Gender issues

Baby clothes

I’ve finally started buying stuff for the kids, after putting it off for months.  I’ll probably write a separate post about all the paraphenalia required to look after little humans – for now, I want to talk about baby clothes.

We are in total denial about how much clothing we need.  People who have had twins keep saying things like, “Don’t worry!  You don’t need all that much stuff, so don’t go crazy with the tiny sizes.”  So we’re thinking “sweet, a few onesies and we’ll be sorted”, and then they go on to say “so if you don’t have a very ‘spilly’ baby [one that spits up on itself a lot, apparently] you can probably get away with just two or three changes of clothes for each baby, each day…”

*insert comedy ‘needle slipping off record’ noise*

Three changes of clothes per baby, per day?  Assuming that we don’t want to fire up the washing machine every second day (and we certainly don’t, particularly as the laundry is downstairs and might not be the easiest room for me to visit in the early days), I now think that we need something like 15 or 20 changes of clothing for each baby, for starters.  And even as I write that, I fear that it won’t be enough.  But I also don’t want to end up with mountains of clothing that the babies outgrow before they’ve had a chance to wear it!  ARGH!  It’s all so confusing!

We also need to think about sizes.  There’s a good chance that the babies will be tiddlers when they’re first born, but the awesome local Multiple Birth Club is on the ball and lends out big boxes of prem-sized clothing for the first couple of weeks, so you don’t have to buy huge amounts of tiny stuff that the kids will outgrow very quickly.  So we’ve only bought a handful of prem-sized onesies, to see them through the first few days in hospital.

Next, they’ll be in the newborn size.  Apparently they might outgrow this size within a month or so, which means that we don’t want to go overboard here (this is where I’m looking at the ’15 or 20 outfits each’ quantity).

They’ll then move into the 0 – 3 month size, which they’ll apparently wear for quite a while, so it’s worth stocking up at this stage.

Now, buying little baby outfits is never a bad time – SO CUTE, particularly when you’re having one of each.  However, baby clothes are flipping expensive in New Zealand.  Everything is flipping expensive in New Zealand: it’s the downside of living in a country with a relatively small population.  But I am a superstar bargain hunter when it comes to buying clothes for myself, so I’m attempting to apply these principles to the babies’ wardrobe as well – it’s that or bankruptcy.  Good sources of clothing so far have included:

  • A secondhand babies’ clothing market held near us a couple of weeks ago.  This was a big community hall full of people peddling their used stuff, and it was a bit like how I imagine a Middle Eastern bazaar – complete chaos, and wild pricing strategies.  We started off fairly daunted, but then I found a nice woman selling four onesies for $5, so I snapped up 12 of them.  And our lovely friend Kirsty (who deserves her own post, given how helpful she’s been during my pregnancy) was manning the Multiple Birth stall, so I bought a few things there as well, and a few of the things that her own twins have outgrown.
  • Local sales – Cotton On Kids was particularly good.  I picked up five onesies for $30.
  • The Multiple Birth Club.  This is awesome: members donate clothing when their babies outgrow it, so Angelika, the president of the club, has gigantic bins of clothing at different sizes, all for sale at $2 per item.  We had a new parents’ evening at the Club last week and I left with 26 garments, for a princely $52.
  • Marks and Spencer’s online shopping service.  The prices in the UK are so much better than Kiwi prices, and M&S has a flat fee of £15 for international delivery.  We’ve still got money in our UK bank account, so I had a good time shopping there yesterday and bought bargains like packs of seven onesies for £10 ($20, in Kiwi money).

I think I’m now set for newborn clothing for the kids, and we’ll gradually add to the 0 – 3 stash in the coming months.  It’s helpful that the babies will be born at the start of the summer, so they should be able to gad around in sleeveless or short-sleeved onesies for most of the time.

I do have one big complaint when it comes to babies’ clothing: the way in which gender stereotypes are reinforced quite literally from birth.  I really don’t want to dress my daughter exclusively in pink, and I also don’t want her baby chest emblazoned with slogans like ‘little princess’.  And if the girls’ stuff isn’t pink, it’s got flowers or butterflies on it.  Similarly, I don’t want to dress my son exclusively in blue, and have him covered with pictures of tractors.  When I rifled through the Multiple Birth Club’s bins I tried to opt for non-pink and non-blue options as much as possible (and I really did steer clear of the ‘little princess’ stuff), but it was impossible to avoid them entirely if I wanted to get anything at all.

M&S was a bad offender in this regard (although they did redeem themselves by having a decent selection of plain, gender neutral stuff as well).  For example, a seven pack of girls’ onesies features flowers and butterflies, and the following slogans: “I love lots of cuddles”; “world’s cutest baby”; “adorable”; “perfect little baby”; “little and loved”; “adorable when sleeping”; and “little but loud!”

By contrast, the boys’ pack of seven onesies is covered in monster pictures and has matching slogans: “roar”; “hungry monster”; “don’t upset me!”; “there’s a mini monster about!”; “mini monster”; “monster”; and “little monster”.

So even from birth we’re reinforcing the idea that little girls should be placid, quiet and sweet, whereas little boys are allowed to be rowdy and have a bit of a personality.  Awesome.  I really hate this kind of thing.  And people then justify the plethora of pink clothing for little girls by claining that it’s what little girls like – is it any wonder, when they’re spoonfed this sweet, girly-girl message from day one?

