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The No. 1 Way Kids Under 5 Break the Bank

My daughter grew so swiftly in her first year and a half that there were a lot of clothes she never got to wear at all. And as everyone promised, "Don't worry! She'll slow down soon," I gritted my teeth and thought, That's great, but I still have to keep her dressed in something that fits today!

When my daughter was born, she was an average 7 pounds, 1 ounce. Sure, she was a bit on a the tall side at a respectable 21 inches, but nothing outside the realm of "normal."

By 3 months old, she was in the 95th percentile for both height and weight.

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I have a good friend whose daughter is 10 months older than mine. This friend has the cutest taste in little girl's clothes, and I thought for sure I was going to be able to milk that hand-me-down connection for years to come.

But by 9 months old, my daughter was officially one size larger than hers. And by a year, hand-me-downs were going in the other direction.

I knew that she would still go through growth spurts for years to come, I just hadn't expected it to be so extreme.

And then, just like that, she did slow down! Around 2 years old, her growth stalled (and I learned a couple tricks, like the fact that an oversized dress could last even longer than most clothes—eventually becoming a tunic.)

Her clothing and shoe size remained stagnant for months (more than 6, to be exact) so I grew complacent. And when she finally seemed to have grown another size (from 3T to 4T in clothes, and 4 to 5 in shoes) I thought nothing of buying her a whole new wardrobe (including winter gear, though winter was still months away) off Zulily.

But by the time my purchases arrived just a few weeks later, she had already outgrown them.

That kid of mine went through such a massive growth spurt this summer and fall, that after just a few short months, she is now wearing a size 4 in tops and dresses (having skipped 4T almost completely with that long torso of hers) and size 8 shoes (that's right, she went from 4 to 8 in just a few months—I have several pairs of 5's and 6's she never wore at all.)

I knew that she would still go through growth spurts for years to come, I just hadn't expected it to be so extreme when I set about refilling her closet with her newly acquired size. I hadn't known so much of her new stuff might so quickly become unwearable.

And that was when I realized that while pre-teens and teenagers may run up a bill with extracurriculars, kids under 5 clearly break the bank with growth spurts.


So the lessons I have now learned?

  • Shop kid consignment stores, because there is no point in buying new for something that may only be worn once (and my money is probably better spent on coffee).
  • Buy anything new at least 2 sizes up—too big is much easier to deal with than too small.
  • Opt for dresses whenever possible, for increased wears.
  • Invest in thicker socks to accommodate too-big shoes before they become too small.
  • Accept that there is no containing a growing kid. And that she'll probably be wearing my clothes soon.

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In the meantime, I'm trying to curb my obsession with adorable little girls' clothes, mostly because I no longer trust my daughter to be able to wear anything for long—which, of course, probably means she'll stay where she's at for another 6 months or so, just long enough for me to grow complacent again and think it's safe to splurge.

And then, boom! She'll shoot up three more sizes, and I'll be left trying to figure out how to outfit her once more.

Photograph by: Leslie Meadow Photography

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