe, that doesn’t mean you have to miss out on the fashion fun. Plus, dressing your baby up is another great way to bring a touch of home and care to the NICU. Ask your nurses if you can bring in hats, or a special swaddle blanket to give your sweetie some personalized style!

7. Pick Pieces Designed Just for Preemies

There are lots of adorable outfits designed with the NICU in mind.  

When you’re building your baby’s wardrobe check out Amazon for some high-quality NICU-approved outfits specially crafted to provide easy medical access AND great style!

8. Choose the Ultimate Going Home Outfit

Graduation from the NICU is a BIG deal, and you should absolutely go all out choosing a special homecoming outfit for your brave NICU warrior. 

These Etsy retailers design the cutest NICU-themed outfits that feature inspirational sayings or custom designs for your little one. If you’re searching for the perfect “graduation” outfit, check out their selection of onesies that can be customized with your baby’s name, homecoming date, or the fun saying of your choice.