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.
We talked to Jenn Falik. a style expert and mother of one, and celebrity baby trend expert Rachel Florio-Urso to find out what you need to know before you shop.
Go cotton all the way
A new baby is precious and so is a baby's skin, so experts recommend that you opt for either 100 percent organic or 100 percent combed cotton when it comes to purchasing for babies 12 months or younger. You can play around with blends later on, once you know whether your baby has any sensitivities.
Think through the on-and-off process
While snaps, buttons, and zippers can be fabulous embellishments, they can also be frustrating when you're doing a sleep-deprived diaper change or have a wriggly baby on your hands. Look for stretchy neck holes – the ones with envelope-like folds at the neckline are great for sliding over a sensitive newborn's head.
Snaps at the crotch remain a favorite for the simple ease they bring to changing a dirty diaper. Some new brands have magnetic snaps, which eliminate the chance of zipper jams and misaligned buttons on sleeper sets. Steer clear of overalls and similarly complicated items unless they unfasten from the crotch.
Opt for pants with elastic waists
It may be tempting to get your little one a pair of blue jeans just like yours (with a button fly and everything), but it's not so fun getting him in and out of those teeny denim dungarees. With jeans as with all pants, opt for stretchy elastic rather than buttons or drawstrings.
The size on the label is just a suggestion.
Every baby is different, and every clothing brand has different standards for sizing. Your child may have long legs or a short torso. He may be a chunky newborn and need to go up a size. Just remember that the size on the label is not a mandate or an indication of how well your child is growing. Leave that up to the doctor!
Aim for simplicity
Check all clothing for harsh chemicals and dyes, and consider limiting pleats, ruching, tulle, and bows around the collar during the first 12 months. Why? After you put that new girlie dress on your baby
you might notice that it gives her a rash!
Stock up in advance – but shop wisely
Buying winter clothes during the spring and summer sales can save you tons of money, but don't go overboard or overcommit to a certain style or size. Otherwise, you may ask yourself why the heck you bought that rocker t-shirt for your prep-ster who only wants to don polo shirts. (This is less true for the littlest babies, who aren't yet asserting their preferences, but certainly becomes truer as they get older.) It can be hard to estimate what size your child will wear six months or more down the road, so be judicious on what and how much you purchase so you don't end up with a giant puffy parka your baby doesn't grow into until summer.
Think creatively about color
Not every little girl needs to be swaddled in pink fairies, nor do little boys need to be covered in blue race cars. Today's baby clothes offer a huge range of colors and patterns, so you can have fun with the color palette. Consider aqua blue and purple for little boys, and shades of orange, aqua, and purple for girls.
Seek out inventive patterns and prints. Take a stroll through clothes intended for the opposite gender to see if anything there might make the leap. You'd be surprised how many little girls look fabulous in slightly boyish stripes, and how many boys can rock polka dots.
You can never have enough white one-pieces
When babies are still in diapers and not yet walking, the white snap-crotch t-shirt is an everyday essential nearly everyone can agree on. It's the perfect underpinning when your baby is all swaddled up, light enough so there's no overheating and easy to get on and off. So stock up on a range of sizes. Bonus: When they get stained or stretched out, they can become great household rags or burp cloths.
Focus on the basics
Simple styles and colors should be the foundation of the closet, and then you can use a cool pattern or funky item to finish off the look. It may be a vest, a cardigan, or a pair of striped tights. Dresses are a bit of an exception, as one kaleidoscopic frock is a one-stop shop of an outfit – no need to match it with much!
When in doubt, opt for the larger size
Babies can seem to grow overnight, and the last thing you want is a drawer full of constricting garments. You can always roll up pant legs or tuck in too-long Ts to bridge the time between spurts!