8 Preemie Essentials

Rowan turns one next month. NEXT. MONTH. How in the hell has this happened? I’ll post some updates over on rowan.small.and.mighty as we get closer to the big day. In the meantime, I am frequently asked about what I would consider to be the essential NICU/Preemie purchases, or what might be a practical gift for a NICU family, so I thought I would share a few. Just like with full term babies, every kid is different, but these are my must haves (or at least “nice to haves”).

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What got me through the first months with a preemie


In the NICU

Audible subscription – The NICU can be both boring and overwhelming at the same time. On good days you might spend hours holding your baby, which tends to tie up both hands. A pair of headphones and a good audio book can be a sanity saver.

Extra set of Medela parts – There is a good chance you are using a Medela Symphony pump in the hospital, and have probably rented one for home, too. Having a set of replacement parts means you don’t have to worry about forgetting them.

Preemie clothes – We went out and bought a ton of preemie clothes, only to realize how many of them just do. not. work. Zippers are so easy, unless you need to get cords and wires from inside the clothes to the outside of the clothes. Go with sleepers that snap open completely, kimono-style onesies and wraps,  or clothes specifically made for the NICU.

IMG_5941A white board – There are a million things to keep up with when you have a baby in the hospital. Friends wanted to help, but didn’t know how. So I bought a simple white board and put it on the wall in our hallway. We wrote down all of Rowan’s milestones, things that we needed to remember, grocery lists, and things that needed doing around the house. That way anyone stopping by could quickly see how they could help. We also wrote the NICU’s phone number so it was easily available.

Once we were home

Rock n Play – These are great for most babies, but especially for preemies who are prone to reflux issues. It keeps the baby at a safe incline, which makes them more comfortable. I’ve owned two of them, but I think the auto-rock feature is 100% worth it.

Dr Brown’s bottles with preemie nipples – My lactation consultant clued me in on research that shows that the Dr. Brown preemie nipples are the most consistently slow nipple out there. This is important both to help prevent the choking, sputtering, is-he-going-to-breathe-again panic, and also to help prevent bottle preference.

A good IBCLC– Seriously saved my sanity and our breastfeeding relationship. Look for referrals before you need them.

Swaddle blankets – Preemies spend a lot of time swaddled in their isolettes. Nurses are actually swaddle-ninjas who can make it look easy to make a one-handed baby burrito out of a swaddle blanket. For the rest of us, if you want to recreate that soothing womb-like experience, you might need some Velcro or zippers. For the tinies, I really love the Woombie and the SnugglePod. The two-way or upside-down zippers are a must.

Those of you who have done the NICU and Preemie roller coaster, what did you find essential? I’ll write a follow up with your ideas soon.

Rock n Play also makes a great growth chart.
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