Clever gift ideas for parents of premature babies

Premature baby clothes
Gilly Ferguson,-Contributing Editor

Just because the baby arrived sooner than anticipated, it doesn’t mean the gifts have to be delayed. Send them practical, thoughtfully designed premature-baby clothes

If you’re wondering what premature babies (or ‘preemies’) should wear, chances are you’re a new parent yourself or you know someone who’s recently given birth to a preemie. If it’s the former, you’ll no doubt be feeling a wild mix of emotions right now, including confusion, powerlessness, shock and fear, and be on a mission to keep your beautiful new arrival happy and healthy. 

While you’re quickly learning about treatments, medicines and machines, you may feel like you have few chances to enjoy the early stages of parenting, with cuddling and dressing your baby seemingly out of your control. That’s why John Lewis has a special eight-piece range for 3-4lb newborns.

Did you know?
Around 60,000 babies are born prematurely in the UK each year. That’s one in every 13 babies being born before 37 weeks of pregnancy

‘Our premature baby range has been developed with little ones and parents in mind – we’ve thought very carefully about how to adapt our clothing to be comfortable for premature babies, yet practical for parents,’ says Richard Rutkins, Childrenswear Product Development Technologist at John Lewis. ‘It's really important to us that we are offering diverse and inclusive ranges for all our customers [at every] stage of family life, starting from birth.’

John Lewis has also partnered with the medical-research charity Borne, donating 10% of all full-price sales from the premature range to help support Borne’s mission to end premature births everywhere.

Mei Li Powell, Chief Operating Officer of Borne says, ‘We are delighted that John Lewis has launched this range of premature-baby clothing. We hope that this range will give choice and confidence to parents and make dressing their baby for the first time a special experience – one they will remember for a lifetime. We are so grateful to John Lewis for their partnership on this range and hope it will raise awareness of premature birth and support our vital research in the area to ensure no baby is born too soon.’

So, whether you’re buying baby clothes for your little little one or looking for the best gift idea for premature babies, thanks to these clever baby buys you can rest assured that the childrenswear department is taken care of, freeing you to get back to the important stuff… 

Did you know?
Only 2.1% of publicly funded medical research is invested in reproductive health and childbirth, including premature birth rates

What makes our premature baby range so good?

Lovingly created for parents like you, by parents like you, this expert-led range includes 11 high-quality preemie baby clothes in sizes 3lbs and 4lbs, for your little one to wear from hospital to home. What’s more, all of our premature clothing for girls and boys feature:

  • 100% GOTS* organic cotton  
  • Nickel-free poppers to reduce skin sensitivity, pull-tested with 90+ Newton force
  • Double jersey and  interlock fabrics that are soft on the inside and the outside
  • Long-lasting shape that will weather wear after wear, wash after wash
  • Flat inner seams for comfort, with extra-soft sewing thread
  • Gaps in between rip-tape fastenings for medical equipment
  • No loose care labels – information is printed on the fabric to prevent rubbing

What are the best clothes to buy a premature baby in hospital?

When a baby is born prematurely it can mean that they will spend months in hospital, so it’s incredibly important that, whilst medical care is delivered by professionals, parents are also given the opportunity to take an active role in their baby’s care. This involvement can help parents to bond with their baby, improve their confidence in caring for their newborn, and reduce parental stress.

In hospital, a premature baby needs practical clothing to accommodate the cannulas and oxygen probes. Start with baby grow ‘incubator’ vests, bodysuits and sleepsuits – with as many baby-soft, rip-tape fastenings as possible. You’re aiming for easy access and removal (for skin-to-skin contact), which can be hard with all the wires.

If you’re a friend or family member, why not send preemie parents a gift box of clothes in their baby’s specific size (usually 3lbs upwards)? Be sure to select super-soft cotton clothing with no labels for maximum comfort.

For the day – Premature Baby GOTS Organic Cotton Elephant Star Stripe Bodysuit, Pack of 3, £9

Why we love it:

✔ 100% GOTS organic cotton
✔ Easy-change wrap front with rip-tape fastenings on the shoulders, down one side and at the crotch, so there’s no need to pull the bodysuit over baby’s head or hips
✔ Bound-edge seams in cotton jersey for ultimate comfort
✔ Available in sizes 3lbs and 4lbs, in pink, blue and neutral

For the night – Premature Baby GOTS Organic Cotton Elephant Sleepsuit, Pack of 3, £16

Why we love it?

✔ 100% GOTS organic cotton

✔ Easy-dress, baby-soft rip tape and extra fastenings along shoulders and arms

✔ Small spaces for medical equipment (also on jackets)

✔ Enclosed toe seams to stop loose thread ends wrapping around tiny toes

✔ Available in sizes 3lbs and 4lbs, in pink, blue and neutral

What are the best premature baby clothes for at home?

Whether your baby is moving from an incubator to a hospital cot or you’re now caring for your premature baby at home, it’s all about layers and keeping them warm. Here are the jackets and hats you’ll want at the ready.

Premature Baby GOTS Organic Cotton Giraffe Stripe Hat & Mittens Set, Pack of 2, £6

Why we love them:

✔ 100% GOTS organic cotton

✔ Hat with soft cotton lining for zero itchy seams 

✔ Bagged mitts with invisible seams

Premature Baby GOTS Organic Cotton Giraffe Print Jacket, £10

Why we love them:

✔ 100% GOTS organic cotton

✔ Easy-dress hook and loop fasteners and extra fastenings along shoulders and arms

✔ Small spaces for medical equipment 

Did you know?
Parents of babies born prematurely are more likely to experience postnatal depression

What’s the best thing to say to a parent of a premature baby?

‘Just be there to listen, and try not to compare to other prem babies’ outcomes to put a positive spin on it – it can be a little annoying and possibly not helpful’ Hannah

‘“Congratulations! Your baby is beautiful!” Also, sometimes offering a specific type of help is best because it doesn’t require the parent to think of something for you to do’ Nikki

‘Encourage them to find other preemie mums to talk to and take it one day at a time. It’s scary, but one day these ICU days will be a blur, so suggest parents write down their thoughts, too – it’s a great way to vent all of the raging emotions rather than bottling them up’ Kate

What’s the best thing someone can actually do for a parent of a premature baby?

‘The days are really long in the hospital and you are exhausted when you get home, so making food for them – whether it’s packed lunches for the hospital or dinner for evenings – is priceless. Looking after yourself is the last thing you think about’ Hannah

‘A few friends bought me spa gifts and new pyjamas for relaxation, which was a real treat. Flowers weren’t particularly helpful, as there’s not enough time at home to enjoy them!’ Dominique

‘When buying for preemies, be sensitive: having a prem baby is scary. Maybe buy the baby a cardigan when they’ve been moved to a crib. In the meantime, be there for the parents – they need to be looked after, too’ Kate

John Lewis is donating 10% from every full-price sale from its premature range to Borne – a charity on a mission to end premature births everywhere and forever


GOTS (Global Organic Textile Standard) is the leading textile processing standard for organic fibres throughout the world, including ecological and social criteria. It is backed up by independent certification

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