Back-to-school clothes: shopping for your young child

When choosing school clothes for your younger child, keep her comfort, safety, and growing independence in mind.

By GreatSchools Staff

Your 6-year-old excitedly exclaims that he can tie his shoes! Never mind that his socks don't match and it's likely his sneakers will come untied before he gets out the door. This is an exciting milestone, and you'll want to encourage his efforts. Along with mastering the art of dressing himself, your youngster can also begin making some choices about what he wears. Include him when you go shopping for his back-to-school wardrobe.

  1. At home, have your child try on any of last year's school clothes that have mysteriously shrunk over the summer. Flood pants? No problem  - it's a chance to applaud how much she's grown (and what she's outgrown). Work together on a list of new clothes to buy.
  2. Before you buy, check with your child's school to see if there's a dress code or if any particular types of clothing are prohibited.
  3. Make sure everyone is well rested and fed before you set out on a shopping expedition. Full tummies decrease the risk of meltdowns and uncooperative behavior.
  4. Look for clothing that's machine washable and easy to keep clean. If you need to label your child's clothes, be sure there's room on the tags inside to do so. If your child is extra-sensitive to scratchy labels and tags, either cut the tags out or buy some of the new "tag-free" garments on the market.
  5. Keep it simple. Look for mix-and-match separates in coordinating colors. It's important to choose clothing that has simple fasteners; large buttons, zippers with pull rings, elastic waistbands and large neck openings make it easy for a young child to dress himself. Avoid complicated lacings, belts, and sashes.
  6. Keep your child's safety in mind. Drawstrings, floppy or wide pant legs and slippery soled shoes should be discouraged.
  7. Look for sturdy shoes with good heel strength. High quality sneakers or flat shoes are recommended by podiatrists. No flip flops! To ensure shoes fit properly, there should be a thumb's width between the end of the big toe and the end of the shoe.
  8. Keep your fashion standards flexible. If clothes meet your requirements - appropriate, safe, easy to wash and within your budget - let your child choose the color and style.
  9. Watch for store-wide sales and special promotions. You can also cash in on free shipping offers on Internet orders and "tax-free" shopping days available in some states. (Check to see if your state is one of them here.)