Today’s Hint: How to Dress Your Kids for a Crowd

Note from Hint Mama: Every Wednesday is hint sharing day over at Hint Mama’s Facebook page. One Wednesday earlier this month, Hint Mama contributor Karen Witham shared a hint that was so brilliant, I asked her to write it up into a hint. Check out her clever hint below, and share a recent hint – or ask for hints on a certain subject – over at Hint Mama’s Facebook page.

The idea came to me about a year ago, when I was perusing the sale rack at Old Navy and saw some hideously (I thought) bright-yellowish/greenish kids’ shirts on sale. The price was so low I talked myself into considering them.

When I saw both a boys’ and girls’ shirt side-by-side in my cart, something clicked: “These shirts would be great for making my kids highly visible in a crowd,” I thought, hitting on a strategy for not losing your kids during travel and in crowded places. Voilà, today’s hint.

KarenWMy trick: Dress your kids in bright, matching neon colors to spot them more easily in a crowd and help them spot each other. Bonus points if you wear the same color, too.

Back at Old Navy, I bought those shirts, and now, whenever I see size-appropriate neon colors on sale I snatch them up.

I dressed my kids in the Old Navy neon matching shirts on our flight last fall to visit my parents in Florida. We had to change planes, and the shirts kept my kids visible in the airport crowds. They also wore them on our trip to Disney World, where I was comforted by the idea that if my kids did get lost, the shirts would be an easy first description: think “two kids ages 4 and 6 in matching fluorescent lime green shirts.”

Others also advocate dressing kids alike when in crowds. The BrickHouse Security Blog, for instance, offers six tips for not losing your child in a crowd, and dressing alike is one of them, and this Wiki page has similar tips.

Meanwhile, there are other things you can do as well to help keep tabs on your kids when many other people are around. If you are attending an event where the kids might be running around in the dark, consider reflective safety gear, whether you add reflective tape to existing clothing or buy these economical vests from Ikea. I stick the Ikea vests on my kids whenever we’re camping, as they like to bike and scooter around the campground. Elsewhere, Frommer’s has some great related ideas too.

Finally, it’s also important to think about making yourself highly visible for your kids, too. I bought those same Ikea vests in adult sizes for my husband and myself, as I’m hoping we can all go to a camping music festival next year.

Along the same lines, when my kids were smaller, my husband bought some bright red Vans and told our kids to look for the red shoes if they got separated at a playground. And recently, on a visit to the Gap, I found a ladies’ neon yellow t-shirt. I snapped it up so that mom, too, can match the kids and be highly visible in a crowd.

What tips did I miss? What are your tips for keeping track of your kids in crowds?

Karen Witham is a mother of two children who she can’t believe are already ages five and six. She spends her time on both sides of the Bay, working full-time as an editor and writer in San Francisco and living in Oakland. A transplant from the East Coast, she spent ten years living in Boston and also loves New York and most of all, Paris. Karen has a B.A. from Brown University and an M.A. from Emerson College. She blogs at Thoughtstream. Connect with her on Twitter at @kewitham or LinkedIn.

Follow Hint Mama on Facebook and Twitter, and read more about her and her disclosures.

Photo credit: Karen Witham

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  1. VW says

    My kids tend to wander off so I bought them both a Road ID wristband that has a plaque with their name, DOB, address and my contact info. They comes in kids sizes and are good for trips to the mall, amusement parks and traveling. They are pretty handy.

    • says

      Sounds like a very good investment. I’ve heard mixed things about labeling kids’ things with their own names — for smaller kids, there is a view that thinks someone could read off their name and use it to gain their trust. A bracelet would be tough to read unless up close, though.

  2. Anna says

    We went the cheap and paranoid route for labeling our toddler during a recent trip. (I call myself paranoid because I’m not sure how much of a real risk it is to put her name on her in a way that is not easily visible, but even so, I avoided putting her name on her.)

    I took a small piece of scrap cloth (from old khaki pants, which are very different in color from any of her kiddie clothing, so it will stand out) and wrote in permanent marker on it. One side reads “Am I lost?” Flip it over to read “Call my Mommy: [cell phone # here]”. We safety-pinned this to her back, where her hands can’t reach (with the “Am I lost?” side showing).

    No label, obviously, is a substitute for keeping our eyes/hands on her in a crowd (airport, zoo, music festival, etc.). But we all already know that. This provides the extra security of knowing that IF that “moment” happens (“I turned around for a second!!”), there is an extra tool available for reuniting us.


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