In my last trimester of pregnancy, I may or may not have ordered a drawer of adorable little outfits imagining all the photo opps with my newborn baby. But I was in for a rude awakening when she wasn’t even interested in getting a onesie over her head let alone having a fashion show with mommy. After adjusting to the realities of parenthood (so much poop… so much laundry…), I found a few go-to places for pieces that are cute but more importantly, practical. Here I wanted to round up some favorites over our past 14 months, from small handmade shops to bigger, very affordable retailers. And boy moms, fear not, most of these brands cater to both genders!
What I love: very affordable, practical basics and layering pieces that Nori wore in constant rotation.
- Cloud Island brand zipper footies – 3 pack for $12.99 (new mom MUST HAVE). My friend gifted us a few sets of these in each size from newborn through 12 months, and Nori literally lived in these. The 100% cotton is on the lighter side so good for summertime or layering, and size up because these shrink after machine washing & drying. Features I love: reverse zipper for quicker diaper changes while parents are in zombie mode, foldover mitts for scratchy hands, and elastic behind the ankles to keep the footies in place.
- Side snap onesies for easy on and easy off, especially during fussy times or diaper blowouts.
- Surprize by Stride Rite shoes recommended by my mom friends for after your little one starts walking.
- Cat & Jack cozy, soft fleece joggers for toddler girls (4 colors) and boys.
2. HOPE & HENRY
What I love: the preppiest little outfits in organic cotton from a feel-good company.
One of my favorite brands for girls and boys! I usually point friends here when shopping for family photo outfits. It was started by the former CEO of Gymboree and touts more sustainable and ethical practices. Their girls and boys sizing goes from 3 months to 16 years, which overlaps with their baby section sized for newborn – 12 months (so check both departments if you have an infant!).
I will admit, ponchos and dresses were far from practical during Nori’s infant stage, but became more so after she could stand up and walk. A few items I’ve ordered include their Bow sweater dress, Puff shoulder cardigans (see houndstooth below), boys Elbow patch boys cardigan (for a gift).
3. MONICA + ANDY (also at NORDSTROM)
What I love: fun pieces for everyday wear that are a little pricier, but 100% worth it due to the # of wears we get out of our few pieces from here. My favorite three practical styles that wear & wash well:
- Pants with foldover feet (also comes in 2 pc sets). This was an unexpected feature that we loved, because sometimes baby feet need to breathe and sometimes they need to be bundled up.
- Ruffle bodysuit (more sizes) with snap bottoms. They need to make this in a dozen patterns. When Nori was a crawler, regular dresses and tops just rode up, and now that she walks, she likes to lift them over her head ; ) I looked all over the web for dresses with built in snap bottoms and these were perfect.
- Lets dance dress in short or long sleeves. Nori wore this to death so it was also worth every penny. A seemingly simple dress, but the swingy circle skirt silhouette is adorable, the touch of stretch is comfortable for traveling in, and the high quality, smooth cotton was very gentle against her sensitive eczema-prone skin. This dress is lined in the bodice with the same cotton fabric so no irritation from inner seams like some other brands.
What I love: cheeky onesies & tees for the mini foodie that also make adorable gifts.
Inspired by Nori’s mixed heritage and our love for food, Nick collaborated with Cheerily to design these very lightweight, stretchy cotton onesies that layer well. They’re comfy for Nori to sleep in during summertime and light enough for us to layer under long sleeve zipper onesies when it’s cold. Keep an eye out for new designs coming this holiday!
What I love: custom and handmade pieces from small women-run businesses.
- Little Bee Mocs for handmade leather moccasins in tons of colors, for less than half the price of Freshly Picked (I compared the two and quality is very, very similar). At first I though the elastic opening was a pain to get on and off, but these stay on better than socks or velcro tab shoes once baby figures out how to rip them off! I got optional rubber soles added on to ours after Nori started standing. They gave me code JEAN15OFF to share!
- Turbans for Tots for adorable handmade beanies, hats, headbands and bows. Their baby bows are made with a super stretchy and lightweight nylon band. Alas, Nori won’t keep anything on her head anymore but these accessories were cute while they lasted!
- Not a practical piece, but Bag Lady Greats custom made the mandarin dress that Nori wore for my Grandparent’s 60th anniversary and was amazing to work with. She communicated with me to choose fabric, clasps, piping, made adjustments to measure, and the finished product was perfect.
What I love: random, affordable finds that arrive in a pinch! Some favorites in order of age ~
- Kids Tales zipper onesies. As soon as Nori sized out of the Target Cloud Island footies, I went on a hunt for bigger options and discovered these. They are fabulous with a double zipper (for easier diaper changes), fun prints, and fold-over feet and hand covers. As a result, these were great for traveling and flying in. I will say that some of the bigger sizes and prints felt like a different material, and the fabric around the zipper sometimes got a little warped drying on high heat. We have 4 of these and my favorite is the pineapple print!
- Owlivia Organics zipper onesies. These are made of thick 100% organic cotton and great for cooler weather. After Nori turned 1, foldover hands and feet actually were not practical anymore so she now wears these daily, both the footed (with non slid grips) and non footed versions! My one complaint is the zipper is not a reverse one (unlike the Kids Tales and Target Cloud Island) so your little one’s chest gets exposed more during diaper changes.
- Non slip grippy socks for when your little one starts crawling or standing. These stay on nicely and have good grip, but gripping strength does lessen a bit with frequent wash & drying. I pop these on over her slippery footies or tights like “booties” when at home.
- Hair clip and elastics set. So cute, now if only she’ll stop discarding anything that we put in her hair ; )
- Fleece lined cable sweater. For toddlers, this is a thick sweater with extra insulation via the cozy lining, so I use this as Nori’s outermost layer when we go out on brisk days. Size 12-18m fits oversized on her at 14 months.
What I get: layering knits – cardigans and ribbed leggings! Sizing in these pieces run a little big. At 14 months, Nori still wears 9-12m in their cardigans and knit leggings (I layer the ribbed leggings over her Old Navy ones when we go out in the cold). We also used this cozy, practical bear suit with an easy full-length zipper and foldover feet and hands all last winter.
Zara has some similar girls pieces but I think their little boys clothes are the cutest (and a go-to for my boy mom friends!).
What I get: winter gear, layering basics and festive holiday pieces! Our most worn items from here include:
- The popular bear cardigan in 5 colors
- Holiday fleece zipper onesies
- Quilted zipper onesies for wearing over regular onesies when going outside. I sized up on these and layered them over the Target ones.
- Ruffle butt leggings – slim and stretchy, these fit better than some other brands.
- After trying on a couple options I just bought this water-resistant winter coat (use code SMILE for 40% off) which has a practical zipper with easy snap button closure, and the faux fur trim on the hood is removable. Over a dozen mamas messaged me saying they actually buy this coat for their little ones in a bigger size every year because they love it so much!