It's Your Baby — Dress Them However You Want

by Colleen Dilthey Thomas
Originally Published: 
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Can we agree that babies are the cutest? I mean, can you really resist a pair of chubby cheeks and thighs to match? The smile and giggle of a sweet baby will make even the grumpiest curmudgeon smile. And who doesn’t love dressing a baby? There is something inherently fun about picking out clothes for your mini me. But are you projecting too much of yourself on that baby by creating its style? Nah.

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My first child was a boy. From the second he was born I played with him like a little doll. I dressed him in a way that I thought was precious. He wore cute onesies and pants from Target and The Gap on the daily. But for special occasions, it was smocked shortalls and white blouses. I positively loved what my mother called “classic clothing.” My husband thought it was ridiculous. He figured that our son would grow up and resent me for dressing him that way. Today, he’s thirteen. He’s never mentioned it. It didn’t scar him to be in a sailor suit. It made for precious pictures that I will treasure forever.

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I had two more sons who wore many of their older brothers’ clothes. Was I wrong to subject them to used onesies that had likely been covered in bodily fluids and God knows what else before being tossed in a washer with some fresh-smelling Tide? Hell no! I had three sons under five and I was saving my pennies by getting some extra miles out of pull-on pants. They’re all in school now and have adjusted perfectly fine after wearing footed pajamas that had holes in them. Who cares?

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Baby number four was a girl and it was game on from day one. The child was born with a head full of hair that was just begging for a bow, so I put one in her hair every damn day. She’s five today and she still wears giant bows pretty regularly. Did I encourage it? Absolutely! But she has chosen to keep the style going as she has gotten older – and if she hadn’t, I wouldn’t have pushed the issue. She loves to put on a dress and wear jewelry. She lives for bright colors and fancy sequins. Her style is all her own. I didn’t make her into the fashionista that she is; that came from deep down in her soul.


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My four children have very distinct personalities. Those three boys are as different as night and day, yet they wore the exact same clothing. I have lots of pictures of them all in the same outfit at the same age. There are even a few shots of them in my brothers’ clothes that my mother smocked for them as babies. Newsflash, none of those adult children have stopped speaking to her because they sported darling bunnies across their chests as wee ones. Our outfit choices for our babies made no lasting effect on any of them.

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Quite frankly, I never thought anything about how the clothes my children wore might influence them. I just chose what I liked. I kind of feel like as a mom, dressing them up is part of the joy of having a baby. You have carried that infant in your womb for nine months. The second it is born, you are in love and you want everyone you meet to know that you have given birth to the most perfect little angel. And how do you express your pride? You dress them up. From tip to toe, they are perfect. And no matter what your style is, it’s perfect. If you want your baby in nothing but 80s band T-shirts, do it! Smocked dresses and headbands, have at it. If your world is hand-me-downs and hip thrifts, that’s cool too. It’s your baby, no one else’s. You do you.

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If you’re a 40-something like me, you may recall the iconic George Michael tune “Freedom! ‘90.” There is a lyric in that song that rings true, “ I just hope you understand, sometimes the clothes do not make the man.” The lamb pajamas you put on your baby at night do not influence their personality.

As your child grows, they will develop their own personal style. One of my sons wore nothing but blue for almost two years. That is how he expressed his individuality and we encouraged him 100%. Your child may love your style and stick with it, or they may rebel and wear the exact opposite of what you would have picked. That’s okay. Let them be themselves. They’ll develop tastes in food, music, TV shows, and clothes. That’s what makes them unique.

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There is no right or wrong way to dress a baby, unless you’re talking about weather. If it’s cold, make sure they’re warm enough. If it’s hot, don’t let them get overheated. That’s all you need to know. The rest is up to you. Enjoy your baby and put them in the clothes that you like and don’t let anyone tell you what that should be. No matter what they wear, they will be darling and smiley and perfect. Just the way you see them.

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