baby proof: baby clothes.

June 23, 2015

baby proof: baby clothes | reading my tea leaves There’s nothing cuter than a tiny pair of overalls. Or a pint-sized dress. Even the least consumerist among us might feel a little pang when confronted with a shiny pair of sneakers in miniature.

Lots of you have asked me how I’ve approached dressing Faye, so here’s my imperfect response:

Faye has one drawer of clothes. Like unpacking a diaper bag at the end of the day, or wiping down a high chair tray, or washing out breast pump parts, the drawer requires some amount of regular maintenance to keep under control. There are the too-smalls to sift through, the popped off snaps to decide whether to repair, the playground knee smudges to soak in a mixture of hot water and suds. Every few weeks I pull out the drawer and have a look at the contents. On the shelf at the top of Faye’s closet-turned-alcove I keep a lidded box where I’ve been stashing the most favorite of the clothes that she’s grown out of. I’ve carefully tucked away tiny playsuits and cozy rompers and hand-knitted hats. Like I said, it’s hard not to be sentimental about clothes in miniature. Fold up a tiny onesie for safe-keeping and memories of sleep deprivation and spit up and mustard plasters fade away and all you feel is one hundred percent heart pangs and hope for a future tiny person of your own or someone else’s. Still, clothes that I never loved in the first place or that had one too many run-ins with spaghetti sauce and banana to justify making space for, have gone out on the stoop, or off to the thrift store, or bundled up for someone else’s baby.
baby proof: baby clothes | reading my tea leaves We’ve been on the receiving end of this cycle, too. Many of Faye’s clothes have been the recycled remainders from cousins (first and once removed). Because space is at a premium and because I’d rather have less than more, I’ve sifted through these piles and kept what was lovely or useful and passed along everything else. With baby clothes and other things in a tiny apartment (or anywhere), it’s important to give yourself permission to edit. baby proof: baby clothes | reading my tea leaves For clothes that I’ve bought for Faye myself—and when approaching what I dress her in in general—I try to think of Faye’s wardrobe in the same way that I think of mine. I try to make a few careful investments for special pieces, to stock up on basics that will carry us through squashed strawberries and mushed avocado, and to do my best to make choices that will harm as few people along the way as possible while also not ignoring the business of budget.

No surprise, I’m drawn to neutrals and tiny florals and baby clothes that are more classic than contemporary, so I often seek out muted colors and simple stripes in natural fibers. I’ve found that shopping in both the little girl and boy sections of shops gets me the most variety. (And that people will wonder at your child’s gender whether she’s dressed in pink ruffles or blue stripes.)

Here are the basics that I’ve found to be most useful:

White bodysuits: Yes, they get dirty. But so does everything else and a white bodysuit matches with everything. A good soak in the sink with detergent and hot water does a world of good.

Tiny pants: Good for protecting tiny knees and staying warm—I’ve taken to packing a slim pair of leggings with me when we plan to spend the day out of the house.

Overalls: I’d make this argument for mamas and babies alike: a good pair of overalls means an insta-outfit. Gender-neutral enough to pass along to a baby boy or girl, a beautiful pair of overalls feels like an investment worth making.

Bloomers: Like those overalls, pop a pair of bloomers over a onesie and you’ve got an outfit. Word to the wise: size up if you’re looking to cover an enormous cloth-diapered booty.

Smock dresses: Now that it’s summertime, I’ve been putting Faye into little dresses to keep cool and comfortable.

Shoes: I admit that I fall into the camp of thinking that babies don’t really need shoes before they start to walk—and even then, really just to protect those little toes. I bought a pair of little knit booties on sale last winter to keep her feet warm during endless subway rides but I upgraded to sneaks this spring when the playground came into our lives. These lace-up Converse worked best for us because they stay on and they’ve got that nice rubber toe to withstand the constant scuffing of a baby still crawling around. I went for white because I have weird childhood nostalgia about white canvas sneakers getting progressively dirtier over the course of a well-spent summer. We also bought her a little pair of Seawees.
baby proof: baby clothes | reading my tea leaves Baby shopping:

