Only what you need for your baby. Really. (OK – and some fantastic things you don’t that are pretty cool.)
Astrid was a Gap baby: their infant line – boys and girls – is tasteful but still cute and they were the only place I found reasonably priced pants for newborns. (I still don’t get why that’s so hard. We’re not raising a pants-less cartoon duck, for Pete’s sake.)
Anyway, the company’s been having some challenges in the last few years which meant that if something I liked (nothing with logos) wasn’t on sale right then, I’d just wait ten minutes and it would be. Basic, minimalist pieces that were still decently made and inexpensive.
That said, my early affection for them has cooled considerably since Astrid moved into their toddler department, with all its tacky appliques and bright pinks. Most of all, I’ve been sadly disappointed in their about-face on their baby and toddler jeans line. Last year, they cut away from their elastic-waist model and over to a skinny jeans pattern which, in my humble opinion, is ridiculous: kiddie pants should fit most kids for the maximum amount of time.
When your child is under a year, you assume you’ll be swapping out wardrobes every few months and can plan your budget and closet accordingly. At 18 months and up though, parents can finally buy clothing that will last for several months at least. The kids are still growing but the right brand makes pieces that flex to fit over that period of time. This means elastic or adjustable waistbands and pants not designed for Heidi Klum‘s offspring and no one else’s. I’m not alone in this: the positive reviews on Gap’s jeans pages are all from skinny kids’ moms, and they acknowledge that the jeans are too long even for them. (Gap’s “adjustable waist” only has two buttons, which helps not at all.)
I know it must be a challenge to find reasonable clothing for thin little ones, the same as it is for other-sized kids: I’m not scapegoating Gap for making great jeans for that set. I’m objecting to the fact that their entire line of jeans is now skinny-only. And why call them skinny jeans at all, even for the thinner kiddies? I find the skinny jeans phenom hitting toddlers and preferential fits for thin tots troubling, especially for girls, especially in a mass brand like Gap. (What’s next? Fixies and beards for underweight boys?) Obesity is absolutely a current and burgeoning childhood problem, but when your primary branded product only fits the thinnest children, you’ve swung too far in the other direction. (For the record, Astrid is right in the middle of her age group in weight but quite tall and Gap jeans don’t fit her even a little bit.)
My social opinions aside, what I found even more distressing was the practical issue that the jeans I’d been buying no longer fit. Cue Gymboree.
I don’t know why I didn’t think of them sooner. I pass the store all the time. They were having one of their frequent giant sales when I happened by and here’s what: most of their jeans have some stretch and all of them have either an elastic waist (up to 24 months) or a four-button adjustable waist. I scooped up a stack and Astrid can wear all of them: the 3Ts are too big, but the waist adjusts perfectly to her 2.5T and the cuffs are cute. The jeans don’t look too big and they aren’t: they fit when I bought them a few months ago and they fit now. If she’s not swimming in them when I buy a size too big, thin children should be all set too buying their actual size and looking good. Perfect: everyone’s happy, and kids can be kids a little longer.
So, so long Gap and your weird Twiggy hang-up and hello, Gymboree!