2017 Update: We still stand by this advice on what should moms register for baby clothes— links have also been updated below.
Welcome to installment three of our registry for working moms: general baby clothes. What should new moms register for clothes for their baby? Which are your favorite brands and types of baby clothing — and have they changed through the months and years with kids? We’ve already talked about carseats and strollers, cribs and sleeping gear, and now: baby clothes for the registry. As I mentioned last time, I envision the entire series going through these categories (stay tuned!):
- Carseat — necessary from coming home from the hospital!
- Stroller — how many have you tried? How many do you keep? (e.g., big stroller, umbrella stroller, jogging stroller)
- Cribs and sleeping gear — crib and bassinet rocker, if necessary
- Clothes — daytime clothes, baby socks
- Babywearing carrier — infant and 15-lb.+
- Baby toys — swings, seats, and other Big Things to register for (Exersaucers, etc)
- Essential books
- Diaper bag
- Nursing clothes
- Breastfeeding pillow
- And one final category: The Biggest Flops (stuff you hated).
First, some general tips on baby clothes:
- If you can, register for things like onesies and footed sleepers in multiple sizes — that first year you end up needing a ton of different sizes, and it’s nice to just have them on hand. Note that for season-specific clothes it’s hard to do this in advance because you don’t totally know how big your kiddo will be when born, or how he or she will grow.
- Don’t get too crazy registering for baby clothes, though — you may end up hating some things (for me it was sleeping gowns); you might end up loving others. It really is a matter of taste — as well as what time of year your baby was born in. For Harry (born in May), for example, we kept him in a diaper and swaddle for pretty much the first 3 months — mostly SwaddleMe, but we also had a Woombie Air and an Aden + Anais Easy Swaddle we liked. After that, to be honest, we’ve kept him in footed sleepers for most of his first year.
- Try a few brands of clothes — but in general I found it easiest to pick a few brands I like and stick with those for all of the boys’ clothes. Things fit differently (length, width), wear differently, and so forth — right now I pretty much exclusively buy Carter’s, Old Navy, and Gap for the boys. For round #2 these have held up… fine, I suppose. I’ve heard that some people who know they want a lot of kids think the fancier clothes (Splendid, Petit Bateau, etc.) hold up better for various rounds of hand-me-downs — so you get more for your money. As they say, your mileage may vary.
- Randomly: try a few brands of diapers for your little one too — they’re a bit like pants. Each brand fits a bit differently in the rise, the leg holes, etc., etc. We were big fans of Huggies for both boys. (I have no experience with cloth diapering — if anyone would like to write a guest post on your experiences with it, please contact me!)
Swaddles: I like the SwaddleMe; the Woombie Air and Aden + Anais muslin ones were both nice alternatives for a summer baby. (Again, for H, this is pretty much all he wore for the first few months of his life. We would stick him in a onesie or footed sleeper if we were wearing him.
Pajamas: I’m a big fan of the footed sleeper, at least after the swaddling months — bonus if it has a zipper instead of snaps. Sleepers without feet don’t make any sense to me (babies do NOT do socks) and pajamas as separates, while adorable, just seem like they ride up and get all bunchy while the kiddo sleeps. Once the kiddo is out of swaddles, the sleepsack (a wearable blanket) is a must. We’ve always liked the Halo sleepsacks in jersey and fleece; we’ve also had a few Aden + Anais sleepsacks for summer. (Pictured: Harry in one of his zip-up footed sleepers.)
Socks and Shoes: Do not underestimate the ability of a baby to kick off every sock you try to get on their feet — this goes double for shoes. So for my $.02, for the first year I’m more a fan of footed pants or footed sleepers to keep their little toesies warm, at least until the baby is crawling and needs the traction of bare feet. For the rare outing where we wanted booties, we loved the Zutano baby booties for the first year, which the boys wore as “shoes” — they were super warm and, amazingly, kickproof. (I’ve read that it’s better, developmentally, to let them be in bare feet rather than shoes, so there’s that.) In general, I would not consider any socks without grippers on the bottom for traction until the kiddo is 3 or 4.
Other clothes (onesies, pants): We rarely used these (really just for babywearing and parties) until the boys were older, like 6 months. My big tip with onesies: if you can, register for ones that have a VERY wide opening at the neck, if not a V-neck or kimono-like folds and snaps. My boys’ heads were both so wobbly and soft that it freaked me out to put clothes on over their heads. (We loved our Kate Quinn Organics kimono/wraps. The designs aren’t my favorite, but I liked the functionality of the Petunia Picklebottom onesies we were gifted by friends.) We haven’t tried them, but these Zutano wraps look good. As a second-time mom I was ok with the boatneck openings on Carter’s onesies, but when I was a first-time mom they freaked me out. We got a TON of denim for baby gifts from friends — denim jackets! denim overalls! jeans! — and I will say that these were some of the least-used things in our boys’ wardrobes — they were just so stiff it felt cruel to make the boys wear them. (Pictured: a rare photo of Jack in clothes!)
Summer clothes for babies: I always get freaked out at the possibility of either boy getting a tan, so I make them wear rash guards whenever we go to a sprayground or pool, and a hat (with a chin strap) pretty much all the time. Amazon has a million rash guards; Land’s End and Old Navy both do sometimes as well. I like this blanket with UV protection (ROSK Sun Cover) for chilly but sunny weather.
Winter clothes for babies: Be very careful with a puffy jacket — you never want it to interfere with a tight seatbelt in your carseat or stroller. (The CarSeat Lady has a very thorough tutorial!) It depends on your situation, but a lot of times a stroller/carseat cover like JJ Cole or 7 A.M.® Enfant will be better for the baby because he can be fastened in tightly but warm and snuggly under his stroller cover. In general, for our boys we would just add a fleece bunting/coverall on top of their footed PJs and then either put them in the stroller/carseat with bunting or the carrier. (To be extra careful, bring the cover with you when you get your carseat-installation checked to make sure it’s safe to use in the car.) We loved the Zutano fleece hat, and have used a million mitten clips to keep their mittens attached to the coat. (Pictured: Jack in his monkey/sherpa coverall from Carters.)
Boy-specific items: I don’t think you really need anything specific for boys. A friend gifted us Peepee Teepees, which were cute, but honestly we just kept a washcloth near the changing pad for this purpose.
What are your favorite baby clothing brands? We’d love to hear your thoughts on:
- swaddles and blankets
- socks and shoes
- general clothes
- spring/summer clothes
- fall/winter clothes
- boy/girl specific items
N.B. These substantive posts are intended to be a source of community comment on a particular topic, which readers can browse through without having to sift out a lot of unrelated comments. And so, although of course we highly value all comments by our readers, we’re going to ask you to please keep your comments on topic; threadjacks will be deleted at our sole discretion and convenience. Thank you for your understanding!
Picture below via Stencil.