Im sure the things that we found helpful in those first few weeks after coming home from the NICU aren't all that different from what parents of a full term baby would need, but below are some things that were essential to us in those first few weeks. Hopefully some of the preemie parents that find this blog find this list helpful.
I joke that I bought purell by the case, but this was absolutely essential. We had one in each room of our house, one in each car, one in the drink holder of the stroller, and one in the diaper bag.
an air purifier was an absolute essential. We have one in Virginia's room and another downstairs. It seems to really reduce the dust and dander and provides nice white noise.
These little portable night lights made it easy for us to check on her throughout the night or change a diaper without really waking her up. They turn on as soon as you pick them up from their charging base.
We did not come home with an apnea monitor because the only A&B episodes that Virginia had in the final weeks of her NICU stay were during bottle feeds. She was still having pretty bad episodes during feeds and the docs thought that a monitor would cause us more anxiety than good and they typically only prescribe monitors for babies going home on oxygen. With that said, I did research and consider getting an angelcare or snuza monitor but in the end decided that a simple video monitor would be enough to calm my nerves. We spent 4 months with medical monitors and for us it was time to move on.
The bottle warmer became essential, especially in the middle of the night when we didn't have the time to let the bottle warm in a a pitcher of warm water.
Virginia had super tiny feet. The only socks that fit her and stayed on were the newborn socks from Baby Gap.
We often kept a hat on V during the day. Our favorite was this super soft kissy, kissy hat. It was stretchy and light but warm and stayed on her head well.
We used cloth diapers from day one of coming home from the hospital. The only ones that fit really well for her in those first few weeks were the fuzzibunz xtra smalls
If we had to leave the house I typically just carried Virginia in her car seat carrier. It was easier for me to control curious strangers. This JJ Cole cover was especially helpful when it was still cold out because it provided warmth and protection from germs. This one fits over the carrier like a shower cap so I didnt have to worry about the fit of the straps like I would have with one of the covers that looks more like a sleeping bag.
I also "wore" Virginia alot. Again this was to keep strangers (and their germs) away. My favorite carrier when Virginia was small was this baby hawk mei tei carrier. Virginia also had a "witching hour" that lasted from 6pm-11pm where she ate every hour and refused to be put down. This carrier saved my sanity, especially on the nights that Heath was at class.
These burpy bibs got and still get so much use. During those early days they were essential for catching the extra dribble during bottle feeds.
Everyone should have at least a dozen of these prefold diapers. We use them on the changing pad, we rolled them for a bolster during tummy time, we rolled them as a support for when Ginny had a touch of torticollis, we used them to wipe the condesation off the bottles when they came out of the warmer, and soo much more
Most preemie parents suggest the rock n play sleeper for nighttime sleep for preemies with reflux. Thankfully Virginia never had major reflux problems and preferred to sleep in her crib from night 3 onward, but this little sleeper was ESSENTIAL for daytime naps. Unlike swings it reacts to the babies movement and gently rocks as the baby stirs. Unlike bouncers it sits up high, almost exactly at chair height which made it easy to rock, replace pacis or keep her entertained while I was pumping. It has a small footprint, folds up nearly flat and is generally awesome.
This vibrating chair was the only way I was able to shower each day. It is pretty basic, just plays a lullaby and vibrates but that was all Ginny needed to take a nice long snooze on demand.
Virginia slept in fleece swaddle me wraps for several months. They kept her warm and soothed and were super easy to put on even when deliriously tired.
The aden and anais swaddles and the carters cotton swaddle blankets were our go to blankets for getting V into a tight swaddle. The A+A ones were especially good when she was super tiny because they could easily be folded down before swaddling.
This fold out black and white book and caterpillar toy were the only ways we could get Virginia to tolerate even a few minutes of tummy time.
Preemie moms and dads - what other items were "must haves" for you in the NICU or when you came home?