How to buy the best baby clothes
Sort out the necessities from the nice-to-haves and make dressing your baby fuss-free.
Choosing your baby's wardrobe
If you're a novice in the parenting department, the idea of stocking up for a baby before he or she arrives can be daunting; and if you already have experience trying to wrestle a squirming infant into a onesie, you might be tempted to throw up your hands and let them run amok in the backyard au naturale when it comes time to shop for Baby #2. Fret not – and check out our tips for building a stress-free baby wardrobe.
What are the absolute essentials?
- Six to eight singlets and jumpsuits will be a good start as babies can go through a surprising number of outfits – sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but nappies can leak!
- Depending on the temperature, consider two long-sleeved tops or jackets for cool days and a couple of pairs of socks. Size 000 is usual for a newborn but you may find you'll need some 0000 items in the first few weeks for smaller bubs.
- Velcro, press studs, snap-crotch jumpsuits, and wide openings will all help your bundle of joy be dressed, changed and undressed with a minimum of fuss and/or screaming (from either of you).
What to look for
Wool and cotton breathe and have very good insulating properties while allowing perspiration to evaporate. Natural and synthetic mixes are also OK for most babies. Some babies' skins can redden after contact with synthetic fabrics.
Also known as jumpsuits or onesies, these little suits are not only very cute but keep the baby warm, stop nappy and singlet from drifting apart, and give you easy access to the nappy. Look for jumpsuits with press-studs (also known as snap fasteners) all the way up the front (and down both legs if there are legs). These are easier than buttons or zips and you don't have to pull the outfit over your baby's head.
If the jumpsuit has feet, you can extend its life by cutting off the ends when the baby gets bigger, but don't wait until bub's feet begin to look squashed.
Boat-neck or envelope-neck pullovers or sweatshirts are easier to put on than those with a smaller crew neck. Jackets with press-studs or buttons at the front are another good option.
At least one winter hat is recommended for cool-day outings, as babies lose a lot of heat from their heads. A sunhat is a good idea if they're in a carrier, but might get hot if they're already shaded in a pram.
Make sure socks are not too tight, and avoid patterned socks; little toes and toenails can get caught on the looped threads inside. Shoes are not needed until children start to walk.
The larger, terry-towelling bibs with a Velcro closure are best; strings will tangle. Plastic-backed bibs keep bub's clothes dry, but may not be as absorbent. Bibs with a close-fitting crew neck aren't as easy to get on but help prevent gunge collecting in neck folds (ah, the joys of parenting!).
When you shop, check garments for labels that indicate the fire danger of the fabric:
'Low fire danger'
These are relatively safe and made from fabrics that are slow to burn.
'Styled to reduce fire danger'
This will be found on close-fitting garments such as tracksuit-type pyjamas.
'High fire danger – keep away from fire'
This indicates that the garment is highly flammable.
Standard AS 1249:2003
A garment labelled standard AS 1249:2003 means it is a reduced fire hazard and is generally found on children's nightwear and some daywear. According to the ACCC, the mandatory safety standard for nightwear also requires maximum allowable lengths for trims and attachments to reduce the risk of a garment coming into contact with a heat source.
The ACCC has cracked down on retailers that fail to display suitable safety warnings on garments. In August 2016 the Federal Court ordered online retailer Ozsale to pay a total of $500,000 in penalties for supplying children’s nightwear which did not comply with the Australian mandatory safety standard, and for failing to have adequate compliance processes in place.