When my first child was born, I had something like 20 newborn-sized pajama sets—but I only wanted to use three of them. Why? Those were the only ones with zippers that ingeniously opened from the bottom up, which I quickly learned was a real lifesaver during frequent middle-of-the-night diaper changes. Less time fumbling around to undress my baby meant more sleep for me... And I was grateful for every extra minute I could get.
That said, the direction the zipper pulls on pajamas is not something I would have ever given second thought before having a baby. That is why it's so helpful to listen to what mamas who have been there before wish they knew sooner.
To pass on some wisdom, the editors at Motherly huddled up to share some of our favorite, hard-earned baby clothes hacks, tips and tricks.
Get pajamas with inverted zippers
These are the aforementioned pajamas that I suggest to every new parent. Although there are now other inverted zipper sleepers on the market, I fell in love with Cloud Island's set because of the cute prints, cozy fit and fold-over hand cuffs. Another reason to love this offering? At $13 for a three-pack, the price is practically unbeatable. So go ahead and register for sizes to carry you through the first six months.
Add some gender-neutral staples
If you find out the gender of your first baby before building your registry, it can be tempting to add the cutest baby boy or baby girl clothes you find. (Been there! 🙋♀️)
While that's all fine and dandy, not as many mamas set up a registry for the second (or third or fourth...) time around. For that reason, it's wise to add a few gender-neutral staple pieces to your registry that can be passed down to younger siblings regardless of if they are little brothers or sisters. In our family, this bear-ear hooded sweater from GAP was a favorite for my son, daughter and second son.
Don't spend much on baby shoes
Let's just say it like it is: Infants don't really need shoes. Yes, pairs that match special outfits can be cute for occasions. Beyond that, however, it's just a never-ending game of trying to keep your baby's shoes on their feet. To keep your baby's little toes warm, look instead for some booties.
Editor Review: "Someone gifted me these as 'the only socks or booties that ever stay on a baby' and she was right." - Shannon Vestal Robson, Editorial Director
FYI—Two other editors quickly backed her up, plus these have an average 4.9-star review from more than 2,000 customers.
Get socks in the same color
If and when your baby needs socks, simplify the post-laundry matching process by getting pairs in just one color. In fact, our team seems to have some strong opinions on socks.
A few more sock-related tips...
"I can’t stand looking for socks since those little things always get lost. If I remember when they are dirty, I put them all in a mesh bag and wash them that way. So when they come out of the dryer they are all together" - Erin Lem, Vice-President of Content Strategy and Operations
"Get socks with grippies on the bottom! I feel like they stay on better, and they help with scooting on hardwood floors and traction for jumping." - Hayli Craig, Editorial Operations Director
Embrace gently used options
Baby clothes generally come in three-month size ranges. Depending on how many clothes are in the wardrobe, that can mean some garments get very little wear—or even none at all. By selectively shopping with second-hand baby clothes retailers, you can save a good bit of money on items that are often practically brand new.
A few places to look...
"I have shopped a LOT at Once Upon A Child, which is gently used kids clothing chain. There have an enormous amount of gently used or new with tag kids clothing, especially in little kid sizes. I just wash them before use, which I usually do with baby clothes anyway. I've saved a fortune and the outfits are absolutely adorable." - Liz Tenety, Co-Founder
"I use Swoondle, where you send in your old baby stuff for credits and then get credit for other gently used baby and kids stuff." - Shannon Vestal Robson, Editorial Director
Get bibs that pull double-duty
One baby phase that can catch parents off-guard? While teething (and even before), there can be So. Much. Drool. Instead of constantly having to keep track of a teether to soothe your baby's sore gums or even their favorite pacifier, opt for bibs with attached teethers or pacifier clips.
Editor Review: "I swore by bibs with silicone teethers on the end. They were great in the maximum drool stage because the teether made the bib stay in place. And when my daughter started to get grabbier, they were in the prime spot for her to be able to chew on." - Kathryn Little, Sales and Marketing Senior Manager
Protect the clothes you have
Once your baby starts to eat solids, things can get messy in a hurry. And those cute little fabric bibs that often come along with outfits? Those are really only effective at absorbing a little drool. If you want to safeguard your baby's clothes from stains at dinner time (without completely undressing them), opt for oversized silicone bibs with a pocket at the bottom to catch what doesn't make it into their mouth.
Editor Review: "I love silicone bibs instead of cloth ones. It's not worth getting the stains out of cloth bibs when the silicone ones can just wash off so easily!" - Hayli Craig, Editorial Operations Director
When in doubt, size up
Babies grow like it's their job. (And, arguably, it is.) If you want to avoid the hamster wheel of buying a completely new wardrobe every few weeks, then plan ahead by getting clothes your baby can grow into or that can adjust. For example, these cozy ribbed leggings from H&M have adjustable buttons hidden along the waistband.
Editor Tip: "Always size up! I found that I could always cuff a pant leg or fold up a sleeve or roll a waistband to get more mileage out of clothes when my littles were growing so fast." - Jess Waller, Heath and Wellness Senior Editor
Organize, organize, organize!
The best selection of baby clothes in the world only does so much good if you can't find what you're looking for. Using large, clear tote boxes is a good way to store outgrown clothes that you eventually plan to pass down to another baby. Or do like Jen Watro, Head of Audience Development, and put all those diaper boxes to use by storing outgrown clothes in there!
As for clothes your baby hasn't yet sized into, closet organizing tags can help you keep everything in order.