Baby Shopping: “Mtumba” vs New Clothes

As silly as it may seem most people have varying opinions about the safety of second hand or ‘mtumba’ clothes for their babies, especially if the child in question is a first born. The concerns surrounding ‘mtumba’ clothes range from the fear of them causing skin illnesses to the fear of them transferring insects such as lice. We asked a select group of mothers where they purchased their baby’s clothes and 1 out of 4 mothers said they only dressed them in store bought clothes during the first few months after birth. Though, a few months down the line all the mothers said they had begun buying ‘mtumba’ clothes for their babies.

Probing further, we looked to find out if any of the babies had suffered from any skin reaction caused primarily by the clothes? While some babies did develop a rash (diagnosed as eczema) this was mainly a reaction to the fabric which would have still occurred if the clothing was store bought. It’s important to note that there is not much research on the safety of second hand clothes for babies. This is one area where I would advise mothers to follow their gut and consult their doctor at the first sign of concern or to establish what might work best for their baby.

Overall based on these discussions, ‘mtumba’ clothes if washed properly and disinfected, often pose no health risk to the child. This is because any germs on the clothes should be eliminated once the clothes have been soaked in water with some disinfectant and thoroughly rinsed. In addition, most insects are usually killed by the detergent used to soak and wash the clothes.

This then boils down the main consideration surrounding whether or not to buy ‘mtumba’ clothes for your baby to your budget. For example, one can purchase a baby romper at a ‘mtumba’ stall for roughly Ksh. 100 while a similar romper at the supermarket or any clothes store may retail for Ksh. 500 or more. Bearing in mind that babies out grow their clothes very quickly and hence will graduate to the next clothes size within a couple of weeks makes this extra savings have a huge impact on how many clothes you can buy while on a limited budget.

That being said, it is still important to always call your pediatrician should you notice any strange or sudden changes in your babies skin regardless of where you bought his/her clothes from.

Kindly let us know if you were a ‘Mtumba-Mom’ or ‘New-Clothes Mom’ and how this worked out for you and your family by leaving a comment below. In addition, take a look at the photo included and let us know which one you think is ‘mtumba’ 

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