17 Best Preemie Clothes For NICU That Are Perfect For Your Littlest One

by Holly
best preemie clothes for nicu

As any parent of a preemie knows, surviving the NICU is tough enough without worrying about what your child is wearing. Thankfully, there are now a number of companies that make comfortable and safe preemie clothes specifically for the NICU. In this post, we’ll share our picks for the best preemie clothes for NICU.

These clothes are designed to be comfortable and NICU-safe so your little one can feel at their best while they’re in the hospital. Plus, they’re cute too! So read on to learn more.

This post may contain affiliate links, which means I’ll receive a commission if you purchase through my link, at no extra cost to you. Please read full disclosure here.

Do Preemies Wear Clothes In the NICU?

best preemie clothes for NICU

Most people are familiar with the image of a baby swaddled in a blanket, but what about preemies? Do they wear clothes in the NICU?

The answer is both yes and no.

While most preemies do spend some time in clothes, they may also be placed in special “preemie garments” or even just diapers. It all depends on the individual baby’s needs.

Baby W didn’t wear clothes for the first half of his residence in the NICU. He had umbilical lines going into his belly and had to wear a full-body harness to correct his hips. Wearing clothes would be impossible.

As for Baby Madi, she wore preemie clothes from day 1 because her treatment was less intensive.

In general, however, the main priority for preemies is to maintain a stable body temperature. That’s why many of them are placed under heated lamps or in incubators. Clothing can help to keep a baby warm, but it’s not always necessary. In the end, whatever keeps a preemie safe and comfortable is what’s best.

Your baby’s nurse will be able to give you the green light to dress your preemie.

When Do Preemies Start Wearing Clothes?

It’s never too early to start dressing your baby in cute clothes! However, if you have a preemie, you’ll need to take a few extra factors into consideration.

Preemies are often born prematurely and may have delicate skin that is susceptible to infection. In addition, they may need special care to maintain their body temperature. For these reasons, it’s important to consult with your child’s doctor before dressing them in clothes.

In general, most preemies can start wearing clothes when they are placed in an open crib (usually around 35 weeks). At this stage, they usually no longer need the extra warmth of an incubator and their skin is less fragile.

What Is The Weight For Preemie Clothes?

Preemie clothes are sized for babies who weigh between 4 and 7 pounds.

These clothes are usually smaller in width and length than regular newborn clothes, but they often have similar features like snaps or zippers.

While some brands size their preemie clothes by weight, others use a general “preemie” size. If you’re not sure what size to buy, check with the NICU nurse. Keep in mind that your baby may grow quickly, so purchase the larger size if you’re uncertain what size your preemie should wear.

How Many Outfits Does a Preemie Need?

A good general rule of thumb is to have one outfit for every day that your baby is expected to stay in the hospital. Of course, you’ll also want to have a few extras on hand in case of accidents or spills. And it’s always a good idea to have at least one outfit that can be used for going home.

To complement your preemie’s outfit, have 2 – 3 pairs of baby mittens and 1 hat per day. Mittens protect your baby’s skin from scratching and the hat keeps your baby’s head warm.

Those tiny mittens are easy to get lost, special if you have white ones that happen to be the same color as hospital sheets. So, be sure to pack a few colored mittens per day.

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Tips On Packing Preemie Outfits For The NICU

It’s important to remember that space is limited in the NICU. That’s why I recommend packing two PBA-free gallon-size freezer bags: one for clean clothes and one for dirty clothes. Label each bag with your baby’s name, and pack two days’ worth of outfits in the clean bag. At the end of each day, simply throw your baby’s clothes for that day in the dirty bag.

This system will help keep your baby’s clothes organized and prevent them from getting lost in the hospital.

What To Consider When Buying NICU Clothes

When selecting clothes for your preemie, look for soft fabrics that won’t irritate their skin. It’s also important to choose items that are easy to put on and take off, as you’ll be spending a lot of time changing diapers!

You don’t need to buy a lot of NICU preemie clothes

The truth is that you probably won’t need to buy lots of clothes for your preemie while they’re in the NICU. Preemies grow quickly, so they’ll likely outgrow any clothes you do bring before long. Instead, leave room in the budget for larger sizes; your preemie will be wearing regular baby clothes before you know it.

