Why I Chose Organic Baby Clothes

Katie Wells Avatar

Reading Time: 6 minutes

This post contains affiliate links.

Read my affiliate policy.

Why we switched to organic baby clothese- and how you can too- even on a tight budget
Wellness Mama » Blog » Motherhood » Why I Chose Organic Baby Clothes

This may be a controversial post, although I don’t intend it to be! This pregnancy, I’m making the switch to almost all organic baby clothes. This isn’t something I did (or was able to do) with our other children, nor was it something I considered a priority until recently. In fact, there are several reasons that I’m just now making this switch with our 6th baby.

Organic Baby Clothes: Why We Switched

With our first two children (a boy and a girl), we were so grateful to receive hand-me-downs and not have to purchase many baby items at all. In fact, we used these same clothes for all of our children, but after being worn by 2 boys and three girls and stored in the attic in between, there were very few clothing items that were still wearable.

Earlier this year when I cleaned out the attic and took stock of the baby clothes, I found exactly 6 items that were not stained or had holes beyond repair. A lot had also dry-rotted from the time stored in the attic.

Since I knew I’d need to replace most of the baby clothes anyway, I started researching the most sustainable and eco-friendly options for baby clothes and discovered that almost all of them were organic lines.

Our family has eaten almost completely organic for years, but I hadn’t prioritized organic clothing in the past. When I started researching, I found that perhaps this should have been a priority for me much sooner… Here’s why:

Pesticide Use on Cotton Crops

Cotton is one of the most sprayed crops in the world.

In fact, while cotton only makes up 3% of the total farmed land area, it accounts for 25% of the insecticides and 10% of the pesticides used worldwide, making it one of the most chemically treated crops. Because of these troubling statistics I decided to purchase organic baby clothes to do our part to reduce the amount of pesticides used, but also to help protect our baby’s delicate skin.

There are dozens of pesticides used on cotton crops and about half of them have been named as possible or probably carcinogens by the EPA.

Our last baby struggled with eczema, and I always wondered if it was partly due to being born breech and not getting the same bacterial transfer during the birth process, but I also thought that her clothing might have contributed to the problem since she seemed to react to wearing clothes for a while.

Environmental Impact

Startlingly, only about 10% of the pesticides used on cotton crops are thought to actually accomplish their job and the rest ends up in the air and water supply. The EPA estimates that up to 2 million birds may be killed annually from just one of the insecticides used on cotton.

Thankfully, most pesticide residue is removed from cotton during processing, but small amounts remain and the environmental impact is still tremendous.

Problems with Processing

If pesticide and herbicide use were the only problem with cotton crops, that would certainly be bad enough, but the problems don’t stop there.

Cotton also requires dozens more chemicals, including bleach, during the long process of turning raw cotton into fiber for clothing and even food. Cottonseed oil, though not technically considered an edible oil, undergoes a long chemical process to become a usable food oil.

Synthetic Fabric & Clothing

While conventional cotton sprayed with dozens of pesticides isn’t a great option, it is still typically a better option than many synthetic fabrics.

Many synthetic fabrics are made with petrochemicals, plastics and other substances that have been linked to endocrine disruption, hormone imbalance, and even potentially some types of cancer. Sound crazy? Think of all the problems with plastic use in our homes and environment and consider having those plastic chemicals in contact with your body’s largest organ for all or part of the day… every single day.

Flame Retardant Chemicals

Aside from the problems with the fabric itself, there is a bigger issue looming with many children’s clothing: finishing chemicals and flame retardants.

This is a tough issue. On the one hand, protecting children from fire with flame retardant chemicals seems like a great idea. On the other hand, the chemicals used in this process, including PBDEs, have been linked to various problems including hormone disruption, early onset of puberty, and developmental delays.

Over 80% of children’s items tested (including clothing, bedding and cloth toys) contained these chemicals and these chemicals were found in blood and urine samples of most children and even in breastmilk.

Organic Baby Clothes: What to Do

The great news is that while there are a bevy of bad options for baby clothes, there are some great options as well. Organic cotton is growing in popularity and organic cotton farming is emerging as a major crop in recent years with good reason.

