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My most used preemie essential item and it's probably not what you think.

Hey Mama’s, in a previous post I talked about what I considered to be essential newborn equipment, but that list doesn’t include preemie essentials. There is one item I could and still cannot do without.

preemie essential item

Let’s rewind but at 27 weeks my water broke, and I watched my little bump slowly deflate until all that was left was the shape of my little one. The medical term for this is Preterm Premature Rupture of Membranes (PPROM). It’s a pregnancy complication where the sac (amniotic membrane) surrounding your baby ruptures before week 37 of pregnancy.

PPROM is a pregnancy complication where the sac surrounding your baby ruptures before week 37 of pregnancy

At the time, I hadn’t bought anything for my baby. We were busy planning our gender reveal before everything changed instantly and my world was turned upside down.

I was put on an emergency flight and was hospitalized for some weeks before giving birth. My mom got some preemie clothing and things to make my stay more comfortable and hopped on the next flight to meet me.

I would list the things she got but there are so many hospital bag checklists that I think it covers just about everything, but comfortable clothing and diapers were at the top of my list. No, I’m not kidding, I loved the diapers, I had no issue wearing them. Now that I think about it, its pretty funny because my grandmother refuses to wear them and there I was prolonging the time that I needed to wear them postpartum.

I didn’t need preemie clothing right away because my baby was put in an incubator. I remember the first-time walking into the NICU and seeing him. It is a world apart. He was intubated, tube fed and there was so much more going on. Fast forward with all the complications, they had given up on him and we were sent home on palliative care. Here we are more than a year and a half later. Based on your baby’s complications your needs might be different. But...

These are the things I needed most, both in and out of the NICU.

Preemie essential items

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1. Blankets

Hospitals are generally cold and the NICU wasn’t any different. Blankets can be used to cover your baby once they move to an open crib. We also used little blankets to put over his incubator as décor and to hide some of the machine’s lights when he slept at night. I guess in some way it made me feel like I was tucking him in at night just by pulling the blankets halfway over the incubator. I’m sure the nurses had to remove it for their nightly rounds but it just became part of our routine.

2. Preemie clothing

The first onesies we got were snap button and as we bought more, I realized some onesies were just better suited for babies in the NICU than others. Babies in the NICU usually have lots of wires for monitoring, oxygen masks or nasal cannulas and they may also have IV lines and tubes. It’s about finding onesies that are easy to put on and take off. Here are some recommendations:

  • Side snap body suits. Avoids you having to put anything over baby's head and you can probably let some wires out through the openings.

  • Onesies with buttons that go all the way down. This provides exit areas for monitors that may be on their feet.

I wouldn't recommend one-way zip clothing but we managed pretty okay with two-way zip sleep and plays.

3. Breast pump

While your baby is in the NICU it’s important to pump as much milk as you can. For a long time, I used the hospital grade pump and honestly it wasn’t the best fit nor was it very comfortable. That combined with the stress and emotions, my milk supply fluctuated a lot. It wasn't until months later that I purchased the Pumpables breast pump and I was so happy because it was much more comfortable. I was getting into a routine but then we baby were put on another emergency flight and I just couldn’t keep up. I’ll probably make a separate review about this breast pump and list the pros and cons.

4. Preemie diapers

It’s a must. We bought preemie diapers, but the NICU also provided diapers. You might need some once you’re home also.

5. Toys

The NICU can be a scary place with all the lights and sounds and I think it’s great to have something to distract and change the mood. What better way to stimulate babies and lull them to sleep than with mobiles. We couldn’t use the mobile while he was in the incubator, but we did once our little one came home. We had other things i.e a teddy bear we named Ansel, a musical plush toy that we attached to the outside of the incubator and a few more things.


6. Thermometer

NICU nurses keep track of baby’s temperature day in and day out and it was no different the first weeks we came home. I feel like preemies are more sensitive and there were so many times he seemed to have a fever and the first thing I’d grab was the thermometer. We probably had about 3 and always kept one in his diaper bag.

7. Hand sanitizer

NICU’s have general hygiene guidelines and our stay was during the Covid pandemic, so I’m guessing you can imagine the extra precautions. But even at home we kept a large bottle of sanitizer that we used RELIGIOUSLY. You should limit your visitors but if you have any also have them use sanitizer before touching your LO.

8. Physiodose (Physiological solution)

I used more than I can count. These are little tubes filled with a saline solution (purified water and salt). I’d use these to clean his eyes. One of my baby’s NICU nurses also taught me how to perform a saline nasal irrigation using these littles tubes. Having a baby on oxygen and a feeding tube, it's important to ensure his nasal path was clear (nasopharyngeal clearing). It the hospital they’d often use a suction method to clear secretions from the oropharynx and nasopharynx. At home these worked just fine.

9. Nasal aspirator

Usually, the physiological solution can flush mucus it right out with the baby in the right position. However, there were times when his mucous was thick and I needed the help of a nasal aspirator. I'd also follow up with this after nasal irrigation.

10. Handheld pulse oximeter (Saturation monitor)

Finally, what I needed most and my top preemie essential item: a saturation monitor. I’ve had the same one throughout this entire journey. The service that provided my baby’s oxygen at home did not provide a monitor. So, I bought my own handheld monitor and they also started using my monitor to take note of his vitals (go figure). Not sure if that had anything to do with him being sent home on palliative or not. I got it on Amazon, you can find it here.

At first, I used the sensor it came with then at some point I used the Nellcor SpO₂ Adhesive Sensors and then another with my handheld monitor. I found the quality of my results also depended on the quality of my sensor. Nellcor has been the best thus far. They’d even let me use mine in hospitals.

Placement is important. There were times that I think some nurses were annoyed because they’d place it just around the toe and increase his oxygen and so I’d asked to place their sensor around the feet in a particular way and his saturation would maybe jump from 88% to 92%-94%. This area not only proved to work for my monitor but also theirs. I’m not sure why so many of them did that but I guess it’s maybe part of their training.

The weaning process was extremely slow and I am thankful to God that he no longer needs it (not even at night). Id often be up several times during the night just to check his saturation, breathing and heart rate. I couldn’t have it done without a saturation monitor.



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