Monday, January 19, 2009

Ali's Annals: 3.0 "I'm too sexy for my onesie"

Rouching...bum ruffles...bows...blousy dresses...cotton candy pink kimono undershirts... Yesterday I had the pleasure of sifting through Mama D’s brand new, spit- and poop-free lil’ newborn girl clothing. (Is newborn clothing really that small? And to think that Miles was swimming in some preemie outfits!) There is no question that I do have baby girl clothing envy. Correction: I am envious of how easy it is to find adorable baby girl clothing.

Today's Ali Annals will focus on my essential baby clothing thoughts/recommendations.

My general clothing platitudes:
  • Baby clothing is highly gendered. There is nothing wrong with girls wearing pink and boys blue (Miles's eyes "pop" when he dons blue clothing), but sometimes it can make you a little nauseated. Boys=puppies, dinosaurs, trucks, and of course, footballs. Girls=butterflies, hearts, flowers,gingham.
  • Almost everyone I know dreads those first few times of slipping a onesie over a wobbly newborn. It gets less frightening, but slightly more difficult, especially if your baby's limbs are in constant motion, and you just had a "heel in poo" incident during a diaper change.
  • You will quickly identify your favorite components to clothing, and those that drive you batty. (For us, it was pockets on newborn clothing. Is this necessary, people? It only contributes to awkward holds. Also, structured pants that didn't have button crotches. Soft pants that can easily slip on and off are was pants (like one with pockets) that didn't have crotch snaps that would turn a 5 minute diaper change into 11 minutes of frustration and mommy coming to save daddy.)
  • You will find yourself with a handful of outfits that still have tags and will never be worn. This may be due to a number of reasons, the most common being

    1) there is some sort of time warp phenomenon in which one day your baby is swimming in his baby gap kimono sleep sack, and the next day you have to put pants underneath it for a "sari" look because his sausage toes and doughy legs keep poking out.

    2) You will inevitably receive lots of baby clothes from individuals of all different aesthetic persuasions. Not only is the volume of clothing you initially receive usually overwhelming, but also you may find yourself identifying levels of cuteness in the swag. For example, we had this one brown onesie with a cute little dog on it (remember, apparently only boys like dogs and girls like butterflies), and I found myself secretly putting it on the top of the onesie rotation pile. Luckily we had a preemie size AND a newborn size, so I got a lot of mileage with the 2 identical onesies. There were a host of others who never made it to the top of the pile, and are now finding their way into storage.

    3) Seasonal issues. I currently have dead of winter 12 month old clothing, and still have 6 month old shorts sets. Miles won't wear either. Sometimes people get taken by the monkey appliques, and all common sense flies out the window.
  • Clothing, like everything else "baby" tends to suffer from price inflation.
  • BUY/GET USED! Craigslist, consignment sales, hand-me-downs...even though I made the comment about spit-up and poop covered clothing, you will find yourself with stacks of clothing that is unsoiled and in perfectly good condition. Miles's first few months of life he was wearing the duds of another preemie who generously donated his wardrobe (including the brown dog onesies). 90% of those clothes will find their way to another baby boy--either a cousin, friend, consignment shop, or maybe a baby brother. Miles's cutest pair of corduroy overalls is a hand-me-down from my older brothers and me. In fact, I just learned that my mother received them as a hand-me-down herself! Over 30 years old, and they are as cute as ever. We are also in ownership of 3 trash bags full of clothing from one of Eric's co-workers. Rest assured, we will pay it forward and do the same in time.

Tangent: something I saw related to hand-me-downs recently caught my eye. If I could sew, I would definitely take part in this "social activism project." (I know, Mom. You raised someone you cannot even mend her own buttons. My fly-less sunflower boxers in 7th grade home economics was just about the end of me.)

