Toddler clothing...exactly How Much Is Necessary?!

Updated on December 22, 2011
R.S. asks from Chicago, IL
14 answers

Ok, this might seem like a dumb question, but my firsborn (a girl) has way too many clothes. I went crazy buying girl stuff after she was born...whenever there were major sales, I'd buy and pack away, etc etc. Now, at 2 years old, she has way too many things and I'm starting to scale down (and, of course, the joke is on me because what I thought was "so cute", she will often refuse to wear!) and am realizing how ridiculous it was of me to buy so much. I now have a 4 month old boy and don't want to make the same mistake with him. I love having nice things for them both but I'm just wondering from all the other practical moms out there, what is realistic to have in her any given many pants, shirts, dresses, shoes, tights, etc. And, do you buy things in the next size up when there are major sales or do you just sort of wait until you notice she/he is outgrowing the current size and then restock?


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answers from Detroit on

I'm probably not the best person to respond. I have a boy and LOVE to buy him clothes (thank goodness I don't have a girl, I would be broke). He does have a lot of clothes but wears all of them. My MO has been, if he doesn't need clothing and there is a good sale, I will get the next size up ONLY if it is something he can use almost any season. Seasonal clothing I get as he is about to wear them.

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answers from St. Louis on

It's not a question of "how much" or "what is too much" should be based on your individual needs & actual usage -& how often you do laundry!

We have friends who are multi-millionaires. Quite often laundry, particularly socks/undies are just thrown away & new is bought. Shocks & horrifies me! What a waste.

By contrast, I am very frugal when it comes to clothing. Here's the rule of thumb which I've used for 30+ years of adulthood:
1. 3 pairs of pajamas
2. 1 week's worth of socks & undies
3. I personally own about 5 bras...2 black, 2 nude, & 1 fun. Each has a different support system, fabric, accommodate different clothes. (by contrast, my sister owns about 20 bras.)
4. I try to keep a week's worth of basic clothing for each family member. It's a mix of jeans, sweats, workout clothes for me....because I own an inhome daycare & don't require business clothes. My DH requires 5 pairs of work jeans + about 3 pairs of good jeans. My sons require 5-6 pairs of good jeans for school, etc + a few rough jeans to get thru the wkends of fun. Shirt-wise, we each have enough for a week.....& that's it.
5. We each own enough "dress" clothes to get thru a 3 day funeral. These clothes are kept ironed/cleaned & ready to go at all times. We also use these clothes for church, weddings (but spiffed up a little), & for great parties/upscale concerts/etc. I am soooo cheap that when I'm tired of my "dress" clothes, they become daily clothes....if the fabric will hold up to everyday wear. Yes, I squeak....that's how cheap I am.

Now for the confession: coats & shoes! OMG, we own waaaay toooo many! Well, not my sons....they each have about 5 pairs - which covers the basics. My DH never gets rid of anything & we have to pry the old shoes away from him. Drives us all nuts. & since he wears work boots daily, the other shoes last forever. Aaaargh. & I own about 15 pairs of shoes....which is nothing compared to my sis & all of my friends!

& a commentary about the "funeral clothes"....I learned long ago to be prepared. Thru the years, I've been caught shorthanded/short on cash & have really had to struggle to get my duties completed .....simply because I was wasting time either shopping or ironing. I got caught shorthanded again 2 years ago when my Dad passed away. Instead of hitting the road immediately, I had to spend 5 hours getting the clothes ready & packing for a week away. I have vowed...."never again". Everything is now ironed & grouped together in the goal is to be out of the house in 2 hours or less.....since it's a 2 hour drive to all of our family.

When my sons were young, I was able to guess at the size they'd need for the next year. I would buy at the "end of season" clearance sales....& save until the next year. During the actual season, I would end up having to buy just a couple of outfits for each of them.....& saved hugely on our expenses. Now, I live on those sales.....simply because I believe in cutting costs as frequently as possible. I set budgets & my family knows they have to stay within them. We rarely buy in season......& we always look good!

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answers from Lakeland on

My daughter is 5 and likes to pick out her own clothes. Every time I buy her something she doesn't like it and refuses to wear it. I had a lot of stuff for my daughter too when she was younger and most went unworn. I would make sure you can mix and match her clothes and have enough to last about two weeks. I do purchase larger sizes, but that’s because she doesn't like anything too tight. She does have stuff that still fits well that I got one to two years ago. (She was a very chubby baby and toddler and has slimmed down). I try to keep mostly things we need and I just add items or take away items when I need to. I do keep a large amount of underpants and socks though.

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answers from San Antonio on

I have a 3.5 yr old boy, so I cannot answer all your questions, but YES, I do buy things when they're on sale at the end of the season. So last year, I bought the 3T long sleeved shirts. Now it's winter time and I am set. Granted, his tastes have changed and I want to buy him Transformers this and Superman that. So if you buy things almost a year ahead of time, make them neutral under-shirts, or buy just a few.

