Clothing Notes from a Practical Parent
Clothes are expensive. The first year alone you jump through an average of five sizes, more if your child is huge or grows quickly. If you really want to help new parents mitigate that cost please buy practical clothing. Here are some things to consider when buying clothes for your niece/grandchild/friend’s baby/whatever.
Is it diaper accessible?
If it’s not accessible, please don’t buy it for me. You know what my kids wear for the first year? Onesies. Lots and lots of onesies. Half the time I didn’t even use pants with V- just threw a blanket over her in the car seat. This is the number one rule when buying infant clothing. I can’t stress this enough. Do you know how many diapers we change a day? Do you seriously think we have time to remove an entire outfit in order to reach a diaper? Speaking of which…
Is is easily removed?
Here’s the thing about infants and pooping, after a few months they start getting explosive poops. I’m talking shit all the way up their back. My daughter once pooped with such force that NONE of it ended up in the diaper and ALL of it was up her back. This calls for an immediate change of clothing, but it is extremely difficult to remove a soiled outfit without getting the kid more poopy. I especially don’t want stray poop to end up on my child’s face. So please, get easily removable clothing!
Stop Buying Fancy Socks
Get white socks! They go with everything! Or if you have to buy colored socks, at least get socks that are only one or two colors. They need to be able to match multiple outfits. Solid pink or blue socks work well, because so many outfits are color coded by gender. White socks are the best though, and can be reused for the next child.
Avoid Dress Clothes
Here’s the thing about dress clothes: they are very expensive and they will likely be used once, if at all. They may be good for the occasional family gathering or family photos (but in that case, I’d prefer to pick it out myself), but these are not going to get worn on a regular basis. Yet people all love to give them all the time because they’re cute. Every Christmas I end up with several of these dresses, none of which end up getting used. That’s money down the drain. If you want to get something cute, make sure it’s also practical and likely to be worn every day. These work:
See? It’s not hard to find outfits that are both adorable AND useful everyday wear.
Several times V has come back from her grandparent’s house wearing overalls. We even got two cute pairs last year for Christmas. Want to know how many times she’s worn overalls at home? Zero. Overalls break the first two rules in that they are not accessible or easy to remove. Yes, I know they make accessible overalls. These were not. My son has two pairs, but they are not easy to get on or take off, nor do they look very comfortable for a newborn. Again, not good infant-wear. Don’t even get me started on how bad overalls would be for potty training.
Interchangeable Clothing is Best
Simple, one-color pants and shorts work best because they can be interchanged with multiple tops. Clothes frequently get dirty and outfits have to be changed. Laundry is constantly going. The best outfits are those that mix and match. Khaki pants. Jeans. Solid, common-colored leggings like pink, purple, blue or black.
Aside from socks, white clothing is probably not the best. I was forbidden from wearing white as a kid, so much so that I still avoid the color. Any smudge or dirt shows up easily on white, and kids get dirty.
Bibs are adorable. We’ve gotten a lot of cute bibs. I quickly stopped using them after we started giving V solids. It was just too depressing to see those cute bibs get covered in goop that stained and refused to come out. Ick!
Be Careful about Sizes
This is always a tricky issue because kids grow at different rates. Last winter my daughter was in 12 month clothing, so I told people 18 month clothes would probably be best if they wanted to give clothing for Christmas. Unfortunately, she didn’t hit 18 month sizing until it started warming up in late spring, and now that we’re heading into winter again she’s nudging into 24 month clothing. Little A was given tons of 3 month clothing, but it’s starting to get chilly and we only had three long-sleeved onsies.
If you’re gifting for an infant it’s always going to be a crapshot. Preemies are probably unexpected most of the time. Other children may grow large very quickly- I had a friend whose son was wearing 24 months at age 9 months. Parents using cloth diapers will need bigger pants for the booty room. It’s best to give outfits that work well in most weather, or you can try to estimate season/age when buying. Most new moms get a ton of newborn and 3 month clothing, so I try to give a few older outfits (6/9). No matter what you buy, always include a gift receipt.
Ask Mom What She Needs
She won’t take offense, I promise. This is a question many of my playgroup moms ask before buying a birthday gift. What do you need? Is there anything I should avoid? Maybe they don’t need clothing. One of my friends was gifted tons of clothing from moms with older children. Her child is set for clothes, probably until she’s a teenager. Maybe the kid already has too many toys, but they could always use more books. When in doubt, ask. Heck, just ask as a courtesy.