The tag exchange explanation:
"The tag to the left is intended as an intervention - as a way to introduce and cultivate the kind of imagination and awareness that is a prerequisite to ecologically and socially conscious shopping habits. Here's how it works: You send me one (or more) of your clothes tags and a self-addressed stamped envelope, and I send you one (or more) of these tags in exchange. Then you sew this tag into your garment, as a reminder and statement in support of healthier clothes. As your garment gets passed on to friends, little sisters, or thrift stores, the tag takes on a life of its own and becomes a surprise snippet for future readers and wearers. If you're about to give away a load of clothes, consider sewing these tags into them first. The tag can also be sewn on like a patch." Head over to the website embedded above to learn more!

When you do end up purchasing clothing, you'll find that each brand fits your baby differently. Additionally, you'll find certain stores that meet your needs better than others. This is individual, and my opinions are obviously bent toward dressing a long, slenderish boy:
  • Gerber clothing is true to fit, and fits long/narrow babies better. The clothing can be slightly thin. Gerber has the monopoly on onesies.
  • Carters clothing runs big, and fits shorter/wider babies better. They love adorning their clothes with little sayings, and animals. If you get clothing from the actual store, it can be quite expensive. Target, Walmart, Kohls, Macys all have less expensive "lines" of Carters (e.g. "Child of Mine," or "Made with Love")
  • Target has awful selection for baby boy clothes--at least in Atlanta.
  • Old Navy has great sales and runs true to size. They have a wide range of styles and I think can appeal to most people on some level. The quality is fair. The best is that they have unique items, like Charley Harper t-shirts! Miles now owns two of them.
  • Baby Gap is like the adult Gap--a more expensive Old Navy: the better quality is not commensurate with the increased price. Shop for sales! True to fit
  • American Apparel has really nice karate pants and undershirts for a good price. Miles has about 5 pairs of the cotton karate pants, and a few of the long sleeve tees.
  • Gymboree has nice preemie items. I don't have a ton from them, but I think they are on par with Carters, although I like the selection better.
  • The Children's Place is also on par with Gymboree and Carters I think. We don't have much from here. Just some pajamas. They seem long and narrow.
  • Etsy is the mecca of all things handmade. There are some great clothing deals here.
  • Janie and Jack is probably one of my favorite stores. Mucho dinero, but really cute and classic. Eric and I are drooling over the little driving caps and herringbone vests...both of which are superfluous items--kind of like the infant pant pockets like I was slamming before.
  • Crazy 8 is a junior varsity (like that?) version of Gymboree. It's the Old Navy of Gap, Inc.
  • LL Bean has wonderful outerwear. Fleece bunting and thumbless mittens.
  • Baby Soy or Under the Nile are great organic options. They are not easy to find outside of the Internet, but we have a few zip up tops that have lasted a long time.
  • Socks. Never bought any...but am looking for a good place to get some! The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that babies not wear shoes for the first 12 months, so i have no comment on shoes, except that Schlocks are the way to go.
In truth, we have purchased clothing for Miles less than 5 times in 8 months. I prefer consignment sales, and am looking forward to 2 upcoming Atlanta area events. For many, you can be a seller and get special privileges like early shopping (plus, I made $30 from the last one, and bought $40 worth of clothes. Not too shabby!)

Finally: cleaning clothes. I personally think you do not need Dreft or any type of fabric softener (Snuggle, etc.) Less is more and that tempting "baby smell" is really just chemicals manufactured from a plant in New Jersey. We use Seventh Generation baby wash on all of our clothes, and rotate it with the Mrs Meyer's baby blossom detergent (along with their baby stain remover). We wash in all cold, and when the weather is nicer, will put up our laundry line. So far, we have never had any permanent stain. Detergent, I have found, is a personal choice. One thing that is recommended that everyone follow is to wash all washable baby products prior to meeting your child's skin.

This was a pretty text heavy post. I am on my work computer tonight, and don't have access to many of my photos.


  1. You definitely need to write a book, Alison!

    Time for bed for me. Just got home from seeing Susan Linn speak about the importance of imaginative play and the detrimental effects of media and commercialism on children. I will be sending you that book, too...

  2. Yo, I'm all set when I have a baby! Who needs books when I've got your blog?!

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