Organic cotton is grown sustainably and without toxic pesticides or other chemicals. There are strict guidelines for growing, transporting and processing this cotton to avoid contamination. Not only is this option much more environmentally friendly, it is safer for the farmers and their families and provides a long-term solution for cotton growth as pests are becoming increasingly resistant to pesticides.

Thankfully, whether you are expecting your first child and starting from scratch, or already have one or more children, there are simple (and inexpensive) options for avoiding harmful chemicals in clothing:

1. Organic Clothing

If you are starting from scratch with baby clothes (like I am this pregnancy), consider creating a simple capsule wardrobe and choosing all organic clothing. While organic clothing is sometimes more expensive, I’ve found great deals on organic clothing making it the same price or cheaper than the main baby brands.

As a sixth-time mom, I also realize that with my first couple of children, we had many more clothes than we actually needed. Sure, they were hand-me-downs, but I spent so much time washing, folding and organizing the mountain of baby clothes… and my kids never even wore some of them because they had so many! In fact, babies wear the first couple newborn sizes for such a short period of time that only my favorite 7-10 outfits for them were ever even used.

To simplify, I’m sticking to just those 7-10 outfits this time from the beginning. Reducing the amount of clothing we have has allowed me to choose higher quality options and not spend any more money. I purchased 7 outfits and some extra onesies and hats from these brands and didn’t spend any more than I would have at any baby store:

  • L’ovedbaby
  • Under the Nile
  • Burt’s Bees Baby
    (Update: I purchased and received as gifts a few items from Burt’s Bees. I feel it important to note that this company is now owned by Clorox and does contribute money to prevent GMO labeling and has changed the original organic formula of many Burt’s Bees products. From my research, their clothing is still organic and as I said, I received some items from them, but do not consider them the best choice of organic clothing.)
  • ThredUp: I was also able to get many of these brands secondhand through ThredUp – a win for the environment and my budget.
  • Etsy: Unfortunately, there are no local companies that make organic baby clothing where we live, but I have several crafty friends who do and the homemade blankets and clothing from them are my most treasured baby items. I love handmade items so much that I often look on Etsy for baby gifts and kids’ clothing now.

Other Organic Brands:

As demand grows, there are thankfully quite a few brands that meet organic standards but that I have not personally purchased from (since we are buying so few outfits for this baby). Thanks to readers who vetted and suggested these options. Most of these are available online and some are available in local boutiques or stores. I’ve linked them here to give an idea of the pricing and styles of each brand:

2. Second Hand Natural Fiber Clothing

My research on baby clothes made me want to throw away all our non-organic clothes and start from scratch, but since this is neither financially responsible or remotely reasonable (I have NO desire to shop for a new wardrobe for 8 people!), I found a second solution: choosing natural fiber clothing second hand when possible.

As I mentioned above, while cotton is highly treated with pesticides, dyes and bleach, most of the residue is removed before it is made into clothing (though not all, so organic is still the best option when it is possible). Synthetic materials, however, contain plastics and chemicals that are not removed during processing and which can be absorbed through the skin and affect the body in various ways.

Since (most of us) have to wear clothes anyway, we can reduce much of our exposure to chemicals in clothing by choosing natural fiber clothing (cotton, wool, silk, cashmere, hemp, and linen). Even better (and more eco-friendly) is to choose natural fiber clothing from second hand sources like thrift stores and consignment shops. Not only is this more eco-friendly since clothing is being reused, but these items are also typically less expensive and have been washed multiple times to remove any remaining residue.

As much as I’d love to, I can’t fully replace all of our wardrobes with only organic options (though I am going to do this slowly if we need to purchase new items), but I can choose natural fiber fabrics and purchase second hand when possible. (TIP: I’ve found that our local thrift and consignment stores often have some incredible deals on natural fiber clothing (cotton, linen, etc.) when I have the time to look!

Bottom Line

In a perfect world, we could all choose organic clothing all the time and remove the need for synthetic materials and highly sprayed cotton… Heck, in a perfect world, we’d also be avoiding plastics and choosing all organic food too (or growing our own).

