Clothing for the toddler and the pre-school child must be selected just as carefully as for the baby’s layette. Remember too that clothing for a small child must stand up to a lot of hard wear.
General points about clothing for a toddler
- Children grow very quickly so the size should allow for growth and for eas:. movement, but not be so large that it is dangerous. Trousers that are too long may catch on the child’s shoes, or an over-large hat obscure the child* vision.
- Stretch fabrics allow for movement and activity.
- Unisex clothes are useful – they can be handed down to a brother or sister.
- Fastenings should be easy for the parent or the child to manage. Zip fasteners, velcro and popper studs are easier than buttons or ties. Elasticate: waist bands, necks and wrists are easy and comfortable.
- Children love strong colours and simple patterns. Darker colours do not show marks as quickly as pastels.
- All clothing should be machine washable, dye-fast, shrink-resistant and minimum iron. As much clothing as possible, and especially nightwear, be flame-resistant.
- The fabric should suit the purpose of the garment (e.g., denim for play overalls, polyester cotton for a summer nightdress). Natural fibres absorb perspiration and are healthier, but a small amount of synthetic fibre added to natural fibre will help the fabric to resist creasing and stains and be easier to launder.
- In cold weather children are warmer in several layers of light clothing rather than one or two heavy garments.
- If garments are bought from a reliable shop with a good brand name, they should wear well, be well designed and safe. The shop will replace faulty garments to protect its good name.
- Home-made garments can save a lot of money, but safety points must be observed when making them.
Children quickly develop an interest in what they wear and should be consulted as soon as they are old enough to understand. Battles about what they will or will not wear should be avoided!
Underwear and nightwear for toddlers
The young child will need to wear a vest, with an envelope neck or a round neck. It can be made from ribbed cotton, terry stretch fabric or thermal fabric for warmth. Many vests can double as a summer T-shirt.
When the nappy stage is over the child will wear cotton briefs, in similar fabric to that of the vests. At a later stage boys can wear front opening briefs. For sleepwear the child can have a sleep suit, pyjamas, nightshirt or nightdress. The fabric should be soft and comfortable and suit the temperature, so at different times of year it could be a thermal fabric, stretch towelling, fleecy-lined cotton, cotton lawn, or polyester cotton. In every case it should be flare free and flame-resistant. A fleecy dressing gown with a zip opening is also useful.
Top wear for playing
Fashions in children’s wear change nearly as rapidly as adult fashion. Some children’s garments look very cute but are not serviceable and are uncomfortable to wear. The most popular and practical are usually a top with trousers or pinafore, or an all-in-one suit. Examples of playwear include dungarees, tracksuits, pull-on play suits, jogging trews and top, denims, knitted jersey and trousers, pinafore dresses, skirts with waist elastic, knitted jumpers, T-shirts, blouses and sleeveless gilets.
Suitable fabrics include corduroy, velour, brushed cotton, fleecy-lined cotton, denim, knitted jersey fabric, Viyella, polyester cotton, stretch fabrics, and pure wool.
Clever use of contrasting colours, applique, knitted motifs, etc., will make a garment attractive while it remains practical.
These garments should be warm and protective without being heavy and bulky. Clothing that is lined, padded or quilted will give extra warmth. Outdoor clothing includes anoraks, pram suits, duffle coats, coats and trousers. Some coats and jackets have integral hoods and mittens. Knitted hats or helmets, scarves, and mittens or gloves are essential for cold weather.
Fabrics used can include woollen cloth, brushed cotton, fleecy-lined fabrics, corduroy and velour.
For rain and snow
To keep warm and dry in wet or snowy weather an all-inone waterproof jump suit, snow suit or splash suit is ideal. The garment should be elasticated at wrists and ankles and round the hood (no draw-strings). Jackets, duffle coats, parkas and anoraks made from plasticised fabric, PVC or weatherproofed fabric can be teamed with similar trousers. Plastic capes and raincoats can be used in warmer weather.
Fabrics used are usually a mixture of polyester or nylon and cotton, given a weatherproof coating. Nylon, plastic or PVC clothing tends to restrict movement and keeps in perspiration. It should therefore have air holes under the arms. Most bad weather wear is given a quilted, sherpa pile or fur lining.
Make do and mend
Children’s clothing is expensive, and it gets a lot of hard wear.
The following points should be observed:
- Looser fitting garments with raglan sleeves and no waistline allow for growth and so do wide hems on sleeves and the bottom of garments. Decorative tucks can be put in the sleeve and skirt of dresses to provide extra length, and dungarees and pinafore dresses should have long straps, which can be lengthened as the child grows.
- Reinforcing elbows and knees of garments will prolong their life.
- Careful laundering and washing before the garment gets ingrained with dirt will make it last longer.
- Good quality fabrics usually wear better.
- Replace buttons, stitch up tears and darn small holes before they go beyonc repair.
- Decorative patches can be placed over worn parts, contrasting fabric can be let in to lengthen or widen garments, and appliqué designs can cover stains or damage.
- Good parts of worn or outgrown garments can be made into something else For example trousers can be made into shorts, jackets or blouses can be made into waistcoats, and long-sleeved shirts or blouses can be made short-sleeved or sleeveless. Outgrown sleep suits can still be worn with the hands and feet of the suit cut off.
- Children should be taught how to look after their clothing and encouraged to do so.