3-18 months

Although your baby isn’t a newborn anymore, it’s still a good idea to choose practical clothes. Stretchy body suits, t-shirt tops, cotton fabric, elastic-waist pants and tops with envelope necks make dressing and undressing easier for you both.

Choosing baby clothes

Babies grow out of clothes very quickly, so you don’t need to buy lots of any one item.

For daytime baby clothes, try to buy or borrow things that are slightly too large, because your baby will get more wear out of them.

For sleepwear, look for close-fitting things with low fire hazard labels.

When you do buy or borrow baby clothes, look for cotton material to put near your baby’s sensitive skin. Wool and other fabrics can irritate his skin, although it’s OK to use clothes made from these fabrics as outer layers. Also, cotton clothes will keep baby cooler in hot weather than clothes made from acrylic fibres.

As your baby starts to move around, it makes sense to choose clothes that are comfortable and don’t restrict movement.

Once your baby starts crawling, her clothing will get dirty. While your baby is on all fours, easy-to-wash cotton overalls and pants are great. Pants with padded knees and buttons at the crotch for easy nappy-changing are ideal. In general, look for things that you can throw in the washing machine and won’t need to iron. Also, darker colours don’t show the dirt as much. 

Sun-safe clothes

Clothes made from tightly woven fabric, like t-shirt material, will protect your baby’s skin from the sun. If you hold the fabric up to the light, you can see how much sun will get through it. You can also get baby clothes that are specially designed to block the sun and that say how much protection they give. Look for them at Cancer Council shops.

Long sleeves and leggings will help protect baby’s skin too. It’s a good idea to choose cotton to keep baby cool.

A hat is a great way to protect your child from the sun. A soft hat is good because baby can still lie down comfortably while wearing it. A full crown hat with a full brim or a neck flap is better than a baseball cap because it provides more shade. A chin strap will help keep the hat on your baby’s head.

Baby shoes

When your baby is learning to walk, he’ll find it easier if he has bare feet as often as possible. If it’s really chilly, you can try non-slip socks or soft leather slippers that double as a first pair of shoes. Your baby doesn’t need proper shoes until he’s going for walks outside.

Wearing shoes in the early stages of learning to walk can make things harder for your child, so you don’t need to rush out and get that first pair of shoes after baby’s first steps.

When it’s time to buy your baby’s first pair of shoes, it’s important to have your child fitted by a child shoe specialist. This is because it can be quite difficult to tell if shoes fit properly. Keep sock sizes up to date as well. If socks are too small, they’ll squash toes and make walking uncomfortable.

Dressing babies

Put your baby’s nappy on first to avoid getting wee or poo on her clothes – or yours.

If baby can sit or stand, you’ll be able to put things over his head, and you can help guide his hands through armholes and sleeves.

Once your child reaches about 12 months old, she’ll be a bundle of energy and might not want to stay still long enough even to put a nappy on, let alone several layers of clothes. You can try distracting her with a song or game of peekaboo, or give her a cloth flap book or toy to look at. 

Once baby is walking, it’s best to have clothes that you can put on and take off easily.

As your baby wriggles more, it might be a good idea to dress him on the floor or on top of a bed or couch. Always keep a hand on him so he doesn’t roll off. Once your baby starts to move or roll, it’s much safer to put him on the floor to dress or change nappies.

Washing clothes

You can wash baby clothes with the rest of the laundry, but try to avoid strong detergents and fabric softeners. These can irritate your baby’s skin.

Soak nappies and clothes soiled with poo in nappy sanitiser before washing. Nappy sanitiser also makes a handy pre-soak once your baby starts on solids. Even with a bib, your baby’s clothes will get covered in food and drink.

Video

Dressing a newborn

1:58

This short video takes you through the steps for dressing your baby. It includes tips on what order to put clothes on, as well as some handy hints to help distract older babies who wriggle and fidget on the change table.

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Last updated or reviewed
05-06-2017

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Raising Children Network is supported by the Australian Government. Member organisations are the Parenting Research Centre and the Murdoch Childrens Research Institute with The Royal Children’s Hospital Centre for Community Child Health.

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