How to Choose Clothes for a Child

Infant Clothing

You will have to change your baby often, so keep that in mind when choosing clothes.
You will have to change your baby often, so keep that in mind when choosing clothes.
©2006 Publications International, Ltd.

When you purchase baby clothes, it's a good idea to stick to one color scheme. Bright colors are unisex, more easily seen, and less easily soiled than pastels. They're a really good idea for outerwear-it's a lot easier to see a child wearing a bright red jacket in a busy supermarket than one wearing light pink.

Be practical. Babies aren't neat, so you'll want everything to be machine washable no matter how cute it is. Fancy clothes aren't practical at all since they often interfere with movement and aren't usually comfortable. Clothes made of cotton and other natural fabrics are more comfortable, especially in hot weather. Clothes with buckle fasteners are better than those with buttons; you can adjust buckles as the child grows, but you have to move buttons.

Keep in mind that more expensive clothes are not necessarily better. You'll have to examine each item, especially since baby sizes are not standardized. Don't be afraid to remove items from plastic packaging. Check to see if the seams are well finished and the stitching is strong. Knit fabrics should be strong, not flimsy.

Good sources of clothes are thrift shops as well as other parents whose children have outgrown their clothes. Both sources often have infant clothing that's next to new. You'll want to thoroughly wash previously used items once or twice and perhaps use a little bleach. Also, check labels on previously worn sleepwear to be sure the items meet the flame-retardant standards discussed in the following section on infant clothing.

Birth to Six Months

Obviously, the climate where you live and the season in which your child is born determine your initial layette needs. If it is up to you to obtain these basics (that is, if you do not receive them as gifts), and you are not sure what you need, get some ideas by talking to other parents or observing how other babies are dressed. Keep in mind that most babies wear newborn sizes for only a couple of weeks. And remember to wash both new and previously worn items before your infant wears them.

It is important not to overdress your baby, particularly when the temperature is hot. The best rule of thumb is to put as many layers of clothing on the baby as you are wearing. Also remember that if you're warm, your baby probably is, too. So when you dress your baby for cold temperatures, then go somewhere warmer, such as the grocery store or a shopping mall, loosen or remove some of the clothing. Many a parent removes his or her coat while indoors, only to leave baby heavily swaddled.

The following suggestions will help you put together your initial layette:

Underwear: Buy four to six undershirts in the three- to six-month-old size since these are generally made of cotton, which has a tendency to shrink to some degree. Some parents find the undershirts with side snaps easier to put on a new baby. Also popular is the one-piece style that pulls down over the diaper and snaps at the crotch. The one-piece style prevents the undershirt from rolling up, which tends to happen with other styles. All styles of undershirts are usually available in white, solid colors, and prints.

Socks or booties: You'll probably want four to six pairs of socks. Make sure they fit the infant's feet snugly. Cuffed booties and socks made of stretchy material seem to work best. Babies often kick off other styles.

Sleepwear: Plan on six to ten sleep outfits. These items can either be footed, stretchy garments or gowns. Blanket sleepers, which are heavier than stretch garments, are good for colder climates. The advantage of gowns is that they allow for easier diaper changing. They also allow an older infant more freedom of movement. However, in the past, the strings at the bottom of these garments were sometimes found to get wrapped around infants' toes and ankles, cutting off circulation. In newer gowns, enclosed strips of plastic take the place of the strings so no loose ends can cut off circulation.

If you select sleepwear with feet, do not also put socks on your baby. They will cause the baby's feet to become too warm and may cause a condition known as sweaty sock dermatitis.

Garments designated as sleepwear must meet the flame-retardant standards set by the Consumer Products Safety Commission in the 1970s. New garments are tagged or labeled "Sleepwear"; other garments have labels that read: "Not intended as sleepwear." Polyester is the most commonly used fabric in sleepwear because it is inherently flame re-tardant. Cotton must be chemically treated to meet flame-retardant standards.

If you use previously worn clothes, you should know that in 1977, the Consumer Products Safety Commission banned the flame retardant called Tris; it was found to cause cancer in animals. Do not use clothing or sleepwear labeled as having been treated with Tris or Fyrol.

Hats or caps: Two hats or caps should suffice. They come in various styles and fabrics -- from lightweight cotton stretchable caps to heavy cotton or acrylic hats. The type you choose depends upon the climate. Make sure hats and caps are small enough so they stay on and so you can place them well away from the baby's face, so he can't turn his head and suffocate in them.

Sweaters: One sweater is probably enough. Make sure the weave is tight enough so little fingers can't get tangled in it. And make sure any decoration on the sweater-or on any garment, for that matter-cannot come off and be accidentally swallowed by the infant. Avoid glued-on novelties.

Bunting or snowsuit: Whether you need a snowsuit or bunting depends, of course, upon the climate where you live. A bunting is essentially a quilted or knitted zip-up bag with a hood. Buntings are handy because they are easy to put your baby into. However, if you choose a bunting, be sure it has appropriate slits in the bottom to secure safety straps from car seats and strollers. Most current styles have such a feature; older styles may not.

Because newborns enjoy the feeling of being enveloped, you will want to have several blankets on hand. Because newborns enjoy the feeling of being enveloped, you will want to have several blankets on hand.
Because newborns enjoy the feeling of being enveloped, you will want to have several blankets on hand.
©2006 Publications International, Ltd.


You'll want three to six baby blankets. Most newborns like the feeling of being securely wrapped in a blanket. Receiving blankets are smaller, lightweight blankets that are ideal for this purpose. You can also use them to protect your clothing when you burp your baby. Cotton is a good choice. Flannel, woven, and knit receiving blankets are also available. In addition, you probably need a crib blanket. This is usually a heavier blanket designed to fit the standard-size crib mattress. Use it to cover a sleeping baby and as an extra wrap for outings in cold weather. Make sure all blankets are soft and machine washable.

Children grow at a remarkable rate in their first year. Before you know it, your child will have outgrown his baby clothes. In the next section, we will examine clothes for toddlers.

This information is solely for informational purposes. IT IS NOT INTENDED TO PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. Neither the Editors of Consumer Guide (R), Publications International, Ltd., the author nor publisher take responsibility for any possible consequences from any treatment, procedure, exercise, dietary modification, action or application of medication which results from reading or following the information contained in this information. The publication of this information does not constitute the practice of medicine, and this information does not replace the advice of your physician or other health care provider. Before undertaking any course of treatment, the reader must seek the advice of their physician or other health care provider.