I’ve finally started buying stuff for the kids, after putting it off for months. I’ll probably write a separate post about all the paraphenalia required to look after little humans – for now, I want to talk about baby clothes.
We are in total denial about how much clothing we need. People who have had twins keep saying things like, “Don’t worry! You don’t need all that much stuff, so don’t go crazy with the tiny sizes.” So we’re thinking “sweet, a few onesies and we’ll be sorted”, and then they go on to say “so if you don’t have a very ‘spilly’ baby [one that spits up on itself a lot, apparently] you can probably get away with just two or three changes of clothes for each baby, each day…”
*insert comedy ‘needle slipping off record’ noise*
Three changes of clothes per baby, per day? Assuming that we don’t want to fire up the washing machine every second day (and we certainly don’t, particularly as the laundry is downstairs and might not be the easiest room for me to visit in the early days), I now think that we need something like 15 or 20 changes of clothing for each baby, for starters. And even as I write that, I fear that it won’t be enough. But I also don’t want to end up with mountains of clothing that the babies outgrow before they’ve had a chance to wear it! ARGH! It’s all so confusing!
We also need to think about sizes. There’s a good chance that the babies will be tiddlers when they’re first born, but the awesome local Multiple Birth Club is on the ball and lends out big boxes of prem-sized clothing for the first couple of weeks, so you don’t have to buy huge amounts of tiny stuff that the kids will outgrow very quickly. So we’ve only bought a handful of prem-sized onesies, to see them through the first few days in hospital.
Next, they’ll be in the newborn size. Apparently they might outgrow this size within a month or so, which means that we don’t want to go overboard here (this is where I’m looking at the ’15 or 20 outfits each’ quantity).
They’ll then move into the 0 – 3 month size, which they’ll apparently wear for quite a while, so it’s worth stocking up at this stage.
Now, buying little baby outfits is never a bad time – SO CUTE, particularly when you’re having one of each. However, baby clothes are flipping expensive in New Zealand. Everything is flipping expensive in New Zealand: it’s the downside of living in a country with a relatively small population. But I am a superstar bargain hunter when it comes to buying clothes for myself, so I’m attempting to apply these principles to the babies’ wardrobe as well – it’s that or bankruptcy. Good sources of clothing so far have included:
- A secondhand babies’ clothing market held near us a couple of weeks ago. This was a big community hall full of people peddling their used stuff, and it was a bit like how I imagine a Middle Eastern bazaar – complete chaos, and wild pricing strategies. We started off fairly daunted, but then I found a nice woman selling four onesies for $5, so I snapped up 12 of them. And our lovely friend Kirsty (who deserves her own post, given how helpful she’s been during my pregnancy) was manning the Multiple Birth stall, so I bought a few things there as well, and a few of the things that her own twins have outgrown.
- Local sales – Cotton On Kids was particularly good. I picked up five onesies for $30.
- The Multiple Birth Club. This is awesome: members donate clothing when their babies outgrow it, so Angelika, the president of the club, has gigantic bins of clothing at different sizes, all for sale at $2 per item. We had a new parents’ evening at the Club last week and I left with 26 garments, for a princely $52.
- Marks and Spencer’s online shopping service. The prices in the UK are so much better than Kiwi prices, and M&S has a flat fee of £15 for international delivery. We’ve still got money in our UK bank account, so I had a good time shopping there yesterday and bought bargains like packs of seven onesies for £10 ($20, in Kiwi money).
I think I’m now set for newborn clothing for the kids, and we’ll gradually add to the 0 – 3 stash in the coming months. It’s helpful that the babies will be born at the start of the summer, so they should be able to gad around in sleeveless or short-sleeved onesies for most of the time.
I do have one big complaint when it comes to babies’ clothing: the way in which gender stereotypes are reinforced quite literally from birth. I really don’t want to dress my daughter exclusively in pink, and I also don’t want her baby chest emblazoned with slogans like ‘little princess’. And if the girls’ stuff isn’t pink, it’s got flowers or butterflies on it. Similarly, I don’t want to dress my son exclusively in blue, and have him covered with pictures of tractors. When I rifled through the Multiple Birth Club’s bins I tried to opt for non-pink and non-blue options as much as possible (and I really did steer clear of the ‘little princess’ stuff), but it was impossible to avoid them entirely if I wanted to get anything at all.
M&S was a bad offender in this regard (although they did redeem themselves by having a decent selection of plain, gender neutral stuff as well). For example, a seven pack of girls’ onesies features flowers and butterflies, and the following slogans: “I love lots of cuddles”; “world’s cutest baby”; “adorable”; “perfect little baby”; “little and loved”; “adorable when sleeping”; and “little but loud!”
By contrast, the boys’ pack of seven onesies is covered in monster pictures and has matching slogans: “roar”; “hungry monster”; “don’t upset me!”; “there’s a mini monster about!”; “mini monster”; “monster”; and “little monster”.
So even from birth we’re reinforcing the idea that little girls should be placid, quiet and sweet, whereas little boys are allowed to be rowdy and have a bit of a personality. Awesome. I really hate this kind of thing. And people then justify the plethora of pink clothing for little girls by claining that it’s what little girls like – is it any wonder, when they’re spoonfed this sweet, girly-girl message from day one?
The other thing that winds me up is the way that baby girls’ clothing is available mostly in pastel shades (with Pumpkin Patch’s bright-coloured baby dresses being a notable – albeit expensive – exception), whereas baby boys’ clothing is much brighter. I’m getting around this by buying bright stuff where I can and tossing it into the gender neutral basket. M&S did have some cute striped onesies, with bright colours, so I bought two packets of them for the babies to share, even though the website’s description told me that “the soft cotton fabric will keep him feeling comfy and happy.”.
They’ll be just the ticket when the babies run away to join the circus – bonus!