Saturday, February 26, 2011

Layette Done Locally

Yesterday, I wrote that the idea of not shopping, even with the economy in a slump, is quite a naive thought. There are many things that people will need for their day to day lives and they will require money to get them. With this is mind, let's discuss a time when shopping becomes something that is a necessity.

The birth of a new child. This is a blessed time and families must adjust and prepare for many aspects of a baby coming into a home. Generations ago, a layette was prepared, by hand in many cases, for the impending arrival of a new baby. Clothes, bibs, diapers, bonnets, blankets, and playthings were all inlcuded in the layette so that the new mother would be ready.

A layette is a collection of all the essential items that a baby will need when he/she is born.

Today, creating a layette is easy for a new mother to do. With the plethora of baby showers and the ease of internet shopping new mothers have plenty of help in getting all the things that she and baby will need. Parents may be overwhelmed with all that they will need for baby and in many cases tend to over buy for their bundle of joy. (20 white onesies, really?!) Registering online at places like Babies R Us or Target is an amazingly easy way to create a layette and let people know exactly what you need. These sites help you in navigating through the essential items while highlighting those few items you may want to splurge on like monitors and jogging strollers. This is one of the few times in your life that people are overjoyed at shopping for you so let them know what it is that you and baby need.

Modern layettes have come to include breast pumps, binkies, and Boppies so while the layette is much more sophisticated now, it is still much needed. But let's focus on the old
world idea of the layette for a moment. Handmade items are not only traditional but they are one of the most thoughtful
items that someone can give, especially for a baby. This baby lamb (right) was handcrafted by a Pacific Northwest artisan and gifted to my family for the birth of our new child. It is 100% handcrafted and gorgeous. The soft, yet durable and coordinating fabrics are so carefully crafted on this lamb that any layette would be lucky to have this piece included in it. You cannot put a price tag on gifts like this that are handmade because the time and love that are put into them are priceless. (This piece is not available through retail outlets)

This handcrafted baby sack (left) was also a gift and came from the luxury children's boutique X Marks the Tot. The quality of the material is not done justice in the picture but know that it is just about as soft as a newborn. Even after washing it many, many, many times (as is the case with newborn clothing) it wears like it's brand new. The snaps are antique finished and durable. Not pictured is the drawstring bottom that completely covers-up baby, keeping him nice and snuggly warm. The stitched logo on the left breast is like icing on the cake. This is the type of detail and quality that I am always in search of when shopping. This piece has a timeless quality, is made by hand, and I would say it is most definitely a layette essential. Price point wise, it's a bit more expensive but worth every penny.

Americans spent $5.4 billion a year on baby products at last count. Most of that money is given to manufacturers outside of this country to create goods that are, in some cases, below the quality standards that most people desire. I push for new mothers to look locally for high quality handmade products for their babies. Handcrafted baby products are a huge niche for many local artisans and shops. However, do not get confused. Just because the cute baby boutique around the corner is selling infant jeans for $80, not only is this not a need, their quality may be questionable. They are mass produced and that label may be most of what you end up paying for.

Always, always check for quality and buy the classics, especially when it comes to dressing children.