Branded for life
What’s cute about baby clothes that brand newborns as monsters or shopaholics?
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Baby clothes are big business. There’s a constant demand for them, after all, and I expected plenty of choice when I went shopping for an outfit for the latest addition to our family.

What did I find? For the girls, pint-sized pink sleep suits, emblazoned with ‘shopaholic’ and ‘sexy’; Barbie-print T-shirts and frou-frou rokkies with ‘princess’ scrawled across the chest. For the boys, camouflage prints, military insignia and T-shirts shouting ‘here comes trouble’, ‘monster’ and ‘demolition squad’.

I’m not one of those tiresome people who object to gender-specific clothes and toys. I think there are inherent differences between most girls and boys and that they will play out no matter how much you try to manipulate the situation. I’ve seen a one-year-old boy toss a doll out of a pram and replace it with his Wellies, which he happily pushed about, and I know of a little girl who was denied dolls but took to rocking a truck wrapped up in a dishcloth. Give them all dolls, boats, brooms, trains and feathered headdresses, I say, and let them get on with it.

My objection is to the way we adults infect our newborns with society’s diseases before they have taken a step in the world. ‘What does it matter to the child if he’s dressed in a jacket stamped with a US Army logo?’ you may ask. Surely a three-month-old can’t be affected by a silly marketing stunt designed to amuse the parents? Well, I think there is an effect. It’s subtle but it’s real, fuelling subconscious beliefs that it’s appropriate for boys to be aggressive and girls to be acquisitive.

It’s like those people who drive around with Bitch1 or Evil on their number plates. What kind of energy are they creating? Words and images have a kind of frequency, and we need to be aware of what we are putting out on the airwaves. Where thought goes, energy flows, so if you don’t want to raise a provocative princess, don’t programme her to be one by dressing her in clothes that promote that identity.

I searched for nice bunny-rabbits and cheerful sailboats in vain, and settled in the end for a dancing dinosaur. The nature/nurture debate is eternal, and our precious grandson may well turn out to be a rambunctious adventurer, but I will not typecast him as a war-monger just because he is male. He’s tiny, new, pure and innocent. He will encounter Life with all its complexities and expectations soon enough; for now, please let him be peaceful and unlabelled. Is that too much to ask of our buyers and designers?

Do we label our babies in a negative way?

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