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The most important considerations in children's clothing

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Written by Vera C. Last updated on .

Disclosure: I get commissions for purchases made through links in this page. This helps keep this site running

Two children running in a field

If you're picking out clothes for your children or a young relative, you'll need to know the most important things to consider. After all, you'll want the child to enjoy wearing the clothes and you'll want the peace of mind knowing that the items you picked are safe. Here are the most important considerations in children's clothing.

Sizing and fit

You probably already know that sizing of children's clothing is based on their age. For sizes smaller than a 2 year old it's based on months, indicated with the letter M (e.g. 3M = 3 months old). For the toddler years, the sizes are indicated with a T (e.g. 4T = 4 years old). If the size does not have a letter next to it, then it's simply based on the age of the child (e.g. size 8 = 8 years old).

Different brands have a slightly different fit, and also it's possible your child might be smaller or larger than the average child and therefore needs a smaller or larger size than you would expect. While this is not a huge concern for looser items such as T-shirts, it does become a bigger concern for things like long pants where you need a precise fit.

To get around this dilemma, I recommend The Children's Place clothing because:

  • The sizing is "middle of the road" - you're unlikely to get things that run really small or really large
  • In the vast majority (but not all) of their long pant styles, they have an adjustable elastic inside the inner part of the waistband to allow for a more flexible fit. It's totally invisible from the outside. Speaking from experience with my own kids, this feature is incredibly helpful - it allows your child to maintain a good fit with long pants at all points in that sizing
  • In addition to all the regular sizes, they also offer a separate set of extended sizing in long pants for slim and larger kids, allowing you to be absolutely certain of picking out clothes that fit those builds. You can read my guide to children's extended sizing here
  • Additionally, The Children's Place is very affordable and has lots of great online deals going

Sizing is one of the most important considerations in children's clothing but rest assured that the tips I gave you just now should help pick out the right size without too much worry.

Safety and weather

Safety is a critical factor in children's clothes. You'll want to make sure that the item is weather-appropriate and safe.

  • For example, a winter jacket should be thick enough to keep your child warm
  • Clothing for the snow should be waterproof or at least water resistant
  • You'll also want to be sure that there are no long dangling strings on any part of your child's clothing, because these could get caught somewhere (e.g. a closing elevator door) and cause serious harm to your child.
  • Likewise you don't want anything that could pose a choking hazard to a baby or toddler, therefore no standard buttons because these could come off in baby's mouth if baby chews on them. Snaps or zippers are fine though.

Most of the well-known US children's clothing stores do a great job with safety, so if you're buying an item from a well known brand it will have already been designed to be safe. You should be just fine with any of the items at the stores on my list of the 6 best budget-friendly children's clothes stores.

Style - trendy, yet age appropriate

Fashion is an important consideration in children's clothes, so long as it's age-appropriate.

The children's clothing brands that I list in the link just above do a great job at making sure younger kids are in age-appropriate clothes.

When selecting clothes for older children simply avoid designs that seem babyish to a middle schooler (e.g. a dump truck patterned t-shirt). All of the brands I mention have other options of styles that are perfectly suited for older kids. You just need to be aware that some designs are more for younger kids and other designs are more for older kids, even within the same brand.

Comfort

Comfort is a huge factor in children's clothes! Your child won't want to wear something scratchy or uncomfortable, and the day just goes easier for everyone if your child feels comfortable in his or her clothes. On the other hand, the child can't just live in onesies or athletic wear forever!

Most brands do a decent job at making comfort of the child a priority, so this isn't as big of a deal as you might first think.

But one less-obvious thing to be aware of: avoid baby clothes with regular buttons at the back of the outfit. Your baby will be laying on his or her back a lot, especially a very young baby who can't roll over yet. A standard button is likely to feel bumpy and uncomfortable on his or her back, especially when lying down. Babies have much more sensitive skin than we do. Snaps at the back should be less of an issue as those closures tend to lie flatter with the garment than sticking-out buttons.

Price

Yes, price is important in children's clothing. It's perfectly fine to splurge if you want to and are fortunate enough to afford it - after all, your kids are only young once! But on the flip side of the coin, you need to also be aware that your child will outgrow his or her clothes fairly quickly, meaning that you'll continually need to replace clothing. If the clothing is expensive, this will add up fast.

My recommended solution for this problem of price versus wanting fancier items is: have most of your child's wardrobe consist of affordable yet trendy items (I recommend The Children's Place, Carter's or OshKosh B'gosh for this - their prices can often get as cheap as no-name store brands) and then buy stunning accent pieces from Janie and Jack for special occasions, photos, or just because!

If you can't afford Janie and Jack but still want amazing photo-worthy outfits, then go for Gymboree instead - it's great quality also, but the pricing is quite a bit cheaper.

Summary of the most important considerations in children's clothes

The factors to look at when purchasing kids clothes are: sizing & fit, safety & weather, style, comfort and price. Stores that I mentioned which do all of these things very well are The Children's Place, Carter's OshKosh B'gosh, Gymboree, and for fancier items, Janie and Jack.

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