Since that isn’t possible for most families, we can still make positive changes by choosing safer options whenever possible, especially because these options don’t have to be more expensive and can even save money! Choosing natural fiber materials from second-hand stores benefits us, the planet and our budgets and helps reduce the need for environmentally taxing new materials to be created.

Have you ever considered organic clothing? Purchase anything second hand? Will you consider it now?

Katie Wells Avatar

About Katie Wells

Katie Wells, CTNC, MCHC, Founder of Wellness Mama and Co-founder of Wellnesse, has a background in research, journalism, and nutrition. As a mom of six, she turned to research and took health into her own hands to find answers to her health problems. WellnessMama.com is the culmination of her thousands of hours of research and all posts are medically reviewed and verified by the Wellness Mama research team. Katie is also the author of the bestselling books The Wellness Mama Cookbook and The Wellness Mama 5-Step Lifestyle Detox.


96 responses to “Why I Chose Organic Baby Clothes”

  1. Mary Avatar

    You suggest buying from secondhand but one of the main concerns I have is the use of fabric softeners and the sheer volume of chemicals found in either those, the dryer sheets, or even some laundry detergents. Personal experience (only) is that it’s difficult to remove once they’ve been exposed (just by smelling the garment) -but are you aware of any research on this? Can we remove past treatments in an article of clothing? Thanks!

  2. Angela Avatar

    You should consider adding Lucy Lue Organics to the list. Really simple, but cute organic baby styles. Very good quality, too.

  3. Jessica Avatar

    Good Day Katie

    Could you please provide a list of sources to back all of the statistics you have shared? In your blog post you make many claims about organic vs conventional farming practices, but I didn’t notice a section where you share your sources of information. I am new to reading your blog, so maybe I have missed where you make these references.

    Also – thank you for highlighting that the Clorox brand (financially) supports preventing GMO labeling. I will do some follow up research on this to further understand this company’s stance on the subject matter. I personally am always happy to help support companies who support GMO’s and the science behind them.

    I do hope that you include this comment with the others, based on the content of the comment section, I would hazard a guess that it is being filtered/moderated. I always appreciate a healthy, positive discussion on matters and believe it would be detrimental to not include comments/questions/concerns that may differ with your own or your audiences opinions.

    Thank you.

  4. Ryan Jacobson Avatar
    Ryan Jacobson

    I didnt realize the environmental impact was so huge. I buy burts bees on clearance but I also had to buy some Carters for my baby because I have small babies and BB runs about a size big. Hoping to find more affordable options in the future for sure.

  5. Sindy Avatar

    I love organic baby clothes and I never buy baby clothes from second hand. I like to know that clothes are clean and unused, also I choose antibacterial merino wool baby clothes. They are also thermal and don’t cause the allergies. I highly recommend for everyone to try those merino wool clothes. I’m buying from Amazon Green Rose company. They have nice customer service and orders always on time.

  6. Grace Avatar

    Hanna Anderson has some lovely stuff as does G’day Baby an Australian brand.

  7. Jaci Avatar

    Hello Katie,
    This is kind of exciting posting on your site for the first time but considering the topic I had to. I’m glad to see that other people are concerned about issues like burt’s bees being bought out by Clorox. It is a tough balance (we have seven kids to cloth and feed!) but if we don’t hold rue to our conviction then nothing will ever change.

    I have another organic baby brand to add to the list Coco & Leelee
    The line is filled with colorful baby clothes and designer denim. Supper cute and they go all the way down to Newborn sizes.

    P.S. Your gyro recipe from you cookbook is one of my families very favorites. My husband says it is one of these meals you wish you start all over again. Thank you!

  8. Anne Avatar

    Great read! Love how informative this post is. You should check out Lucy Lue Organics. A fairly new shop that offers modern simplistic styles in gender neutral colors. They are affordable too. Exceptional quality.

