Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Choosing Clothes the Montessori Way

The weather is already warming up in Austin (hello, Spring!), which made me realize that Henry needs new clothes. The only warm weather clothes he has are onesies. They are getting too tight, and now that he's going to school, it feels like shorts are in order.

Although I prefer to buy used clothing whenever possible, I didn't have the patience or time to seek out good stores for used baby clothing in my new city. Instead, we took a short trip down the street to Target so we could get exactly what we needed for school the next day.

I kept Montessori principles in mind when selecting new clothes for Henry. I tried to prioritize function over fashion. I looked for clothing that he could put on independently (I opted for pull-on elastic shorts, which weren't nearly as cute as the zipper and button ones). I also looked for clothing that could be mixed-and-matched, so I can set out choices for Henry. My plan is to keep all of his clothes on the higher hanging racks and in the higher compartments and then to move a couple options down for Henry every day. He can pick a shirt from 2-3 options and pick a pair of shorts from 2-3 options. No matter which choices he makes, the options should coordinate nicely with each other. He will be able to select his shirts from a closet rod at his height. The goal is to facilitate his independence with as many aspects of daily life as possible.

It's definitely challenging to follow Montessori principles in modern clothing stores. So many things have cartoon-type characters on them, or they have downright stereotypical messages about gender (i.e., "tough guy"). But we're doing our best!

We also need to hang a mirror in Henry's room for dressing (we're using his movement mirror, turned vertical instead of horizontal), and we need to get a stool for him to sit on for putting shorts and pants on. We also need to purchase a child-sized laundry basket. Before we know it, he'll be able to carry his own clothes to the washing machine.

In Montessori from the Start, the author writes, "If you take time and effort to select your child's clothes carefully, show her how to dress herself, and allow her to practice, she is likely to get her clothes on and off by herself as early as fourteen months...she needs to make her own choice of what the wear and to take part in the care and storing of her clothes."


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Kelsey said...

Love this approach. When I pass the kids clothing sections of stores I always notice how frequently they have silly phrases on them or they have so many embellishments that it's only mean to match the pair of pants that are sold with it. It's crazy! I definitely want to dress our kids simply and I like your idea for letting them choose within limits.

Mary B. said...

Kids clothing is driving me crazy, and my babe is only ten weeks old! I'm trying to build a gender neutral, but still bright and cheerful wardrobe, while avoiding licensed characters and phrase tshirts. We have a little girl, which means heer relatives are constantly buying PINK PINK PINK! I don't mind pink, but all the time? I want clothes my baby can move and play in, not clothes that teach her about Disney Princesses or that girls are cuties or angels, or that always seem to be embellished with a heart or flowers or kittens or glitter. And I would like to be able to reuse the clothes for my next child, boy or girl. It's a tall order. Even clothing that could ne gender neutral is often embellished...I think it's so parents are forced to buy the same item twice. ARG!

jduda said...

Sara, have you looked into wool pants by sloomb? ( You have to pre-order most of the time, but kellyscloset and weedleweedle have some in stock right now. We LOVE them. So many cute colors, super comfy and easy to move in.. they can be used as a diaper cover over fitteds or just as pants.

Sara E. Cotner said...

Hi, jduda! Do you have to hand wash them? I'm so scared of wool. I only have one wool sweater and I never wash it (I realize that's a gross thing to admit over the internet). At least I don't wear it that often.

jduda said...

Hey Sara, yes you do have to hand wash them, but it isn't as hard as it sounds. I was super scared at first, but there are some tutorials on the sustainablebabyish facebook page that explain the process. Pretty much you risk felting your wool if you "shock" it by changing the temperature too fast.. does that make sense? So I use pretty warm/hot water to hand wash my wool but if I were to suddenly dump cold water over it while it was hot that would cause it to felt. Once you get the hang of it, it is pretty fun and there are lots of different scents of lanolin soap to make your woolies smell good. Plus, if you lanolize your wool you really only need to wash them every 3 weeks or so depending on how dirty they are, etc. Lanolin if it gets damp from urine will turn into a "soap" so you can just hang up the pants to dry and reuse them several times before needing to actually wash.

Rachel said...

Ugh, I hate all the stereotypical sayings on baby clothes! I've seen some totally cute little outfits totally ruined with "Daddy's Little Sweetheart" or what have you. I also really hate "Chicks Dig Me" for a BABY! What?

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