Children need clothes—and lots of them, given how fast they grow. With so many options and styles, shopping for children’s clothing can be overwhelming. However, if you remember to assess clothing quality, consider the appropriate styles, and keep an eye out for deals, buying children’s clothes can be made easy and even fun!
Choosing Quality Clothing
Look for high quality fabrics. Children are very active, and need clothing that is relatively durable, especially for daily use. However, clothing made of good quality fabrics doesn’t have to be expensive, and expensive clothing isn’t necessarily made of good quality fabrics. Examine each article of clothing to determine fabric quality.
- Feel the fabric to make sure it is thick and durable.
- Hold the fabric up to the light. If it looks transparent, it is probably not good quality.
Pick soft fabrics
- Children won’t want to wear clothing if it is itchy or rough. Soft fabrics are especially important for babies and toddlers, who have extra sensitive skin.
- Cotton is a soft, breathable fabric that won’t irritate skin. Fleece works well if you need something warmer
- Check the seams. Loose stitches and poorly finished seams are signs of a poorly made clothing item. This item probably won’t last very long, especially after a few wears and washings. For each clothing item, check that seams are tight and stitches are in place.
- Make sure seams are smooth. Unfinished seams can scratch kids’ sensitive skin.
Avoid designs that can irritate skin. Look out for appliqués, sparkles, and other designs that might rub and irritate skin. These might look pretty but are not very practical if they cause discomfort.
Avoid fringe or strings when buying for young children. Fringe or strings are strangulation hazards for toddlers and infants. Stay away from these when buying clothing for young children.
Avoid clothing with loose buttons. Loose buttons indicate that a clothing item is probably not good quality. They can also be choking hazards for young children. Check that buttons are secure on the clothing items you consider.
Choose high quality clothing for school. As a rule, if you expect the child to wear the article frequently and want it to last a while, you should opt for higher quality items. School clothes will be worn a lot, and need to last all year. Investing in good quality school clothes will prevent unnecessary trips back to the clothing store.
Consider gently used, high quality formal wear. You may want to splurge on high quality formal wear for your child, especially for events like weddings, which is perfectly fine. However, buying high quality, secondhand formal wear is a good option as well. That way, you’ll save money on items that may only be worn once or twice.
Choosing Clothing Styles
Pay attention to sizing. The fit is always important when buying clothing. Take the child’s height and weight measurements and consult a sizing chart. Generally, children’s sizes correspond to the child’s age. An average 7 year old will wear a size 7
- If the child for whom you are shopping is not your own, consult the child’s parent to determine the appropriate size.
- You can bring the child with you to try on clothes, but this can be difficult with younger children.
- If you are not sure of the child’s size, err on the larger side. This is especially true for babies and toddlers, who grow at a fast rate
Go for the basics when in doubt. Not sure what to buy for a child? Opt for basic pieces, like simple t-shirts, plain shorts, and sweaters or jackets with limited patterning. These can be mixed and matched with other items and worn again and again. Styles are changing faster than ever, so a basic piece will probably last much longer than a trendy one.
Choose colors that won’t show stains. Children are notoriously messy. Try to focus on clothes that are easy to care for and will not show stains clearly, such as dark colors and very bright shades instead of pastels. This will increase the likelihood that you’ll be able to donate, sell, and reuse clothes.
Take the child’s preferences into account. Although children aren’t always the best judges of fashion, selecting an item that the child likes will ensure the item is used. Well-liked clothing items can make the process of getting dressed easier, particularly for younger children.
Buy clothes that are easy to take on and off. This is especially important for infants and children just learning to dress themselves. Pick clothing elastic waists, large buttons or snaps, and wide neck holes that can be managed easily.
- If you are buying for an infant or toddler, remember that they rarely sit still. Snaps and zippers make it easier to dress a squirming child.
- Young infants will need to have their clothing changed frequently. Large necks, loose arms, and onesies are key. Avoid shirts that button up the front.
Buy seasonal clothes that are a little too big. Children are always growing. One year of growth can result in several inches of height! Seasonal clothes, like coats or scarves, may only last one season. If possible, opt for slightly too-big sizes in seasonal clothes so they’ll last for at least two seasons
Check out the clearance rack. Be sure to take a look at the clearance rack to see if anything catches your eye. Everything here will be discounted. Clearance racks are usually in the back of stores.
Visit thrift stores and consignment shops. Thrift stores and consignment shops often carry gently used, decent quality clothing items for a reduced price. This is great for fast-growing kids, who may only be able to use an item for a few months before they grow out of it. Thrift stores and consignment shops are great options for babies and toddlers, who grow extra fast.
See what’s available online. If you know the child’s size, try doing some online shopping. Online shopping is fast and convenient, and online stores can offer great deals on children’s clothing.
- Beware—it may be hard to assess clothing quality or fit when shopping online.
- Be sure to check the online store’s return policy in the event that an item doesn’t fit.
- Don’t forget to wash the clothing items you buy before use.
Compare prices as you shop. To get the best deal, you’ll need to see how clothing prices stack up. Compare in store prices, and use your smartphone to compare in store prices with those online in real time.
Shop off-season. Shopping off-season–buying summer clothes in late fall and winter clothes during the spring–can save you a great deal of time and money. Don’t forget to buy clothes a size or half size up!
Consider less expensive play clothes. When buying play clothes for children, consider less expensive items. These will likely get stained and ripped, especially if they are worn to the park