Can Your Baby Have Too Many Clothes? (Guest Post)

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The following is a guest post from Deanna:

Is it possible for your baby to have too many clothes?

When I was 20 weeks pregnant with my first child, I received a phone call that changed my life. Merely a week before, I had learned that I was going to have a baby girl. My desire to go shopping and fill up my little girl’s room full of adorable outfits was tempered by the concerns that were on our ultrasound.

So when I received THE phone call telling me “I’m sorry, your daughter has Trisomy 21,” at first I was so devastated that all I could do was sit and cry.

When friends reached out to me and asked what they could do, I replied that I wanted to go shopping. To buy clothes for my little girl.

I still remember the first thing that I bought her: a cozy brown sleeper with scattered pink polka dots. I paid full price. From Osh Kosh. But in my grief, I ignored the price tag. My unborn daughter had an extra chromosome. By buying her beautiful things to wear, I felt like I was doing something to help her — to show her love in the only way I knew how.

As my very difficult pregnancy progressed, I received many gorgeous presents and clothes for Baby Girl. Friends that I hadn’t heard from in years sent generous packages in the mail with sweet notes of love for our baby rockin’ a little something extra. It meant so much to me to receive an outpouring of love that way.

By the time my daughter was born, she had an AWESOME wardrobe. Onesies, outfits, dresses, shoes, tights, hats — you name it she had it. (And yes, she was born in February, but she had 6 pairs of sunglasses!)

She was in the NICU for 5 weeks, so she really wasn’t able to wear the clothes until she left — and then we had to dress her around a g-tube and an oxygen nasal cannula, so she wore each outfit differently than I had imagined, but was a baby modeling star from the moment she traded her NICU incubator for that brown and pink sleeper that I bought for her the day after receiving her diagnosis.

It wasn’t until recently that I have reflected back on this new start to motherhood and realized how all of that shaped my philosophy in dressing my daughter. Addison is now 17 months old. She is healthy, happy, and growing like any other toddler….charming the world around her with one toothy smile at a time.

Shopping — A lot

But for months I still found myself with a desperate need to overflow her closet and dresser. To my way of thinking, it was easier to take her out in public and have people ooh and ahh over her coordinating outfit/hat/shoe combo rather than notice her almond shaped eyes and cast pitying glances my way.

I live across the street from Carters, Gymboree, and OshKosh outlets. I’ve rocked the sales and learned how to get outfit pieces for steals and have maintained the same giant wardrobe that she had waiting for her when she was born.

I rationalized:

  • she grows really slowly and wears each outfit forever — which is true.
  • I’m horrible at laundry, so it’s nice to be able to go a while before running out of clothes for her — also true…regrettably.

But the truth was, I irrationally felt that if she wore an outfit more than once, then people were going to see her as less than the princess she was because she has Down syndrome.

Skip ahead to today.

One month ago I became a stay-at-home mom. Cutbacks were needed. I scratched my head in wonderment. Where oh where could I possibly cut back?

After a few critical comments from well-meaning friends as to how many clothes Addison has (while I was in line to purchase yet another bundle), I burst into tears thinking that they didn’t understand mothering a child with special needs.

And when I calmed down, I realized that I was overcompensating.

Yes, I love my daughter very, very much. But it’s OK if she wears the same thing twice. It’s OK if there is a new/fashionable outfit hanging in that outlet store that she doesn’t have in her closet.

I’ve spent many hours contemplating the question: Is it possible for your baby to have too many clothes?

Honestly, I think as long as you are shopping sales and being frugal about how you come about the clothes, the clothes in and of themselves aren’t wrong. And of course there are the showers and gifts that absolutely should fill your baby’s room full of the cutest possible outfits. But I found that I had to be careful.

Why did I want her to have all of these clothes?
Why did I feel the need to always have her chubby goodness encased in high baby fashion?

Finding Balance

I still dress my daughter well. But I feel that I know now where to stop. When enough is enough. I think through each purchase. Am I buying this because she needs it or because I want to add to her collection and prove something to the world? She certainly doesn’t seem to be complaining.

The truly ironic thing? In September, Little Miss Well-Dressed Addison is getting a very special delivery….which means that her already reduced clothing budget now gets cut in half…and none of her old clothes can be passed along.

Hopefully a little brother will help balance me out even further.

How do YOU tell when your child has enough clothes?

— You can read more about Deanna, Addison’s birth story and their life together at Everything and Nothing in Essex. Read Deanna’s previous guest post on Parenting a Child with Down Syndrome.

