Duckies are for Girls*

* According to Carter’s sleepwear

Jason in the Ducky Sleeper, April 2012, 12 months old

As Laura outgrew her baby and toddler clothes, I packed them away in carefully labeled totes by size. Four years later, I sorted through all the totes to see whether any of Laura’s clothes could be worn by Jason. After dismissing pinks, purples, and flowers, I was left with a small pile that mostly consisted of white onesies. A ducky sleeper made the gender neutral cut.

Now that Jason is big enough to wear the sleeper, I realize that I missed the feminine design details.  My questions:

    1. Should I continue to dress Jason in the ducky sleeper?
    2. Why aren’t more baby clothes gender neutral?

Warning signs that the PJ's are designed for girls: Narrow rib knit at collar and cuff; decorative stitch detail on collar

Sleepers on the Carter's website - boys in the screenshot on the left, girls on the right

Playful Ducky PJ's, Laura, March 2008, 13 Months Old. The ducky sleeper had a PJ friend, also from Carter's.


About Beth

Wife, mother of 2, worker bee - striving to balance roles and continually learn
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17 Responses to Duckies are for Girls*

  1. Baby clothes used to be more gender neutral. Up to 12 months or so you could find things, especially sleepwear, in green, yellow, turquoise, and white. Then everybody started finding out the sex of thier baby before it was born and all of that gender neutrality went out the window. Sigh. I think the duckies look fine for a boy or girl.

    • Beth says:

      Excellent point on the ultrasound pushing gender neutrality out the window. Armed with the “it’s a girl” / “it’s a boy”, all the preparations become more targeted.

  2. The Waiting says:

    Shoo, ducks are for sure neutral, no matter hat Carters or anyone else says. Actually, C has a Carters fleece jumper with ducks that is very similar to y’all’s and the other day my husband said that she looked like a boy when she was wearing it! Sure, she’s still in that ambiguous newborn phase where she is pretty gender-neutral herself, but I’d still say you’re good.

  3. Ann Suvak says:

    Nobody will likely see Jason except for you and Jung. Does it bother you? When I had Willow the boys had some neutral gender items and Terri bought a lot of little girl clothes. I tended to dress her in the gender specific clothes since the girl clothes are much more fun and I wanted her to look like a girl. I haven’t put her in any of the gender neutral clothes (ducky sleepers I feel those look more like a little boy anyway)…shame on me I put those clothes in my diaper bags for just in case of a blow out. There they sit and now she is to big for the items.

    • Beth says:

      Jung hasn’t mentioned being bothered, though he may once he reads this blog entry. Girl clothes are lots more fun than the grey, blue, brown, green, and red of boy clothes. I always put my least favorite outfits in the diaper bag – they are there in a pinch and out of daily circulation.

  4. kierrajanay says:

    I think he is fine… The duckies are gender neutral to me. It’s good for not or girl. You can’t tell it was a little girl sleeper. Besides he’s just a baby:)

    • Beth says:

      Thank you for the reassurance. I think I’m safe, since it took me a couple wearings to even notice the girl details.

  5. I bought a lot of boy footie PJs for EB because I thought they were way cute. And by me, I mean, encouraged my mom to buy them. Why are monkeys for boys? Duckies are totes gender neutral. I say if you didn’t notice it until now, and it’s in your house, NBD.

    That being said, EB gets called “little man” a lot outside the house and I try not to cringe.

    • Beth says:

      EB of the golden ringlets gets called “little man”? Perhaps people’s observation powers are failing them. AI had a pixie haircut (a nice way to say extremely short) in 6th grade. I held open a door for an older gentlemen at the store and he said, “Thank you, young man.” I started growing my hair out after that encounter…

      • Yes, apparently one look at a non-pink outfit and EB’s a boy, no matter how curly her mini-fro is. 6th grade is a rough time to have short hair because you can’t balance it by too much make-up, which I did my first year of college. My pixie cut was a disaster, though, as it was done by me and two friends. At the same time. I, too, grew it out soon thereafter.

  6. Maggie says:

    I hate that! Kim, how wise you are–I never thought of the connection between finding out your baby’s gender and the decline of gender-neutral baby clothes. Of course Jason can keep wearing the ducky sleeper, although one day he may cringe at the knowledge that you took pictures and blogged about it. Zoe has always had a few boy pajamas, and as a baby had some very cute Milwaukee Brewers clothes that were blue and yellow (Brewers colors) instead of pink (girl colors?). People did mistake her for a boy, which did not upset me, but if I corrected them, they were horrified. It’s a funny world.

    • Beth says:

      The blog may generate some cringes in later years, but that’s what parents are for (this is my self-reassurance that it is OK to post in a public space). Long before blogs, parents caused cringe moments. Jung has a toddler picture where his mom dressed him in a pink checked jumper. She thought it was cute and didn’t yet have a daughter to dress up.

      It is a funny world – we use clothes to give clues to identity, which is not an infallible system…

      • Maggie says:

        Ha! As you know, I blog about my kid all the time, so I didn’t mean to say you shouldn’t post what is obviously an adorable photo of an adorable kid in an adorable sleeper. I remember packing away some of Zoe’s Carter’s clothes and sleepers, and wishing that at least the duckie ones could be totally gender neutral. I think we have at least one frog one that can go both ways, although it will probably always look like “girl” clothes to me since my girl wore them first.

      • Beth says:

        Maybe the Brewers clothes will be the connection :)… When Jason wears some of Laura’s old onesies or certain hand-me downs from his cousins, I have memories of those clothes. I like that part, since the outfit links the kids together…

  7. Momma G says:

    I think a lot of this gender specific clothing, and even car seats and other baby paraphernalia is all about marketing and making more money for the producers. If a parent buys a pink car seat for a daughter, are they going to buy a blue or neutral color for a son that comes later? The manufacturers sure hope so. All this color-marketing for babies and toddlers is quite interesting considering how, on the other hand, some parents go overboard to make sure that they treat their sons and daughters equally, that is, boys can and are encouraged to play with dolls, girls with trucks, and so on. That is a separate issue for discussion, but I see an inconsistency in all of this. I doubt the more embroidered look is as durable as the traditional ribbing that sleepers usually have. The embroidered style may have as much to do with being made overseas as with gender specificity.

    • Beth says:

      Based on my experiences working at companies that source products overseas, the details of products are highly prescriptive and quality checked. From a manufacturing perspective, there is a downside to making gender based products: higher SKU counts and associated costs. As a for instance, let’s say Carter’s makes a total of 20 sleeper styles for toddlers each year – 10 girl styles and 10 boy styles – each carried in 2T – 5T. This means a total of 80 SKUs that need to be manufactured, inventoried, and sold. The customer base for each of the SKU’s represents only 50% of the market, since a boy’s mom is probably not going to buy the girl style and vice-versa. With unisex styles, a 10 style assortment could be sold to 100% of the market with half the SKU count. The challenge with kids’ clothes is that parents want to dress their kids as a girl / boy to prevent confusion. Also, with smaller family sizes and more affordable (almost disposable) clothing, parents no longer have to consider whether a garment will last to hand down to younger kids. While a manufacturer works to create a market, customer buying pressure and competition can also push a manufacturers to make specific types of products.

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