Hey Parent Friends! Let’s talk clothes for kids… Where you buy it, how you save money on it, how you find ethical / sustainable clothes for your kids if that’s your jam, how much your kids need… Whatever you like!
Post reserved for master list of resources to make life easy for anyone coming to this thread for quick links.
For baby and young toddler clothes, we had good hand-me-downs from friends.
Then my massive baby outgrew all those sources.
Buy Nothing has been good, but I find it is generally more worn clothes (good for messy play, not great for certain days when you want your kid to be smartly dressed) and not always the type of clothes I’m after (e.g. lots of clothes that restrict movement). Plus, as kids get bigger there seems to be less secondhand clothing available as hand-me-downs - probably because they wear it for so much longer, and are active by that age?
I haven’t tried consignment stores in my city yet, but they’re on my radar for a post-pandemic world.
I buy from ethically questionable places with vast shipping miles. Mostly because second hand is hard to find and I have a child with very strong preferences about what she wears, so a lot of the ethically made new stuff is very expensive for things she almost certainly will refuse to wear.
We do Boden and Next and gifted clothing mostly. And some bonds for sleep stuff but those sizes are getting too small now. I gave up on Kmart and Best and Less because nothing lasts. The more expensive stuff we have purchased new will at least be passed on in excellent condition still.
We have specific clothing for very messy activities like painting. Usually gifted things that she wouldn’t otherwise choose to wear. Otherwise she just wants to wear one of the same three dresses everyday and she makes an effort to keep them clean so she doesn’t need to wait for the wash. We get away with very little clothing as a result, I suspect we won’t have the same child again.
My oldest kid is four and we mostly buy clothes second hand, even though it is becoming increasingly difficult to find gently worn clothes in bigger sizes.
I don’t know how it is called in English, but several times a year, there is an event where designated streets are closed to the traffic and people who want to sell can buy a spot for the day. We call them “braderies” or “vides greniers” or “foires à tout” in french. The prices are usually very low: 0,50€ or 1€ per item.
I love once upon a child (consignment, but same price as the thrift stores with miles of choices). It’s closed which is sad. It has a sister adult store that I will also try for me when it opens.
For outdoorsy kid clothes our outdoor coop MEC tries not to be evil, and is great for haunting online clearance.
For new clothes with questionable origins and great prices during Covid, Giant Tiger has the cutest and cheap, Joe fresh has cute, good quality and good prices. Walmart is open more than 6h a day
The closest thing to that in my area is a pop-up consignment event called Just Between Friends (lots of locations in the US). They usually happen in the same space as pop-up Halloween stores here (empty big box stores that are in between tenants). It’s a franchise type thing I think, you can sell your own items but there’s tagging requirements they have so everything is oriented the same way on the hangers to make it easier for the shoppers to work their way down a rack. The seller gets a percentage of the price of the item sold and the event owners get a percentage. They’ve also started a “tagging valet” service in the last couple years where some volunteers will tag your items for you but it reduces the amount you get for selling your items. Usually it happens twice a year but they cancelled their spring event this year. I liked it when Kiddo was younger but the last few times they’ve held the event in a different area that’s more of a drive for me so I’ve stuck to just going to a local, year-round consignment store that does only kids stuff.
Thredup in the US and Canada is an online thrift store, too. Which makes it easier, especially these days.
I opt for used to cover the ethical angle mostly. Lots of Buy Nothing clothes. Local kids high end thrift store, currently listing stuff online and delivering locally during the pandemic. Also done some stuff from Primary when they had a big sale.
I’ve been lucky enough to get 90% of the clothes the wiggler needs as hand-me-downs. The other 10% comes from grandmothers who love to buy him stuff–some new, some from consignment sales.
I guess this isn’t helpful, I’m just bragging And joining the thread, because I expect in a few years the hand-me-downs will dry up as they get worn out before they reach the wiggler.
I found the JBL sale I went to really overwhelming and intense, but our local goodwill has a killer kids section and I get stuff on poshmark and kidizen too. Our local neighborhood parents group hosts a clothing swap twice a year, usually at someone’s house. Maybe this summer we’ll figure out how to host in the park or something so we can still do it.
I'd also like to add my thoughts on clothes for anyone reading this later who might be planning for a kiddo and others can jump in with their different preferences too, but adding a spoiler since it's long and a bit off topic
for little babies, I go for the least amount of clothing that will work so:
- lightweight sleep sack/swaddle sack + diaper
- add kimono onesie for more warmth if needed (unless kiddo is a spitter or has blowouts all the time, or you’re just a parent who wants to change clothes pretty regularly, then I’m not sure what would be best but it’s probably not a kimono onesie)
- I do not like sleepers of any kind for newborns but didn’t have a winter baby so I’m not sure if I could have gotten away with it. I’d probably go for a quilted sleep sack before I’d want to add something with legs though.
From about about 3 months (getting over the head stops being so horrible) until about 12 months when my kid stopped wanting to lay down and be still for changes - I loved love zipper PJs (we had a bunch of hand me down hanna anderson which were perfect. Hate snaps. Pants & onesies were also a big hit for me at this age. YMMV since some kids become wiggly much earlier.
After that, separates all the way! Full disclosure, my kid is only 2 and he’s still wearing 9-12 and 12-18 month with a few tiny 2T stuff, and he doesn’t yet have lots of opinions about what to wear.
Our kiddo hated footie anything so we’ve been footless + knitted booties or zutanos and then shoes with soft soles for early walking since.
A few favorite hacks/strategies - would love to hear others’ ideas for things that have made their lives easier with kid clothes
- we sort clothes we haven’t grown into or have grown out of and are keeping in case of future kids by size, but not by tag size, we group them by what actually looks the same size. And we only kept clothes that we LOVED since we ended up with way more clothes than we need.
- we keep kiddo’s clothes in the bathroom so we can put away laundry while he is sleeping.
- I sew a bit and often buy adult t-shirts at goodwill and then turn them into kids t-shirt & pant combos and then use leftovers for t-shirt yarn and stuff.
- While we’re in control of what clothes are picked, we pick a variety from boys and girls racks that we feel comfortable with putting on kids of any stripes, both because this is our preferred look and we want to be able to reuse the clothes as much as possible. Plus we sort of resent the way everything is divided into girls and boys anyway. This actually keeps me from shopping more on thred up because there isn’t a way to choose just kids clothing and I don’t really want to look through two entire sections.
In response to your side note:
I did have a winter baby. We did a lot of footed sleepers. Their little feet get SO icy cold. And we swaddled her when very little (until 8 weeks) so it’s not like she could stay in that when she was awake. Footed sleepers are way easier than socks.
We were so spoiled with a summer baby. I feel like winter makes everything harder!
Secrets are more fun
I have a Canadian February baby. Daytime wear was a long sleeve onesie topped with footie pjs, often cuddled in a blanket on top.
Nighttime a sleep sack on top. And a hat
At 3 months footie pjs or onesie and pants are good daytime outfits. Sweaters for going out.