I only got Baby W six new preemie outfits – 2 short sleeve bodysuits, 2 long sleeve bodysuits, and 2 long sleeve wrap shirts. He wore these interchangeably with newborn clothes I already have. It was perfectly enough during his months-long stay in the NICU.

Look for preemie clothes designed for easy access

If your baby is in the NICU, chances are they have wires attached to their body. Choose clothes that are easy to access these lines because the nurse will need to adjust them often.

Baby W had a bunch of electrodes on his chest to monitor his vitals so I opted for wrap closure and side snaps clothes.

Baby Madi, on the other hand, only had a pulse oximeter attached to her foot so she was able to wear onesies.

Whatever you have may work already

You may have newborn clothes from the baby registry or from hand-me-downs. Whatever you have may work already so be sure to look into your baby’s wardrobe to see if there are any clothes your preemie baby can wear.

Best Places To Buy Preemie NICU Clothing


Amazon is hands-down the best place to buy preemie clothes for NICU. It offers fast delivery and free shipping for Prime members, making it easy and affordable to stock up on everything you need. You can find all sorts of preemie clothes here in varying sizes and materials.


Target doesn’t have as fast of shipping times as Amazon but their prices are typically lower. They carry many brands so there are many selections to choose from.

Baby Gap

Baby Gap has a smaller selection but their clothes tend to be of higher quality. Shipping can take a while unless you have time to shop in stores.


Carter’s offers a wide selection of cute preemie clothes. Shipping can take a while but it’s worth visiting if you have a Carter’s nearby.

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Best Preemie NICU Clothing

Best Everyday Preemie Clothes To Wear In The NICU

Perfectly Preemie Long-Sleeve NICU Jumpsuit 

Designed for NICU preemies ▪ Velcro closures ▪ Easy access to IVs

Burt’s Bees 100% Organic Cotton One-Piece Coverall

100% organic cotton ▪ Snap closure for easy access to IVs

Simple Joys by Carter’s 6-Piece Everyday Set

Nickel-free snaps 100% cotton Budget-friendly

Must-have accessories for the NICU preemie

Preemie Mittens & Hats Set

Preemie Mittens

Preemie Clothes For Baby Boys

Baby Preemie Layette 4-Pieces Set

100% Cotton ▪ Soft & high-quality ▪Matching set

Short and Long Sleeve & Pants Set

100% Premium Cotton▪value pack

Preemie Clothes For Baby Girls

Hudson Baby Preemie Layette 4-Pieces Set

100% Cotton ▪ Soft & high-quality ▪Matching set

HonestBaby Organic Cotton Kimono Coverall

GOTS-certified organic cotton ▪ Side closure

Organic Preemie Clothes

GOTS certified 100% organic cotton Fold-over mitt-sleeves 

Certified 100% organic cotton ▪ Many colors to choose from

GOTS certified 100% organic cotton Warm wrap design

RELATED POST: 8 Things to do before bringing baby home from the NICU

Best Clothes For Preemies To Sleep In

Preemies normally don’t wear sleep sacks in the NICU, but be sure to purchase one or two for when your baby goes home!

Here are the best sleep sacks to keep your baby from getting cold.

100% organic cotton ▪ Side snap closure ▪ Fold-over mitt-sleeves 

Original SwaddleMe Original ▪Preemie Size

3-Way Adjustable ▪ Super-soft and plush ▪ Preemie Size

Last Thing You Need to Know About Preemie Clothes For NICU

Buying clothes for a NICU baby can be an emotional experience. For parents who have been anxiously waiting to see their child in anything other than a diaper, buying preemie clothes is a major milestone.

It’s one more step closer to going home and it also feels like you are finally able to do something normal as a parent. Remember that preemies have very sensitive and delicate skin, so you will want to wash your baby’s clothes in a laundry detergent that is fragrance and dye-free.

Tell me by leaving a message below about your experience buying clothes for your preemie in the NICU.

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