I have tried to be laid back with my parenting style, but come to find that I am obsessive. I used to be a laid back person. I believe my husband would actually attest to this fact. But I am no longer such a person, and my husband would most certainly attest to this fact as well. I have found that the more laid back I am as a parent, the more problems with my child I encounter (I blame my obsessiveness on my child, and have concluded he is an obsessive personality himself). So micromanaging has become my mode of operation, and it spreads into pretty much all facets of our lives. I analyze everything, and try to form educated conclusions whenever possible. Clothing happens to be one of those topics I have come to very specific conclusions about, and it will reveal to you how obsessive I have become. Clothing seems to be a pretty benign topic, for the most part, at least when it comes to dressing our children in the early years; I, however, believe what my child wears plays a big part in his life, and either helps or hinders his process of learning and developing. These are a few rules I like to go by when selecting what I put on my child, and hope maybe this will give you food for thought when making your own choices for your children. I would also like to preface this by saying my son is 2.5, so these rules work for his age. If your children are a lot older, some of these things may not apply.
- Comfort and movement: Think yoga. My child pretty much only wears clothes that would be comfortable doing yoga in because honestly this is what a child is doing all day. All the up and down, bending and jumping, climbing and crawling. I want him to have as little restriction in his movement as possible because movement is what is propelling his brain and body forward in development. Honestly, when it is warm enough, he runs around my house naked. He would prefer to be naked all the time, and I don’t blame him. Clothes can be bothersome on such pure and new sensitive skin, as well as hot when doing so much physical activity all day.
- Fabrics: All natural. The term natural is so overused for everything these days it means almost nothing. So when I say natural, I mean I avoid synthetics as much as possible. Absolutely no polyester with the exception of outerwear (fleece jackets, etc.). So those footie pajamas that are fleecy and ubiquitous…I don’t use them. I tried once or twice when Little Dude was a baby, but he would get so hot I stopped use altogether and have never used them since. Polyester doesn’t breathe so it can easily overheat little ones, especially if it is being worn during the day when they are running around and building up body heat. Additionally, according to my understanding after a lot of research, is that the polyester that is used to make those pajamas are made using flame retardant chemicals as part of the fiber, so these chemicals will most likely always be a part of the pajamas and have the potential to end up in your baby’s body through off-gassing (read more here). I go to great lengths to avoid chemicals whenever possible, especially in my baby’s environment (most particularly in his room). So for nighttime I have stuck with layers of close-fitting cotton pajamas and cotton wearable blankets (when he was younger). I have absolutely loved the wearable blanket, and have my favorites: Aden + Anais, the four layer for winter, the single layer for summer; Violet’s Peapod is also really cozy and breathable. Now that my son is older and won’t wear the blankets anymore, I put him in a couple layers of fitted jammies, and then cover the entire ensemble with a cotton footed pajama (to ensure his socks stay on all night). I also have one pair of the Merino Kids awesome wool pajamas for the nights I expect to get colder than usual (find the matching top here) . In general I have found that I love the feel of bamboo and cotton blended clothing, and organically made is a nice perk, although not always fiscally reasonable. Close-fitting is always a
good choice. More freedom of movement. My son wears pajamas most days during the winter. They keep him warm and he can move the best in them.
- Shirts: What is on the front? I have found my child loves an image on his clothing, such as an animal, but I personally try to keep these additions to his clothing to a minimum. A lot of graphics on kids clothing are made from some hard, synthetic substance that can be felt from both the top and the underside of the shirt. I remember as a child being uncomfortable in the shirts that had such designs on them and avoided those shirts at all costs. If the graphic is an ink transfer or made from natural material, then I don’t have a problem with it. If it might have the ability to crack or start to flake after several washes, then it’s a no go for me. Okay, I admit I do have some like this. Sometimes shopping the sales online can really trick you into buying something you otherwise wouldn’t. Sigh. But for the most part, I try to avoid those types of shirts. And again, think yoga. I don’t do button down shirts much, if ever. They are restrictive and not that comfortable. If even I don’t like to wear the type of clothing item, then I am not going to put my child in it.
- Pants: No jeans. No khakis. See item #1 for reasoning. I’ve talked to so many moms that complain their child will not wear jeans. Of course not! Why would he or she want to? They are uncomfortable and very restrictive for play. Don’t get me wrong, I love me some nice designer adult jeans, but children’s jeans are not made to the same comfort and quality as those made for adults. Plus, even if they were as comfortable as the ones we choose for ourselves, they are still not practical for doing acrobatics in. I have observed that the crotch on most baby’s jeans and khakis hang low to accommodate the diaper to the disadvantage of the leg movement. Full leg movements in crawling (and climbing!) are hampered in these types of pants, besides the fact that they are always coming down. Only a portion of the waistline is elastic, which usually means these pants don’t stay in place well. Lastly, pants that are too loose (even if of yoga quality) can also hinder crawling movements in babies as their knees get caught up too high in the leg of the pant and readjustments are regularly needed for the baby to get around. I love leggings, and if I had a girl, I would pretty much only put her in leggings. So much freedom of movement! As a result of my very vocal opposition to baby jeans, my Mom bought my son a pair of “jeggings.”
It was awesome and hilarious. He totally wore them, and will hate me for it later. I would also like to repeat that my child is still a toddler. It may be more practical for older children to wear sturdier pants if they are constantly ripping holes in their play pants.
- Shoes: I mostly loathe children’s shoes. They are heavy, bulky, clunky and unbending. If they are not, they cost a fortune. So, I have found makers I prefer and peruse their sites for sales frequently in order to save ourselves from bankruptcy due to my son’s shoe collection. First and foremost, I keep my son barefoot whenever possible and did this very consciously when he was a baby and on into crawling and walking. Full foot movements are high priority for the development of the foot, and if that foot is trapped in a rubber brick in the early years, who knows what kind of long term problems it may cause. When out and about, I stuck strictly to the Robeez and Bobux leather crib shoe/slipper until my son learned how to run. The crib shoe does not have great traction for running, so something a little more substantial was needed. I wanted something that had as minimal a sole as possible and that would be super bendy. So far I like Pediped and the Bobux iWalk. See Kai Run is also another I have been scoping out. I have a mental block when it comes to Crocs. They just don’t seem practical to me, besides I think they look like clown shoes. A clog style shoe that can easily come off, made out of what? Plastic? I just can’t do it (Okay, I admit, we did own a pair that was a gift, and even though I hate to acknowledge this, my son loved them). And one last requirement, NO LACES! Velcro and elastic slip-ons for this kid until he can learn to tie for himself.
Any rules you live by for your children when it comes to their clothing?