No matter how prepared you are for parenthood, life can throw you a bit of a curveball—like your little one arriving ahead of schedule. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics about 11 to 13 percent of births in the US are premature, meaning baby is born before the 37th week of pregnancy has been completed. A premature baby—also known as a preemie—has distinct needs and may need to spend time in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU). This can be a lot to grapple with as new parent—especially if baby’s early arrival wasn’t at all expected.
Initially, baby will be dressed in just a diaper, so that nurses and doctors have easy access to medical lines and tubes. But, at some point, you’ll need some preemie clothes to keep your wee one comfortable and warm. Too exhausted to face the thought of shopping? We’ve done the research for you, and created a step-by-step guide to sourcing the best preemie clothes for baby. Keep scrolling to get our top tips, learn sizing information and discover 10 of the best preemie clothes brands on the market.
What Size are Preemie Clothes
Preemie clothing sizes are based on height and weight. Micro-preemie clothes are designed for the smallest infants, weighing 1 to 3 pounds. Preemie is the next size up, and these items usually fit babies up to 6 pounds in weight and 17 inches in length. Newborn clothing sizes vary depending on the brand, but are typically designed for babies up to 9 pounds in weight and 21.5 inches in length.
What to Look for in Preemie Clothes
Premature babies have specific needs, which affect what they can wear while in the NICU. Here are three things to look for when choosing preemie baby clothes.
soft fabrics All infant clothing should be soft to the touch, but fabric choices are even more important for premature babies, as they have extremely sensitive skin. With this in mind, go for soft, breathable materials like organic cotton.
Easy-access. Infants in the NICU may need to be hooked up to an IV and other medical devices. Garments with openings (or flaps) on the legs, shoulders and sides allow easy-access for any necessary tubes and wires.
Warm accessories. According to the Mayo Clinic, preemies may need help regulating their temperature, as they are born with very little body fat. Hats, socks and mittens keep little digits warm, helping baby to retain body heat. Gowns or bodysuits with fold-over cuffs for hands and feet are also good options, as they provide scratch protection and extra warmth.
Where to Buy Preemie Clothes
The last thing on your mind when caring for a premature baby is shopping. To take the stress out of your search, we’ve scoured the internet and found 10 of the best preemie clothes brands on offer. These companies create bodysuits, gowns and accessories specifically designed for premature babies weighing under 5 pounds, with clever features meant to better accommodate NICU needs.
Image: Preemie Store
The Preemie Store supports families through their NICU journeys with clothing that ranges from micro to preemie and take-me-home sizes. Patterned wrap jumpsuits, designed with Velcro closures on the shoulders, crotch and sides for easy-access, are ideal for preemies weighing between 3 to 6 pounds. While the NICU-friendly gowns are the perfect size for teeny infants (1 to 5 pounds). The best part? The clothing is designed so that parents and nurses can easily dress infants without disturbing IVs or monitors. The online store also carries premature baby brands—like Perfectly Preemie and Itty Bitty Baby Clothing Co.—that can be hard to find elsewhere.
Size range: Micro (1 to 3 pounds); Teeny (2 to 4 pounds); Preemie (3 to 6 pounds); Newborn (5 to 8 pounds)
- Wide range of sizes and styles
- NICU- and PICU-friendly gowns
- Footless styles and clothing with open shoulders and Velcro fasteners are great for babies in the NICU
- Two-day FedEx shipping
- Limited selection of gender-neutral styles
Shop: Starting at $4, PreemieStore.com
Carter’s is a go-to store for cute baby and toddler clothing—but did you know that the brand offers preemie clothes too? Designed in partnership with NICU nurses, the collection of bodysuits, hats and gowns are made using super-soft cotton. Each item is easy to take on and off, thanks to front openings and overlap shoulders for over-the-head removal. Plus, all Carter’s preemie clothes feature plastic snap-fasteners, so they don’t have to be removed for X-rays. Although we’re smitten with the entire collection, the sleeveless bodysuits with hook-and-loop closures on the shoulders and crotch are pretty hard to beat.
Size range: P (up to 5 pounds in weight and 17 inches in length); Preemie (up to 6 pounds in weight and 18 inches in length); Newborn (6 to 9 pounds in weight and 18 to 21.5 inches in length)
- Affordable price point
- Cute slogan bodysuits
- Hook-and-loop closures for easy dressing
- Designed in collaboration with NICU nurses
- Not as many options for micro preemies up to 5 pounds
Shop: Starting at $14, Carters.com
Image: Monica and Andy
Searching for the softest clothes for your delicate little one? Head straight to Monica and Andy. The brand’s premature baby clothes are crafted from GOTS-certified cotton, which is touchably soft and naturally breathable. Choose from a range of styles including bodysuits with envelope-style necklines, wrap-front rompers and loose-fitting gowns. We also love the kimono-style tees that fasten at the front and come complete with foldover mitts. And get a load of those sweet prints!
Size range: Preemie (up to 5 pounds in weight and 17 inches in length); Newborn (5 to 9 pounds in weight and 20 inches in length)
- Organic cotton material
- Easy on-and-off styles
- Sweet prints and color-block neutrals
- Limited size range
- Not specifically designed for preemies
Shop: Starting at $14, MonicaandAndy.com
Image: Kissy Kissy
Kissy Kissy clothing is described as “softer than soft,” and we can confirm the quality is top-notch. The newborn and preemie clothing is made from Peruvian pima cotton, which is durable yet gentle enough for very sensitive skin. The curated collection includes footies with snaps from neckline to feet, convertible gowns that doubles as playsuits and beanie hats to keep baby’s head covered and warm.