The other thing that winds me up is the way that baby girls’ clothing is available mostly in pastel shades (with Pumpkin Patch’s bright-coloured baby dresses being a notable – albeit expensive – exception), whereas baby boys’ clothing is much brighter.  I’m getting around this by buying bright stuff where I can and tossing it into the gender neutral basket.  M&S did have some cute striped onesies, with bright colours, so I bought two packets of them for the babies to share, even though the website’s description told me that “the soft cotton fabric will keep him feeling comfy and happy.”.

They’ll be just the ticket when the babies run away to join the circus – bonus!

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14 thoughts on “Baby clothes

  1. I bought a bit of boy’s stuff for Kitty – we were in definite “daddy’s little princess” avoidance territory. Plain i.e. not embroidered dungarees etc. from baby gap. But it’s really difficult. I made quite a few things too, but then I had the luxury of a single baby. Your family sounds eminently sensible – if anyone asks what you need, you could at least direct them. I had no hope with my mother, despite repeated requests.Still, at least I was able to pass on *lots* of unworn stuff to a lot more deserving babies.

    Also – washing machine every 2nd day? REALLY? With Tommy mine was on every day – on a couple of select occasions twice a day. He wasn’t so much “spilly” as the possessor of the most explosive sphincter in the British Isles. Every nappy change (5 or 6 poos a day, honestly) involved a clothing change. Seriously. On one spectacular late night occasion it reached his very armpits. I cleaned him up, swaddled him back up again, lifted him up to kiss his velvety button nose and he vommed down my cleavage. It was 3.30 am, and that was my last clean nursing bra/nightshirt combo… It settled down of course, but we’re in the early throes of potty training at the moment, and it’s starting again. We had 3 changes of bottom layers within 40 minutes yesterday morning – “my winkle won’t tell me when he needs wees”, apparently…

    1. Oh crikey – I’m sitting at work – crying with laughter… and fear. That was priceless!
      On the clothing front, my hubby’s mum is a superstar. So far (we don’t know what we are having) she has knitted the cutest cream cardie, a sparkly green cardie, raided the John Lewis Team GB sale to pick up a striped navy onesie and a sleeping bag from the Baby Gap sale which is cream and covered in pea pods. I quite like not being able to confirm the sex to friends and family, they are being exptremely creative in sourcing interesting but gender neutral garb. As yet I’ve bought nothing – but am hoping to go banzai in the January sales….

  2. I had a ton of clothes for conor, still do. I bought lots of used things, rarely do u buy him new items. I would have used the washer at least every other day. I also use cloth diapers and wash those. But I’d never do that with twins. He was born at 8lb so we put him straight into 0-3mth. He was in 3-6 by 2 or 3mths. The sizes of clothes really vary too. I also wanted bright things like red, green and purple and it is hard to find! You will also get lots of things sent to you as gifts. See if there are any church sales or is there an Auckland FB mom group? We have one here and it’s great.

    1. Thanks Melanie – that’s really helpful to hear! There is a good Facebook group for the Multiple Birth Club, and also an excellent ‘buy/sell/swap’ group for twin mothers, and a lot of clothing gets passed on. It’s so handy, particularly when the babies stay in each size for a relatively short space of time. And the Kiwi version of Ebay is good for baby clothes as well.

      Gosh, Conor was such a great size from early on! I’d kind of assumed that, because Tristan and I are both tall, we’d still have reasonable big babies, but I’ve since been told to expect our two to be tiny from the start.

  3. Wow the Multiple Birth Club sound fantastic. And ummm sorry but you’d most likely be washing clothes every second day with only one baby let alone two. They expel from BOTH ends remember!
    I’ve been slowly stocking up on baby clothes for as long as I have been planning for a baby. But avoiding pink fluff with Daddys Little Angel or blue with tractors has left me with a LOT of white clothes. Boring! The Baby Factory has some nice tan clothes and T&T can be very gender specific but has fantastic sales. I buy little things from them like socks (only place with 0-3m socks I have ever found) and washclothes/bibs really cheaply.
    Also one tip that might save you money is to buy Onesie Bumsies – they are fabric snap in onesie extenders for the crotches. They help for big fat cloth bums but also for babies that grow too tall for their clothes but don’t grow too fat for them. The first few months is all about length for babies.
    Oh and don’t buy newborn stuff at all. You’ll be given tons of it by people once the babies arrive.

    1. Somebody had mentioned Onesie Bumsies to me and I’d forgotten what they were called, so thanks, Steph – that’s super handy!

      I’ve just been checking out Ezibuy website and they’ve got some cute bright-coloured stuff from Next – sleepsuits, in particular.

  4. Also there is a company here called The Children’s Place that has amazing sales and nice stuff. They might ship internationally. Same with Joe Fresh (quality not as good but fine for the life cycle of 1 baby).

  5. Another great place to shop in Next. Free shipping from the UK and the service is quick, 4 or 5 days. More selection than M&S but plenty of baby slogans…

  6. I honestly think I’ve done at least one load of washing every day since I had children. Often two loads. No matter how many clothes you buy, you’ll become very well acquainted with your washing machine!

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