Beyond the Bows and Bow Ties: The Baby Clothes You Actually Need
Baby clothes: it’s easy to be overtaken by the cuteness overload. There are so many accessories for babies – just look at the bows, tutus, headbands, bow ties, suspenders – and the list goes on. You aren’t alone, which is why so many parents overspend when purchasing baby clothes. But, what do you really need to appropriately dress your baby? Not much! At the end of the day, the most important thing to remember is to ensure baby is dressed comfortable, safe, and weather appropriate.
You can’t go wrong with baby bodysuits and blankets. But, make sure the clothes are the correct size: fitted but not too tight. Purchase the correct size by using baby’s weight and ignore the age. Avoid rough material or anything that can scratch baby. The bows, buttons, and ties can be a choking hazard for baby. Anything loose on the outfit itself can also be a choking hazard so make sure all decorations are securely on the clothes. Bottom line, dress baby for comfort not New York Fashion Week. You can’t go wrong with soft fabrics for baby’s sensitive skin. Cotton, cotton blends, and organic cotton work for many babies. Wash the new clothes to remove any residual chemicals and to make the clothes even softer.
With such an emphasis on baby clothes, many parents forget about diaper-free time for baby. Babies love to be naked! When possible, take off the diaper and let baby hang out nude. Diapers are irritating and air time is great for baby’s skin, particularly if baby is suffering from diaper rash. Another benefit? Perfect opportunity for blackmail pictures for down the road.
It is very easy to get carried away when pregnant and buy so many of the frills for newborns. The clothes are so tiny and cute! But, save your money, as baby will grow out of these clothes quickly. If you have a big baby, he or she may skip the newborn size all together. Keep in mind, no matter what you dress baby in, the best way to regulate baby’s temperature during the newborn phase is by skin-to-skin contact. Best practice is to place baby naked directly on your chest with a blanket draped over both of you. Skin-to-skin has has other benefits including improved rates of exclusive breastfeeding, boosting mom’s milk production, and helps you bond with baby (dad too). Other studies show that skin-to-skin has benefits beyond the first days so continue to keep your newborn close and dress baby in something that is easy to take off to facilitate skin-skin time.
As a parent, it is crucial to dress baby in weather appropriate clothes. A good rule is to dress baby in one more layer of clothes than an adult would wear in the same conditions. Baby’s hands should be pink and warm, indicating they are comfortable. Another way to check baby’s temperature is to touch the back of baby’s neck. The skin should be warm. Babies fuss when they are too hot or too cold, so being aware will help you know if baby is comfortable.
Is there anything in the world cuter than a baby in pajamas? No, but before splurging on all the cute pajamas it is important to ensure baby’s sleepwear complies with sleep safety standards. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics (“AAP”), approximately 3,500 infants die a year in the United States from sleep-related infants deaths, including sudden infant death syndrome (“SIDS”). Therefore the AAP, in an effort to minimize sleep related deaths, issued recommendations for a safe sleep environment, which should be considered in purchasing baby clothes for sleep. As a starting point, infants should be dressed appropriate for the appropriate temperature i.e. no greater than one layer more than adult as discussed above. No pillows, sheets, blankets, or any other items that could potentially obstruct breathing should be in the bed with baby. The AAP suggests wearable blankets are preferable to blankets. If baby is mobile, it is best to dress baby in pajamas that are fitted. If it’s cold, layer the pajamas with a onesie underneath. If it’s warm, dress baby in breathable lightweight pajamas, with or without feet. If it’s really warm, dress baby in a onesie.
It’s important to keep baby warm. Dress baby in thin layers to keep baby warm and dry. Dress baby in warm boots, gloves, and a hat. The AAP recommends dressing baby in an undershirt and diaper, covered by pajamas, or a dressing gown, wrapped in a receiving blanket. If an additional layer is needed, dress baby in a wearable blanket or sleep sack. Another way to keep baby warm is to share your own body head and wear baby in a carrier. Before putting baby in the car seat, remember to remove the bulky coats and jackets.
Yes, baby shorts, bathing suits, and skirts are adorable, but refrain from overdressing baby. Babies overheat quickly so if it’s hot, minimal is best – skip the socks and hats. Choose clothes that are loose and comfortable. A plain soft onesie might be boring but may be the most comfortable for baby to beat the heat. The heat can be dangerous for babies who cannot regulate their core temperature. If you are going to be outside in direct sunlight try a brimmed sun hat for baby to shield his or her face from the sun (if baby will wear it).
Want more baby tips? Check out Preparing for Baby: Registry and Baby Shower Tips to Get You Started
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Jeri is a wife, lawyer, and stay at home mom with a weakness for yoga pants and reality TV. She lives in Florida with her husband, son, and three dogs. All through law school she aspired to be a great lawyer. Now, she aspires to be a great lawyer and great mom. She is still figuring out how to manage both but she’s enjoying the journey. In her free time, you can find Jeri hanging with family, on the tennis court, or at the movies.