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  1. Our son was born 4 weeks early and we didn’t have ANYTHING for him! My husband is self-employed and money was tight so we waited for showers to get necessities. To this day we still havent bought him any new clothes (thanks to all the hand-me-downs!) Do I feel guilty about not being able to get him new clothes? Yes, sometimes. Does he wear the ones he has more than once? Sometimes! But when we go visit people, they’re looking at HIM, not his clothes. =) The baby doesnt care what he’s dressed in! As long as he’s warm, fed and gets lots of love, he’s very happy! (I cloth diaper when we’re at home, so during the summer I don’t dress him, so he wears even less!)

  2. Your daughter is beautiful! She is gorgeous just the way she is, you don’t have to “dress” her to be any cuter! Her personality will shine through, whether she wears a new outfit every day, or the same 8 to 10 outfits in a size/season (or however many needed to stay ahead of laundry but not to have an overflowing closet). Thanks for sharing her with us!

  3. First of all, love to you and your beautiful daughter! I’d say I sit on the opposite end of the spectrum from you. I barely EVER buy our kids clothing. They get about $50-60 from Once Upon a Child at the season’s start, if needed and that’s IT. Only what they need. We do laundry daily and our kids tend to pick 1-2 favorites that they wear OVER AND OVER. We often (very often) purge and give away everything we haven’t worn in a while (season permitting). I want our kids to grow up with an awareness that it isn’t about ‘how they look’. So, I don’t not buy them lots of clothing because I’m lazy or broke. It’s a choice. Our kids always look cute – but they do pick their own outfits, whether they match or not… lol.
    I think a good starting point for knowing if your child has too much is if they have more than 14 outfits for a given season. That’s WAY too much in our house. Our kids have about 7-8 outfits with a few extra t-shirts for summer… it’s enough, as they’re in their bathing suits every day anyways!!! Blessings!

    Cassandra @

  4. You’re daughter has an absolutely radiant smile, I wanted to pick her up and hug her! When my son was small I was so into the ‘fashion’ thing, he would wear VERY expensive jeans from Gap Kids – crazy! I certainly don’t go as crazy with clothes like I used to, what tends to happen is each kid takes a liking to a couple of shirts or pants and everything else gets forgotten. When end of season rolls around I’m always appalled by how many clothes really never got worn. My recommendation to mothers with older kids (especially daughters) is to let them pick out 2-3 really amazing outfits (within your budget) that make them feel really special. Fill that in with a t-shirt or two and that’s really all they need.

  5. Thanks for your heartwarming post and honesty. I think it is really easy to get suckered into getting more “stuff.” This is one reason I have a love/hate relationship with the mall. I am thankful I married a penny pinching “saver.” I struggle to find balance.

  6. Really sweet post. Just from the title, I was thinking, “Amen, sister.” I don’t buy my kids anything but second hand clothes and I *still* think they have too many clothes, esp. when you take into account gifts from grandparents, etc. I think your daughter is adorable. 🙂 Thanks for writing!

  7. I am with Cherie – I think buying beautiful outfits for your daughter was a perfectly acceptable coping mechanism during a difficult time. Clearly it wasn’t a “problem,” because you’ve been able to cut back now that your financial situation has changed.

    By the way, I know people don’t get excited over boy clothes, but I think you’ll enjoy shopping for your new baby, too. I LOVE buying things for my son. It’s so much fun to dress him like a miniature version of his daddy. And super-hero shirts – you can never have too many super-hero shirts!

  8. I felt the same way with my daughter with Autism. I felt if I dressed her so that no one would notice the meltdowns and tantrums. I even remember dressing her in her cutest outfit to our first developmental pediatrician appointment hoping they wouldn’t give her the diagnosis I thought she would get. Now at 5 she is an amazing little girl and has her own sense of style. Anything animal print and she doesn’t care if she matches. One of the many things I love about her!

  9. I am so with Cherie on this one. All I remember is Addisons’ toothy grin! My 17 month old girl, Lillie is sitting in my lap and all she kept saying was “Aww Cute BAAABBY”. I hope you realize that while it will be harder for you to deal with and cope while raising this beautiful “differently abled” little girl, it will also be so very very rewarding. With the clothes try reselling or finding someone who has a daughter on the way or a few months younger than yours to pass on too. My daughters wardrobe other than say 5 outfits were ALL given to us. My dear friend had saved all of her baby girls things, and her daughter was 11 months old when mine was born. I was able to use everything because the sizes and seasons matched up.Doting family members buy her clothes for all occasions, like Christmas and her birthday. I know it was a huge blessing to receive all of the things we have for our little girl, and I am sure someone would feel the same way if you were to pass yours on. It’s totally normal to want to over compensate with material things when you are scared about something so major in your life. Remember Addisons’ smile when your thinking about buying something to take away from that.

