Baby headbands serve a single purpose — and that is not to keep the kid’s head warm or their skull plates together. Scrolling through parenting websites, it becomes clear that moms turn to the band simply so there is no confusion about their baby’s assigned sex. And you can understand why; after all, the first question expecting parents get is “is it a boy or a girl?” Hell, the number-one question I get while walking my dog is whether it’s a boy or girl. Heaven forbid there be confusion or mislabeling about a baby or canine’s sex!
If baby headbands were merely cute or aesthetically pleasing decor for an otherwise disconcertingly large head, we would put them on boys, too. But the truth of the matter is we don’t put hardly anything on boys. There’s no equivalent accessory for baby “boys” because boys don’t need a special signifier — boys are the default. Boys exist; girls are adorned. Boys are dressed; girls are accessorized. It has become more common for all babies to be coded as strong, smart and sporty through their clothing. But it’s one-directional. Girl-babies wear sporty outfits and shirts that have dinosaurs or outer space on them. How often do you see someone put a boy-baby in a dress, or in pink or purple, or in pants with unicorns on them?
Someone out there is probably saying, look, the world is basically a trash fire, certainly a girly foofy headband is not a big deal. And you’re right; baby headbands are pretty far down the list of Terrible Things, far below wearing backpacks on the subway and slightly above fighting with Alexa to make her understand you. Luckily for us all, a headband-wearing baby will still one day self-actualize to express their gender and sexuality however they please.