Friday, December 5, 2008

Blessed with Hand-Me-Downs

I don't know about you but, to me, hand-me-downs are one of life's great blessings. My husband and I are each the youngest of three children and we have ten nieces and nephews. Since my son was a newborn, I have received boxes full of beautiful, classic clothes to use thanks to my sister who has two boys of her own (and taste very similar to mine!). My brother has girls, so when C. arrived, I had a new source. My siblings and siblings-in-law will tell you-- there is very little I will turn down. Similarly, as we've had essentially back-to-back pregnancies, my sisters-in-law and I have passed a box of maternity clothes between us, each adding more as she goes.

I adore hand-me-downs. I can't imagine how much I've saved.

If you have a preemie, especially a very tiny preemie, you usually end up with a fairly large collection of preemie-sized baby clothes. These are garments designed for babies under 5 lb and, while I'm sure they all look super tiny to most people, there's actually a huge variance in how preemie sizes run. So, within your collection, you probably have a spectrum of sizes.

The thing about preemie clothes is this... hopefully, your siblings, friends, and neighbors won't need them. You can pass on those 0-3 month sleepers and feel confident they'll fit for at least a couple of weeks (!), but preemie clothes? Even small-ish newborns find newborn size clothes a better fit.

If you don't know anyone personally who has a preemie, I encourage you to talk to your local children's hospital. Whatever hospital has the highest level NICU in it. (FYI, this is often a teaching hospital.) Many of these hospitals are happy to accept used preemie clothes. And, in reality, my preemie clothes would be the only size that was completely "new to me". So they're in excellent shape. For all sorts of reasons, there are lots of NICU preemies who don't have families supplying them with clothing. The nurses are happy to have a collection on hand to use for these babies. Clothing, like blankets, can be washed and re-used. It happens, even in hospitals, all the time.

Most clothing drive campaigns for preemies request new garments. And that's wonderful. But if you're looking to contribute, and what you have to offer is gently used, contact your hospital... odds are good your generosity will be much appreciated and you won't have to shell out extra cash to make a difference.

For more frugal ideas, visit Crystal's Frugal Friday!


Ryann said...

One of the most memorable days for us was walking into the NICU seeing Addyson with clothes on for the first time. She was over a month old before they put preemie clothes on her, and she was still swimming in them. Addyson was able to wear preemie clothes for about 3 months, but then came home in newborn sizes. While we've donated some of the preemie clothes to other families we've met along the way, we have been able to pass some along to the NICU as well. I've got another box to deliver to the NICU next time we are out that way.

By the way, if you are looking to purchase preemie clothes, we were able to find some at Babies R Us and at Walmart as well as Burlington Coat Factory. Be sure to check with the nurses at the NICU for suggestions about clothes. We found out the hard way that some of the clothes only go over the head or feet and when your little one is attached to tubes and wires, it makes dressing difficult or impossible. Look for clothes that snap or tie all the way up for ease of stringing the wires and tubes around the clothes.

Amy @ Finer Things said...

My children would walk around naked if not for hand me downs!

;-) Amy

Teresa said...

My daughter was born 9 weeks early and was in the hospital NICU for 5 weeks. The day she came home from the hospital was the first day she had "clothing" on and it was a preemie outfit. It is the only preemie outfit I had for her.

I wish that the hospital she was born at had been blessed with hand me downs because for the longest time after bringing her home even she wore nothing a ginormous gown with her diaper and socks. Everything was way too big for her. Finally by the time she was 3 months old she was able to wear newborn clothing and things got easier but those first 3 months were rough.

Please, anyone who wants to donate, please think about donating preemie clothing, diapers, or baby blankets to your local hospital. There are some families who would really love you for it!

Heidi said...

That is a great suggestion to ask about donating clothes - we have some still around here that were claimed as baby doll outfits. A friend had made a few 2 to 4lb preemie outfits for our son. We kept some clothes to show Bennett when he's older but the social worker was thrilled to accept preemie hand-me-downs to pass on to a family in need.

And we love hand-me-downs, too. With all our little ones, it's inevitable. :)

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