As soon as we know we’re pregnant, all we see when shopping is rows and rows of cute baby clothes. It takes a lot to not go mad and buy everything we like. But there really is no need. Babies will get given lots of clothes – many of which will likely never be worn because they outgrow them, or they’re just awkward (baby dungarees, cute but a pain to dress them in).
Little clothes are cute, but I think you need a strategy for buying clothes for little ones. It is possible to have a kids clothes capsule wardrobe – even for babies or toddlers.
Initially, my plan was to have lots of vests & sleepsuits and just hope that you have hand-me-downs and clothes gifts for when they’re born. I prefer really small babies in sleepsuits until they’re bigger, and with N he really only had a couple of dungarees sets which were gifts when he was small. It’s just a pain to be dressing babies in proper clothes with the number of times you need to change them. And they rarely look comfortable.
As they get older obviously there are more gorgeous items that you see and think they’ll look cute in. Luckily there are lots of places now selling children’s clothes at really great prices. For the baby years, I tended to buy a lot in supermarkets, because they had lovely clothes and I wasn’t spending a lot when N was going to grow out of them really quickly.
As and when I saw items in the sale I try and stock up in the next sizes. Auction websites or freecycle are also worth trying. With online sales there’s postage prices to factor in, so it’s great if you can find good quality bundle deals. Local nearly new sales can be good, but for me I found if you’re buying in preparation for a baby’s arrival then they’re great for vests & sleepsuits. But the older the children, there are fewer items for sale and they’re often not that good quality with older children being harder wearing on clothes.
Buying ahead with the next size up you do need to think about the season. Thankfully it worked out well for us. If you stick with layering, you’ll be covered through the year.
It’s also worth making a note of different store sizing. Some come up larger, some small. Even within brands I’ve found some t shirts come up smaller than others I have. So if you’re buying ahead, regularly check the clothes you have to make sure your baby or toddler gets to wear them before they’re too small.
And don’t forget about clothes you’ve put away for later. I tend to have a system with having one part of the wardrobe for current clothes and one side for the next size up, but did discover a couple of unworn items in a drawer that were the size we’d just moved out of. Oops (I used to do this when I bought early Christmas presents so maybe I should try and remember this in future).
The idea of a capsule collection can work for children. I don’t follow the theory with my own wardrobe but I assume that there are clothes that N should need and base my purchasing on that.
Capsule wardrobe for babies
- Coat or snowsuit – dependent on season. Otherwise you can rely on blankets as needed when in a pram or pushchair
- Sleepsuits/babygrows – until 3-6 months old it’s still acceptable for babies to be in sleepsuits in the day. Depending on how much your baby emits from bottom or mouth, and how often you’re willing to do washing, you need enough for each day plus a few extras. And enough for day and night because a bedtime routine is important and getting them changed will help that routine.
- Vests – plenty of them, short sleeve or vest style. They’re handy for layering and for cooling down in the summer for any age up til about 2 years old.
- Rompers for summer weather. Cute and practical.
- Comfy clothing for day time, for older babies: anything that’s easy to change nappies – so soft trousers or leggings, envelope or button fastening tops and simple cardigans or jumpers for on top. Skirts aren’t always practical for crawling babies, and leggings have to be easier than putting tights on.
- Socks – plenty, because they will get lost.
Capsule wardrobe for toddlers
- Coat – we opted for a big winter coat and then zip up hoodie/fleeces. A light waterproof (ideally pack away version) is handy for warmer seasons. If you’ve got younger siblings, then it’s worth paying a little more for better quality coats because you can hand them down and get the use out of them.
- Vests – either baby vests for younger toddlers, or ‘grandad’ vests for older ones. I love the sleeveless ones for N, and unless the weather’s really warm, then he was always in a vest for an extra layer. I didn’t like him having a gap between trousers and top.
- Pyjamas – it’s great once they’re in pjs because I didn’t feel likeI had to change him every day like when he was in sleepsuits. Three pairs were plenty to rotate round. Keep a watch out for elasticated ankles if your child has short legs otherwise they’ll annoy them and drag on the floor.
- Trousers – one pair of jeans, three pairs of cargo type/cords, couple of jogging/casual trousers, or in the summer the equivalent as shorts/roll up trousers. Toddlers look great in shorts and t-shirts especially with a floppy summer hat on as well. The hard thing is coordinating colourful shorts with patterned or logo t-shirts so try and stick with plain colours so you can mix and match more easily. I always find it quite hard to find plain t shirts though (patterned ones do hide more spilt food!)
- Or the equivalent dresses and skirts if your kids prefer those to trousers.
- T-shirts – you can never have too many. With nursery, they have to have a spare outfit in their bags. N never got too messy at nursery (I’m not sure how they managed that) so we didn’t go through too many outfits a week. But based on 1 wash load a week, around 10 would do. For winter ensure you’ve got a mix of long and short sleeves
- Jumper/cardigans – Even in summer you need sufficient of these in case you’re outside or somewhere air conditioned. Zip up hoodies are really good for toddlers where it’s a pain trying to get jumpers over their heads.
- Socks, and pants if potty trained. Plenty of both.
To make a children’s wardrobe work well with as few clothes as possible, you need to know what you have at home so any new clothes you buy go with them. So stick to similar colour themes, or buy only neutral colours for the bottom half or top half so you can mix and match easily. Of course, the other option is just buy what you want and have everything clash – you can always blame it on your children’s fashion choices (for when they’re a bit older).
The other question is whether you have something kept for ‘best’ and have scruffy gear for nursery. When we were children we always had smart outfits (kept for parties or church), but the couple of times I’ve had ‘smart’ trousers for N, he’s only worn them once. So although he has a pair of smarter trousers in the wardrobe and usually a smarter jumper, they were just worn for everyday to get the wear out of them.
We never had ‘nursery’ wear. N never wrecked any clothes at nursery, so I wasn’t too worried about any of his clothes going there. It will depend on your child – if they love painting and nursery don’t give them full aprons, then you might want to keep some ‘scruffy’ clothes for nursery.
Passing clothes on
When children have grown out of clothes, don’t hoard them unless you’ve younger children. I always have a large pile of clothes in the corner of his bedroom ready to be handed down to my godson, with some items given to charity. But if you want to sell clothes on, use your local NCT nearly new sales or try bundling clothes up on ebay or local selling sites. Certain brands sell well – Next, Boden, Frugi,Gap etc, but mostly you’ll need to bundle up.
What are your thoughts on clothing your little ones? Do you find you have too few or too many?