There are a few predictable obstacles you might encounter on your clothes-buying journey with your little one. As you weave in and out of aisles at the store with your baby in tow, you're looking for clothes with good quality, fit, price, and, oh, something she will actually wear.
It's not always easy to locate the particular items you're looking for and try everything on, but if you find something that fits all of your criteria, you know to snatch it up as quickly as possible. When you're done shopping, all you have to do is wait a month or two for your baby to start growing out of her new clothes, and then you get to start all over again! There are a few common questions you'll probably need to ask as you rinse and repeat this process.
Going into a shopping trip without an idea of what your baby needs is a sure way to leave the store with multiples of what you already have. Before you look for new clothes, take a quick inventory of what your baby already has and wears. What number of tops, bottoms, shoes, and other items does she have? In what colors? What are her favorite items? Do those things have anything in common - fabric, color, fit? Asking these quick questions as you sift through her drawers or closet will give you a little roadmap for your shopping trip.
Making a list in advance will spare you a lot of headache, but if you can, try to come in with reinforcements as well. If you can bring along your partner, a friend, or a family member, it will be easier to knock this trip out with minimal tears or tantrums. One of you can look out for sales and search through clothing racks while the other one entertains your baby, and you can work together to get wriggly limbs into clothes if you need to try things on. If you want to, you might be able to take your baby's measurements in advance and go shopping without her. Just make sure to keep your receipts in case something ends up not fitting. On the other hand, having your baby try things on may add a little extra time to the shopping process, but it also gives you the chance to see if a piece of clothing is something your baby will let you put on her - if pulling turtlenecks over her head is a no-go, it's better to know that before you buy five.
Every child is different, but the average toddler gains about 5 pounds in their second year and grows 4 to 5 inches in that time. Your healthcare provider records your baby's height and weight at each of her well-child visits, and that rate of growth might give you a good idea of how much more your baby will grow in the next year. If you calculate how much your baby has been growing, you might find that you'll need more or fewer clothes in the next year than you'd originally anticipated. Bet you didn't think there'd be so much math involved in these shopping outings!
Dresses are likely to fit for a while even as children grow, but not every toddler is a fan of wearing dresses or skirts. Loose-fitting pants and shirts are more likely to fit your baby for longer, but they also, of course, might not fit quite as well right off the bat. You can think about buying clothes a size up when you're shopping if you find something you think your baby will really like, but you do run the risk of her growing more quickly than expected or just getting sick of her former favorite duck or dinosaur print. Look for things that fit well now but that have a little room or stretch for the immediate future. There's a reason toddler clothes love elastic waistbands and stretchy, knit fabrics.
Remember, many companies have different sizing charts and slightly interpretations of what 2T or 3T means, so it doesn't hurt to try things on before buying them or washing them. But when you have decided you're going to keep something, try to remember to wash it before your baby wears it. Some stores will let you return things even after they've been washed, so hold onto your receipts for a while post-shopping trip!