Dressing your baby

Everyone loves dressing a baby, your friends and family will all want to buy clothes for your baby. You are bound to take great pride in his appearance, and might like to buy some dressy clothes for special occasions, but thereís no need to spend a lot of money- he will grow out of clothes very quickly.

Remember as far as your baby is concerned anything goes as long as itís soft and comfortable to wear, and can be put on and taken off without too much disturbance.

Your baby will dribble on his clothes, and there are bound to be accidents and leaks from nappies, so buy only machine-washable, colour-fast clothing, and avoid white-it quickly gets dirty, and frequent washing makes it drab. Look for soft and comfortable clothes with no hard seams or rough stitching. Toweling, cotton, or pure wool clothes will feel nicer on your babyís skin. If you do buy clothes made of synthetic fibres, check that they feel soft.

Always choose clothes that are non flammable, and avoid open-weave shawls and cardigans, because your babyís fingers could easily get caught in the holes. Check the fastenings, too: poppers in the crotch allow easy access to the nappy area, and poppers at the neck mean your baby wonít grow out of something quickly just because his head is too big for the neck opening. Babies hate having their faces covered, so look for wide, envelope necks or clothes that fasten down the front. Front-fastening clothes also allow you to dress (or undress) your baby without having to turn him over.

Make a note of your babyís measurements and bring this with you when you go shopping for baby clothes. Babies of the same age vary a great deal in size, so look at the height and weight given on the label rather than the age. If in doubt, buy the larger size: loose-fitting clothes are warmer and much more comfortable than clothes that are too small and your baby will soon grow into them.

Basic layette

  • 6 wide-neck cotton vests or T-shirt
  • 1 hat
  • 1 shawl for swaddling
  • 8 all-in-one stretch suits
  • 2 woollen jackets or cardigan
  • 2 nightdresses with drawstring ends
  • 2 pairs of socks and padders
  • 2 pairs of mittens (for winter)
  • 1 padded or fleecy all-in-one pram suit

CHOOSING CLOTHES Easy-fitting clothes will give your baby the most comfort and warmth. Pay special attention to the cuffs, ankles, and neck where fastenings could cause discomfort.

BABY SLEEPING BAG A baby sleeping bag is a good alternative to blankets. It canít be kicked off so keeps your baby warm and snug all night long.

ALL IN ONE Suits like this allow easy access for night-time changes. The type without feet may be best in summer so your baby doesnít get too hot

Keeping your baby warm

You may worry that your new baby isnít warm enough, but a few common-sense precautions will keep him comfortable and safe. Remember that babies can easily become too hot; this could lead to heat rash, and is also a factor in cot death.

  • A great deal of body heat is lost through a bare head; make sure your baby always wears a hat when you take him outdoors.
  • Very young babies are unable to conserve body heat, and should be undressed only in a well-heated room and out of draughts.
  • Your babyís room should be at a constant temperature and the number of blankets he needs will depend on this temperature.
  • If your baby is cold, you may need to warm him up. Adding a layer of clothes is not enough in itself; you need to put him in a warmer place first so that he can regain his normal body temperature, or hold him close to share your body heat.
  • Never leave your baby to sleep in the sun, or close to a source of direct heat such as a radiator.
  • Wrap your baby up if you take him outdoors, but remove outdoor clothes once you bring him inside again, otherwise he wonít be able to cool down efficiently.

Dressing your baby

At first you may be nervous about dressing and undressing your baby, but it will become easier with practice, so just be gentle and patient. Always dress and undress a young baby on a non-slip flat surface, as this allows you to cry as you take off his clothes. This is because feel snug and secure. Itís not because youíre hurting him, so donít get flustered by him if he does cry.

How to dress your baby

  • PUT VEST OVER HEAD Lay your baby on a flat, non-slip surface and check her nappy is clean. Roll the vest up and pull the neck apart. Put it over her head so that it doesnít touch her face, raising her head slightly as you do so.
  • VEST ARMHOLES Widen the left sleeve or armhole and gently guide your babyís arm through it. Repeat with the other arm. Pull the vest down.
  • STRETCH SHUT Lay your baby on top of the open suit. Gather up each sleeve and guide her fists through. Open up each leg and guide her feet into the stretch suit. Fasten the suit.

How to undress your baby

  • UNDOING THE SUIT Put your baby on a flat, non-slip surface and unfasten his stretch suit. If is nappy needs changing, gently pull both legs out of the suit so that his top remains covered while you change him.
  • REMOVING THE TOP Grasp each sleeve by the cuff and gently slide your babyís hand out. If heís wearing a vest, roll it up towards the neck and gently pull his arms from the sleeves, holding him by each elbow as you do so.
  • TAKING OFF THE VEST Stretch the neck of the vest as wide as you can and do lift it over your babyís head, keep the fabric off his face.

Dressing on your lap

When your baby is three or four months old, heíll have enough muscle control to sit on your lap while you dress and undress him.

SIT WITH YOUR LEGS CROSSED Your baby will fit neatly in the hollow of your legs. Cradle her feet with your arm, as her back will still need some support. You may find it easier to deal with her bottom half while sheís lying flat.

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