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Gender-Neutral Baby Clothes: What Was Old is New Again

The way we dress our babies is changing. Parents are rethinking their willingness to enforce gender norms and are instead turning their attention to clothing lines that offer gender-neutral colors and designs. While this concept may seem new and maybe even avant-garde to some, it’s actually just a return to how people dressed babies for centuries prior to the 1980s.

Prior to the 1980s and the common use of reliable testing to accurately determine sex before birth, people tended to think of babies as sexless and dressed them more or less the same. Swaddling blankets and simple gowns in soft pastel colors were used for both boys and girls well into their first year of life and it could be very hard to tell an infant boy from an infant girl. 

So how did we become a culture obsessed with the gender identity of infants? A culture where even the simple act of shopping for a newborn gift demands that the shopper know the gender of the baby before they can start to browse items.

With the new-found knowledge of gender prior to birth, there followed a sort of mania for everything gendered including dolls, clothing, sleepwear and even tiny cars. Parents and grandparents had the irresistible urge to purchase as many gender-specific products as they could, to the point of inadvertently creating little versions of adults. 

All that is changing. Today's parents are questioning the hyper-gendered world of newborns and are rejecting many options available on the market. Opting instead for neutral colors that can be passed on and reused by either gender. Rejecting gender norm images such as trucks and princesses until the child is old enough to choose what he or she likes.

Luckily, shopping gender-neutral doesn’t mean you’re limited to just neutrals! There are all sorts of lovely shades of yellows, greens, reds, blues, stripes, and patterns now available in the marketplace. And who knows, maybe we can get to the place as a society where the color pink is not automatically assigned to girls at birth. One can hope.