Buying Clothes for Kids

img courtesy

img courtesy

This is the third part of my parenting guide for non parents where I talk about buying clothes for babies and toddlers. A lot of this knowledge on good clothing choices comes from research I did before my daughter was born, when I planned her first wardrobe. Even more knowledge comes from having to regulary wash and maintain her clothes.


You’d think buying clothes for a kid would be simple. Just find something you like, make sure it’s the right age group and pay for it. That’s how I used to buy clothes for my nieces and nephews. But going with the same mantra of giving useful gifts, you may want to consider some of the following if you’d like the clothes you gift to be well used.


Cotton, cotton and only cotton, atleast for the super young ones. In hot weather it is one of the most comfortable fabric to wear, but this holds true for colder climates too. During the initial months a baby cannot regulate her temperature. Parents, especially first time parents, worry a lot about keeping the baby warm and often overdress the baby. Overheating of babies had been linked to SIDS (cot death). Natural fibres like cotton breath better and make it easier to regulate temperature. So the best option is to dress a baby in 100% cotton – multiple layers of cotton if it’s cold. The only exception I’d make here is the winter jacket which is typically lined with fleece. (The cotton rule also applies to baby blankets, sheets etc.)

When you check the material, also check the material of the lining. Often clothes that are advertised as 100% cotton actually use a synthetic lining under the cotton outer layer. This frequently happens with dresses that have puffs and frills on them. The nets and laces irritate the baby’s soft skin. Read the entire material tag to confirm no another material is used in the lining or elsewhere.

Blue or Pink?

image courtesy Louise Causon

image courtesy Louise Causon

It’s pretty normal to buy blue for a boy and pink for a girl but like I’d said in my last post there is whole new generation of parents trying to raise their kids in a gender neutral environment. This means they don’t want their daughter’s clothes to be in shades of pink or their son’s in shades of blue. Those who believe very strongly in this will not be shy about putting your gifts directly into the donate or give away bag. Plus there are so many lovely colours out there. Kids love bright colours – yellows, reds, greens, oranges, etc. It may be a good idea to explore. Having said that read the next bit on easy maintenance.

Runny Colours

A few months ago I sat down and calculated how many hours of house work my husband and I do – 76 hours… per week. That is almost two full time jobs in addition to the two full time jobs we already hold. This doesn’t include the hours we put in when our daughter falls’s sick, throws up on our carpet, and so on. So when you gift a beautiful dress or shirt that we need to wash separately because the colour of this amazing outfit runs, you can be confident that your gift is going to be less frequently worn if worn at all.

Image courtesy

Image courtesy

It isn’t easy to spot whether the colour of something will run. I googled how to do this, but I didn’t find anything. But I can usually tell just by looking at a cloth whether it is likely to run or not – maybe instinct that comes from hundreds of hours spent on laundry in the last few years. For now I suggest ask the retailer. If I come across a more useful way of spotting, I’ll provide an update.

Drycleaning Clothes

My mother who is usually so smart with gifts made this mistake. She bought my daughter a dress that said dryclean only – she had forgotten to check the label. Children’s clothes get very very dirty. There is no way a child will wear the same clothes multiple times before a wash. So if you gift clothes that say dryclean only the parents will soon spend way over the cost of the clothes in drycleaning bills. Most parents are cash and time strapped, and your dryclean only gifts won’t be worn much.


In general err on the side of providing a larger size than a smaller one, as the kid will eventually grow into a larger sized one but will not fit into an undersized one. I’d apply this principle even more strictly when buying clothes for babies. This is because many babies are large babies and will be wearing 9 month clothing at 6 months etc. Also the parents are going to receive a lot of gifts intially and are likely to have a lot of 6-month baby clothes but fewer 1-year or 2-year baby/toddler clothes.

Easy to Wear

A very dear friend gifted my four-month old a cute disney onesie. It was adorable and I was excited to dress her in it. However when we got it out, neither my husband and I could figure how to get my daugther into it. It has a two buttons on the back of the neck. That’s it. There were no buttons along the side of the legs or anywhere else. To get my baby into it, we would have to slide my daughter’s torso through the neck hole, push my hand into the neck hole to slide her legs into those of the onesie. Finally we’d have to find a way to push her arms (now pinned inside the onesie) into the sleeves of the onesie. Even though I had gushed when my friend gifted the outfit, my daughter never wore it.

While this is an extreme example, this is a very important criteria for gifting clothes. In most instances only one  parent (read only one set of arms)  is dressing a wiggling baby. When the baby grows into an independent toddler she will want to wear the clothes herself. Easy to get into clothes will be worn more often.

img courtesy

img courtesy


This is specifically for 4 to 18 month olds. A lot of clothes come with things either stuck or loosely sewn onto them – sequins, buttons, etc. They make the clothes very cute, but young hands like to explore and play with these things. The hazardous bit is when any of these come off and find their way into the kid’s mouth. Parents have enough things to worry about and you’d be doing the parents a favour by checking for clothing decorations that could fall off.

While the above are good guidelines for baby and toddler clothing I’d make one exception – special occasion clothing. My colleague got my daughter this gorgeous indian dress (similar to the one in the photo), which I’ve saved for special days like an Indian wedding or Hindu new year celebrations. It has sequins, glitter, and yes the lovely red colour runs. But I don’t mind the extra effort because it will probably be worn twice or thrice in the entire year. It’s a slightly larger size so she will be able to wear it for atleast a couple years before outgrowing it. Because his gift isn’t intended for frequent use and is also very unique (my daughter doesn’t get gifted traditional indian dresses much) it works. But if everyone gave us special occassion clothes, most would land in the never worn pile.

That’s it on clothes. I want to write one last post on this theme, discussing physical and verbal interactions with other people’s kids. Follow us on Facebook or Twitter and you’ll be notified when I write more or you can register with us (in the top right hand corner of this page).


1. Buying gifts for other people’s kids
2. Serving food to other people’s kids
3. Flying with kids

Visit the main EncycloKidia Website to find local services for your baby, toddler, or older kids.

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One Response to Buying Clothes for Kids

  1. Pingback: Baby Wardrobe Tips from Baby Mori - EncycloKidia Blog

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