Choosing baby clothes
Babies grow out of clothes very quickly, so you don’t need to buy a lot of any one item.
In general, try to buy or borrow clothes that are slightly too large, because your baby will get more wear out of them. But for sleepwear, it’s best to look for close-fitting ones.
Always look for day and night-time baby clothes with low fire hazard labels.
When you do buy or borrow baby clothes, look for cotton material to put near your baby’s sensitive skin. Wool and other fabrics can irritate baby skin, although it’s OK to use clothes made from these fabrics as outer layers. Also, cotton clothes will keep your baby cooler in hot weather than clothes made from synthetic fibres.
It’s a good idea to choose clothes that are comfortable and easy to put on and off. Stretchy body suits, t-shirt tops or tops with envelope necks, and elastic-waist pants or leggings work well.
And as your baby starts to move around, clothes that let your baby move freely are a practical choice.
Once your baby starts crawling, clothes will get dirty. Easy-to-wash cotton overalls or pants are good for this stage. Pants with padded knees and buttons at the crotch for easy nappy-changing are ideal. In general, look for clothes that you can throw in the washing machine and won’t need to iron. Also, darker colours don’t show the dirt as much.
Clothes made from tightly woven fabric, like t-shirt material, will protect your baby’s skin from the sun. If you hold the fabric up to the light, you can see how much sun will get through it.
You can also get baby clothes that are specially designed to block the sun and that say how much protection they give. Look for them at Cancer Council shops.
Long sleeves and leggings will help protect your baby’s skin too. It’s a good idea to choose cotton to keep your baby cool.
A hat is important for protecting your baby from the sun. A soft hat is good because your baby can still lie down comfortably while wearing it. A full crown hat with a full brim or a neck flap is better than a cap because it provides more shade. A chin strap will help to keep the hat on your baby’s head.
Sun safety for your baby is about more than clothing. It’s always best to keep your baby out of direct sunlight. If this isn’t possible, shade, sunscreen and timing are also important.
When your baby is learning to walk, it’s good for them to have bare feet as often as possible. Wearing shoes can actually make things harder. If it’s really chilly, you can try non-slip socks or soft leather slippers that double as a first pair of shoes.
It’s time to buy your baby’s first pair of proper shoes when they’re starting to go for walks outside. When this time comes, it’s important to have shoes fitted by a child shoe specialist. This is because it can be quite difficult to tell whether shoes fit properly.
Keep sock sizes up to date as well. If socks are too small, they’ll squash toes and make walking uncomfortable.
Put your baby’s nappy on first to avoid getting wee or poo on clothes – baby’s or yours.
If your baby can sit or stand, you’ll be able to put things over their head, and you can help guide your baby’s hands through armholes and sleeves.
Once your child reaches about 12 months old, they’ll be a bundle of energy and might not want to stay still long enough even to put a nappy on, let alone several layers of clothes. You can try distracting your child with a song or game of peekaboo or give them a cloth flap book or toy to look at.
Once your baby is walking, it’s best to have clothes that you can put on and take off easily.
Once your baby starts to move, roll and wriggle, it’s much safer to put them on the floor to dress or change nappies. This helps to prevent falls. If you do dress your baby on a raised surface like a change table or bed, always keep a hand on your baby so they don’t roll off.
It’s a good idea to wash all baby clothes before your baby wears them for the first time. This can get rid of excess dyes and chemicals, reducing the chance of clothes irritating your baby’s skin or causing an allergic reaction.
You can wash baby clothes with the rest of the laundry, but try to avoid strong detergents and fabric softeners. Laundry detergents labelled ‘sensitive’ or ‘gentle’ are less likely to irritate your baby’s skin.
Soak clothes soiled with poo in nappy sanitiser before washing. Nappy sanitiser also makes a handy pre-soak once your baby starts on solids. Even with a bib, your baby’s clothes will get covered in food and drink.
When you’re dressing your baby for bed, make sure your baby is comfortably warm – not hot, sweaty or cold. It’s a good idea to dress your baby in layers of fitted clothing so that you can add or take away layers as the temperature changes.