What we Learned About How to Dress a Baby

by - Thursday, November 12, 2015

Our Bubba turns one next week, so I am trying to share what we have learned in this time before I have forgotten it due to sleep deprivation.

1. Onesies- Grown ups wear shirts, because gravity is mostly on our side, keeping our mid-drift out of sight. Babies do not have this luxury, so when you put them in regular shirts, you are looking at a lot of belly. A lot. Like Santa Claus in a Miley Cyrus outfit. Worse yet, once they are crawling around, you can get a bit of plumbers butt, which seems a whole lot worse when you are in a diaper situation. You want to close off all the exits.

2. Get it Used- I know I bring this up a lot, but you basically should get about 90% of Baby's clothes per size used. Everything in these outfits, we got used. Because he or she will only need it a month or two. And in that time, it will be puked and shat on. Before The Bub was born, we had a couple of Gap shopping sprees, where we bought a bunch of really cute stuff. But you know, some of it didn't really work (hello, regular shirts) and some of it only came out a few times. And that stuff is pretty expensive (sometimes 30 or 40 dollars a shirt) when you consider how little it will be used.

On the other hand, we started buying clothes at consignment, and we can get essentially the same baby button up onesies for 6 dollars. Also from the Gap, also adorable. Not only is it more ethical and Earth-friendly to buy used, you also save a ton of money. In the last 6 months, once I figured out what we were doing, I have bought 2-4 pieces new per size (mostly Made in America). Everything else our baby wears is a hand me down from a cousin or bought at Goodwill/ baby consignment stores. We have saved so much money, and he still looks so cute!

3. Dress them like America's Next Top Model- You know that episode of Top Model, usually around the weepy makeovers, where one of the models gets in trouble for her clothes? They basically have her strip down to a tank top, heels, and jeans- all accessories come off. The wisdom there is that these superhumanly gorgeous girls don't need any rigamaroll, because it only takes away from their face.

It's exactly the same in how you dress your baby. Maybe slightly less smizing. Otherwise, exactly the same.

Baby clothes are cute. Some of them are really freaking cute. None of them will be as cute as your baby. There is nothing that doesn't quite work like a baby with 47 things going on- ruffles, hats, bibs, bright socks, etc. When you are shopping, you want to buy all cutesy stuff- I know, I am totally guilty of this, but what you really need are basics. Simple shirts, pants, and tops like you can buy at American Apparel (or used! I'm so serious about the used thing). I currently LOVE Pact socks, which are stretchy enough to work for a long time, and they come in cute, but not overstated designs.

Then, when you dress them, they can have one really cute detail on at a time, and much like Tyra's ladies, the focus can be on the baby's supercuteness.

4. If You have One Focal Point, Let it be Ears- Nothing in the world is cuter than tiny ears. Basically the best reason to have children.

5. Your Baby Can't Read- Take it easy on the words. It's never as cute as it seems like it should be. You would never see one of those Top Models in a word tank, would you? You don't need a shirt that says "fierce" to tell those girls are fierce, and you don't need one that says "Mommy loves you" to prove that your child is loved. We get it, you love your baby.

6. Velcro on Shoes, Just Ignore Anything Without Them- We bought so many pairs of shoes that got almost no use, either because the Bub could immediately get them off or because they never fit quite right. We had a pair of velcro high top boots when he was really teeny, and it's still the best pair of shoes he has ever worn. This is him still at the hospital with them on. Neutral colors, velcro, and you only need a pair. In the summer, you don't need any as long as baby isn't walking.

7. When It's Cold, Just Use Sleepers- We had The Bub in November, and I think we basically kept him in sleepers until March. They are cozy, they don't leave feet or ankles exposed, and your life is basically a giant pajama party anyway. Also, zippers over snaps. Snaps get pretty difficult at 3 in the morning while sleep-deprived.

The other beauty of sleepers is that ANY of them work. It's pajamas, so if it covered in words, or turtles kissing, or Shakespear sonnets, it doesn't matter! When you see a sleeper used, just go for it. I also highly recommend the ones with animals on the butt. Every baby needs at least one.

