Baby fashion in China
I’ve never been one of those persons who love babies, drool over them and want to hold every baby on sight. To be honest, I never cared about babies and I had only held a baby once before having my own (that baby was my friend’s and she started crying as soon as I touched her). However, I’ve always thought that baby clothes are impossibly cute. That is, until I came to China and witnessed their baby clothes… It’s time for another one of my “OMG what were they thinking?” lists!
– Split pants
Absolutely every western person who comes to China and sees this finds it hilarious. Traditionally, babies in China are potty trained very early: their caregivers (normally their grandmas) hold them in a squatting position and whistle, and babies learn to pee and poo when they hear that whistle. Because of this, they stop wearing diapers quite young and, to facilitate a fast positioning and evacuation of number 1s and 2s, they wear pants that are open in the crotch and leave their privates exposed for everyone to see.
I had warned my MIL that there was no way in hell my baby was going to wear split pants, so when she brought a bag of second hand clothes from C.’s cousin’s baby, I picked out all the split pants. Later my MIL bought some pants in a Chinese store and they are not split, but I can see that the sewing in the crotch is different and simpler than the sides so you can easily cut it open if you want. This way the pants become split but the “hole” is not big and round like the one in the picture so it’s more discreet.
– Extremely ugly designs and patterns
Whenever I pass by a Chinese brick and mortar baby/children clothing store I become so depressed. The designs are so incredibly ugly, with random English words here and there, colours that don’t match, two piece outfits that look like pyjamas but are supposed to be worn during the day, polyester princess dresses and endless frills for girls… “Lucky me”, one of C.’s friends brought us a box with Chinese style baby clothes. They are too big for now so Baby A. has not worn them yet, but I have already decided he will use them as a pyjamas. There is no way my baby is going outside in these:
– More layers than an onion
As I’ve mentioned several times in this blog, Chinese people believe cold is the number 1 cause of death. Cold, that silent killer! Babies are especially vulnerable because, well, they are small (never mind that babies are actually little furnaces). So they have to wear clothes upon clothes until they cannot even move and their little cheeks are bright red because they are boiling inside. Also, even if it isn’t cold outside yet, if the lunar calendar says autumn has started, then you have to start layering up.
– Back bib
This is related to the previous point. Because babies and children are forced to wear so many layers of clothes, they often sweat a lot. Enter the back bib! It is a piece of cloth that is placed on the child’s upper back, between the skin and the clothes, to absorb sweat. It even has a cute end that sticks out. Why remove an obviously not needed layer of clothing when you can use a back bib?!
– Caterpillar shoes
These ones are mostly fine, I guess, and I suppose they are comfy and convenient because there is no need to worry about laces. But they annoy me anyway because absolutely every child in China owns a pair of these shoes!! They are everywhere!! It’s like a caterpillar plague!!
Ok, this is not something that Chinese babies wear every day, but it’s something that is given as a gift for newborns: gold bracelets and pendants. They bring good luck or protection against evil spirits, I guess, and are supposed to be worn at the very least on the baby’s one month or 100 days banquet. I received like 7 or 8 of these gold things. Am I supposed to have Baby A. wear all of them at the same time on his 100 days banquet? And what do I do with them later? Well, looking at the bright side, I can sell all this gold in the next economic crisis if need be…
Bonus: shaved heads
This is not a piece of clothing/accessory but, like the caterpillar shoes, it is widely seen: many Chinese people still believe that if you shave a baby’s head, their hair will grow thicker and stronger. I say “still” because this was believed in Spain before too. Therefore, most Chinese babies, both boys and girls, have their heads shaved around the 3 months mark. Will I shave Baby A.’s hair? I guess you know the answer…
What do you think of these baby items? Is there any particular baby fashion trend in your country?
More posts about clothes and fashion in China here.
Split pants are 😆😆😆
nice post tho!
Split pants stop being funny when the child in question squats and does his business in the middle of the bus/subway carriage 😂
These are hilarious, Marta! Especially the split pants – I thought they were just broken pants at first! And back bibs… who would’ve thought!
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No split pants in HK then, I guess xD
I hate exposed booties and shaved hair… I find baby hair so cute, why would you even make your baby look like an unhappy 80 year old! :D
I can never understand this!
It’s even worse, to me those poor babies look like they have cancer!!
Oh yeah I agree with all of them except the shoes, never seen them before but I guess I am each year for just too short time there to notice.
The layers of clothes are insane imho, how on earth it is normal to wear 6 layers of clothes when it is over 30 degrees celsius? All people are horrorfied when they see our kids in shorts and tshirt when we visit…
I had to go to Shenzhen at the beginning of this month and took the baby with me. Shenzhen is very down south as you know and it was hot. Well guess what some lady told me in the subway: babies need to have their head covered!
Only a sweaty baby is a healthy baby ;D
Ha, those split pants are so unique to China. Seeing babies run around with their butts exposed look cute but it’s kind of awkward when they have holes in front too. It’s absurd but funny how much they wrap up babies too.
When I see those naked butts running around all I can think is “what a great way to spread and get germs”. My grandma didn’t even let me sit on the ground wearing clothes because she said I would get worms crawling inside xDD
Haha, yeah, that’s so true. They’re always running around outside so if they sit down, they’d get dirty. Your grandma sounds very protective, almost like a Chinese one, ha. My grandmother would tell me to change my clothes when I came home since outside was “dirty”.
