Infant clothing

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"Baby clothes" redirects here. For the 1926 silent film, see Baby Clothes.

Infant clothing or baby clothing is clothing for infants.


Infant and toddler clothing size is typically based on age.[1] These are usually preemie for a preterm birth baby, 0 to 3 months, 3 to 6 months, 6 to 9 months, 9 to 12 months, 12 months, 18 months, and 24 months, though there is no industry standard definition for those sizes.[1] Most retailers provide sizing charts based on a child's weight, height, or both, and the child's weight and height percentile may also be used for properly sizing clothing for the infant.[1]

In an article in the October 1945 issue of Ladies' Home Journal, B. F. Skinner stated that clothing and bedding "interfere with normal exercise and growth and keep the baby from taking comfortable postures or changing posture during sleep".[2] An infant may stretch, necessitating clothing that is sufficiently loose to allow movement.[3]


A photo of Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1884, illustrating typical gender-neutral baby clothing at the time.

In the United States, before the 1890s children predominantly wore clothing made by their parents.[4] By 1910, retailers had formed a "publicity structure" toward children for the sale of children's goods, which resulted in a significant increase in the sale of manufactured children's clothing, sportswear, candy, and baby clothing.[4] By 1915, baby clothing had become one of the nation's largest industries.[4]

In the 1980s, infant and toddler clothing fashion design became an increasing source of revenue for US designer labels and fashion design houses, such as Polo Ralph Lauren and Guess.[5] Gap Inc. established Baby Gap in 1990, four years after it had introduced the Gap Kids line.[6]

The age of first-time mothers has been increasing in Western cultures, from 21.5 years old in 1970 to over 25 years old in the early 2000s, and hence they have more disposable income to spend for infant goods, including clothing.[7]

Infant clothing is within the retail and wholesale trade categories of the North American Industry Classification System (NAICS). For the 2012 revision, wholesale infant clothing is in category 424330 (Women's, Children's, and Infants' Clothing and Accessories Merchant Wholesalers)[8] and retail infant clothing is in category 448130 (Children's and Infants' Clothing Stores).[9]

Gender conventions[edit]

The manner in which an infant is dressed "affects behavior toward the infant".[10] Clothing may be sex-typed by colour (e.g. - pink or yellow for girls, blue or red for boys), or by style (ruffles and puffed sleeves for girls).[10]

A 1985 study found that US parents were not "bothered by strangers' mistaking the infant's sex".[10]


Excessive thermal insulation has been associated with an increased incidence of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). The primary causes are an excess of bedding or clothing, soft sleep surfaces, and stuffed animals.[11] The odds ratio of SIDS associated with thermal insulation at least two togs above the lower critical value (after adjusting for season and confounding factors) was 1.35 in a New Zealand study, which also found that SIDS had some correlation with too little thermal insulation.[12] A 1984 study of 34 infant cot deaths found that for 2/3 excessive clothing and over-wrapping was a contributing cause.[13]

Clothing was responsible for an increased incidence of congenital hip dislocation (CDH) in Japanese infants. By custom, a diaper and clothing had been applied to the infants "with the legs in extension".[14] Before 1965, the incidence of CDH in infants was up to 3.5%, but a national campaign established in 1975 "to avoid prolonged extension of the hips and knees of infants during the early postnatal period" led to a reduction in incidence of CDH in infants to 0.2% by the early 1980s.[15]

Fire hazard[edit]

Close-fitting nightwear is "invariably safer than long, loose nightwear".[16]

Canada prohibits the importation, sale, or advertising of classes of clothing and other consumer products that do not meet the minimum flammability standards.[17] Standards for infant and children's sleepwear were defined in 1971 and amended in 1987 as part of the Hazardous Products Act.[17] Any textile product must also satisfy textile labelling requirements specified in the Textile Labelling Act administered by the Competition Bureau of Industry Canada.[17]

In the United States, textile flammability is subject to the U.S. Flammable Fabrics Act. A study found that children less than five years old had a higher incidence of sleepwear fires than other age groups, and that they had an "unreasonable risk of death or injury from fire accidents involving sleepwear".[18] This led to the first flammability standard for infant and children's sleepwear.[18] On 30 April 1996, the Consumer Product Safety Commission relaxed standards for children's sleepwear flammability, allowing retailers to sell "tight-fitting children's sleepwear and sleepwear for infants aged 9 months or younger" that does not meet the flammability criteria.[19]

An infant clothing retail shop in the old town of Čakovec, Croatia.

Hygiene and health[edit]

Infants may have allergic reactions to certain materials, especially synthetic fibres such as polyester, rayon, and nylon, and natural fibres such as wool.[20]

See also[edit]



Further reading[edit]