Tuesday 30 July 2013

To Become Mum tips: baby clothes

As soon as we knew we were expecting, I simply could not resist buying baby clothes. It was a little tricky as we didn't want to find out if we were having a boy or girl, but nevertheless, if I saw a cute sleepsuit or tshirt, I HAD to buy it then and there.

I did have some self control in the form of a well researched list of 'baby essentials' based on what various websites suggested a newborn needs to begin with. However, I found answering the very simple, and perhaps silly question, of 'what does a baby wear?' incredibly hard to answer. So, three months into this motherhood malarkey, I thought I'd share my top tips so you can perhaps avoid some of the mistakes we made and so you know what we have actually used now baby boy is here:

- Bodysuits, but not too many, we bought loads with different prints on but you usually use these as the under layer - choose some plain ones from somewhere like George at Asda and go for vest / short sleeve if they're born in warmer months and buy some long sleeve ones if it's autumn / winter. You'll need no more than 10 really - these aren't the fun clothes you can buy!
- Sleepsuits with integrated mitts are essential for newborns as they can get separate mitts off in two seconds flat. I'd recommend having around nine of these to begin with as when they're young, they'll spend all day and night in these and if they are sick or have an accident, you'll be having a few costume changes every day. I'd again recommend a few basics from George at Asda as you can't beat the value.
- Swaddle shells were great for the first few weeks as they kept little man snug and stopped his flailing arms from keeping him awake, the zip up kind were the best as we could change his nappy by unzipping them from the bottom up without disturbing him too much in the night.
- Scratch mitts, for when they're not wearing a sleepsuit.
- Two cotton hats, appropriate for the season, which are easy to put on and go with anything - white is probably best and you'll only need these for when you take baby outside.
- Keep them in sleepsuits for as long as you can - I couldn't wait to dress little man up but really, sleepsuits are so comfy for them and all they really need when they're small. If you want to buy a couple of other items for when they're tiny, opt for trousers which have integrated feet, so you don't need socks of booties (in my experience, these never fit properly or stay on for long when they're small), and some easy fit tshirts.
- Bibs are essential and bandana style bibs are a really fun choice. We didn't use bibs in the early days but after a few nights where Ethan was sick on his swaddle shell, sleepsuit AND bodysuit (believe me, milk gets everywhere!), we quickly realised that putting a bib on before we fed him would dramatically cut down the need to change him so often and thus he could fall to sleep much quicker.

- Do not choose anything which has buttons on! Newborns are wriggly, sometimes don't like being naked (Ethan screamed every time we took his clothes off for the first few weeks) and buttons are far too fiddly when you're tired and trying to change your baby for the umpteenth time that morning. Check before you buy for clothes that have poppers (a godsend!) or envelope openings around the neck.

- Don't spend a fortune on the basics as all baby clothes seem to shrink a little or fade in colour quite quickly. Next clothes are great quality but you do pay more, so just think about your budget and perhaps save your pennies for when they're a bit older.

- It's true that babies grow out of things quickly so it's really important not to buy too much. As I've said, sleepsuits are all they need (with a bodysuit underneath when needed) for those early weeks and you will get bought some gifts. When you meet you're little one, you'll probably want to go and buy a few more things anyway, it's an impulse that's hard to resist, so just get the basics in before they arrive.

- Buy tiny baby sized clothes, even if you're midwife thinks baby is going to be a big one. Shops call their sizes different things but tiny baby tends to be up to six pounds. Trust me, this sounds tiny and they look tiny but most newborns will fit in these, despite weighing more than what the label suggests. Ethan wore tiny baby clothes exclusively for the first month and only then needed a couple of sleepsuits in first size as he was getting longer. You can always return them to the store if you don't need them, if you buy them in the last couple of weeks before baby is born, or you can gift them to a friend. My philosophy is that it's better to have it and not need it then need it and not have it - in those first few days and even weeks, you won't want to go out emergency shopping because the clothes you have don't fit baby.

- Buy the basics in the first few sizes and leave baby's first few outfits to friends and family to buy as gifts - most people buy a size or two up so that they know baby will fit in them in due course. It was really reassuring for me to know I had sleepsuits and bodysuits 'in stock' in tiny baby, first size and 0-3 months plus additional clothes for first size, 0-3 and 3-6 months.

- When buying that oh so cute pair of trousers or snug pram suit, bear in mind the season and buy it in a size appropriate to the age they will be when it's appropriate to wear it. For instance, we found some super cute Kermit The Frog boots but decided to buy them in 3-6 months so he would be big enough for them and we were given a Winnie The Pooh pram suit in size 6-9 months as it's far too thick to wear now during summer.

- Organise baby's clothes according to size and type. Do this before they're born so everything is ready and you know what you have and what others have bought you, then regularly go through and sort their clothes as they grow out of some things and into others. We have a cupboard in Ethan's room with lots of shelves in which we use to store his clothes, towels, blankets and so on. I bought different coloured plastic storage baskets and put all the tiny baby clothes in one colour, first size in another, 0-3 months in another and so on. Then, each basket had one type of clothes in it, e.g. one basket for sleepsuits, another for trousers etc. I then organised the baskets in the cupboard so the smallest sizes were at the bottom and in close reach, going up in size the higher up the cupboard.

- Plan an outfit for baby before you start changing them. For ease, whilst Ethan is sleeping in his Moses basket in our room, we place the current clothes he fits in in their baskets, inside the cot so they're right next to the changing station we have that sits across the top. It makes it much easier to have everything in view and in reach. Likewise, we have a basket of bibs on the side and muslin cloths close by.

- Always have at least one change of clothes ready and waiting in your changing bag, so you're never caught short when you're out and about.

- Add personality to outfits with some funky bibs, as mentioned earlier - I've blogged about Funky Giraffe bibs earlier this month (see under 'Baby' - the Blogger app won't let me add links!).

- Take lots of photos! There's been at least five outfits I can think of off the top of my head which Ethan has worn once, usually because when they've been washed first time, on a delicate wash, they've shrunk. If there's something you love them in, take photos and take extra special care when washing.

- Every two weeks, sift through their clothes to remove anything that's looking worn or too small and check what you have to replace it - you don't want to forget you have something only to go and buy more clothes that they just won't have time to wear.

These are the key pieces of advice I would recommend based on my experiences to date. Little man has had so many clothes already and I've had four sort outs of old and new items already. I've saved a couple of his early sleepsuits and put these in a memory box and this week I've filled a suitcase with clothes that he no longer fits into, which I think we'll keep in the loft, just in case we can out them to good use in the future. We really have bought more than he needs but at the same time, we've been we'll prepared and never had something missing or needed to rush out and buy a bigger size. If you keep track and keep on top of what you have been bought or given, you're baby is always going to be the best dressed on the playground.


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