To be clear, this is the fun part. Much of my baby shopping is done on Pinterest, which is to say it’s virtual, not actual. But because there are so many people making really lovely things out there, I thought I’d share a few of my favorite children’s clothing lines here. Many of these shops make clothes that might seem more practical when viewed as special gifts than everyday basics. Though I would make an argument here: One tiny linen dress that can be worn over and over again without showing signs of wear is a wiser investment than three bodysuits that unravel on first washing. Clothing purchases always come down to a matter of preference and personal taste and money in a bank account, but I do think that the idea of quality over quantity is as useful when shopping for babies as for anyone. Despite some initial sticker shock, I’ve found that buying one or two special pieces for Faye and relying on hand-me-downs and affordable basics for everything else has been the best route for us. I have no qualms about putting Faye into the same few things over and over again and a nightly ritual of setting clothes to soak in the bathroom sink means they don’t get lost in laundry purgatory.

Here’s what’s caught my attention, as always, feel free to add ideas in the comments section:

American Apparel: The pants in their organic baby line have been a mainstay in Faye’s wardrobe since last fall and she’s had her own and a hand-me-down hoodie from here, too. The baby clothes are relatively affordable and not so precious that I mind them getting blasted to oblivion on the playground.

Billie Blooms: A RMTL sponsor and maker of beautiful bloomers right here in Brooklyn. Faye has two pairs, including the Lou, shown above.

Burt’s Bees Baby: Lots of clean, neutral, and affordable options in certified organic cotton. Their Henley Tee and Pajama Pant Set is a favorite of mine, but I also like the Underbees collection for simple logo-free tees and camisoles. Also: tights.

Fabrik: Another sponsor of this space, and a maker of whimsical baby clothes in sweet florals and neutrals. These little shorts are the sweetest.

Goat Milk: Organic cotton baby basics of incredible quality. Faye wore her striped union suit all winter long.

Hannah Andersson: I loved this catalog as a kid—all those colorful tights!—but as a parent, I really love their organic cotton pajamas. A little warm for this time of year sans air-conditioning, but perfect for crisp nights and in a range of super brights and mellow neutrals.

Indego Africa: 100% of profits from this clothing line go back to support the women who make these clothes. Their Pineapple Romper is adorable.

Local Parity Goods: This Etsy shop is currently on vacation, but add it to your favorites and check back in. Faye has their adorable handknit Rumi Sunsuit in robin’s egg blue and every single thing in the shop is beautiful and made by hand.

Mabo: I bought Faye this Willa Dress and she wears it at least three times a week. It’s getting soft and rumply in the wash and holding up beautifully in the midst of rambunctious cousin tumbling. Over the winter she wore a pair of their overalls (like these ones).

Makie: A shop full of the sweetest baby things in every shade of gray ;). Faye had one of their terrycloth rompers when she was teeny tiny.

Misha and Puff: Faye’s little woolen booties that she wore all winter came from here. We got a pair that went all the way up to her knees which meant that I didn’t spend the winter wondering if her pants were riding up in the carrier.

Petit Bateau: You can buy this stuff at the grocery store in France, but it’s harder to come by affordably in the US. Still, the quality is really terrific. Thick cotton body suits, classic camisoles. I’m partial to the Bodysuits and Underwear section of this shop, too.

Purl Bee: Purl Soho’s blog is a tremendous resource for anyone with the wherewithal to make their own baby clothes. Faye has been the extremely lucky recipient of sweet handmade treasures made from these patterns.

Primary: A new shop committed to stocking basic baby clothes in primary and pastel colors, made with Pima cotton. I haven’t tried these myself, but the idea is a great one.

Red Creek Handmade: I’ve yet to invest in anything from this gem of a shop, but every single thing in it looks delightful. Garden rompers? Yes and yes.

Soor Ploom: Another Brooklyn-made clothing line making all sorts of lovely and timeless baby goodies. The Ines Romper is just the sweetest.

Tea Collection: Faye’s gotten a few of these as hand-me-downs and gifts. Some of the designs are little more flashy than I’d typically choose but the quality is lovely and their comittment to ethical fashion really admirable.

WillabyFaye wore a pair of these pantaloons from Willaby pulled up over cotton leggings nearly every single day this winter. This summer she’s been loving one of last season’s smock dresses. (Lots on sale here!)

Winter Water Factory: We bought Faye two of these organic cotton rompers this winter and she wore them endlessly. The mini June Leaf romper in deep blue is one of my favorites this season.

