I’m practical. In fact, I’m pretty sure that’s the middle name my mother intended to give me before her hand slipped and wrote Jane. I’m so practical that the mere thought of not knowing my child’s gender before it was born so I could get everything ready caused me stress induced hyperventilation.
My undoing, however, was babies clothes! I can’t fully blame myself though. It was a combination of lack or experience and temporary blinding by ridiculous cuteness. My reality-based practicality was fundamentally flawed because of the belief system I had of ‘if they make it and sell it, then it must be useful.’ Not so.
Here are some thing’s I’ve learnt so far;
1. Organic cotton, costs a lot more than regular cotton. It doesn’t always wash very well, and can look a bit misshapen after only a few washes.
2. Dresses on babies are nobody’s friend. Newborns are wrapped up most of the time so you don’t even see the dress and as soon as they learn to crawl a dress/skirt gets caught under their knees. Leave the dresses until you have older toddlers.
3. Babies who can move…at all, don’t like getting dressed so buttons are like a cruel and unusual punishment for parents. As are the cute onesies that only have between the leg access so that you have to pull it all the way over their head to gain access. You want to go for the easiest possible option – I recommend multi-access, press-studded options. By multi-access I mean individual nappy access as well as upper body access e.g. studs all the way up the body.
4. While we’re on press-studs, you always want a press studded option for between the legs – you don’t want to have to change the whole outfit just to change a nappy. There is literally not enough time in your life for that!
5. Babies are not brand-selective with their spewing and if you get a constant-up-chucker, like I got twice, you cover up their clothes with a bib 100% if their awake time. In this case, consider perhaps investing in cute bibs!
6. Crawlers and toddlers can find muck on hospital grade clean surfaces. Once they’ve found it – they put it in their mouths to make it wet and pliable and then wipe it on themselves or dribble it out down their front to get rid of it. Infant’s ooze from everywhere is seems. Pre-schoolers draw, paint and squeeze play doh. Life is messy all day long. So when it comes to clothes, the more the merrier. If that means spending less on each item to maximize the volume, then that is the way to go.
7. Under garments that clip between the legs are a must for about the first 12-18 months. Babies are picked up a lot and if they don’t have secure under clothes (especially in winter) their clothes ride up and leave them exposed on the back. ‘Unders’ ensure they stay warm. It also means that when all those messy things happen, you can just take the upper layer off and they are still clothed and when you put them to bed, it’s just taking a layer off and not having to change a full outfit.
8. You will spend 90% of your life with a newborn/small baby at home putting them to bed in comfy clothes. Only buy a few nice items that you can keep for when you pop out and see people, otherwise comfy is the key.
9. Stick with onesies for as long as you can get away with it. They can sleep and play in them, they are simple to pack when going out and are easy to layer if necessary.
10. If going with ‘outfits,’ try and get as much as possible that matches together or at least some simple basics to couple things with. Babies have a knack of messing up tops and not bottoms or vice versa. As you don’t want to engage in any unnecessary crocodile wrangling or add to your already mountainous pile of washing, you want to be able to just change the one thing so having something that already matches on hand – perfect!
11. Washing is going to become as often as breathing once the little ooze factory is born so may I suggest brushing up on your fake smile for when generous and lovely family members/friends give you beautiful outfits that require hand washing or worse, dry cleaning! Those gorgeous little hand knitted numbers too…suitable for 5 minute wears for photographs to send to said gift-giver. Stay away from anything that can’t withstand the quickest, roughest cycle in your washing machine.
Most mums I know started out with a very different attitude towards children’s clothes than they end up with 6 months down the track. There are some very harsh realities about children that smack you in the face, just as soon as you’ve spent a great deal of money on supporting your fantasy’s. My personal favorite comes from a Ralph Lauren ad where a group of kids are fronted by what I now know to be about a 4 year old boy dressed in layers…that’s right LAYERS of shirts and a blazer, shorts and loafers. He is also clean and tidy, plays well with others and the owner of a small sailboat, race horse and Hamptons getaway home…I presume. I loved my little fantasy boy, but I love my real little grub more!