Parenting: Lessons from shopping clothes for my infant
Shopping clothes for your new born can be real fun. In the beginning, one wants to buy everything under the sun. But within a month, there is a realization of how quickly the baby is growing. There are dresses that the baby does not get to wear even once; some which they wear only once or twice and so on. The next round of shopping is more informed and planned. When it comes to shopping clothes, I have had a few learnings too. I wish to capture my learnings, hoping that other first time mothers can benefit from these learnings.
Don’t buy too many of them — Children grow up very fast. You would have heard this often from parents. But this is especially true in context of their clothes. You start buying clothes for them as you buy for yourself — assuming they will last long. But unlike you, the baby is outgrowing them every second. And if you buy too many dresses, chances are the kid will not wear half of them more than once. You will also find dresses the kid has never worn. Also, in India, a lot of friends and family gift new dresses to the baby. So one is never short of clothes for the baby. My learning has been to buy a few of them rather than a whole lot.
Keep them simple — We have all fallen to the temptation of buying the fanciest and prettiest dresses for the new kid on the block. After all, the shops have these placed prominently. As soon as you see them, you imagine your kid in it. And before you know, the dress is in your cart.
I did the same when shopping for the first time. Little did I know then that these dresses are hardly worn. First they can be uncomfortable for the kid. Add to it, the frequent change of clothes can also be a discomfort as these dresses are not easy to put on or remove. And then, a lot of them need the baby to wear a diaper; something I personally avoid when the kid is at home. You may buy them thinking that you will dress the baby in them when you go outdoors. But you forget to ask yourself how often would you actually go out with such a small baby.
It is ok to have one or two such dresses. But filling an entire wardrobe with them is a lot of money and time wasted. Not to mention the disappointment of not being able to dress the kid often in these. My biggest learning has been to keep the daily wear as simple as possible and also to focus more on the daily wear than the once in a while part style dresses.
Be open to dressing your kid in second hand clothes — We all have friends whose kids are of similar age groups. When my little girl was born, a few of these friends hesitantly asked me if I was ok with second hand dresses. Their kid had hardly worn these clothes and they did not want to discard them. I happily accepted all of these dresses. I don’t mind dressing my baby in dresses that someone else’ kid worn (of course, provided I know the giver, so am sure that the clothes are hygienically maintained). In fact, it is fun to compare pics of two babies dressed in the same attire.
Repeat the cycle of giving away your kid’s clothes — Just as I suggest being open to receive second hand clothes, I also learnt how giving away those of your own kids is a joy in itself. In the initial few weeks, as my kid outgrew some of her stuff, I had no idea what to do with them. What would people think, if I offered them my kiddos’ dresses. Wouldn’t I want to keep them all as memories. I got so attached to each and every attire and refused to think of giving them away. But of course, the space in the cupboard did not last long. And I reluctantly decided to give away some of her dresses. But the joy of giving filled my heart with so much peace that I felt I was blessed to be able to give away the clothes and have another angel of God wear them. I give away to the maids in the society who have kids of the age of my little girl. And it gives me goosebumps when they share photos of dressing up their children in my daughter’s dresses, it gives me goosebumps. Repeat the cycle. It is worth it, not just for others but for one’s own self as well.
Get into the rhythm of buying from select brands — Over a period of the last few months, I have experimented with many brands for my baby’s clothing. But it has also made me realize the value in having a few select brands and sticking to those. Firstly, there would not be size variations among the different brands. The same ‘S’ size is likely to fit rather than ‘S’ in one brand and ‘M’ in the other. And when it comes to the child’s skin, the slightest variation in the fabric can cause an itch or redness. Also , I saw some brands do not have dresses with fast colors. Some other left the color on my baby’s neck. A few of them left so much thread on her neck. After a few iterations of shopping across brands, I now have my favorite and stick to them. This significantly reduces the pain of returning and reordering.
Be prepared for changes in exigencies — Often we buy clothes matching that particular time’s weather conditions. If it is summer, you buy light clothes. If it is winter, you fill your wardrobe with heavy stuff. However, in just 4 months, I have realized that exigencies can hit anytime and make you unprepared. My daughter once had cough and cold in summer time and I hardly had any dress that could keep her warm. Similarly, when we planned a travel to a place that had very different weather conditions, I was underprepared when it came to my daughter’s attires. I took all the warm clothes there and ended up shopping once I reached there, since these clothes did not make sense for the weather of that place. I am not saying stuff a lot of these. But at the very least, have a few for every weather.
The kind of dresses I prefer are the following:
- Dresses that are two piece instead of single piece — These are easier to change and make the baby less uncomfortable. One can also remove the lowers in these and give the baby diaper free time.
- Waist length dresses — These don’t get wet the moment the baby pees and can last a day. Any other dress is likely to get wet when you are changing diapers or when you are giving the baby diaper free times.
- Front open — Ease of changing wins hands down in front open dresses rather than the ones that need to be pulled from the neck.
Last, but not the least, I have learnt that I can save some money from the clothes shopping and instead, go full throttle, buying fun and engaging toys for my baby. She loves me for it.