  9. Corinna Avatar

    I find the cost here in Canada is absolutely ridiculous. But what to do with them after? Especially if you aren’t having more kids. People here will only buy used clothing for pennies on the dollar. I’m the only person I know who buys organic kids clothes….:/

  10. Sindyloo Avatar

    I am totally agree with an author. Organic clothes are very important for our kids. My baby is an allergic for synthetic fabric and I had to find something what wouldn’t irritate baby’s skin. I tried Green Rose production. They are sewing clothes from merino wool. As I know merino wool has an ability to regulate body’s temperature, so they are good and for winter time and for summer. From that time when I started to dress my baby with merino wool clothes, the skin calmed down:)))

  11. Pooja Avatar

    This article was very helpful Baby boy clothes are very cute specially the Organic Baby clothes

  12. Amy Avatar

    Organic cotton is much more costly to produce, the yeilds are lower, and take more land to produce, so many farmers prefer quantity over quality. You should look for GOTS certified cotton and USDA EcoCert Bamboo certifications when purchasing all your organic products.

  13. Jade Brunet Avatar
    Jade Brunet

    Thank you for sharing this information about why you choose organic baby clothes. I did not realize that there are dozens of pesticides on cotton crops. It would be good to prevent possible harm by keeping these materials from children. Something to consider would be find organic children’s’ clothing for prices within your budget.

  14. Sandra Avatar

    I’m wondering if anyone can give feedback on preteen organic clothing that fits nicely in there sometimes awkward bodies … at some point lands end fit nicely but not anymore and now justice is the only brand that fits my dd well she is 12 going on 13 .. I hate all that store stands for lol but it’s what fits her without making her feel awkawRd .. I’d love to find a similar fit but organic ..14S and size 12 tops

    1. Wellness Mama Avatar

      That age is really tough to find organic clothing for. I’d say that finding XS or S women’s clothing would be your best bet, but I find that many of the organic options for adults are very earthy/natural looking and probably not what a teen or preteen would want. Pact would probably be the most teen friendly I can think of: https://wearpact.com/

  15. vanessa Smith Avatar
    vanessa Smith

    Hi. I always buy second hand organic clothes directly from the old owner . I think its much more sustainable than buying new ones , even if its organic.
    Like that i can avoid the usual spraying of the second-hand shops.
    But still, i don’t manage to avoid the scented smells of softeners and detergents because most of the people use it.
    So i would like to ask is someone knows an effective way ( a really one) of wash out the old softener and detergent from cloths, specially from wool- wool is harder to take it out since it can’t be strongly washed .
    So if anyone could help me i would really appreciate it.

  16. linda carol Avatar
    linda carol

    Hey,Thanks for the great guideline and Excellent. Just what I was looking for. I will have to give these a try. I will let you know how they work out. Great article. I always feel lightheaded/dizzy after shopping in a clothing store/mall.

  17. Shef Avatar

    Just found this post! I am a FTM and doing my best to incorporate organic pieces with hand-me-downs. It helps me limit what I buy because I tell myself that I will accept convention cotton gifts for the most part but only buy the organic items if I AM the one shopping. I’ve had really good luck on the consignment websites including Swap and also on Amazon when organic clothes are marked with a price range (I just look for the cheapest size/color combination) including items from L’ovedbaby. I did get some Burt’s Bees Baby clothes from buybuybaby because for whatever reason I find organic items on clearance there. My favorite place to shop has been eBay and it’s great because you can find new or used and you can ask the seller any questions you may have about how they washed the item ! I’m almost 38 weeks but still on the hunt for a few organic toys and lovies – otherwise I’ll buy as I go for clothes! Other brands I like are: PACT and Winter Water Factory (WWF is too expensive for me to buy new but beautiful to look at!)

  18. Raquel Avatar

    Thanks for this article!
    This is my first pregnancy and I intend to use organic clothing.
    In regards to you mentioning Burts Bees, organic baby clothing is still a “radical” idea to many small town persons. I have decided not to have a baby shower because friends and family think requesting organic clothing is pretentious. Here, people gift things from the dollar store and the goal for most pregnant mothers is quantity over quality. Also, even the people who have agreed would never order things online, so unfortunately Burts Bees is one of the easiest suggestions I can fathom, that is available in a large chain store. Also, when thrifting baby clothes, organic Burts Bees is common. I appreciate that your post catered also to small town people like myself!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *