Buying baby clothes. It’s supposed to be fun, right? They’re so cute and colorful and tiny.
And buying them is one of my scariest jobs as a parent.
Don’t get me wrong–I love baby clothes. I just agonize over buying them. Sure, it’s nothing like the really hard parenting decisions–you know, like choosing a preschool or deciding on a vaccination schedule–but it’s pretty high up there on the stress level. This is probably partly because I’m fashion-impaired, partly because my daughter is a fashion genius who’s extremely picky about everything she wear and has been since she was a baby, and partly because I’m just insane.
Let me tell you a few of the things I worry about when I’m picking out clothes.
1. Is it organic? Chances are, if I’m thinking about buying it, it’s not, because I wouldn’t be looking at it if it were that expensive. If it is, then I look at the price tag and I am no longer thinking about buying it. If I am, I feel guilty about the price. Otherwise, I feel guilty because it’s not organic and it probably has toxic chemicals in it.
2. How was it manufactured? Was it made here in the U.S. by work-at-home-moms smiling behind their Singer sewing machines? Or was it made in factories by laborers in China paid 10 cents a day? If the former, then see remarks regarding organic clothes on price. If the latter, then guilt.
3. Is it recycled? YES! This is why I shop at consignment shops. I can almost assuage the guilt of #1 and #2 by reassuring myself with this little fact. I’m reusing something that someone else bought from a factory in China. This is even better if it’s been handed down through multiple families. It’s like the six degrees game: how many degrees can I get away from the toxic chemicals and unpaid workers?
4. Will my child wear it? If I picked it and it’s for my daughter, the answer is almost certainly no. Seriously, the girl is picky. And she has been choosing her outfits since before she could really talk. At 18 months she started pointing to the clothes she wanted to wear and getting upset if I tried to put something else on her. So when I’m buying something–especially if I’m shopping without her–I worry constantly about whether she’s ever going to wear it. Just because I find something that’s beautiful, twirly, and purple doesn’t mean she’ll like it.
I really hope my son never puts me through this torture of refusing all the clothes I pick for him.
5. Does this outfit match? I shouldn’t worry about this. Nobody cares but me. And I actually think it’s cute when little kids wear mismatched clothes. But I still worry that people will judge my parenting because my kids’ clothes clash. Like they don’t have enough other reasons to judge my parenting. Sheesh.
6. Is it easy to potty in? This isn’t such an issue for my daughter anymore, but for baby clothes, it’s pretty much impossible to find. If you’re serious about easy potty access, then all onesies and one-piece outfits are automatically off the list. In other words, 90% of baby clothes will not work for my elimination communication lifestyle. This creates a lot of stress when you’re shopping at consignment stores.
But, of course, people give me lots of onesies, so Teddy wears them all the time. Sometimes I cut the bottoms off the onesies to turn them into t-shirts. But then I feel guilty for ruining the nice clothes that someone gave me.
7. Will it show off my cute cloth diapers? Because for me, cloth diapers are a fashion statement. Probably the only fashion statement that I feel confident making–they’re all so darn cute, you just can’t mess them up. And I really hate outfits that don’t allow me to take advantage of the one thing I feel confident about. But how many baby clothes are designed to show off diapers? Not many. On the bright side, if they do show off the diapers, then they’re also easy to potty in.
Am I crazy to worry about this so much? Probably. But I figure I can reduce the stress on me by passing off the decision-making to my kids as young as possible. Let my preschooler worry about sweat shops and toxic chemicals. It’ll be good practice for choosing a college and a life partner.
And that way at least she’ll be willing to wear it.