NZ parents can now get special nappies for premature babies

Scientists and product developers have developed the world's smallest nappies.

Made for premature babies, they are now available at neonative care units across New Zealand.

Baby Reuben, weighing just over 600 grams, is not much bigger than a block of butter. 

Rachel Friend from the Neonatal Trust said his nappies used to come up to his armpits. 

In fact, like all premature babies, Reuben was so small that his eyes were fused shut. However, he had to make do with nappies made for full-term babies.

"His skin was like paper he was so fragile. We couldn't actually touch him for 10 days," Friend said.

With babies like Reuben not being uncommon, US medical professionals and product developers have come together to develop a nappy for the unique needs of the world's tiniest babies. 

More than 4000 premature babies are born in New Zealand each year, with trials for the new Huggies nappies having begun here last October. Now, neonatal centres around the country will have access.

"The baby's skin is better protected, and also that we can position the babies more easily into positions that are good for them," Dr Deborah Harris said. 

The Nano nappy is the smallest available - designed for babies weighing under 900 grams - and there's also the Micro nappy, for babies weighing up to 1500 grams. 

"In the past what we've done is we've needed to cut nappies that aren't designed to be small enough. These tiny nappies designed for the smaller babies means we don't have to do that," Dr Harris said.

"I think it would normalise things a little bit for those families going through what we went through, rather than kind of highlighting how tiny they are," Friend said. 

Just like bigger babies, those born early will now be able to feel as snug as a bug in a rug. 

Alexandra Nelson, Newshub