Saturday, January 09, 2010

You look wonderful tonight

Aaghh! My Baby Bean is getting bigger! She's nearly out of the Size 2 (12-18 lbs) diapers, as evidenced by several diaper failures the last few days. (I won't go into details there.) We also had to put away *most* of her 0-3 month sized clothes this week as they're either too tight or too short.

Baby clothes are even wackier than womens' clothes when it comes to size. They do it by age, but it's a total crapshoot whether something will fit. BabyT has a "6 month" size sleeper that she's busting out of already at 16 weeks, yet she can still wear a few of her 0-3 month ones with room to spare. So at our house we just leave stuff in the drawer and when she needs a new outfit, we try one of those old items on to see if it fits. I don't have the patience to just have a mass-trying-on session to see what's left, and T doesn't love having things pulled over her head, so this works for us. I've got quite a pile of things that no longer fit - it's pretty amazing to think she was that small just a few months ago.

So I went through the 3-6 month size clothes I was saving from the Craigslist purchase I made before she was born. I realized that the woman I bought those clothes from apparently really liked dressing up her babies in mostly-impractical clothes. There were tons of shirts, pants, and little dresses. All very cute (since I weeded out the stuff I didn't like when I first bought them) but also very "fussy" to deal with when you're still doing 8 diaper changes a day.

Pants, for example, have to come all the way off before you can change a diaper. Contrast that with a one-piece sleeper or onesie which has snaps at the bottom so that you don't have to remove the whole thing. Little baby T-shirts are adorable, but they ride up when you pick up your baby. And then you need to find pants, plus a sweater or jacket to put over it.

And layering is a hassle when you have a baby that spits up, or has diaper failures, because then *everything* needs to come off. I'm totally in favor of easy, which is why I love one-piece outfits. So as long as it's socially acceptable for my baby to be in a sleeper in public, that's what we're going to do. I'm still REALLY picky about what she wears - no stupid sayings (especially the gender-specific ones), brand advertising, or licensed characters, a limit on the sickly pink, overly-cute baby animals and super-girly florals and hearts. So it's been a bit of a challenge to find inexpensive clothes that fit all these criteria. (We did let some pink sneak through, and many baby animals, but I shop both the boys' and girls' sections to get some better colors and at least different animals.

So my PSA to new or soon-to-be parents who are wondering what baby clothes to buy:

1. Try to get clothes used or on sale - your baby won't wear most things long enough to wear them out. That said, items from Gymboree, Osh Kosh or Baby Gap hold up better than those from Target so keep an eye out for those brands.

You'll also need enough so that you won't have to do laundry every day. If you buy at thrift stores or on super-sale, or better yet, have a friend who'll give you the hand-me-downs, you can afford to stock up enough clothes so that you might be able to do laundry just twice a week or even less. Here, we run out of burp cloths long before we run out of clothes for BabyT.

2. Think about the season when your baby will be in that size (roughly). I made the mistake of not thinking like that and got a ton of short sleeve onesies that were really too cold for my fall/winter baby. Cute, but not practical. Ditto for fleece items in the summer.

This is especially important when shopping clearance sales for large sizes that your baby will grow into. Kind of like grocery shopping when hungry, it's hard not to snap up that fleece sleeper in December until you realize she won't be that big until June.

3. Simple is best. When your baby is small and going through 12 diapers a day, you won't want to do up elaborate buttons, or take pants and socks on and off each time. One piece items are your best friends, and if you buy the ones with feet you don't even need to worry about socks.

4. Check the method of fastening (buttons/zippers/snaps). My favorite are the ones that snap on both legs, because it's so much easier. But a lot of clothing manufacturers are lazy/cheap so they make things button or zipper only on one leg, and you have to shove your baby's other leg in, which is hard when they're tiny and seem so fragile, and hard when they're bigger and kicking all over the place.

For things with zippers, make sure the tab isn't pointy, and there's a little piece of fabric that snaps over to cover it so it doesn't poke your baby in the neck. You'd be surprised at how many sleepers don't have this.

And OMG, who are the idiots that design baby clothes with buttons and zippers *on the back*?? Not only do they poke your baby when they're lying down, but it's really hard to fasten those with one hand while the other one holds your floppy-headed baby.

5. Choose quality, sturdy, washable fabrics. Most polyester/cotton blend stuff looks cheap and ratty after a few washes. Even a lot of the fleece stuff gets pills and doesn't look so good after a while. 100% cotton is your friend.

And if anything says 'hand wash', 'dry clean only' or even 'cold water wash only', run far away. You are NOT going to want to do that for baby clothes, especially if you're going through multiple outfits a day, and diaper malfunctions are going to require you to wash those items in hot water.

The idiotic award here goes to the changing pad cover I bought that supposedly can only be washed in cold water. Uh, it's a cover for the changing pad. I NEED to wash that in hot water. So far, so good.

I saw a 0-3 month 100% silk dress on the clearance rack at Janie + Jack (and it was still $79!!!). You could make your money back by starting a pool and offering bets on how many minutes the baby will wear it before spitting up on it, or having a leaky diaper. (or in our house, having a dog drool on it).

