4 Reasons All Baby Boys Should Wear Girls Leggings

tight pants collage

So stylish and he doesn’t even know it

I just had an epiphany so I’m going to keep this post short and to the point. Skinny jeans are in for everyone but apparently leggings didn’t make the cut. Whatever man-rules there are about tightness in that general area, I’m sure they don’t apply to a baby in diapers.  So here’s why all baby boys should wear little girls leggings (at least until they start making boys leggings):

baby losing his pants

Losing his pants while getting into mischief

1.   No more rolling up your son’s pants to keep him from tripping on them. And/Or no more pulling up his pants over and over (and over).

It’s inevitable that when your child begins to walk, he’s going to step on his pants. Sometimes my son even did it on purpose. And even if you’re sure you’ve finally got the perfect roll this time, his pant legs are probably going to fall back down in about 5 minutes. Some boys pants have elastic or ribbing at the ankles, but I’ve found they stretch out during wear and even those end up falling over my son’s toes. Crawlers can have problems too: they’ll land a knee on one wide pant leg but won’t let that stop them from moving forward and down goes the trou. Or their pants will wrap over their feet and, while trying to push for momentum on the carpet,  they will simultaneously pull their pants lower and lower. But add leggings and all these problems magically disappear.

2.   Instantly avoid the kick-out-one-leg-the-minute-you-try-to-put-the-other-leg-in-the-pants trick. Often performed on changing tables.

Stretchy cotton shorts help somewhat because you can pull those up pretty far on one leg and still bend the other leg into the remaining hole, but there are no long boy pants on this earth that can prevent my son from Houdini-ing himself out of them before I can get the second leg in. I usually have to put one leg on, then stand my infant son up against me to get the second leg partially on, then half pull half bounce the pants up to his waist, then put him back down flat to try to fix the zipper or snap before he turns himself over. Phew. It’s not easy. Girls leggings, however, are much harder to kick out of (though not impossible, unfortunately). Usually I can get my son’s second leg in while he’s turned the first leg inside out but still hasn’t gotten it completely off his foot – which means I can right the first leg easily and pull the pants over my son’s butt while he’s still flat on the changing table and he’s clothed in seconds instead of minutes.

3.   In the winter, no more cold chills blowing up your son’s pant legs (also noteworthy when in carriers or slings).

When my firstborn was a baby and the weather started turning cool, I noticed how often we were readjusting and pulling her pants back down as we held her. We wore her in a Baby K’Tan wrap carrier a lot and that little bit of fabric pulling her securely towards me was enough to make her pants ride up too. Even sitting down in a shopping cart could expose skin in most pants. But since leggings are tight enough to never fall over her toes, we could put my daughter in pairs that were a little big so that there was more length to prevent ride-up and protect her from the elements without worrying about her tripping over them the minute we got back inside. When my son was born, I’d already learned these lessons.

Even when your baby’s pants don’t ride up, the cold could still be sneaking up around their legs and most boys socks aren’t long enough to significantly combat the problem. Add some leggings, though, and problem solved! Plus you can layer the offending pants over the top of your leggings when the weather gets a little more chilly. P.S. don’t discount full tights either, just think of them as leggings with built in socks – why they don’t make tights for baby boys who have outgrown footie pants I still don’t know.

4.   Boys in tight pants are hipster cool.

Wearing girls pants doesn’t mean you have to parade your son in pink – although, if you do, more power to you. Grab a pair in basic black or better yet, stretchy girls jeggings, and watch your kid rock play group.

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Now Entering the World of Sweater Vests

Since we learned we’re having a boy this time around, I’ve started taking a closer look at baby boy clothes. I found myself wanting to look into and test some of these silly boundaries that are restricting choices for boys. Maybe start a clothing revolution!! … but let’s start small.

According to clothing manufacturers (based on what is for sale in any department store or children’s clothing boutique), the items listed below are what seem to be the general consensus for acceptable imagery references sorted by gender (NOT my personal preferences btw and not a complete list, feel free to add).

  • For Girls – butterflies, flowers, ballerina, cats and kittens, horses and ponies, hearts, moon, cupcakes, ladybugs, zebras, pink, rainbows, strawberries, watermelon, popsicles, “princess”
  • For Boys – robots, dogs, camouflage, dinosaurs, monsters, cars and trucks, pizza, sharks, alligators, baseball, football, lions, firetrucks, “hero”, worms, motorcycles, rocket ships, surfers  (*and for some reason WAY more shirt/pants separates for infant boys v.s. more onesies for girls – can anyone explain that to me??!)
  • Gender Neutral (mostly on infant clothing) – frogs, monkeys, ducks, turtles, birds, stars, soccer, bears, elephants, bananas, giraffes, guitars, green, yellow (However, do note that all the animals will have a bow or a flower if it’s a “girls” outfit).

At J. Crew Kids

At The Children’s Place

Carter’s at Macy’s

So what if your little boy that really likes cats? Sorry, you’ll have a hard time finding them on a boys t-shirt unless they’re much larger felines like a lion or tiger. Or what if your daughter likes big trucks? (mine is a huge fan of buses and garbage trucks). Well, it’ll be near impossible to find a shirt with a big truck in the girls section unless, if you’re lucky, there’s maybe a pink one.

I think few people would say it’s wrong for boys to appreciate the beauty of nature, so why isn’t it “masculine” to have a bunch of flowers on your little guy’s onesie? And every kid I know, boy or girl, will go insane for a rainbow sprinkled cupcake, but only girls get those pictured on their outfits (girls actually seem to have a lot more food images, interestingly). And zebras are only for girls but elephants are fine for either gender, apparently. Who decided this stuff?!

Clearly, graphics on baby clothes aren’t really about what the child likes – or even necessarily what the parents like. Instead it seems baby clothes are designed just to present an image, as early as possible, to announce to the world in no uncertain terms that your child is definitely a boy or a girl (although as my mom likes to tell me, she had me dressed completely in pink and people would still come up to her and comment on what a cute little boy I was – apparently the curse of a totally bald baby). But the more brands stick to the same colors and graphic formula, the easier it is for most people to know what gender baby you’ve got without having to ask and the easier it is for parents to “safely” pick out clothing. But why is this so important? So you brought home a zebra print outfit for your little boy with red hearts on it – are the other 6 month olds going to burst into tears if you dare place his confusing ensemble on the same tummy time mat as theirs? Will he or any of his drooling friends even remember what anyone wore back then?

I remember hearing about a couple in the UK who decided not to tell anyone the gender of their child to prevent outside bias and to let him/her make their own discoveries regarding personal interests and preferences (gender neutral toys, no TV, etc) – people went insane about it! Psychology lecturer, Dr. Daragh McDermott, said in the linked article above, “It’s hard to say whether being raised gender-neutral will have any immediate or long-term psychological consequences for a child, purely because to date there is little empirical research examining this topic.” But the public had certainly already decided it definitely would harm the child – why are we so sure? Why is it so important to make sure your child knows that they are definitely a boy or definitely a girl before they can even speak? Especially when it’ll probably become pretty obvious to your observant toddler that they have parts that look more like either mommy or daddy, and when sexual identity during puberty, or sometimes even before that, can throw a loop in even “simple” gender identification.

Dr McDermott added, “That being said, the family setting is only one source of gender-specific information and as children grow, their self-identity as male, female or gender-neutral will be influenced by school, socialization with other children and adults, as well as mass media.” So it sounds like no matter what parents do, kids are going to eventually be exposed to this super gender emphasizing culture we live in anyway – and yet the majority still felt that withholding the child’s gender was tantamount to child abuse. Very interesting.

In theory I don’t think there was anything wrong with what that UK couple did (I don’t know all the details of what their everyday life was like, etc. so I might be opposed to some of the specifics, but let’s not go that deep into it). If you want your child to feel free to explore and like the things he/she likes without someone saying they can’t, just because of their gender, that’s great! And I do believe it’s extremely hard to avoid unintentional bias from other people (I can’t even count how many times has my daughter been called a princess by strangers).

Green Toys Tool Set in Pink

Manhattan Toy Baby Stella Doll – Boy

Fisher-Price Classic Doodler

Actually I think lots of people try to be a little gender neutral; there are always neutral clothing and bedding sections in baby stores filled with green and yellow – and nobody complains about that. But unfortunately, after baby is born and as they start getting older, parental attempts at gender neutrality are usually directed more towards girls than boys. People now have no problems saying, “oh, I don’t buy pink stuff for my daughter” or “We only give our little girl Legos and tool kits to play with”, but you hear very few people say, “Of course my son can wear a tutu if he wants to.” And you can see this in society too – it has been socially acceptable for women to wear pants and to show more than an ankle for years, but men still cannot wear skirts or even show their legs off in shorts if they’re in a professional business setting!

Don’t worry, I’m not going to hid my son’s gender from him. I am hoping, though, that having an older sister will expose him to things he might not have been exposed to if he were an only child. For example, I might not have just gone out and randomly bought him baby dolls, but if his sister happens to have one and it becomes his favorite toy, fine. Likewise, if he never wants to go near any typically girl things, at least I’ll know he had the chance to do so – and I’m equally not going to suggest he drop the toy cars and cardboard swords and play with something else just because they’re too typically boy-ish.

I just hope that I can at least instill in my son the confidence that he can like and play with whatever he wants, no matter what anyone says (which I think boys have a much harder time with than girls). I want my kids to be happy. And I want them both to know that while there are a few things that are only for girls or only for boys: (childbirth, unfortunately, still only for girls) a pink backpack or a scary dinosaur lunchbox, ballet lessons or a pet tarantula, these can be for anyone.

Visit my Pinterest boards too for my ongoing exploration of these ideas.

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