Finding out the baby’s gender is one of the highlights of pregnancy for many parents, as this serves as their starting point to prepare the things their child will need when they enter the world. After all, how do parents know if they should get blue or pink items without knowing what their baby’s gender is in the first place?
Today, however, more parents are opting for a more unisex approach. Their reason? To make sure that their offspring aren’t tied to the gender stereotypes imposed by society.
Thanks in part to celebrities such as Pink and Angelina Jolie who said that they are bringing up their offspring in a gender-neutral environment, this parenting method has become a trendy approach to raising children. This strategy though, is actually backed up by science. Health journalist Helen Thomson noted that taking on a gendered approach may be harmful to kids in the long run. A BBC documentary showed that children developed better behaviour and self-esteem when they attended a school that promoted gender neutrality. The mounting evidence supporting a unisex approach to parenting has led to an increasing number of parents following this method.
If you’re considering raising your offspring in a gender-neutral environment, the good news is that you can actually take certain steps to promote this even before your child is born. Here are some strategies that you can apply:
Pick a unisex name
If you’re serious about using a gender-neutral approach to raise your child, a good first step would be to choose a unisex name such as Alex, Jamie, or Sam. If you want a more off-beat choice, you can choose a name that is traditionally identified with the opposite sex of your baby. For instance, Blake Lively and Ryan Reynolds had no qualms about naming their daughter James.
Decorate your nursery properly
If you want to make your child’s room as gender-neutral as possible, you can follow the advice given in ‘Decorating Your Baby’s Nursery’ and choose a neutral shade for the walls and flooring. Gender-neutral shades include yellow, green, gray, and cream.
A neutral-toned room doesn’t necessarily mean boring, because you can pair the neutral backdrop with brightly-coloured decorations. For instance, What to Expect suggests hanging a multi-coloured mobile as part of the decor. Alternatively, you can style the room following a gender-neutral theme such as woodlands or the beach or a carnival.
Shopping for clothes
Kate Pietrasik, founder of children’s clothing line Tootsa, expressed her bewilderment with dressing infants in gender-themed clothes, especially pieces that have worded prints like ‘Little Princess’. In an interview with Gurgle, the designer stated, “I find it particularly strange when they’re seen on tiny babies who haven’t even managed their first words yet.”
The type of clothes you choose may not only affect how children see themselves later on in life, these items can also have an impact on how other people interact with them. In effect, biases are formed towards them even before they are able to walk and talk. Pietrasik advocates not only for parents to dress their children in a wide variety of colours and designs, she also promotes choosing apparel that would give the little ones freedom of movement so they can follow an active lifestyle.
In the case of newborns, you can get onesies that come in all colours. It isn’t necessary to avoid blues and pinks, so long as you mix them up with other shades such as green, yellow, purple, and red.
Shopping for toys shouldn’t be too difficult, as the concept of taking on a gender-neutral approach means allowing children to have different types of playthings, from cars to dolls. What’s more important is to get toys that will teach them to learn developmental skills and allow them to exercise their creativity and imagination.
About the Author
JenwithKids: As a mother of four and a career woman, Jen lives a hectic life. Having worked in HR all her life, she still has a passion to help professionals find their perfect job. Away from work, Jen dedicates her time to her family. She also contributes to several parenting blogs, in an effort to impart some of the lessons she’s learnt along the way. A movie fan at heart, Jen is obsessed with sci-fi and animation films.