And after all that talk about easy outfits, here's a pic of T in a dress she got as a gift.

It's gorgeous - a nice soft heavy cotton jumper, with just a hint of shimmery silver in the rich plaid. Hell, I'd wear that dress if it came in my size! But it needed a onesie underneath it, and pants and socks to keep her little legs warm. (Because lord knows I am NOT going to make my baby wear tights - that's like the ultimate punishment.) We got through two diaper changes with it, and then just left her in the onesie with a fleece sleep sack over it because it was too difficult to deal with all those pieces. But not before we got a picture, and went out to lunch with her in her cute outfit :)

So what are your baby clothes tips and tricks to share?


  1. Girlfriend, it's simple :). Stick with the onesies/footed sleepers til 6-9mo or whenever they are sitting up well and moving. Save those dresses for later - you have lots of time to enjoy them!

  2. Try Babylegs instead of pants -- they'll keep her legs warm and won't get in the way of diaper changes. Plus, she can still wear them as she gets bigger.

  3. T looks adorable in that outfit!

    I second the baby legs, but the cheap way to do them is to buy women's knee hi socks (you can then pick thickness and pattern) and cut off the feet. I've even used the fabric between the toe and the heel to sew on a cuff, but a lot of the time, I just leave the edges raw. I even made baby legs for Sam this way, so you know you can find some good patterns.

    I HATE most one piece outfits. I find it much easier to take of a pair of pants and unsnap a onesie than to undo all those snaps on the legs. Plus, I love dresses over pants, etc. To each her own.

    I do agree that T-shirts are pretty impractical, usually. I will use them in the summer with just a diaper or now with wool pants over her diaper, but that's a different kind of diapering. ;)

  4. Wow! My sweetie babe granddaughter looks SO CUTE in her first picture with a dress on!! Love it! Give her a big kiss for me.

  5. Amma - technically this isn't her first picture in a dress - she wore a dress Granny gave her for a picture. I just hadn't posted that one yet :D

    Babylegs are awesome! I found a woman on Etsy who makes similar legwarmers so I ordered a few pairs to compare the quality.

    Adrianne - your idea to make them out of socks is awesome. And I think it's funny that you think the snaps are a pain and would choose pants. Maybe we should do a trade sometime - I have a million pairs of 3-6mo pants I'm sure T will never wear ;) And the wool diaper covers for cloth diapers are pretty cute - I just couldn't bring myself to commit to the cloth ;D

  6. I'm with you on simple. Emmett and Luke (almost 7 and 3) still wear sweatpants most of the time, because they can put them on themselves. Carters tends to have snaps on jeans that kids have a better chance of doing themselves. And who made jeans with a snap and zipper in 6 month size? What is the point of that?

    If T kicks socks off, try Robeez - cute and very soft leather shoe-but-not-shoe type things. I love them. Measure for size - my kids have always had feet too chunky based on age.

  7. Other tip - try to borrow clothes from friends if at all possible. This is where it is insanely smart to make friends with twin moms :) They have double the clothes and care a lot about functionality.

  8. All great tips. Sheesh...scary how much simpler it is to dress a boy. Says a lot about how early the world starts setting expectations of gender roles I guess! -LL

  9. I'm afraid to admit that my boys wore footed sleepers most days until they were, sadly, too big for footed sleepers. Those things saved my young mother life! And I agree, snaps down both legs.

  10. I had to laugh about the changing pad cover thing, because I've always wondered--why ARE there changing pad covers?! We have the contoured changing pad and have always just used it plain, because the vinyl is easy to Clorox-wipe (I do a diaper-wipe "rinse").

    Personally, I'd like to start a company to make stirrup pants for babies. I put pants on Ivy all the time--for whatever reason, I prefer to dress her in "real" clothes instead of sleepers, whereas I took Adam out in sleepers for a long time, maybe because he was younger during the cold season (a winter baby). At any rate, her pants legs climb right the heck up. Drives me nuts.

    Oh, also, I noticed that Target now has a knockoff of Robeez for a very reasonable price, hidden in the baby aisles with training pants and tiny socks. Ivy has a similar pair of shoes to keep her socks on when we go out. (Currently I've discovered Carter's Comfy Fit chenille incredibly soft and fuzzy!)

  11. Great tips here, everyone!!

    Rachel - our changing pad has a cover *and* a little pad thing on top of it. We got the cover b/c I thought the vinyl would be too cold. And also was afraid we'd have an "incident" that couldn't be cleaned.

    The little pad thing gets thrown in the wash as soon as it gets dirty (and I have several) and the cover itself gets washed every week or two. Everything in hot water.

  12. I came across this old post linked off your page when reading a new post. Right on with the baby clothes observations and tips! My husband and I got mostly second-hand clothes... which one of our relatives/in-laws considers child abuse. But baby clothes are even more expensive here in Sweden, and like you said, they just go through them so quickly.

    BTW that's such a cute picture of T!

    1. Hah, my family was also surprised re: hand me down clothes. God forbid I tell them we troll thrift stores occasionally, too - our Goodwill has a CRAZY selection of expensive name brand stuff like Hanna Andersson and Tea Collection.

      I love that photo of T, too. I can't believe how different she looks now :)


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