  10. I try to buy my kids about 6 – 8 shirts and pants. I don’t buy PJs, I just buy a few pairs of sweatpants and undershirts — it’s what I wear to bed, anyway, so why can’t they? And I buy the undershirts a couple sizes too big so they can wear them for a couple years at least, unless they wear out faster.

    They do have too many clothes anyway (especially my daughter) because family likes to hit the resale shops and buy them cute clothes as presents. That’s okay, I encourage them to get sundresses or other “fun” outfits that I might not buy. And every now and then if I we hit Good Will and they have clothes for $0.33 each (yes, that’s happened), I will let them choose a few more things than usual…because why not?

    Generally though I stick to enough outfits to cover 7 days and that’s it! That’s all they “need.” I also try to buy seasonal items (like bathing suits) in every other size and have them wear it for two years (we’re in Ohio). Bathrobes or other less-often-used outfits I try to buy gender-neutral so they can pass them down; same with undershirts and PJs if I buy any (I do for babies, but not after they’re 2 or so). And of course we take any hand-me-downs that we can get!

  11. I think you actually found a pretty harmless outlet to your emotional reactions during your pregnancy.
    As long as the bills got paid LOL.

    And kudos to you for understanding yourself and getting it together. Those pictures of your daughter are downright gorgeous – but I am scrolled down out of their sight now and I don’t remember the outfits – I do remember her happy smile 🙂

    And that is better than a new outfit any day [though the floppy hat was too cute LOL]

    Wishing you an easy pregnancy with that little brother!

  12. Looking back, I wish that I had bought a couple of cute outfits and put the other money I would have spent in a college savings account. Now that my 5 kids are older, it would come in handy now. When we went back to grad school years ago, I couldn’t afford to buy the nice clothes and it taught me that you can dress your kids in really nice used clothes that don’t cost much at all. You don’t care when something gets ruined if it was really cheap. The kids really don’t care what they have on, so you are really doing it for yourself. The baby clothes these days are so cute that it is easy to buy too many, but if you look at it long term and what you could do for your kids in the future, then you may choose to buy less and save the money.

  13. First, your daughter is absolutely ADORABLE!!

    I understand what you are saying because a couple years ago I was completely obsessed with Gymboree. Their clothes, sales, and how to get the best at the cheapest prices possible. It was insane. I justified a lot of it because I was reselling their clothes on ebay and a lot of times making more money than what I spent. The downside to all of this was I was spending A LOT of my free time searching deals and reselling when that time could have been better spent with my kids in my opinion. I am a working mom so it is important to have quality time with my kids when I get it.

    So when I finally realized this I knew I had to cut back on the clothes because it would be impossible to afford all the clothes without reselling. Basically now I will purchase about 7-10 new school outfits (of course using coupons and sales) from retail stores and then also buy a few pre-loved (aka used) play clothes or weekend wear from eBay and consignment shops. This has helped me a lot.

    But basically I just make sure they have a bunch of mix and max basics and then some cute dressier outfits.

    Good luck mama!

  14. Sweet story! I think I would probably react in a similar way, if our budget could afford it.

    I’ve wanted to do that so many times- just buy clothes to feel better about who I am as a parent, but our finances have never afforded that pleasure. If it isn’t previously used, then it probably isn’t in our house. Sometimes I think toilet paper and other toiletries are the only things we buy new. 🙂

  15. wow. This hit me right in the gut. We have 3 kids, two of them on the autism spectrum. I find myself trying to make life ‘easier’ for them in all kinds of ways that sometimes absolutely wears me out. Thanks for the honesty. I needed this reminder…

  16. Kelly, even my teens wore hand me downs and resale shop clothes. I truly believe most of the kids attitudes come from the parents.

  17. I have 9 children… none are babies anymore. The babies had maybe 9 to 10 outfits.. many because some had to be changed more then once aday. Once my kids were out of diapers … they had 5 play outfits and once church outfit. Seeing as I was washing all the time that was all that was necessarily. The only time that we ran into trouble is when Christmas was on a Saturday or a Monday or if there was a funeral or wedding on a Saturday. — PLUS and a big PLUS is that kids only where their favorite clothes anyway. So why would you want all that money sitting in a drawer or even worse all over the floor. Also, we get really cute fancy things in resale shops.

  18. I never thought I would love hand me downs until I had my son. I had neighbors just giving me clothes! Now with my second son I often feel guilty that I never buy him clothes because his dresser is overflowing with clothes he never wears. I get over that guilt when I realize that a day will come when he will not want to wear hand me downs!