In the previous installment, I listed the items I feel are truly essential for feeding a baby in the uncertain world ahead. In this posting, I want to focus more on what a child really needs for clothing.
The most basic item that most people think of is the diaper. That topic is at least one post of its own. I’ll hold off on the discussion of disposable vs cloth and the types of cloth diapers and all the varieties of those.
What does an infant really need to wear?
With a little variation due to the seasons, infants need lots of pajama-type clothing. Most will go through quite a few of these in a day between spitting up and diapering accidents. Baby boys in particular are well known to sprinkle their own clothes (and probably yours) at every diaper change for a while.
Many people feel like babies should have pajamas and “daytime” clothes from the get-go. After a few times around, I’m not one of those. They sleep so much of the day at the beginning anyway and certainly don’t choose their activities based on whether the sun is up or not. Save yourself some money. The babies don’t care and they probably don’t have any pressing social engagements early on anyway.
If anything, get different weights of pajamas so that, summer or winter, they are comfortable. If you buy all white , yellow, or green, any parent can be grateful for your forethought.
Babies are unpredictable size-wise. At the beginning, it may seem like forever before they even fill up their 0 – 3 month outfits. Then suddenly, you can hardly shoehorn them into 6 – 9 month sizes. Keep that in mind. It seems that all our 3 – 6 month clothes are pristine because the children only fit in them for two weeks. Growth spurts can be sudden and huge.
Beyond the Jammies
So, you have the PJs covered. Isn’t there more to it? Well yes, especially given temperature fluctuations.
One of the best things to come along for babies was the Onesie. If you aren’t familiar with them, they are essentially T-shirts that cover the entire diaper and snap at the crotch. They give an extra bit of warmth and also help keep diapers in place. They contain mess when diapers fail too. I stock these in every size up to at least 18 months. Expect to go through several of these in a day in the beginning also.
I’m not talking about high fashion- layering textures and colors on runway models. I mean the scientific principle of insulation. Warm air trapped next to the skin keeps the baby warmer. The more of this you can trap, the warmer he stays.
Babies have a lot to adjust to outside of the womb. There’s all that breathing, eating, the bright lights, and then there is the temperature. They’ve been accustomed to a steady 98.6 generously provided for them by dear old mom. Now they are subjected to much cooler temperatures and drafts. In the early days especially, you want to keep baby warm enough.
Each layer you add will help him hold his own body heat in. Hands and feet in particular will turn a purplish color as they chill because the body instinctively decreases blood flow to the extremities to protect the core. It is fine (and often quite helpful) to “swaddle” a newborn.
How to Wrap a Baby in a Blanket
Bear with me if this is a “Duh!” subject for you. I have found a lot of men in particular don’t think it to be one. If you’ve never had your own baby, you may never have thought about it, either.
To swaddle a baby, get a receiving blanket (these are the lightweight ones hospitals use but they are available in any big box store). There are probably differing techniques for this, but this is what I do.
- Place it on a diagonal.
- Fold the top point down.
- Place baby in the center.
- Take one side and cross it over baby, tucking it underneath him.
- Fold up the bottom corner to cover him, tucking any long tail inside. It’s fine (and usually better) if baby has his legs scrunched up inside.
- Cross the last corner over him and place it beneath him.
You want the blanket to be pretty snug, but certainly not over the face or otherwise constricting breathing. This simulates the comforting close quarters of the womb while keeping him warm. It often calms a crying baby.
I have never found those stocking caps to be very helpful. It seems like they come off and end up over baby’s face instead, so I just try to be very careful not to put baby down in a drafty place. A lot of heat can be lost through the scalp.
If your baby has purple hands and feet even when bundled, you may want to put baby socks over them also. This insulates them, but also keeps them from scratching their faces with their sharp fingernails. It seems impossible to trim them close enough that they can’t scratch themselves while not injuring their tiny fingers.
By the time the sweet baby has need of more variety in this clothing, you will probably have found someone who will give you their hand-me-downs or be willing to barter. It’s hard to try and outfit a child (of an unknown gender, that you don’t even know yet) for years into his future when you have no idea what size he will be during the different seasons. I say don’t sweat that yet.
This just about covers their real clothing needs for the first several months and it’s doable, right? Have I forgotten anything? Most of the rest seems to fall into the “extras” category to me. Leave a comment below if you can think of other things you consider essential.