Size range: Preemie (up to 6 pounds); Newborn (up to 10 pounds)
- Soft premium pima cotton fabric
- Convertible styles give baby room to grow
- Fasteners from top to bottom for easy access
- High price point
- Limited styles and sizes available
Shop: Starting from $12, KissyKissy.com
Image: Burt’s Bees Baby
Burt’s Bees Baby is another great option for preemie clothing. The brand offers bodysuits, pants and pajamas for the smallest member of your family. Pick up a multipack of bodysuits that boast lap-shoulders, nickel-free fasteners and flat-lock seams that won’t irritate sensitive skin. Or, opt for a footless jumpsuit with snaps down the front for easy changing access. All of the apparel is made from GOTS-certified cotton—which is ultra-soft and produced without pesticides.
Size range: Preemie (up to 6 pounds in weight and 17 inches in length); Newborn (6 to 9 pounds in weight and up to 21.5 inches in length)
- Affordable price point
- Soft GOTS-certified cotton
- Gender-neutral designs
- Sizing on some items runs large
Shop: Starting at $14, BurtsBeesBaby.com
Image: Little Sleepies
Next up on our list of the best preemie clothes brands: Little Sleepies. This online store specializes in pajama sets, but they also offer zip-up sleep suits and crossover sets for premature babies. In fact, a few styles are available in micro-preemie sizes too. Thoughtful design elements—like built-in mitts and foot cuffs that can be folded back to avoid interfering with IV lines—make this brand a real standout. There’s a wide range of color options on offer, including a cool camo-print set for your little fighter. Plus, all of the clothing is tagless and made from a bamboo-blend fabric that’s gentle on sensitive or eczema-prone skin.
Size range: Micro (under 5 pounds); Preemie (up to 5 pounds in weight and 17 inches in length); Newborn (5 to 9 pounds in weight and up to 20 inches in length)
- Micro-preemie sizes available
- Wide range of prints and patterns
- Lunaluxe bamboo fabric is soft and stretchy
Shop: Starting from $34, Little Sleepies
Image: Luvable Friends
Having a baby in the NICU can be an emotionally fraught experience, especially if you have to scramble to find preemie size clothing. Luckily, Luvable Friends offers a layette set for premature infants. Made of super-soft cotton, the starter set includes a bodysuit, pants, a side-snap shirt and a cap. Each piece can be worn together or separately, and is easy to take on and off. The set comes in a few styles including a mustache-print collection with a bodysuit that reads “Mommy’s little man.” How sweet is that?
Size range: Preemie (up to 5 pounds)
- Cotton material
- Set includes all the basics: hat, bodysuit, pants and a shirt
- No gender-neutral print set available
Shop: Starting from $16, Luvable Friends
Image: Gerber Childrenswear
Gerber is the Original onesie brand (so much so that they are actually trademarked the term)—but the brand has a pretty decent selection of premature baby clothes too. From basic wrap tops, bodysuits and hats to tiny two-piece preemie outfits, Gerber has tons of options to consider. Our top pick? Their gender-neutral gowns. Made from 100 percent cotton, the gowns have lap-shoulders, built-in scratch mitten cuffs and an elasticated opening at the bottom for easy medical access. Plus, the multipack options are super-affordable to boot.
Size range: Preemie (up to 5 pounds in weight and 17 inches in length); Newborn (5 to 8 pounds in weight and 17 to 21 inches in length)
- Affordable price point
- Cotton material
- Multipack options
- Less adaptive features than other brands on the market
Shop: Starting at $14, GerberChildrenswear.com
Although Gap doesn’t have a section devoted to preemie clothes, many of the newborn pieces fit infants that weigh up to 7 pounds. So if you’re looking for basics that baby can grow into, Gap is a good place to start. The First Favorites collection includes this three-pack of bodysuits (pictured above), made from organic cotton and designed with lapped shoulders that allow room for an IV and other medical lines.
Size range: Preemie and newborn (up to 7 pounds)
- Affordable price point
- Lap shoulder design
- Gender-neutral prints
- Limited selection
- Clothing may run a little large
Shop: Starting at $10, Gap.com
Image: Kyte Baby
Kyte Baby’s selection of preemie baby clothes is small but mighty (just like your little one!). The collection includes long- and short-sleeved bodysuits, footies with full-length zippers and adjustable knot caps that grow with baby. We also love the brand’s baby bundlers; These innovative sleep gowns can be worn open or fastened at the bottom to keep baby’s feet tucked in and toasty. Kyte uses a silky-soft bamboo fabric that’s naturally hypoallergenic and breathable, making it the perfect choice for delicate skin. And the simple, color-block designs are easy to mix-and-match.
Size range: Preemie (4 to 7 pounds in weight and 19 inches in length); Newborn (6 to 9 pounds in weight and 18 to 21 inches in length)
- Soft bamboo material
- Gender-neutral designs
- Limited styles
- No micro-preemie sizes available
Shop: Starting at $20, KyteBaby.com