3 pounds, 13 ounces.
That was all Posey weighed when she was born 6 weeks early, leaving me and Beef terrified… and totally unprepared at home. We had a panicky feeling about leaving the safety of the NICU’s constant monitoring. After my desperate web search for “Preemie Must-Haves” turned up basically nothing on the entire internet, I figured it out on my own. I’m sure I’m not the only parent who’s searched, so allow me to present the Top 10 Things I Couldn’t Live Without when we first brought her home.
We were fortunate that we registered for this one only based on its good reviews. It turned out to be one of the few car seats with a 4lb. minimum– most of them start at 5lbs. A removable newborn insert makes it even snugger for little lima bean babies so they don’t go rattling around. And it helped her pass something called the Car Seat Test. Before the NICU lets you take your baby home, they hook your little nugget up to the monitors and observe for a couple hours to make sure she doesn’t lose any oxygen folded up in there. And you might get released sooner than you expected, so be prepared!
2. Puj Tub
Fits inside your sink; folds up flat! They say this is supposed to go up to 17lbs., but I think that’s a crock. I will say that it was itty-bitty enough to not make us worried about drowning her for a couple of months. This intimidation-free tub made bathtime fun instead of terrifying, and now it comes in some fun colors.
After Posey spent 3 weeks attached to machines, having her at home with no monitors should have been a breath of beep-free air. It wasn’t. This super-sensitive gadget goes off if it doesn’t detect motion for 20 seconds. I am not going to pretend that I also didn’t wave my finger under her nose constantly for the first several dozen nights, but the reassurance helped us tremendously. If your preemie is experiencing apneas or bradycardias, you know what I’m talking about.
I spent hours upon hours searching for something appropriate for her to sit in, and this bouncer had preemie parents screaming from the rooftops. Total dedicated preemie parent following, and it should, because it fits a little baby very well. And she liked it for a long time in baby-time, which is like 4 months. I liked that it wasn’t particularly loud and obnoxious. She came with us everywhere in this thing. Poor kid has watched her parents shower while strapped in the Bunny Chair so many times that I am fully prepared for her to start presenting with bunny issues.
This was her #2 hangout spot. Perfect for on the couch or whaevs. It’s engineered with the perfect teeny-tiny divet for a teeny-tiny tush. Now that she’s outgrown it, it’s the cats’ favorite. And when my first pillow got shredded in the washing machine, Boppy sent me a brand new one in 48 hours.
The NICU nurses really know how to swaddle. The problem is, when you get home, they really don’t recommend a blanket swaddle because it can get loose– and you’re not supposed to have ANYTHING in the crib/bassinet with them because of the SIDS risk. But that startle reflex is real, and it keeps them awake. This thing saved us. It successfully straps baby’s arms down with a secure Velcro seal, and it’s idiot-proof. Once I even overheard Beef, upon swaddle completion, gloat, “I made that swaddle my bitch!” It’s the little things. The SleepSack has also been proven to decrease SIDS risk. Get like 3, because they get barfed on.
Whilst in the womb, Posey was gifted with one of the cutest wardrobes on the planet. When she was born, she owned not one single thing that actually fit her. We even had to roll down the tops of her preemie diapers because they were too big. Carter’s is amazing. They sell it everywhere, it’s cheap, and they make preemie-sized clothes that actually fit a preemie. Now I have phrases in my vocabulary like, “It washes well.” Here is a picture of one of her preemie suits next to her big elephant-girl 6 month suits she just started wearing:
(Note to BabyGap: thanks for making an “up to 7 lbs.” size, but it didn’t fit my baby until she hit 7 lbs.)
In the hospital, we had to use slow-flow nipples to feed her. Standard flow was just too fast for her and would cause her to choke, which would cause her to stop breathing, which would set off the alarms and become the most traumatic 5 to 12 seconds you can imagine. These are the bottle that she liked the best after some trial and error, and we were relieved that a preemie-flow was available to reassure us at home that she wouldn’t choke on her milk.
Probably the scariest thing you will ever do as a parent is drive with your new baby in the backseat for the first time. What worked for us was the caravan system, where we had my parents follow in the car behind us on the way home from the hospital, motorcade-style. Beef drove. About 10 miles per hour. When it was my turn– and Beef had gone back to work– I invested in this handy little thing so I could see what my rear-facing baby was up to. Get one.
Last but not least, this one’s for you. I’ve written before about hand sanitizing. It’s a good idea, especially with a preemie. But that Purell stuff is the pits. It leaves your hands looking and feeling like turkey jerky. I saw a commercial for this product, and I think it was the first time I ever ran-not-walked immediately to the store to buy it, and it’s great. Lotion and germ-killing in one.
Am I missing anything you’d care to add to the list?
Note from Liz: I was not compensated in any way by any of the above-mentioned companies. All of my opinions are based on my own experience and research.