PS. I’ve mentioned this before in my post about affordability, but it might be worth the reminder that in nearly every case I’ve been able to buy these items on sale by following accounts on Instagram and taking advantage of their special sales.

More baby proof posts, RIGHT HERE.

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  • Reply Aja Lake June 23, 2015 at 4:38 pm

    Love Willaby. You'd like Caramel Baby & Child.

    Converse and Salt Waters all summer long! xx

  • Reply Archana June 23, 2015 at 6:10 pm

    Your writing, has improved so much since I first started reading your blog. Beautiful words, in todays blog. Or maybe talking about your baby pushed it the extra mile.

    Enjoyed reading this post.

    – Archana.

    • Reply Archana June 23, 2015 at 8:34 pm

      Oh no, ofcouse it was meant to be a compliment. I think I did a bad job wording it if it came out otherwise.

      Beautiful writing ! I am waiting on your book to come out.

  • Reply HEAB June 23, 2015 at 6:50 pm

    Thanks for this post. My kids LOVE mud. Seriously, if there is dirt or mud within 50 feet, they are all four in it. Therefore, I don't like spending much on their clothes. Thankfully, we've been given a great deal of their wardrobes, but when I do purchase clothing, I just want PLAIN tshirts, leggings, etc. I love American Apparel (holds up well), and the Burt's Bees line. Going to check out Primary and perhaps get something from Mabo…for special days when there is no rain in the forecast 😉

  • Reply kmandeng June 23, 2015 at 8:04 pm

    Loved this post! Just what I needed to read today, especially the part about it being okay to sort through clothes you are given.. I struggle with guilt of not using those types of items sometimes. Also those "Lou" bloomers are too cute better order some for my daughter whose name is Lou!

  • Reply Alexa June 23, 2015 at 8:40 pm

    We have had a lot of people ask "how old is he?" simply because we dress our daughter in neutrals and tend to have a lot of blues. I'd love to know if the overalls love lasts! We loved them at first, but as our daughter got more mobile, and started to potty train, all of those snaps became way too impractical. (Sniff!)

    • Reply Erin June 24, 2015 at 1:50 am

      Ah, yes: definitely more of a younger baby thing!

    • Reply admin June 24, 2015 at 1:50 am

      Ah, yes: definitely more of a younger baby thing!

  • Reply Heather June 23, 2015 at 8:56 pm

    Nice list. I can't in good conscience buy from American Apparel, however, because of ads that blatantly objectify and demean women. The company may rate well other ways but the messages they send are harmful to society and our daughters.

    • Reply Erin June 24, 2015 at 1:41 am

      I struggle with them myself (see my swimsuit post!), but I do find that I sometimes have to pick my battles. Hoping to see more positive change now that Dov Charney is out of the picture!

    • Reply admin June 24, 2015 at 1:41 am

      I struggle with them myself (see my swimsuit post!), but I do find that I sometimes have to pick my battles. Hoping to see more positive change now that Dov Charney is out of the picture!

  • Reply Anna June 23, 2015 at 11:46 pm

    We rely on hand-made clothing, thrift store clothing, and hand-me-downs from friends with older children, and then pass outgrown things on to other friends. We have enough space for me to box things up when E. outgrows them and then I go through them a few months later, when I've had some time to emotionally let go of things so I won't want to keep it all. We have had plenty of new items given to us, but if we need to add new things to E.'s wardrobe that I don't feel like making and that haven't been given to us, I always go to the thrift store. Once in a while one of the local ones does a 5 baby items for a dollar sale, and even the more expensive thrift stores are pretty cheap in comparison to buying new. Both of us adults in the family almost always buy at the thrift store for clothing as well, so it's just our normal shopping pattern. Once in a while family members give us brand-new clothes that they've picked out. I could probably winnow out E.'s wardrobe a bit and have fewer things in there, just like I could with mine, but for the moment I'm settling for clearing out what's gotten outgrown or worn out and then adding fewer new things in (which is sort of what I'm doing with mine, except for the outgrown bit). We're not minimalists, but we could do with fewer possessions for sure.

    • Reply Erin June 24, 2015 at 1:49 am

      Sounds like you guys have a good system worked out! I agree that sometimes revisiting clothes put away makes you realize you don't need to be *quite* so precious about them!

