Ever since I’ve had a baby I’ve been concerned about the waste that comes along with becoming a parent. Diapers, wipes, uneaten food, random baby accessories, toys, toys that get lost, toys you buy and they never play with, and clothes. So much clothing.
Though I am fully aware that babies are not dolls to dress for my own amusement, it can be so sweet to see my daughter dressed in different outfits each day. Babies in overalls? Stop. Cuteness overload. But, ultimately, a small percentage of her wardrobe is actually worn regularly.
There are sweet outfits that I feel are too precious for her to wear often or don’t allow her the comfort/warmth/mobility that I’d like. And then there are the clothes that I just plain forget about until she’s almost outgrown them and they just get a couple of wears. Or the clothes that get stained on their first wear and I keep throwing back in the wash until I reconcile that I’ll never get the orange glow of spaghetti bolognaise out of it!
I feel like I’ve done a fairly good job of not purchasing new clothes for my daughter. I’ve been increasing my awareness over the last few years about fast fashion and I don’t think it’s necessary to buy new clothes for a baby when there is so much quality secondhand clothing out there (Laura wrote a great post about the best sources for used kid’s clothes). I’ve also been very lucky to inherit a lot of things from my sister’s daughter (thanks, Laura!). We still have more clothing than we need for my little one, but as I learn more about what works best to keep her warm and allow her to play freely and eat – with minimal stressing on my side about stains! – we have a few outfits that are our favourites and I’m trying to ensure we get as much use out of them as possible.
The first 7 or 8 months with my daughter were a good lesson and I’ve adjusted my buying habits accordingly. The best way to resist the temptation to buy her something adorable is to stay away from temptation. Essentially, I don’t browse kids clothing stores online and I try not to wander into a kid’s store when I’m in a mall. If you’re anything like me, if you catch sight of a charming woodland-themed sweater it’ll be hard to keep out of your mind.
So, with that said, I’m trying to make the the outfits my daughter has last as long as possible. Here are a few of my tips for getting the most wear out of baby clothes:
Ward off food stains with a few dark t-shirts to layer over an undershirt.
My daughter likes to feed herself, but is not particularly good at it yet. Meal time is messy and she doesn’t love a bib either. In the summer she could just eat in the buff but it’s a bit too cold in our place for her to do that in fall/winter. She has a couple of dark coloured tshirts (it’s actually pretty hard to find dark-coloured baby clothes!) that I layer over longer sleeved shirts. Though her sleeves sometimes still get stained, the dark tshirt has really helped to protect her lighter-coloured undershirts from the majority of stains and has the added bonus of an extra layer of warmth.
Get a good stain remover.
Since moving to Europe I’ve tried 4 different stain removers. Nothing works as well as the Nature Clean Oxy Stain Remover powder that I used when we were in Canada. I never had a food or poop stain I couldn’t remove with this oxy stain remover. (They aren’t paying me to say this! I swear! But, Hi Nature Clean– can I be a spokeswoman??) When we lived in Canada we didn’t have a washing machine in our apartment. Any of her stained clothes I would throw in a dishpan with a bit of the Nature Clean powder and bring to the laundry room when I had a full load. It saved so many sweet little baby onesies from poop-explosion stains.
Buy clothes to grow into.
My daughter is 11 months old and my mum recently gave me a 2T size pair of leggings. I held them up to her “9-12 month old’ sized leggings that she’s currently wearing and noticed that the waist band is the same circumference! She’s been wearing the 2T pair rolled up at the bottom and they work so well. A bonus: when I have her in the carrier and her pants ride up I can roll down the pants to keep her ankles warm. This has been a big reminder for me to look at the next couple sizes up on baby clothes and see what the size difference really is.
Any other tips for making baby (or kid) clothing last?