Buying clothes for daycare

Children’s clothing can have a significant impact upon their health, safety and wellbeing, say The National Childcare Accreditation Council. Therefore, there are a few factors to keep in mind when buying clothes for daycare.

Stay cool. The temperature can vary up to 10 degrees from when children are dropped off at daycare and during the afternoon when they may be playing outside. It is important that children are wearing clothing which suits the weather and allows for variations in the day. Layering short or long-sleeved tops with cardigans or zip-up jumpers allows carers to easily assist your child in maintaining a safe body temperature.

Feet first. It is essential that children wear safe, comfortable footwear. Young toddlers should wear slip-proof pre-walkers, while older children should wear enclosed footwear where possible or proper sandals which do not easily slip off during play. Children like to take their shoes off when sleeping or playing in sandpits, so consider shoes with velcro which allow an older child to put on or remove their own footwear.

Be sun-safe. Most childcare centres will ask that children wear t-shirts or long-sleeved tops rather than singlet-style tops so that shoulders are covered. A broad-brimmed hat is absolutely essential for outdoor play - you may need a few of them!

Beware of hazardous items. There are some types of clothes, especially dress-up style clothes which are inappropriate for an active day. For example, long hems can put children at risk of tripping, and items such as capes, scarves, necklaces, long drawstrings and ribbons also present strangulation or tripping hazards.

Cotton is tops. Some children are easily bothered by scratchy, acrylic fabrics or may have itchy skin from wool. Wearing cotton items (washed first to remove harsh chemicals from manufacture) is a safe bet.

Save special clothes for home. It is inevitable that children will often come home from daycare sporting sand, dirt, food or paint on their clothing. Children may not engage fully in play if their are afraid of getting their favourite clothes dirty. Avoid disappointment by choosing hard-wearing clothes which withstand soaking and hot water and consider using sending your child to daycare in second-hand items.

I can dress myself! From the age of two, it is common for children to want to be involved in choosing clothing and dressing themselves. You can assist this developmental stage in several ways:
- Take them shopping to choose their own clothes - you might find it saves a morning tantrum or two
- Choose pants with an elastic waist that toilet-trained children can easily pull up and down themselves, such as leggings, yoga pants or tracksuit pants
- Many girls like to wear skirts and dresses, but doing so may interfere with their participation in physical activities. Encourage more practical choices like leggings or shorts.
- Look for tops with large necks, bigger buttons or toggles rather than press studs or small buttons.

Label everything. Use iron-on, sew-in or fabric marker with your child's name, otherwise you may never see it again.