Women's Healthcare Topics

How to Dress Your Newborn Baby

Reviewed by James Brann, M.D.

Dressing your Baby will Become Second Nature

When you're a first-time mom, dressing your newborn baby can be a daunting experience. If you've never cared for an infant before, you may be worried of "breaking" your baby. Don't be nervous – newborns aren't as dainty and fragile as you may think.

Until your baby is about six months old, he or she will not have the ability to regulate his or her body temperature well. This means that infants can easily become too hot or too cold. It is your responsibility to keep your newborn warm and comfortable. Be careful not to overdress your newborn. Overheating can increase your baby's risk of SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome).

How to Swaddle Your Newborn Baby

In the first month of life, your newborn baby will be spending a lot of time wrapped up in a receiving blanket (or a special swaddling blanket). Swaddling will keep your baby warm, and the snug pressure of the blanket around your infant's body gives him or her a sense of security. Swaddling also calms down a fussy baby, and it may just lull him or her to sleep.

To swaddle your baby, you need to spread the receiving blanket out on a flat surface, with a corner folded over. Next, place your baby down on his or her back on top of the blanket, with your baby's head at the folded corner. Wrap the left corner of the blanket over your baby's body and tuck it underneath him or her. Then, bring the bottom corner up over your child's feet and wrap the right corner around your infant. Swaddling will not cover your baby's head or neck.

Not to worry – before you leave the hospital, the nursing staff will give you a lesson in swaddling your newborn. In addition, the more that you swaddle, the better you will get at the technique.

How to Dress Your Baby

This article explains the best way to dress a newborn baby.

Most newborns hate to be naked, but dressing your baby can be a challenge. The first time that you try to get your baby's tiny arm through a sleeve, he or she may wail in protest. Newborns are used to being constantly surrounded by warm amniotic fluid, so when they are stripped of their source of warmth (clothes), they cry.

You will want to make the entire process as painless as you possibly can. When buying clothes for your new baby, consider buying outfits that snap (or zip) down the front, not the back. This will make dressing your baby much easier on you. To make diaper changes hassle-free, choose outfits that snap or zip down the legs. You should also avoid any fancy outfits that use ribbons or strings that wrap around the neck. (This can lead to choking.) Stretchy fabric is best.

When shopping for baby clothes, pay attention to the fabrics used. In the winter months, you might want to choose heavy cotton, fleece, or terry cloth. When it's warmer outside, stick to soft, breathable cotton fabrics.

To dress your baby, you should lay your baby down on a flat surface. Talk to your baby the entire time in soothing tones. Next, stretch the neckline of the outfit and pull it over your child's head. Use your fingers to keep the neckline from grazing your newborn's ears or face.

Next, take the sleeves of the outfit and stretch them with your hands. Put your hand through the sleeve from the outside, take hold of your baby's hand and pull it through. You should never try to push your infant's arm through the sleeve.

When it's time to undress your baby, support your baby's head and back while you slip the sleeves off one at a time. You should stretch the neckline before you gently slip it off.

Newborn Clothing Tips

Unless it's warm outside (75 degrees Fahrenheit or higher), your infant will need to wear a couple layers of clothes to keep warm. In general, you will want to dress your baby in an undershirt beneath his or her pajamas, sleep sack, or infant bodysuit. On top of that, you'll want to swaddle your newborn in a receiving blanket.

In the summertime, when the temperature is hot, you can limit your baby's clothing to only one layer. As a rule of thumb, your baby only requires an extra layer of clothing than you do at the same room temperature.

In the first couple of months, it will take practice to be able to distinguish whether your baby is too cold or too hot. Your infant is probably at a comfortable temperature if he or she is sleeping comfortable, feeding well, and isn't too fussy. You can also check your baby's skin – such as the back of the neck and stomach – to make sure they're not too hot or cold.

Your baby will start to fuss or cry when he or she isn't comfortable. If your infant is sweaty, chances are he or she is overdressed and too warm. Strip off a layer of clothes, if this is the case.

To prevent your baby from overheating or being too cold, it's important that you keep the nursery temperature comfortable. If you are warm in the baby's room, chances are your baby is feeling hot, too. Similarly, if you are feeling chilly, your baby is probably cold.

In the cooler winter months, you should consider buying a one-piece bodysuit, since you'll want to keep your baby's feet warm. When you're out and about, you should cover your baby's head with a cap or hat. A baby cap can prevent your infant from losing heat through the head.

Dressing your baby will become second nature after a few times. Your new baby will go through outfits pretty quickly, and the laundry will pile up.


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