The best type of material for babies and all children is what makes them feel most comfortable –cotton and soft fabrics. Whilst the clothes a child has in their wardrobe will be the parents choice, its good to know how to make them feel happy in what they are wearing. Soft fabric and easy-to-move-in clothes are typically the best options for kids and babies.
What type of materials are best?
Tightly woven cotton such as t shirts are the best type of materials for babies and kids to wear. They are stretchy, protective and comfortable.
Wool can be scratchy against the skin. Always make sure that there is a layer under if a child wears wool for warmth in the winter.
Synthetics can make you sweaty and don’t allow your body to breathe.
Babies need to be kept warm, but not too warm
Children and babies are best dressed in layers.
As a general rule, babies should be dressed in one more layer than you. When they are on the move they should not need this extra layer.
Keep layers simple such as singlet, jumpsuit and take an extra bunny rug or wrap that you can easily put on or off as needed.
So here’s what you need to know about dressing a newborn
Lots of newborn babies find the dressing and undressing experience upsetting.
The quicker and calmer you are, the less stress for both you and the baby!
Make sure the room is warm enough, then place the baby on a soft surface.
Put a nappy on the baby to avoid him weeing on you.
Stretch the neck of a singlet and, supporting the baby’s head, put the singlet on from the back.
Be careful it doesn’t touch his face as you pull the front over his head as many babies get upset when their faces are scraped.
Gently place baby’s arms through the arm holes.
If you’re dressing a baby in a jumpsuit, unbutton it and lay him on top of it. Place his arms and legs into the holes and do up the snap or zipper fasteners.
Make sure your baby’s legs and arms are clothed if he’s going out in the sun, and put on a protective hat as well.
Different countries have different sizing. You can use the chart below as a reference guide.
Keeping clothes comfortable
By running your hands along the seam of an article of clothing, you can be sure nothing pokes or scratches a child’s skin.
Do not dress children in clothes that are scratchy, too big or too small.
Tight elastic bands at the arms, legs, neck or waist can irritate sensitive skin and cut off circulation. To check, give each area with elastic banding a gentle tug; if you see marks on the baby’s skin, it is too tight.
Helping kids get dressed
Toddlers and even older kids have minds of their own in terms of what they will wear and how long it will take them to get dressed. Ideally you can support kids by letting them dress themselves, as long as it’s appropriate for the weather and the occasion.
Most toddlers have an “I-do-it!” mentality that affects everything from pushing their own pram to pulling on their own pants. Either that, or they wont get dressed at all! Help toddlers learn to dress themselves by providing easy-on, easy-off clothes and lend a hand when needed.
With older kids, its important to maintain a stance on getting dressed appropriately. Encourage kids to get dressed by offering them a reward if they get themselves dressed appropriately in a timely manner. Or play a game like “Who Can Get Dressed the Fastest?” to motivate independent kids. You’re in charge and kids will respect you for following through on discipline for inappropriate behaviour.
Dressing for bedtime
Keeping children from being too hot or too cold can be a challenge. Newborns have little ability to regulate their own temperature and can chill easily. You may be tempted to bundle up baby at bed time, but overheating can also be a serious problem.
The best sleeping conditions are to keep the room temperature around 20 degrees.
Dress children in light cotton pyjamas and babies with a singlet underneath their pyjamas. A baby who is too hot will feel sweaty or clammy and may have a heat rash, especially around the neck. He might look red in the face and may cry. Removing a layer of clothing (or a blanket) will help cool him down.
A baby who’s too cold may shiver and cry. Her hands, nose and feet will feel cold. If your baby is too cold, hold her next to your body to warm her up and then add a layer of clothing or a blanket.
Possible choking/strangulation hazards
Choking hazards can be hidden in places on children’s clothing that you never imagined- a shirt with sequins and buttons or even snaps can come off easily if chewed or pulled by a baby or toddler.
Drawstring hoods also pose a strangulation hazard. Avoid clothes that could cause these issues, even if the parents have left it out. Better to draw their attention to it than allowing a choking hazard to occur.
The parents of the children you are looking after may ask you to help wash children’s clothes – here is what you need to know.
Baby clothes can be washed with the rest of the laundry, but strong detergents and fabric softeners can irritate a baby’s skin. Use a mild detergent when possible.
Cloth nappies and clothes soiled with poo need to be soaked in nappy sanitiser before washing. Follow the instructions on the package or ask the parents for directions when doing laundry.
Make sure clothes are comfortable especially if you can select them from the wardrobe.
Make it fun to get dressed to avoid tantrums.
Layers are great but remember to take them on and off as the weather changes in the day or if you are inside or outside.
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