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The lowdown on baby clothes
Between feeding, changing, burping, and soothing, the last thing you want to worry about is baby clothes that take too much effort, rub your baby the wrong way, or are otherwise not worth their space in the nursery. But once you know a few simple rules for shopping, even the most harried diaper change will go more smoothly and your little one will enjoy his new world in comfort and style.
Browse dozens of baby clothes.
What to look for when buying
Know how sizing works. These are general guidelines; sizing varies from company to company, just like adults. And the number on the label is not an indication of how your child should be growing.
|3 months||3-6 months|
|6 months||6-9 months|
|9 months||9-12 months|
|4T/4||48 months plus; size 4T will have diaper room, size 4 will not|
Buy small amounts. Parents typically don’t need a lot of “newborn”-size clothing, as babies will quickly outgrow it. You also won’t know until you meet your baby what size she’ll start at.
When in doubt… Buy larger. Babies seem to grow overnight! You can always roll up pant legs or tuck in too-long tees between growth spurts.
Look for soft fabrics. New babies have sensitive skin. Some experts recommend all cotton, although soft cotton blends also work for many babies. Organic fabric is often softer than either of them, although usually pricier. “Tagless” clothing, where size and washing information are printed on the back of the neck, sometimes causes skin irritation. If you notice your baby has redness in the area, switch to clothing with tags—you can always cut them out.
Consider how easy a garment is to put on and take off. Buttons can be frustrating when you have a wriggly baby. Snaps and zippers come in handy. Some brands have magnetic snaps that eliminate zipper jams. Look for stretchy neck holes and snaps at the collar, which are great for sliding gently over a newborn's head.
Make sure it’s simple to change a diaper, too. Most baby bodysuits and sleepers have snaps at the crotch. Steer clear of overalls for infants and similarly complicated items, unless they unfasten. Baby bodysuits with envelope folds at the neckline can be gently pulled down over your baby’s body and removed if there’s a diaper blowout (you don’t want to pull them over the head).
Go for stretchy elastic on pants. It may be tempting to get your little one a pair of blue jeans just like yours, complete with button fly. But unless they have a stretchy elastic waistband, it won’t be fun getting them on your baby.
Stock up on white snap-crotch baby bodysuits. These are an everyday essential, and after they get stained or stretched out, they make great burp cloths or household rags.
Important safety notes
- Millions of garments have been recalled in recent years due to their failure to meet safety standards. Check product recalls from the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission to check what you buy hasn’t been recalled.
- Anything that can come off baby clothing can be a choking hazard, including bows, buttons, flowers, appliqués, and hooks, so it’s best to dress a baby in clothes without them. Major baby-clothing brands avoid these types of decorations, but homemade items, hand-me-downs, and pieces from small companies may have them. If you have clothing with decorations, give them a good tug before each wearing to make sure they’re firmly attached.
- Drawstrings on necks and waistbands can be a strangulation hazard and catch on playground equipment or furniture. Consumer Reports recommends avoiding clothing with drawstrings altogether. If you do have clothing with neck drawstrings, remove them, and check waistband drawstrings to make sure they are sewn securely and can’t be pulled out more than 3 inches at either end.
- Consider limiting pleats, ruching, tulle, and other decorations around the collar during the first 12 months. Embroidery on the chest, particularly if it feels bumpy on the side that goes against skin, should also be avoided. All of these can give your baby a rash.
- New clothing is often treated with chemicals to make the material crisper. Wash all items before wearing.
- Watch for dangling threads and loops, particularly in socks or in pockets that could ensnare tiny baby fingers and toes.
- The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) mandates that sleepwear made for sizes 9 months to 14 months must be either made of flame-resistant fabric or snug to protect children from burns. Don’t buy oversized sleepwear for your children age 9 months and up unless it is flame-resistant. Sleepwear for infants up to 9 months old is exempt from regulations (since babies are unlikely to come into contact with open flame before they are mobile). At 9 months old and under, babies should sleep in wearable blankets, swaddles, or sleep sacks.
What it's going to cost you
You can get basic baby bodysuits for $3 to $30, pants and tops for $5 to $20, and jackets for $15 to $25. Wearable blankets and swaddles range from $10 to $60.