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Dressing Your Baby

Need a guaranteed pick-me-up? Head out shopping for baby clothes. Should you get the pretty pink dress with ruffles? Or is that mini aviator jacket calling your name? It's smart to wait until this latter part of pregnancy to stock up on clothing because you'll likely receive all sorts of baby clothes as gifts. Leave tags on any clothing you buy so that if you receive duplicates as gifts, you can return the items you bought for a refund or credit. You'll be amazed how quickly your baby outgrows newborn-size clothing, so consider saving money by borrowing clothes from friends or by shopping in discount or outlet stores.

Babies go through a lot of clothing. Diaper leaks and spit-up can soil or dampen a couple of outfits a day, and leaving a baby in wet or dirty clothing can cause skin rashes. Buy or borrow enough clothes so that you won't have to do laundry every day. Here are some estimates of what you'll need:

  • 5-7 one-pieces: These one-piece outfits are comfortable, easy to wash, and simple to put on and take off. Most parents find that one-pieces and one-piece sleepers suffice for stay-at-home days.
  • 5-7 undershirts: short-sleeve or long-sleeve, depending on the season. Choose undershirts that snap at the crotch; they won't ride up on your baby.
  • 1 pair of cotton mittens: While moving their arms, babies may scratch themselves with their fingernails. Mittens help prevent scratches. An alternative to mittens is long-sleeve undershirts with built-in hand-hugging flaps.
  • 2 one-piece pajamas: Choose warm footed styles if the baby's sleeping area will be cold; if the room will be temperate, drawstring-bottom sleeping bags can make middle-of-the-night diaper changes easier. On very warm nights, your baby can sleep in an undershirt that snaps at the crotch.
  • 5 pairs of socks: On cold days, socks worn under one-pieces or one-piece pajamas can help keep baby's feet warm.
  • 2-3 nice outfits for dress-up days.
  • A sun hat with a chin strap.
  • Outerwear, if the weather is cold: a sweater, jacket, or fleece (zip-up is easier to put on than over-the-head); a warm coat or baby bag that fits into the car seat; and a hat.

Your baby showers were more wonderful than you could imagine, and now your nursery is full of adorable outfits that'll clothe your baby until he's two years old! As you likely discovered, when people give baby clothing as a gift, they often buy larger sizes that your baby won't grow into for months. And when friends offer hand-me-downs, they usually give you a big box or bag of all sizes.

Babies outgrow clothing quickly, and the window of time that they fit into outfits is often small. Most mothers with older children remember taking a brand-new outfit out of the drawer, tags still hanging off it, and discovering that their baby had already outgrown it.

Do yourself a favor and sort clothing by size. Use cardboard or plastic boxes and label them with various sizes: 3-6 months, 6-9 months, 9-12 months, 12-18 months, 24 months. Keep newborn-size clothing close at hand in a dresser or closet, and when it starts getting tight, grab the 3-6 months box. Keep a box or bag in the closet for outgrown clothes that you'll either save for your next baby or pass along to a friend.

Baby clothes can shrink, so when you're sorting hand-me-downs by size, go by looks rather than labels. The outfit that fit your friend's baby at 6 months may fit yours at 4 months. Also keep in mind that since baby clothes are sized by age, if your baby is especially large or small, clothing for his age may not fit.

Originally published in You & Your Baby: Pregnancy.

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