Don't Buy Carter's Baby Clothes, Instead Try These Made in America and Eco-Friendly Options

by - Sunday, June 18, 2017

Don't Buy Carter's Baby Clothes, Instead Try...

I love a baby in bear ears, and Carters has brought the baby bear ears to another level. They sell ridiculously cute baby stuff, and like me, they truly appreciate a baby in ears. Yet, I am going to suggest we stop buying so much of this adorableness. Let me tell you why.

Carter's should be an American institution- the company was around since 1865, founded in Massachusets. By the 60's, the family-owned company had 7 mills in Massachusets and the South. The family sold the company in the 90's, and its headquarters and distribution center are located outside of Atlanta. But all of the mills are closed, and you cannot find one piece of Carter's Baby Clothes still made in America. They have shipped out the work and with it, a pretty important part of their American identity.

The company can be credited with an explosion of cute animals on baby butts and ears on baby hoods. That is not nothing, at the very least, it is super cute, but it may not be enough to recommend them. On closer inspection, Carter's may be doing more to hurt American babies' future than helping their present. Let me explain.

On their website, Carter's says they are not only the leading seller of baby clothes in the United States, but that they sell 10 pieces of clothing for every baby born in America. Having gone through the whole thing myself, that number actually seems low! Carters (and Osh Kosh B'gosh, which they also own) certainly is successful at dominating the market- you can find their stuff at every store that sells baby stuff, and they have a couple of spin off brands for different price points.

I bet we received that much Carters stuff as gifts, but we also bough a bunch of things ourselves in one pre-baby shopping spree. I mean, it's hard to be mad at the company that made the infant ewok happen:

Don't Buy Carter's Baby Clothes, Instead Try...
You're welcome, Bub.
Carters may sell a lot to Americans, but they certainly aren't doing anything for American manufacturing or all that much for the American people- though they do have some community outreach, they aren't very transparent about what good they are doing here and abroad. The one (huge) bone I have to throw them is that they don't let clothes to waste- when there are extras, they do donate them. That's awesome, but I still feel conflicted about buying from them.

Carters clothing is manufactured all over the world. Well, everywhere but America. This manufacturing means that this great "American" company is giving American jobs away to someone else.

After I met my son and started to watch him grow, it really dawned on me that I am just borrowing this world from him. I don't want him to grow up in a world where Americans are only useful as consumers, and jobs become even harder to come by. I don't want him to grow up in a world where millions of tons of clothing waste are created every year. Most importantly, I don't want him to grow up thinking I condone an overworked mother somewhere else in the world making his clothes so that I can save a buck. I don't know for certain that is happening here, but I also can't be sure it isn't without better information from the company.  I know this is heavy, but after I met him, these things just mattered more, and I wish I had approached things differently before the Bub showed up.

Also, after he was around a pretty short time, I noticed you can buy onesies in any size used for about a dollar. And then your baby poops and pukes on them, so those 15 dollar onesies that say "Mommy's Future Investment Banker" make less and less sense.

So I want to shop to send a clear message- I am pro-cutesy baby clothes, but I think when you can buy it local (or American-made), you should.

I love some of Carter's stuff (not to mention those Osh Kosh overalls), and I would happily give them some of my money if they moved manufacturing back to the United States. They could even do a special line of it (maybe start with their patriotic, 4th of July summer stuff, all of which is currently Made in Elsewhere). But until then, I am done giving them my money.

Now, if you go shopping at Macy's, Target, or Kohl's, you will see a lot of Carters, and not much else. You might feel like there is no other option. You know what I am going to say here- not true! Let's look at what else you can do:

Don't Buy Carter's Baby Clothes, Instead Try...
Looking sharp in all used clothing- picture cred- Jenny GG
1. Buy your Baby Clothes Used- YES. This is my #1 piece of advice to all future parents. 80-90% of your child's wardrobe in every size should be used. Buy a few pieces you love or can't find (damn you, baby socks), and everything else can be used.  You are so close to a consignment store. Maybe many. Once Upon a Child stores are opening everywhere, especially on the East Coast. If not, let me introduce you to my friend internet- Baby Outfitter and You also might have big community center sales or yard sales, a Buy Nothing Group, or family ready with hand me downs. It's all good. Don't love everything you get? It's alright. Take what works and gift what isn't you.

Buying used clothing doubles these tiny garments use, keeps at least one thing out of landfills, and maybe bet of all, it has traveled an incredibly short distance, so it isn't wasting the fossil fuels of an international trip! There is no more eco-friendly option, but it is also way more cost-effective.

An average Carter's outfit set is 18 dollars. You can get something similar (or exactly the same) in consignment for half that. If you need 10 minimum outfits per size that is 180 dollars a size to 90 (tops). In the first 2 years, they go through at least 5 sizes, so at an absolute bare minimum, you have saved almost 500 dollars in two years. That's an absolute minimum. Put that money toward college!

