Last weekend, I went through the girls’ wardrobes and set aside a huge bag of clothes to be gifted to our helper. The clothes would come in useful when her second granddaughter arrives.

I bought our future child’s first baby outfit in 2009 – more than a year before we conceived Coco in December 2010. I caved into buying a few more unisex pieces between then and the 20-week scan, after which I immediately celebrated by buying our first pink outfit even before I had left the hospital.

2 years on and 2 babies on, having dressed them in a variety of new clothes and a healthy dose of hand-me-downs, I have grown wiser about what makes for a good baby outfit and what doesn’t. There have been so many pieces that Coco had only worn once or twice, and I had set them aside for Claire, only to have Claire hardly wear them too. I thought I’d share some learnings from my experience with baby clothing, so that future parents – or folks who are thinking of buying clothes as gifts for little ones – will know what to look out for when shopping for these tiny outfits.

The clothes that I have since eliminated from their wardrobes – and that of our future third child (if any) – include:

(1) Short t-shirts/blouses

These cannot be tucked into bottoms (ie shorts/pants – not a baby’s bottom) and thus ride up easily when the baby is being carried, exposing the bub’s tummy. I find that onesies / bodysuits work best for the infant stage.

Recycling the good clothes

A good-quality onesie deserves a 2nd chance at being worn

(2) Tops/dresses with detail on the back

Design details such as buttons, clasps and ribbons/bows tend to cause discomfort since infants are put on their backs to sleep. Actually, anything that’s generally frilly, furry, rough or scratchy should be avoided.

(3) Tops that aren’t wide or stretchy around the neck

It’s tough enough dressing a bobble-headed infant without having to squeeze the poor baby’s skull through a too-narrow neck hole. Look out for tops with extra allowance or buttons at the neck-line for maximum ease while dressing.

(4) Any outfit with metal clasps, buttons or buckles

Once while on vacation, I made the mistake of dressing Coco in overalls for a long drive to the airport and the flight home. The metal pieces pressed uncomfortably into her body throughout the whole journey 🙁 I guess overalls would be more suited for toddlers, who don’t have to carried all the time, and for short outings where they’re up and about and running around as opposed to sleeping.

Cute - but not comfortable - in red overalls.

Cute – but not comfortable – in red overalls.

When it comes to dressing the girls, I find that the most comfortable outfits are also usually the least expensive ones, which are also surprisingly lasting. These include $2.50 netted singlets from the HDB store, loose-fitting pyjama pants, the 7-in-1 economical packs for bodysuits and simple leggings. Coco’s favourite ball-print pants were bought from NTUC and she’s forever asking to wear her 3-for-$10 red t-shirt with a picture of a bus on it.

Rockin' her NTUC Fairprice pants

Rockin’ her NTUC Fairprice pants

Most of the best quality clothes that the girls have received are hand-me-downs – mine included! That’s Coco in the very same woollen vest that I wore when I was 2 years old – 32 years ago!

'70s vintage look

’70s vintage look

My brother’s winter jackets from all the way back in 1989 also came in handy for our recent autumn vacation in Paris and London.

What she most happily calls her frogsuit

What she most happily calls her frogsuit

Warm as toast in this 1980s jacket

Warm as toast in this 1980s jacket

On a related note, it’s not just clothes from the ’80s that are being used again now, 30 years on. My mum kept his Maclaren stroller that she used to wheel HIM all around in, which the girls now ride in.

So while it’s REALLY tempting to buy the prettiest clothes for a friend’s baby girl or that cute baby outfit from a popular clothing brand when you’re expecting, do take the time to study the design and fit of each tiny outfit that catches your eye to make sure that it’ll offer maximum comfort and mileage for the little one – and for many more babies to follow.

For THAT is what makes an outfit worth spending on.

(Of course, some outfits aren’t really practical or lasting enough for generations to come but we buy them anyway because THEY’RE JUST TOO DAMN CUTE.)

Claire, "Wait che, I'm on the phone telling my friend about these dumb M&M outfits that our parents bought for us on the London trip..."

Claire, “Wait che, I’m on the phone telling my friend about these dumb M&M outfits that our parents bought for us from London…”


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