Dressing your newborn
Dressing your newborn

Dressing your newborn can be quite a battle, especially with their tiny, curled up limbs and aversion to being naked.  Find clothes with wide openings for the neck with snap or zipper closures - now is not the time to be fumbling with buttons. Also, onesies with built-in mittens are great to protect your baby from razor sharp fingernails.

Take the opportunity to sing and talk to your little one, both for distraction and bonding.  Explain what color the shirt and pants are, count how many snaps you’re fastening, and label each body part as you kiss them. Instead of trying to shimmy sleeves and pants over uncooperative limbs, try reaching into the openings and pulling his or her extremities through.  As hard as this sounds with frequent spit-up and bowel explosions, try to keep the wardrobe changes to an absolute minimum.  The laundry will pile up fast enough as it is.

Don’t overbundle babies at night, as instinctive as that seems.  Believe it or not, babies are comfortable in a 16 to 20 degree temperature, dressed in light pajamas and a sleeper or swaddling blanket.  Keep your baby's head and face clear from any bedding.  According to SIDS and Kids babies regulate their temperature through their head, so if bedding covers their face they're less capable of regulating their temperature.

It’s also a good idea to try swaddling your baby in a blanket or wrap, which provides womb-like comfort and security, keeps them from being awaken by their startle reflex, and gives them a little extra warmth.

How to swaddle your baby 


  • Lay the blanket flat on a bed or other flat surface.
  • Fold the top right corner down about 15cm.
  • Place the baby on his or her back, angled so his or her neck is on the fold. It should look like a diamond with the baby’s head as the top point.
  • Pull the corner to your baby’s right across his or her body, and then tuck it under the left side of his or her back.
  • Pull the bottom corner up over his or her feet, and tuck in under the baby’s chin.
  • Bring the last corner across your baby’s body and tuck under the right side.

Some babies are instantly soothed by a swaddle, while other babies resist the lack of freedom. If your baby doesn’t seem happy, try wrapping the baby with his or her arms outside of the blanket. 

For more baby care information:

Essential items for your baby's wardrobe
Getting baby to sleep
Find out what to pack in your nappy bag

This article was written by Linda Drummond for Kidspot, New Zealand’s leading pregnancy and parenting resource with additional information from Sidsandkids.org.

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