Not A Regular Mom, A Cool Mom: It’s Totally OK To Dress Your Baby Up Like A Little Doll

nia-feetIt’s generally frowned upon to allow one’s life and selfhood to be totally subsumed by interest in one’s baby. Of course your baby is fun and all, but if you forget all your own goals and interests to get a little too into your kid’s achievements, that is not good for anyone. But there’s one place where it’s totally OK to live vicariously through your baby, and that’s when it comes to baby fashion.

In my days on the Internet I have seen a lot of people complain that well-dressed infants are being treated like dolls or accessories. I don’t quite understand the problem, though. Babies have to wear something, and they can’t dress themselves. An adult has to pick their clothes for them, and if that adult picks a matching cardigan and flower headband or a pair of leggings with mysterious stains on them, the baby is probably not going to know the difference. As long as the baby is clean, comfortable, and the correct temperature, go ahead and mix prints and experiment with color-blocking as much as you want.

As an added bonus, babies fit in everything. They don’t need alterations, because if you buy something too big, you can just wait for the baby to grow. You also don’t need to worry about if something is flattering to the baby’s figure, because it is a baby. That can be a particular relief in the immediate post-baby period when it can be hard to dress oneself.

I adore clothes, but I had no idea what to do with myself after having a baby. My body felt like a fallen souffle and I could not fit into either my maternity clothes or my pre-pregnancy clothes. My bras and underwear were stuffed with weird absorbent pads, and I was leaking on everything. For three solid months it seemed like the best thing to do with my clothes was to just wear pajamas and try to forget I even owned adult-sized clothes. It’s easier to do that when you’re occupied with washing and folding little sweaters and fastening dresses with little buttons shaped like strawberries.

Also, babies can be trendy. Spending money on a flash-in-the-pan trend is not a great idea if it’s only going to be something you can wear for a couple months before getting bored of it. But babies only fit in their clothes for a few months anyway. Go ahead and buy the neon motorcycle jacket.

Probably the best reason to live vicariously through baby clothes is that baby clothes are comparatively inexpensive, which makes them an acceptable impulse buy. OK, not all baby clothes are cheap. I saw a darling little dress for a 3-month-old girl in the window of a Baby Dior store and laughed for three days straight when I saw that it cost $700. But in general baby clothes tend to be within the range of an occasional splurge in a way that adult clothes are not. Last fall I wanted a shearling jacket, but shearling jackets were having a moment and as such even decent vintage ones could not be found for under $1,000. But then I found the exact same jacket for a baby for $25. It looks cuter on her, and I have too many me-sized jackets anyway.

Baby fashion is great, because they are so cute you cannot mess it up. (Well, you can. But as long as you avoid the “Future Trophy Wife” and “Sex Machine” onesies, you’re probably OK.) Go ahead and experiment with your ruffles and studs. Polka dots with plaid? Six plaids at once? Onesies with nerdy sayings? Dressing your baby all in neutrals like North West? Wearing only leggings with pink dragons? Sure. The baby doesn’t care. Go to town.

If you feel compelled to dress your baby up in absurdly cute things, go for it. Match the baby’s outfits to yours. Dress the baby in theme outfits every day. Get way too into holiday dressing. Because there’s a very, very short window of opportunity to do so. Gather ye rosebuds while ye may.

I am a big believer in letting children pick out their own clothes. Dressing oneself can be great fun, and I think children who want to mix prints and wear not-matching shoes and wear scarves on their heads to pretend they have long hair should be allowed to do so. But babies don’t have opinions about clothes, which makes babies basically the best dolls ever. Dressing up babies is tremendous fun. Enjoy it while it lasts, because eventually your child is going to start having opinions, and you will have to get yourself an American Girl doll or a small dog if you want something to play dress-up with. I recommend a hairless cat, because they need to wear clothes in the winter anyway.

Not A Regular Mom, A Cool Mom is a column about fashion, beauty, and motherhood. You can sit at our lunch table. On Wednesdays, we wear pink. 

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