As reader Letisha pointed out, November is National Prematurity Awareness Month, and today is the “Fight for Preemies” day that March of Dimes observes every year. As a mama-of-a-preemie, I know firsthand that the premature birth of your child/children can be quite stressful and scary for you, and just plain confusing for your family and friends who want to celebrate the birth of your child. So, I compiled a small list of places to find preemie items, be it clothing, books, or just something that’s fun.
Clothing for preemies is exceptionally hard! Unfortunately, many clothing companies still seem to think that a child who is born early either doesn’t need clothes (dressing Jasper while he was in the NICU was actually really therapeutic for us, and helped us feel like we were “doing something” for him), or that he or she can just kick it in clothes that are entirely too large for a little body. Here are a few options:
HATS. Hats are big-time in the preemie parenting world, as little babies have a harder time retaining body heat.
You know what I love the most about this hippie(ish) hat from A Hat For Every Head? It actually looks like the shape can accommodate that ever-so-cute, somewhat larger-than-average skull so many preemies are born with and carry with them for the first few years of life. Plus, the color scheme is gender neutral, and the hat itself looks fuzzy and warm.
See also: My Baby Rocks also stocks preemie-sized clothing AND gives you plenty of options — something that’s not easily found when searching for preemie stuff!
I’m a big time book fan — where else can you get lots of information, examples, charts, and so on that can put your mind at ease? A lot of books about premature babies are intimidating, to say the least! Dr. Sears is notoriously offbeat-endorsed, and The Premature Baby Book : Everything You Need to Know About Your Premature Baby from Birth to Age One is comforting, informative, and basically fabulous.
When we had Jasper, most of our friends were on the other side of the country — they were all eager to help out, but couldn’t physically be there with us during NICU visits and things like that. There are plenty of OFFLINE things you can do for your friends and their premature baby that are infinitely more valuable than anything you can buy:
- Offer to clean their living space, water plants, cook some meals and pop them in the freezer (hospital food gets old!), and walk their dog. Depending on the condition of their child, the parents may not even be coming home for the first few days, or even weeks, and these things will still need attending to!
- I think I always say this on lists like this, but look into a local professional photographer, or talk to the hospital staff and see if there’s someone who takes photos of the families together while they’re still in the NICU. You might think that this is an ultra-sad and scary time for your friends and their child/ren — it is, but it’s also a beautiful one, and something they’ll probably like to have documented.
- See if insurance is covering the medical costs, and if it’s not, offer to set up a fund (or do it on the sly as a surprise!) among fellow family and friends. You’d be truly stunned by how many people have to battle with insurance companies while their child is in the NICU.
- Accept that your friends will need their space — if you’re really there for them, let them know, but definitely don’t offer emotional support without the intention of following through. Don’t be surprised if parents of preemies retreat into each other, but also don’t be surprised when they call you at three in the morning, just needing to talk.
Friends of parents/Parents of preemies: let us all know what you found to be most helpful!