IMO - shoes - get a brown pair, a white pair, maybe a nice pair.
Pants - get two or three pairs of jeans, one kakhi, one nice pair? My son wears jeans all the time, so I have like 6 pair of jeans. Some look nicer than others and some fit his long legs better. But I bought all of mine second-hand or was gifted the jeans (hand-me-downs).
Shirts - for winter, I buy a few white long sleeved shirts and then put them UNDER the t-shirt. So Summer t-shirts are worn all winter as well, with the addition of the white long-sleeved shirt underneath.



answers from Cleveland on

i have a 2 yr old girl and before the fall i re did her clothes, got rid of shorts and short sleeve tops and got all long sleeve stuff and warmer things and bought a size up so she has room to grow



answers from Seattle on

It depends on how often you wash. I do laundry weekly and have 9 outfits (mostly mix and match play clothes) for my child, plus two extra that reside at preschool (just in case). She also has two coats and two pairs of rainboots (again one that stays in school).

I pick up things here and there when I see a good deal and replace the rest of her outgrown clothes twice a year (summer and fall).



answers from Milwaukee on

Depends on the season, but I'd say you only REALLY need about 4 outfits for toddlers per size. Plus 2 pairs of jammies, a week's worth of socks & undies, & one or two sweatshirts. Plan on doing laundry at least every other day and you'll be fine! :)


answers from Santa Fe on

Hmmm. We get so many hand me downs (my daughter is 2) that I don't need to buy much. Every now and then I get something cute on sale or tights to go with a dress she got. I had to go buy 2 new pairs of jammies recently bc she is growing so fast and needed more in size 3. If she did not get hand me downs I'd probably buy about 6 outfits and 3 dresses. That would be all she needs bc we do laundry every 4 days it seems.



answers from Las Vegas on

I strongly suggest buying things as they grow out of them. There will always be sales and they will always grow! My daughter grows extremely fast and we sometimes skip a size from winter to winter.

I just bought her a new pair of shoes today. We sized her at a 2.5 and the shoes she was wearing was a 13.5. We bought the Vans she was wearing last Christmas. They are worn and in need of replacement, but we were able to skip the 1 and 2!



answers from New York on

I always buy the next size up if I can get a good deal and I know he will like it. My son is 3 1/2 and really doesn't care what he wears (although he went through a no zipper in the front phase for 3 months). For a boy, I have 1 pair of shoes at a time (unless it's winter then there are snow boots as well) about 7-9 long or short sleeve shirts depending on the season, about 4-5 hoodies/sweatshirts and 6-7 pairs of pants/shorts at a time. I like a combination of comfy sweatpants and jeans/cords. As an infant/toddler I did have a few shirts that he didn't get much use out of because I didn't really know what he body type was. Now I know that he is long and lean so that doesn't really happen anymore.



answers from Beaumont on

Personally, I would have about 10 outfits for each season and each size. I too wasted WAY too much money on clothing that was never or scarcely worn.

I did buy things I loved knowing I'd get use out of them as soon as they grew. You're smart, you learned early... :)



answers from Chicago on

My son just turned two in October and luckily, my nephew is 7 months older than him. He had a lot of t-shirts so I bought five long sleeved shirts in these colors -- black, white, navy, grey, lt blue. He is able to wear all of his t-shirts from the summer over them so I just mix and match. Target has some great shirts for $2-6 all the time. I also buy the 3-pack of undershirts from Carter's (3 white, 3 grey) if he wears a knit top.

He has three pairs of jeans, a pair of khakis, a few windbreaker pants (Adidas, Children's Place, Gymboree) and three pairs of loose sweats in navy, black, and grey (his "I peed in my pants" pants which I keep in the diaper bag), Six pair of under wear (two 3-packs) and 3 pairs of boxer briefs. Six pairs of white sweat socks and a pack that includes navy, grey, etc.

To be honest, he has A LOT more than that, but I'd say those are the good basics to have. It's what we always default to!

Hope this helps!



answers from Dallas on

I do wash weekly, so 1.5-2 weeks worth will work fine. I bought a handful of stuff next size up when on sale, and my SIL sent a bunch of stuff from her boys, so I don't have to buy any jeans for a few years! I also hit yard sales because everything is pretty much gently used at that age - I got a Lands End coat for $2 and it's lasted 2 winters.

I can't speak to the girly stuff :)



answers from Detroit on

I do laundry daily.. so I could get by with 5 outfits per child if I had to ..

my son started the fall with 10 pairs of jeans..(most bought used or handed down to us) so far 2 have holey knees and are ready for the trash. He has about 15 shirts.. some are getting small and ready to be passed down to cousins. some are a bit too big. so they will fit next year.

my daughter has at least 18 days worth of clothes.. 6 dresses, 6 jeans, 6 leggings.. and plenty of shirts to go with.. I do buy on sale clearance and a season ahead.

Seriously.. kids could get by with a weeks worth of clothes.. as long as you do laundry often.

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