8. Miniature Grown Up Outfits are Always a Homerun- The Boy has worn a lot of henleys this year. So has the Bub. Referencing adult trends or looks worked really well for us, and I think that's how he looked the cutest.

9. Stay Organized- Change is going to come. And fast. The Bub's dresser has three drawers- the top has socks, hats, and other practical stuff. The middle drawer has what he is wearing now. The bottom drawer is the next two sizes, closest on the left. This way, I always have a sense of what he have coming down the line, and I know what to ask for when people ask what we need. When it is time to retire a size, I split the clothes between sizes first (because there is usually a short time where they overlap). Then, I split it between keep (maybe a third?) and donate. Then I post it on Buy Nothing or take it to Goodwill almost immediately. There are enough tiny baby things floating around, and someone else can use those clothes.

10. Accept All Gifts with Gratefulness- Your baby is a person, and as a person, they will immediately develop relationships with other people that is independent of you. When they gift things to your child, just use them. Even if it's not your style, take it as a challenge and make it work. My cousin Shelly is a master of this- not only does she use things gifted to her, she also will put her babies in those clothes when the gifter comes around.

We received this green velour sleeper as a gift from a friend, who basically supplied all of our newborn clothes from her garage sale stash (thank you Mindy!). We thought this number was so funny and dated at the time (especially compared to everything else she gave us), but in the end, we loved that thing. Loved it. By far, our favorite newborn clothes. My husband had us keep it for sentimental reasons! The fuzzy was nice to cuddle with, and the velour we thought was so dorky at first, just made us love it that much more.

You are blessed to have people gift things to you, and it's important to look out for your baby and take care of those relationships. Put him in the green velour sleeper. I guarantee you will fall in love with it.

11. You Can't Go Wrong with Overalls- I love them. I love babies in them. The baby has looked super cute every time he has them on. I also love hats, but they are harder to recommend, because mean babies will take them off! Where is the appreciation for the cuteness? Much like the cute animals on the butt, baby overalls only get use for a short window. Use the window, no matter the gender of your Bub.

12. Don't Trip on Gender- Yes, yes. Boys wear blue etc etc. I just think these kind of hang ups at this age is pretty ridiculous. Especially in sleepers. They are pajamas. The baby doesn't know the difference. Be free.

13. Just have a Back Up- If the moment really matters and you will be devastated to have the bub looking janky, make sure you have a back up plan. I would say, never leave the house without a change of clothes in your bag, because if you test fate, it will burn you. Or something. For Christmas, we had 2 pairs of pajamas lined up. He grossed up both of them and ended up in something else. Still, we have some pictures in Christmas pajamas, on Christmas, despite having to be immediately changed first thing Christmas morning.

Also, I highly recommend having back up clothes for parents in the trunk of your car. Because, puking.

14. Feel Good About it- The stakes here are pretty low. If your baby looks a little bit crazy now and then, it probably doesn't ruin their chances for college.

That being said, the way I think and approach our baby's clothing has changed dramatically in his little year of life. Looking at him and knowing that I am just borrowing this world from him has made me realize how important it is to try to make the world a little better than when I got here. It made me understand my role as a steward on a deeper level, and that whatever I do for good or not, my son will have to grapple with in the future.

 I can no longer stand the thought that another child or another mother has worked in unsafe and cruel conditions so he can have those cute little ears on. I can't do it.

I realized every single piece of clothing we buy can either do good (reducing waste, empowering workers, using less fuel) or genuine evil. We have become so alienated from where and how our clothing is made, it is easy to not even think about all the greed and mistreatment we empower with our money. I know this is a bummer, and in general, I try to keep things positive here, but I truly believe there is no neutral clothing purchase. You are either telling clothing companies they have to do better or you are endorsing these choices which are really awful! What a bummer!

So I am doing my best to only buy myself and the Bub used or American-made clothing. Yeah, that pair of Etsy leggings is more than the ones at Old Navy, but if I buy most of his wardrobe used, I think it comes out about the same.

We aren't going to do perfectly, and we aren't even granola enough to take it to that level, but I am going to try. I want to feel excited about what the Bub wears not only because it's super cute (and that still matters to me, so there), but because I feel like it's a little vote for good and for his future world.

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