When you’re a new parent, clothing for the little one tends to come pretty easily. Sure, you might get into finding new, fun ways to outfit your baby, and some parents will go further than others in seeking out cute and creative outfits. But at the end of the day, the truth is if it fits, it’s cozy, and it’s warm, you’re doing right by your baby!
When children get a little bit older, however, clothing can become trickier to manage. Young kids quickly develop strong preferences in terms of how their clothing feels and looks. Some girls might want nothing more than to wear pink all day and all night, and others might prefer to avoid the stereotype all on their own. Some boys might hate collared shirts and others might appreciate the stable fit they provide. A lot of young children would prefer not to wear clothes at all if it’s an option. When I was little I couldn’t stand wearing socks because they made my feet too hot!
The point is, there are limitless variables to consider when you’re picking out clothes for your little ones, and without a strategic approach the process can become unnecessarily stressful. So how can you go about outfitting your kids in a stylish but hassle-free manner? Here are a few tips to consider.
1. Consider Comfort First
I’ve talked about comfort a little bit, but I want to emphasize it even more here, because sometimes we forget about it once we move away from baby clothes. A kids’ dressing tips article at Metro touched on comfort with regard to babies and specifically discussed buying clothes according to body types. That’s about the only way to go about it with a baby, but once your children reach the toddler phase, dressing for comfort means listening to their preferences. Of course this has to be kept within reason (you can’t let the naked preference win out!), but it’s important to make the adjustment from deciding what looks most comfortable to listening to what feels most comfortable.
2. Teach Layering Early
If you haven’t experienced it yet as a parent, you can probably remember your own parents doing it: “Don’t forget a jacket!” It’s every parent’s nagging suspicion that the kids won’t be warm enough or won’t be properly outfitted for the weather in some way. So why not help them form habits early that will alleviate your stress later on? Encouraging kids to layer appropriately and dress in a way that allows for adjustment according to temperature should take a load off your shoulders.
3. Bring The Kids Shopping
A very thorough post at Here Women Talk (which is worth a read for additional depth on the dressing issue) made this brilliant point that for some reason a lot of parents don’t seem to think of: just bring the kids along shopping! Sure, a lot of young children hate the mall, and you don’t want to deal with that kind of hassle. But you also don’t want to deal with bad fits, rejection, etc. when you bring home a bag full of clothes. If your child will tolerate it, bring him or her along to try a few outfits or even to offer input on shopping (or just shop online and be prepared to ship a few things back).
4. Avoid Stereotypes
I mentioned girls wearing pink before, and in doing so noted what’s become a fairly serious problem in children’s clothing. A lot of brands and department stores have come under fire for supplying limited options for girls that further push harmful gender stereotypes. Pink is fine if your little girl genuinely prefers it, but in general try to avoid greater issues (such as an oft-criticized “I only date superheroes” shirt broadly sold for girls). When this is on your mind, it can actually become disturbingly hard to find fun, themed clothing that kids will like but that doesn’t fall in line with stereotypes. But there are increasingly brands and stores getting it right. A lot of attention has been brought to this issue through the mission at Tootsa MacGinty, a UK-based kids’ clothing line that doesn’t design boys’ or girls’ lines and instead offers unisex options for children. As a result, you can find a lot of fun clothing that you don’t have to feel concerned about.
5. Cultivate Expression Within Bounds
Finally, in a broader sense, it’s important to help your children develop a feel for personal expression, so long as it’s within reasonable boundaries. This ties right in with the idea of avoiding stereotypes. By seeking out gender-neutral clothing, you’re truly allowing your children to feel out their own preferences, rather than be funneled toward pink or blue before they can even express themselves fully. Let your children know that, in the end, their clothing has to be approved by you. Just try not to dictate every little outfit choice.
And don’t forget to have fun with it! You only get to dress your children for a precious few years before they’re growing up and becoming independent. You can help them form some good, healthy habits along the way, but don’t forget to keep it cute and fun.