So how should you outfit your little one? Since my youngest is starting day care next month, I decided to ask my current babysitter, "Tutu", for some advice. Before looking after my daughter, she cared for small children at a child care center.
An Insider's Take
Preschools and day care centers are messy. Poop, food and paint get everywhere, Tutu warns. So don't even think about sending your little one off to school in anything fussy or fancy, she says. The most inappropriate outfit she ever saw: a Burberry dress on an infant. What was that mom thinking? Here are some other tips for what not to wear to day care or preschool:
The Do Not Buy List
Anything white. Chances are, your little one will soil her outfit before you even reach the office. So forget sending your child to school in a white t-shirt, dress, or pants. In this case, dark colors are your friend.
Skinny jeans. Sure, they're cute, but tight denim is a caregiver's worst nightmare. Just the thought of trying to yank off a pair at diaper time makes Tutu cringe.
Tights. These are another mistake at day care and preschools. Tights are just too difficult to pull on and off at changing times. Potty-trained girls also struggle with them after using the toilet.
Overalls. This children's classic can drive a day care teacher to tears. Overalls are too much fuss when the kids are squirming around a changing table. They are also too much trouble when a two-year-old is trying to learn to use the potty on his own.
Shoes with Laces. Preschool teachers want kids to learn how to put their own shoes on after a nap and kids typically can't tie a bow until they're about five.
Add These Items to Your Shopping Cart
So what should you buy your peanut? Dress your little one in items that can be washed often and quickly taken off for diaper changes and trips to the potty.
Pants with inseam snaps. Caregivers love pants they can easily pull open and snap shut, making diaper changes a breeze.
"Pull-on" style pants. Click on the "activewear" link on a retailer's website and you'll find pants (including knits, khakis and jeans) with elastic all around the waist. These are ideal for both the youngest kids in diapers and preschoolers who are potty trained. Snaps and buttons at the waist only frustrate youngsters and teachers alike.
Leggings. For girls, leggings are a nice alternative to pants. They are so soft and can easily be taken off for diaper changes. Preschoolers love them too since they don't have to ask a teacher for help during bathroom breaks.
Leggings are also a nice solution for girls who want to wear dresses in colder weather. As I mentioned above, tights aren't welcome at preschool.
T-shirts. Hands down, the best tops are cotton t-shirts. In colder weather you can layer one with short sleeves over another with longer sleeves. While many parents love to put boys in button downs, they only get in the way when kids are learning to dress themselves.
Sturdy shoes. Avoid Crocs and other flimsy footwear and look for a solid shoe for running around at the playground. Most importantly, buy something with Velcro so no one has to fuss with laces.
What clothing do you avoid for preschool?
Stacey Bradford is the author of The Wall Street Journal. Financial Guidebook for New Parents.
Shape Sorter image by The Nickster, courtesy of CC 2.0.
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