Kids' backpack

The beginner's guide to back-to-school shopping

Sending your preschooler off for their first day is a big deal! It marks a huge milestone in their young life and you might find yourself dropping them off with tears in your eyes. If you know how to handle back-to-school shopping, they won't be tears of frustration, though! And when you're prepared and ready to go, you can take time to enjoy this special moment.

Does my preschooler need a backpack?

Backpacks can be a controversial topic when it comes to preschoolers. Some schools don't want kids to use them, as they don't have enough storage space to accommodate an army of bags. And sometimes, the things they bring home (like art projects) are too big to fit in a pack designed for a little guy or gal. Before making a purchase, call your child's school and see what they say; sometimes a canvas tote works just as well.

What size backpack should I buy?

If your child's preschool gives the thumbs-up to backpacks, make sure it's roomy enough for their stuff, but not so big they can't carry it comfortably. An average-size kid needs a pack between 10 and 15 inches tall and make sure it has padded straps to protect their tiny shoulders. You should also take climate into account; if you live somewhere rainy, a water-resistant bag will be a lifesaver.

When do I shop for winter clothes?

Shopping in the off season can help you save money on winter clothes for your preschooler. Cold weather apparel often goes on sale in January and February, making it a good time to stock up. Of course, you might not be able to wait until then, so consider shopping a year ahead or just pay full price for their kids winter coat if you can. Secondhand stores often have deals no matter the season, though.

Should I buy the size he/she is now, or size up?

Finding the right size clothes for a fast-growing preschooler can be tough. If in doubt, consider sizing up. Pants can be cuffed and shirts worn tucked in, giving you some wiggle room (literally!), and you'll probably get more use out of things before they end up in the donation pile. However, always make sure their kids pajamas fit snugly – loose jammies on a sleeping child can present a choking hazard.

How many pants and shorts should I have for everyday wear?

A determined preschooler can destroy a pair of pants in seconds with food, mud and even pee (accidents happen, after all), so keep at least five pairs on hand. Aim for different colors and styles that you can mix and match with their tops and choose according to the weather. Corduroys are great for cool days, whereas a lightweight fabric won't feel too hot when it's warm out.

How many shirts should I have?

If your preschooler wears a school uniform, you'll need more than one shirt! Consider investing in at least three – that way, they can wear the first two on Monday and Tuesday and the third on Wednesday when you wash the others and prepare to start the cycle again. When it comes to playtime shirts, they should probably have a least five or six (and more if they really go through things). This will keep you from having to do laundry every day and means there will always be something to change into if there's a spill or splash.

How many jackets will I need?

With jackets, it's not about numbers when it comes to how many your child needs. Instead, make sure they have enough to keep them comfortable in whatever weather conditions they encounter. A light packable coat for warm months, something good for the cold season, a sturdy winter coat and a rainproof number will ensure they're always prepared. And having an extra or two for each season is smart as well.

Will I need an umbrella for my child or just a rain coat?

Umbrellas and preschoolers can be a tricky combination. Tiny hands can have trouble opening and closing them, and you don't want someone to get accidentally poked in the eye. If your child isn't quite big enough for one of their own, get them a good raincoat with a hood and a pair of boots – they will probably keep them just as dry.

Do preschool kids wear snow pants?

Depending on where you live, snow pants might be required winter gear for your preschooler. They'll keep them nice and warm when they're playing outside in the snow, but make sure they're easy to get on and off. Show your little one how to tuck them into their boots to keep their feet dry and make sure their snow pants and coat fit closely to their body to trap heat.

Related Articles