    • Reply admin June 24, 2015 at 1:49 am

      Sounds like you guys have a good system worked out! I agree that sometimes revisiting clothes put away makes you realize you don't need to be *quite* so precious about them!

  • Reply the southern hostess June 24, 2015 at 12:03 am

    I'd been eagerly awaiting a baby clothing post. Love reading this mama wisdom and sweet sentimentality.

    • Reply Erin June 24, 2015 at 1:42 am

      Thank you! So glad you enjoyed it.

    • Reply admin June 24, 2015 at 1:42 am

      Thank you! So glad you enjoyed it.

  • Reply Shannon June 24, 2015 at 12:20 am

    Also check out Egg by Susan Lazar – really great quality and well made. They do two really great sales a year too 🙂

    • Reply Erin June 24, 2015 at 1:43 am

      Oh, yes! Just got a new niece one of their little sunhats, too!

    • Reply admin June 24, 2015 at 1:43 am

      Oh, yes! Just got a new niece one of their little sunhats, too!

  • Reply Julie R June 24, 2015 at 1:38 am

    Rylee and Cru is lovely and awesome too:

    • Reply Erin June 24, 2015 at 1:47 am

      So sweet. Thanks for sharing!

    • Reply admin June 24, 2015 at 1:47 am

      So sweet. Thanks for sharing!

  • Reply Neurotic Workaholic June 24, 2015 at 4:56 am

    Those shoes are so tiny! When I see babies or children, it's still hard for me to believe that I was once that small. Sometimes I feel like a giant, towering over them.

  • Reply ieva June 24, 2015 at 9:41 am

    i don't have kids and even i enjoyed reading this post 🙂 Erin, i love LOVE your blog! soooo waiting for the book!

  • Reply Whitney Deal June 24, 2015 at 12:42 pm

    Perfection! Thanks for the post, Erin. Good ideas especially with baby number 2..things can really start to get out of hand if you're not careful.

  • Reply Anonymous June 24, 2015 at 12:59 pm

    Where did you get Faye's wetsuit that I keep eyeing on Instagram? So cute!!

  • Reply Friend Mouse July 4, 2015 at 9:42 pm

    You should give Baobab Organics a look: small business owner, made in Maine, organic cotton, gorgeous clothes.

  • Reply Sarah February 12, 2016 at 5:38 am

    I been catching up on some of your old posts that I’ve missed and after reading this one thought I’d tell you about my favourite brand of children’s clothes. They are called Gray Label and they make the softest organic pieces I have found. I don’t know how easy they are to get in NY as they are from Amsterdam but they really are amazing. Hope you like them.

    • Reply Erin Boyle February 12, 2016 at 10:43 am

      Yes! Have since found them! I know they’re for sale at Fawn Shoppe in the US! Thanks for the reminder!

  • Reply Sarah March 21, 2017 at 11:48 am

    I’ve been sorting through your old posts seeing if I could get more specific info about your drawer full of baby clothes. More specifically, is there a number of outfits in the current size that you’ve found is just just enough without being too much. I’m expecting my second and want to avoid the avalanche of clothes that filled out drawers (most from generous family!) last time. Many thanks for the buautiful & thoughtful blog!

  • Reply Gemma Freeman August 6, 2018 at 11:24 pm

    Just searching your site for tips on babies and kids shoes and wondering if you have any suggestions? I’ve just moved to the US from New Zealand, where there’s a wonderful, local producer of quality kids leather maryjane shoes and ankle boots, in a variety of gorgeous colours. They’re basically the closed-toe equivalent of saltwaters. But I can’t work out what the US equivalent to them would be? I’m after sturdy, sensible, sweet leather shoes, both for my 18 month-old and my kindergartner. Any ideas? I’d be SO grateful for any suggestions!

  • Reply Ana Alves February 12, 2019 at 5:50 am

    What a lovely post. I live in Cape Town , South Africa so most of these brands are not available to us and if they are it’s silly expensive to get them here. I have noticed that there is a growing trend for locally made kids clothing, which I am really enjoying. I am lucky to have an older niece that passes on a lot of her clothes to my daughter and I pass on a lot of her clothes to a friends daughter. I also love to buy second hand, it makes me feel better about the waste created by the clothing industry. Granny always knits her a warm winter cardigan and I made her some leg warmers and they have been a hit.

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