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Baby and toddler clothing: How and What to Buy

Updated on March 27, 2011
Under the Nile baby shirts
Under the Nile baby shirts

Buy them new if you Like

It's a beautiful moment when one realizes that parenthood is ahead in the near future. The pregnancy test is in, the adoption process is final, maybe a loved one has entrusted you with their young one, or maybe you're going to be an aunt, or a grandma. Whatever the case, you get to adorn a little one with love, appreciation... and clothes!

Now, the baby industry is huge - likely one of the largest retail industries out there (haven't checked my stats, but as a mother of three this is a good guess). So if you want to purchase any kind of baby clothing new, you have a multitude of choices. Want to spend a little? Hit Target, Kmart, or a similar discount store in your area. Want to spend more? JC Penney, Babies R Us, and many more stores wait for you online. And I mean many stores wait for you online. You can even dress your little one in organic softness from the day they exit the womb. As long as Mom is eating organic while breast feeding, baby has the best in health all the way around. There are even organic cloth diapers! And if you want to go a step further and reduce the use of diapers, check out elimination communication.

But back to clothes... it is fun to buy some new clothes. And if it weren't for those of us who do that occasionally, the following would not be so fun.

Recycle and Reuse

Think about it, how long do you wear your clothes? Years, probably. Because you like them, of course. Now, think about how long a baby or toddler wears one size of clothing. Months. Very few, likely.

The newborn baby averages around 6-9 pounds these days and the newborn size of clothing goes up to around 12 pounds. Babies are supposed to regain birth weight in two weeks and double that by 6 months. Not too hard to do the math, and if you've ever witnessed just one baby's growth in that time period, it's quite evident that babies grow fast! They go through clothes very quickly. And they don't do much in them either. Except for the occasional spit up, which generally washes out when baby's breastfed and I would bet those who feed formula have a trick to get it out as well, a diaper blow out could cause a stain, but a cold water wash and whitener can help that. Some use bleach, but oxyclean or peroxide can do the trick as well.

And stains are a part of life, at least with children. It's much easier to just accept that life happens and stains do, too. If they're too stained, they can be made into rags.

Everything else can be recycled when you're done. Planning to have subsequent children? Pack those clothes up by size, mark the box, and you're set for the next one! Different gender? That's okay! Take out the stuff you can use, because undoubtedly you'll have some unisex clothes from the well meaning baby shower participant, and keep the rest for the next one or... get ready to pass them on.

The fun begins! I've gathered a few ways for reusing and recycling children's clothing... may they assist you as well.

  • Chances are you'll make acquaintance with someone who has a child a little older or younger than yours. Or maybe you'll make a few friends, the more the better! Ask if they would like to pass on clothes to you when they're finished and when you are done with yours, pass them to the next family who can use them.
  • Rummage, yard, and garage sales are great for children's clothing! Schools and churches often have them annually and many people bring children's clothes. You can get clothes for a fraction of the new price, many times in like new condition.
  • A slant on the rummage sale is a neat idea I have never experienced first hand, but would like to one day: a clothing exchange. It's set up like a rummage sale, but people literally trade for clothing and members of the community with out anything to trade can also come and get a free bag of clothes. What a wonderful way to pass it on!
  • Have dolls and teddy bears that need something to dress in? Baby clothes fit perfect :o)
  • Don't forget the family pets...

  • Craft projects using scraps of material

  • Make a quilt or stuffed animal from your child's favorite clothes you really don't want to part with, but feel silly saving.
  • Frame a baby outfit with a photo

Organic Baby Sleep Sack
Organic Baby Sleep Sack

What to Buy

From my perspective, you can have enough, or way too many. As long as you have access to a washer and dryer, or a sink, you can take care of cleaning baby clothes.

Here are some guidelines of what to have on hand for a baby:

  • 6-10 t-shirts or onesies
  • 6-10 pairs of pants (if you're doing wool, you can get by with less, but it's always nice to have an extra or two)
  • 6-10 pajamas (I love t-shirt and pant sets, or long t-shirt night gowns)
  • 6-10 pairs of socks (make sure they're not too tight)
  • 6-10 long sleeve shirts (if you're in a cool climate)
  • 2-3 dozen cloth diapers
  • 6-10 diaper covers (same as above regarding wool)
  • dressy clothes at your discretion

Now, it's possible this lasts you one day, depending on your baby and your preferences regarding how clean you like clothes to stay in a 24 hour period. But this is a good start!

For toddlers, I prefer shirts and pants, and for my girls, dresses if they like them. Jumpers make me jumpy. While they're cute, they're a bit time consuming for diaper changes or stopping to EC. I'd say the above numbers are a general okay place. Remember, the more clothes you have, the more you get to wash!

Enjoy :o)

About Rainbow Recognizer

Amy Phoenix is a gentle, yet direct parenting guide and healing facilitator dedicated to sharing insights and practices to transform frustration and anger, heal the past and nurture conscious relationships – to appreciate all aspects of life. Visit her at


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    • RainbowRecognizer profile image

      RainbowRecognizer 9 years ago from Midwest

      Hey - I welcome your input and ideas, Ashley!!! Thanks & Love :o)

    • profile image

      Ashley Westervelt 9 years ago

      Amy!!!!!!!!! I haven't read all the articles yet, but WOAH! You are a major babe at this! Looking forward to many more.

    • RainbowRecognizer profile image

      RainbowRecognizer 9 years ago from Midwest

      Defintely a starting place :o)

    • sunstreeks profile image

      sunstreeks 9 years ago from Western Washington

      Great advice!!