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The Novice Father: Big problems with tiny onesies

Special to the DailyKelly Coffey
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Now that the weather’s turning, I’ve discovered missing chunks in my 5-month old daughter’s wardrobe. We’ve gotten so many clothes as gifts it seemed impossible that we’d ever be in a shortage. Yet, in her current size, we’re missing long-sleeved onesies, pants and warm hats.

The issues with dressing my daughter extend beyond matching size with season (though my wife and I have failed on predicting her future size since day one: We took her home from the hospital in comically oversized pajamas).

From selecting the day’s outfit, to fastening tiny buttons on a hyper-squirmy infant, to having cold-weather gear on hand, dressing the kid is a lot more complicated that I ever imagined.



“It’s definitely a bit of a game. Kids grow in such different ways,” said Alessandra Mayer, former Edwards resident and owner of Denver-based Ambajam, a baby clothing company. “I think sizing is one of the biggest challenges for a parent.”

We’ll start with colors. I don’t have much of an opinion on the color pink. Neither does my wife. But since we had a girl, 99 percent of the gifts we get are pink clothes.



Individually, each outfit is a great gift and far more stylish than anything in my closet. But put them all together and my daughter’s dresser looks like it got hit by a Pepto-Bismol grenade.

To counteract the pink tsunami, we’ve done our best to buy non-pink clothing. While these greens and blues and reds help balance out her dressing options, I’ve found a new problem: strangers don’t recognize our daughter is a girl (her hair is still buzz-cut short).

“That’s why a lot of people default to the pink and blues. Because they’re concerned their baby will be misidentified,” Mayer said. Despite that issue, Mayer still prefers gender-neutral colors in her designs.



Color and style shouldn’t be the only factors I think about when baby clothes shopping, Mayer noted. I should think about how I get the outfits onto my daughter. “I don’t think most babies enjoy being dressed. Whatever makes it easier for both the baby and the parent is a benefit,” she said.

The kid has one outfit with tiny buttons that run up the back. Those buttons are impossible to fasten in the best of times. Since they’re on her back, I’m expected to fasten them while dealing with an 11-pound fussy, wiggle machine.

Also the kid, like all babies, has a large head compared to her neck. Baby clothing designers take this into account … but some do it better than others. Every time I’ve tried to pull a poorly designed onesie over the kid’s head, it’s turned a happy baby into an inconsolable, crying baby.

Mayer also noted the importance of stretchy fabrics. Now that the kid is showing signs of becoming independently mobile, I should take that into consideration when picking out clothing. Mayer said that restrictive clothes, especially pants, make it tough for a child learning to crawl or walk.

I once put the kid’s overalls on backwards. A few times I dressed her in clashing colors. The good news is most of these problems have been solved for me: my wife doesn’t let me dress our daughter anymore.

Kelly Coffey is a novice father. He shares his mistakes, fears, and laughs along his journey to figure out how anybody could possibly raise a child. E-mail comments or questions about this column to cschnell@vaildaily.com.


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