by Nicole Hoelscher
When you bring your new baby home from the hospital, one of the first things you will want to do is dress your baby in one of the many adorable outfits you have hanging in the nursery closet. You will quickly find, however, that dressing a baby is not as easy as you might think. Maneuvering a wiggly baby into tiny baby clothing takes some skill. With time and these tips, you will quickly become a pro at dressing your baby.
Changing table safety. Safety might not be the first thing you think of when dressing your baby, but there are a few safety precautions to keep in mind when changing a baby's diaper and clothing. Prepare everything you need before you begin and place all items within arm's length of where you will be changing your baby. Once you have everything you need, lay your baby on the changing table. Do not walk away from your baby unless you have a very secure safety buckle on the changing table. If you forgot something, pick up your baby and take her with you to go get the item. Even newborns who have not learned to roll over can scoot around and fall off of a high surface.
Protect her head. Often the most difficult part of dressing your baby is just getting a shirt over your baby's head while supporting her neck. Choose soft shirts with snaps or split shoulders that can be stretched around your baby's head instead of pulling your baby's head through a tight neck hole. Support your baby's neck with one hand while holding the neck of the shirt open with the other. Start from the back of the head and pull the shirt over the front. To put your baby's arms into the sleeves, reach into the sleeves from outside the shirt and grab your baby's hand to gently guide it into the sleeve. If the clothes are not going on easily, choose a different outfit, as your first choice is either too small or not stretchy enough for your baby to wear comfortably.
Dress appropriately. When you are deciding which clothes to dress your baby in for the day, think about simplicity. Baby clothes can be simple and sweet or quite elaborate. While that ruffled dress or miniature suit makes a great choice on picture day and special occasions, day-to-day baby clothing needs to be easy and practical. Look for baby clothing with snaps and elastic, as you will be changing your baby's diaper and probably her outfit, several times per day. Be considerate of your baby's comfort as well. Scratchy tags or zippers can be uncomfortable against a baby's delicate skin.
Make it fun. If your baby is fussy or squirmy, playing helps to soothe your baby and focus her attention while you change her clothes. Talk and sing to your baby while you change her. Do finger plays and make it fun for both of you. Play peek-a-boo with shirts and tickle your baby's feet while you put on her socks and shoes. Remember, however, that babies get cold quickly when undressed, so try to get the new clothes on before she gets cold.
Dress in layers. Keeping your baby warm is important, but babies can also get too warm. Dress your baby in layers so that you can shed or add layers as needed. Start with a plain onesie on the bottom and add a dress, decorated onesie and pants or play suit on top. Top the outfit with a sweater if the weather is cool. Throw the sweater in your bag if the weather is warm. Even though it may be warm outside, you may find the air conditioning indoors is too cool for your little one.