By Christina VanGinkel
When making or buying clothing and accessories for your baby, be sure to consider several things beyond the 'cute' factor, such as ease of wear, how well it is constructed and wash ability. Too often, especially new parents, look no further than if an outfit is going to look cute on baby. They give no thought to if it will wash well, or if it will be easy to dress baby in. If it is made for a baby, one would assume that it should be easy to wash and care for, and that dressing baby in it should be relatively easy, but this is not always so.
Consider the fabric itself. Is it going to be soft and gently against baby's skin, will it wash easily, and will it hold up to repeated washings? Also consider what the tags are made of, and if they are as soft as the fabric? My grandson has a terrible sensitivity to tags that are stiff and rough, and scratches at them relentlessly, so this is a factor to be considered even after the initial newborn stage. How about the buttons or zippers, are they sewn in a manner that does not allow them to bind or poke? Babies stretch and twist, they arch their backs, they curl into little round balls. Will the material allow baby to do all of this without the seams binding uncomfortably?
How do the washing and care instructions read on the label? Unbelievably, they do make things that must be dry-cleaned. This may not seem overly unreasonable, that is until baby spits up on it every time you put the outfit on. Even outer pieces of clothing, such as snowsuits, are better if they are wash and wear. Babies do not care if their in onesies or a jacket, they will spit up on it, it is almost a guarantee! If the fabric the outfit is made from is not the sort to wash well, consider if it is really something you want to purchase. There will always be items, such as Baptismal outfits for example, that may be made of materials that will not be easily washed. For day-to-day clothing, you should be able to toss it in the wash, with nothing more than the detergent you normally use, with at the most, a stain treatment for especially bad stains.
Be sure to check buttons and decorations also. If an item can be pulled off, it is a choking hazard. Clothing is recalled every year because of just such a problem. Do not leave it up to the manufacturer or the after market in general to determine if an article of clothing is safe for baby to wear. Do your own thorough check of every item you buy or receive as a gift. If something is in question, such as a button used as a decoration, cut it off yourself. If baby can reach it, they will almost surely chew on it, so beat them to it, and remove it first!