I always love reading your insight on a foreigner’s perspective on some of China’s hilarious customs. Since I’ve been living in the States since I was 4, I can relate to both sides! The split pants are pretty ingenious, I think, but definitely not something that non-Chinese people are used to seeing. It is also a bit odd to see kids’ (mostly boys) private parts out in the open.
My mom is definitely a believer of the silent killer, cold. I guess it’s better to be a little bit warmer than cold, but Chinese people definitely tend to over-do it. The back bib is hilarious! I’ve never heard of that before. It seems they have devised a solution to the overheating babies and all of their sweat.
The exposed little jijis (小鸡鸡 hehe) or butts don’t really bother me, but I just think it’s wrong having it all out in the open when they are going to sit on things or on the ground! Plus, in the winter it must be cold!! Truth be told, young urban Chinese don’t choose split pants for their children anymore, it’s something done by grandmas mostly. They are also the ones teaching the baby to pee and poo on command.
It’s amazing how many layers Chinese people can wear. I can barely fit one pair of thin thermal leggins under my clothes, but C.’s grandma is already wearing 3 layers and we haven’t even been below 10℃. She looks fat with so many clothes on, even though she is very skinny xD
Split pants could save you a lot of money on diapers.
Or cost you a lot of money in rug replacement/ cleaning.
I’d rather spend the money on diapers, haha. Just yesterday I bought some cloth ones, I want to try them!
OMG. Half my younger siblings were cloth diapers and half were disposable. Do you want to waste water or fill up a landfill? You can only chose one…
I’ll try to do half and half, and also do some research about elimination communication so I can stop using diapers sooner!
Maybe the shaved heads also have something to do with lice.
I’ve never heard of the back bibs. Are they historical or a new invention?
I think the split pants go back centuries. Right? Do the babies with the split pants usually poo and pee in an appropriate place? I think I remember my husband telling me about seeing babies peeing in the dirt.
Oh, interesting that you mention lice. I know of a western mum here whose child got lice while on holidays abroad and she couldn’t find any treatment in China, and people thought it was weird she had lice. I thought children all over the world had them at some point! But usually it’s kindergarten or school aged kids who get them, and at that point girls at least are not shaved anymore, so it’s strange…
Well. Where they pee or poo depends on the caregiver… and sometimes they just squat and do it, no matter where they are… including buses and subways!
The split pants thing. UGH. I’ve heard about parents holding their kids over trash cans while they do their business. I find it appalling how ‘open’ they are about human waste, doing your business and so on in public. It must be quite the sight to see.
The gold. Heh, heh, heh. I definitely see toddlers in Cambodia and here wearing heavy gold necklaces or wearing those ‘blessing bracelets’ they got from a monk. Then ironically, they’d put that same kid on a motorbike in their mother’s arms with no helmet or protection whatsoever.
It’s a strange strange world out there.
YES, the trash can pee is a classic. Better than doing it on the floor, I guess? The funniest is when they do it next to a toilet because “toilets are dirty”.
I’ve heard stories of adults taking a dump on places like subway platforms but the only time I have seen someone that was not a baby pooing in public it was a 7-8 years old child, he was shitting in the street. This was in a small town in the north of China, 10 years ago. I passed by riding a bike and he waved at me xDDDD
Omg, the onion thing and back bib…. why…!?!!? Do babies ever die from being too hot?
And the gold! You should bling out your baby, put some glasses on, make him look balla! All jokes aside, I do remember my Vietnamese family giving gold to babies. Must be chinese custom that still lingers in Vietnam!
Very interesting post. Didn’t know about the catepillar shoes! Must be a new trend?
I haven’t heard about babies dying of overheating, luckily! I guess they just endure it and sweat a lot… onto the back bib xD
Loved this post Marta. Didn’t know about the whistling though. Learnt something else today about the Chinese. And as for back bibs!!!!!
You have never seen a grandma holding a baby over a trash can and whistling? You are lucky, haha!
Yes, I was aware of the pee-pee hole but not aware of the bum hole for baby’s clothing. I learned of it from immigrant relatives with 2 young boys.
I suspect shaving of hair also reduced problems…of lice in hair…at least in old China. You’ve seen those wooden /plastic lice combs?
In Canada, no way my parents could have afforded nor want to deck out a baby in a gold whatever jewellery.
Wow swaddling baby like that in hot weather….good heavens. Sometimes immigration is a good thing…old wrong habits…just need to go away. ;)
Yes hehe, sometimes you need to see how other people do things to reconsider if your way is the best one.
I have seen lice combs, the ones with metal pins very close together. In fact in my previous job we manufactured them, among other things, to export to Spain. Dunno if people in China use/need them as apparently no lice here…
Hmmm…it was a long ago, lice combs more in rural areas. I’ve seen the plastic wooden ones.
I bet most mum’s around you are jealous or admire you. They can probably see the babies are furnaces but daren’t say anything to keep the peace. Then comes you, ‘like sh*t I doing that!’…
Well, part of my success is because my MIL is a reasonable woman. If I had to be fighting over everything every single day, I might have to give up on some things and focus on the really important, like “no, 2 week olds cannot eat rice soup” xD
Did you decide if the designer baby grow on IG were pj’s or outside clothes? I’m going with street clothes!
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I think the split pans is just for kids to shit more conveniently, haha
Oh that’s for sure, when they are not wearing diapers, haha. Squat and go!
Oh the split pants. Great way to let the fresh baby farts go out in the open ;)
Haha… this is a funny post mate.. keep em’ coming!
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