Friday, May 22, 2009

5 tips for dressing your new baby.

Newborn babies are so delicate and wiggly and STRONG. How is a parent supposed to get clothes on one of these little escape artists? I remember once when I was very young, struggling to get a t-shirt on my little brother. I would pull his arm through the sleeve, and reach for the other one, only to find that he'd immediately pulled the first arm back out! Gently my mom took over and miraculously slipped the shirt on in one fluid motion. I was in awe. Although I have never mastered the "one fluid motion" technique, I have figured out several easy tips for getting clothes on a little jelly-belly wiggle monster.

1. Push, don't pull.
Reverse psychology starts early in parenting. A baby is born with the instinct to resist when their arms or legs are pushed or pulled. It is an important instinct because it helps their muscles develop and stay toned. However it does make pulling a babies arm through a sleeve crazy-hard. The trick is to bunch up the sleeve a little, and push it onto the baby's arm hand first. The baby will naturally resist the pressure, and slip their arm right into the sleeve. This trick also works for putting pants on.

2. Bunch up the outfit before pulling it over the face.
Another hard part of dressing a baby is pulling an article of clothing over your baby's head. Babies have another instinct that is designed to help them survive, and that is to hold their breath when something covers their face. This alone isn't so troublesome, but they also get a shot of adrenaline to the system that can upset them and keep them from falling asleep afterwords for up to an hour. To avoid this pitfall try to bunch up your baby's shirt (or dress or night-shirt) until it is basically shaped like a doughnut. Then put your baby's head through the "doughnut" face first, so that no cloth actually covers their face. Then you can work on the sleeves (see tip #1).

3. Watch out for pinkie toes!
Baby pinkie toes have a terrible habit of sticking out from the side of a baby's foot at just the wrong moment. They can catch on everything! Socks, shoes and even pants can be a hazard for your sweet little butter ball's tiny tootsies. Scrunching up socks to fully enclose the toes before pushing them on is a good place to start. Shoes and sandals are easier to slip on if you put the toes in first by turning the shoe sideways so they all fit in easier and faster. And slipping your hand up the pant leg from the bottom so you can hold the toes together as they come down through the leg hole are a few things I do to help keep an eye on those sweet little toes.

4. Guard the inside of a zipper with one finger to keep it from catching on baby's skin.
Most of us as adults have experienced the horrible pain that comes from catching a little of our skin in a zipper, and we have learned how to avoid having it happen for the most part. But many times we don't think about how to prevent it from happening to a baby until it is too late. All you need to do to keep you a baby's skin safe from zippers is to grasp the actual zipper with a finger on the inside and the outside while pulling the zipper up. You can also use the zipper pull with one hand while the other hand holds the zipper away from the baby's skin from the outside, but this technique takes two hands and isn't as effective because it offers no protection for your baby's neck when the zipper gets to the top.

5. Roll baby on the side to move clothes under.
One of the first puzzles a parent is faced with when dressing their new baby is how to get their footy pajamas under the baby while the baby is already lying on the changing table. Many people hold the baby on their chest while they arrange the clothes with the other hand, but this can be precarious, and difficult. I recommend dressing one side of your baby, then roll them up onto their side that isn't dressed yet, tuck the remaining half of the pajamas as far under the back of your baby as you can, then roll them back over onto the side that you've already dressed. Then you should be able to pull the rest of the pajamas out from under your baby and dress their remaining side.

Many of these tips you may have already figured out for yourself, or you might have developed a technique that works better for you. I do hope that there are some parents out there who will find them helpful though. They are just a few things I've learned over the years, that I wish someone could have shown me earlier on. If you find my tips helpful, please pass them on to any new parents you might know who could use a few extra tips and techniques for caring for their new babies. An extra Tripi's Tip of the Day can be found at my blog at and as always all of your questions and comments are welcome! Happy parenting!


  1. Wish someone had these for me with my first! I was scared to death! New attention!

  2. Thank you Jennifer!
    I hope more new moms will check out my tips before they need to know them. If you know any new or especially expecting parents, please send them this way!