You might think that used clothes are going to look janky, but if you find a good place and shop there oftenish (once to twice a month), your baby will look great. We bought our son stuff from the Gap, J Crew, Carters, everywhere (all used), and we manage to keep him looking damn cute all the time. And he could care less, at least for now, so why not?

Don't Buy Carter's Baby Clothes, Instead Try...

One more thing on this- Since I originally wrote this blog, it has become clear that one of the Carter's mainstays, fuzzy footie pajamas are pretty terrible for the environment. Those fleece pajamas use a lot of plastic microfibers, which wash out in the laundry and out into water sources. So, if you are buying used or new, I highly recommend 100% cotton pajamas instead of any of that fleece stuff. I can also tell you as a mom, those fleece things are often too hot. I will swear by Leveret cotton pajamas (second would be Hanna Anderson)- so any time you see those in consignment, scoop that business up.

Don't Buy Carter's Baby Clothes, Instead Try City Threads
City Threads from Amazon

2. City Threads- This LA-based company sells simple basics in great colors. Goes up into kid sizes as well. Most of the pieces are really simple, so they certainly don't have the panache of a pair of pants with a monkey on the butt, but I have a secret for you. No matter what you put them in, the cutest part of the ensemble will be your baby. Having some basics to mix with can keep them from looking like a carnival all of the time.

Don't Buy Carter's Baby Clothes, Instead Try WInter Water Factory
from Amazon

3. Winter Water Factory- This brand, based in Brooklyn, is totally American-made and adorable. They have some of the cutest, coolest prints I have ever seen for kids clothing. It isn't cheap, but I have bought a few things from them, and they have been high quality and lasting.

4. Etsy- Since I save so much money buying used baby clothes, I usually splurge a time or two on tremendously great pieces from Etsy stores. They have an endless supply of baby clothes (and accessories, with every geeky reference or girly persuasion you can dream up, and you get that warm fuzzy feeling of knowing you supported an American maker, not some corporate overlord.  Here are some of my favorite stores for baby clothes:

Madison Bows
Adassa Baby
Coyote Kids Clothing
The Wee Little Piggies
Beach Town Baby
Oh Little Rabbit
My Baby Bee and Me
Hold You Me
Stitches and Soles
Violet and Sassafras
Crochet my Love
Shop Lulu and Roo

Lola and Stella (on the expensive end)
Rocking Horse Lane

So, this is not even the tip of the iceberg. You can find any and all baby clothes on Etsy. If you haven't poked around yet, do it! Just try to order things ahead of time, because you are dealing with people, not the Prime machine, so things ship more slowly.

both from Two Crows for Joy
5. Two Crows for Joy- This online baby boutique sells all organic and Made in America baby clothes, from onesies to cloth diapers. They have really cute fabrics that are different from things I have seen anywhere else but are still really fun and appropriate for very tiny people.

And a few Bonus Ideas- I love Pact; they aren't Made in America, but they are fair trade and organic, and their baby socks cannot be beaten- stretchy, long-lasting, and super cute. Widgeon makes sweet bunting that may rival the bear ears, Taraluna beats out Halo because their sleep sacks are organic and Made in the USA but I think I like Swaddle Designs (based out of Seattle) best, Flap Happy makes sweet baby girl dresses (I think I bought one of these as a gift, and I am pretty sure it went over well).

Don't Buy Carter's, Instead Try These Made in America and Eco-Friendly Options

Don't Buy Carter's Baby Clothes, Instead Try

There s so much out there, that you can supplement the inevitable (and still adorable, just not super ethical or American) Carters gifts with clothes that keep the environment cleaner and support American jobs. These little changes can add up, and we will leave a better world to the adorable munchkins who are inevitably going to do all sorts of gross things on this stuff anyway.

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  1. I can't tell you how much I love this post. Seriously, we are so wasteful! Especially when our kids are little and we forget that the cute little thing took a lot of resources to make. Also, they outgrow it instantly.

    Nicole Biery-
    Also- one of my fave places to buy clothes is It was created by the Malala Fund and goes to support schools around the world! Pretty cool alternative!

  2. There are some great alternatives listed for those who don't want to buy Carter's merchandise.

  3. We buy most of our girls' clothes used whenever we can. Huge money-saver with how quickly they grow

  4. Thanks for taking the time to discuss this, I feel strongly about it and love learning more on this topic.
    Wedding Dresses

  5. Thanks for this very helpful post!

  6. While Carter’s do offer some very cute baby stuff, there are more interesting options today. If, as you say, Carter’s does not manufacture in America, you might as well check out other online stores that offer cuter stuff and many different options. I liked the intent of your blog. Great share! Visit:



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