I recently had a pregnant friend ask for advice on things to put on her registry. And it made me remember how clueless I felt about buying all things baby before Ryland was born. Even though I had been around babies and kids a lot, it still felt daunting to prepare for my own child. In the 4 months since she was born, I feel like I've managed to learn a thing or two. Clothing was probably the area where I bought the most unnecessary things that I never used or liked and ended up finding very quickly what was actually needed. And so I thought I would share some of my baby favorites (and misses) in the wardrobe department.
1) Sleep n' Plays are all you pretty much need the first few weeks. The name says it all. Babies can both sleep and "play" in these (play of course consists of a few blinks and jerky limb movements in the early stages). They are warm. They cover their feet (even better, get the kind with little fabric folds on the sleeves that can cover their hands too, works so much better than mits!). They are soft. They transition seamlessly from day to night (for the baby who works then parties and doesn't want to have to change!). Buy a ton of these in the 0-3month sizes (it doesn't really matter if they are baggy, because they don't have a waist) and you'll be good to go for a while. Oh and get the ones with zippers if possible (versus snaps). You will be grateful at 3 in the morning when you are fumbling around in the dark to change a wet baby that you don't have to deal with a million little snaps.
2) My FAVORITE sleep n' plays are made by Kickee Pants. I found them at the local (now closed) store Franklin Goose but they can be bought online as well. They are expensive, but I will say that the Kickee Pants footies that I bought Ryley before she was born are still in use. They are soooo soft (made with like bamboo and other organic stuff) and so they are nice and stretchy unlike cotton. Because of this babies can wear the same sizes through a lot of growth. They're a really good weight, thin but still cozy so I've felt good dressing Ryley in them on really chilly days as well as in this crazy heat (obviously within the confines of an air conditioned house). They have sweet little ruffles on the baby's bottoms, and they also have the awesome folds I mentioned to cover their hands when they are really teeny and scratch themselves with their little baby talons. They also come in the most adorable prints EVER. My favorite might be this pink and green turtle number.
This was in the first month and she is still wearing this same 0-3 month size now even in her chunky monky 4 month old phase thanks to wonderful stretchiness.
3. Onesies really are the best. Next to the sleep n' plays I will say the onesie is the single most useful piece of clothing the first few months. It's all fine and good to go for cute and stylish when you're going out, but on days at home or to just run errands it's all about the onesie. Easy, comfy, and I feel like babies just like to have as little clothing on as possible (granted this would not work when it's cold out, I was lucky to give birth at the start of spring). And they're just cute, especially when your baby gets plump little legs with delicious folds you just want to bite. I will say I bought waaaaay too many white newborn onesies that Ryley grew out of in like 2 days. The Gerber ones especially are sized down so she pretty much immediately wore the 0-3 month sizes and outgrew those quickly too. And if you're like me and like a little cute factor you don't even need to get the white onesies. Just stock up on the cute printed ones when Carter's has a sale (which is pretty much all the time).
4. This one only really applies to girl babies, but next to onesies my favorite easy baby item for warmer weather are the little dresses that have onesies kind of built into them. I LOVE the ones Carter's makes. They are dressy enough that you can take a baby to a social event in them and have them feel special, but secretly just as easy and comfy as the good old onesie. You also don't have to mess with bloomers or separate bottoms so diaper changes are a breeze.
5. I am also a big fan of the romper. Again, easy to get on and off. Cute. Comfy. And shows off all that glorious leg chub. Carter's makes cute ones and I also really like the Baby Gap rompers.
6. Accessory wise, it's really all about the socks in the early weeks. Repeat this. Newborns do not need SHOES. Yes they might be insanely cute, but it's a waste of money and no baby is going to enjoy having their teeny feet strapped into shoes or booties just for the sake of a photo op. Keep their little toesies warm with socks and socks alone. I am a fan of the socks that look like shoes, because I think they are funny and whimsical, and what better moment to embrace whimsy in clothing than with a baby. It's no longer charming when you're an adult.
7. The other thing you need is a good collection of hats, soft hats to keep their heads warm in the cold and sun hats. This is the age when they have no choice but to wear hats and are not old enough to remove them themselves so really embrace the hats at this point. I really like the iPlay sun hat because it has a flap that covers their necks, even if it does make a baby look like a really dorky fisherman.
8. When it comes to baby pants, make sure they are soft and stretchy. Before Ryley was born I bought a pair of infant white jeans at Carter's, because how could I not? They were WHITE JEANS. For a BABY. They were much softer than adult white denim. But still. They were denim. I attempted to put them on her one time for a party and as soon as I buttoned them she seemed so uncomfortable and stiff that I immediately took them off and felt incredibly guilty I had even attempted to make her wear them. Don't buy your baby jeans unless they are of the jegging variety.Don't get them khakis or cargo pants or anything else with a button. They have the rest of their life to wear pants that zip or button. At this point any waistband should be elastic only and the material should not be DENIM. Babies are like a 9 months pregnant woman. It is all about ease and comfort.
9. Avoid separates. This was perhaps my biggest mistake. I bought A LOT of separates. Because they're so cute right? I bought little plaid button up shirts and cute little tops and shorts sets. I thought I would dress my baby in separates for most of her outings. I was so wrong. Separates are cute, but that's about all they have going for them when it comes to a baby. They are not comfy. They ride up and expose their little tummies to the elements. They are difficult with diaper changes. Just avoid them. Again, when they are older they will have plenty of time to wear cute tops and bottoms. Right now it really is all about the one piece. Ditto for cardigans. I have like 50 baby cardigans hanging in Ryley's closet. There is a time and a place for a cardigan. It is not during the newborn stage. Trying to put a cardigan on a newborn is like trying to put one on a drunken chimpanzee. No one enjoys the experience.
10. If all else fails just let them hang out in their diaper. It is probably the way a baby most enjoys being dressed. Actually they would most enjoy just being naked, but we are civilized after all.
11. Oh and just a quick rundown of my favorite brands/stores. I really like Gap Baby for slightly "nicer" items. All of their stuff is really soft but it does run big. I like Carter's for everyday because their stuff is cute and almost always discounted (buy it at the Carter's store or website, not at Target, because of these frequent store wide sales). Kickee Pants I mentioned before as pricey but worth it for their footie pajamas. I LOVE Boden but am waiting to buy any of their stuff until Ryley is a little older, because it just is too pricey for a newborn. And Old Navy has cute baby stuff too but it is surprisingly on the expensive side compared to their adult stuff. Wait for sales!
Overall I learned from Ryley not to over-buy before baby arrives (I went a little crazy), especially because you don't know what size they'll wear and for how long. It is possible to buy your baby clothes after they are born (there is such a thing as online shopping). For the first few weeks you really only need some basics and then as time goes on you can start to get a little more creative/fashioned forward. Definitely ask people you know who have older kids to borrow stuff (most people are thrilled to get rid of baby clothes taking up space in their basements/garage/attic if they don't plan to have more kids).
Oh and just one word on those massive headbands with a flower on them that is the size of your baby's head. Don't. I mean if you want to take pictures that you can use to embarrass your child in the future, go for it. But for everyday life, just don't.
I'm a thirty-something mom of two, wife, pediatric RN, and writer with a passion for all the big and little things in life.