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Clothing - From Birth To Six

( Originally Published 1924 )

CHER Bébé—the French say this word so trippingly that it holds the quality of music. Tho we call her plain "Baby," there should be in her dainty layette the same quality of song. Hand-made garments seem the appropriate raiment for the little one who is soon to enshrine herself in the hearts of all the related, the near-related, and the non-related ones over whom she will rule—a pink-toed monarch of all she surveys ! Before her majesty makes her triumphal entrance into the family dominion, her royal robes are carefully and lovingly prepared.

"Pink is for girls,
Blue is for boys,
But white is best of all."

A dear mother who always did things in an in-imitable way chose the palest of apple green for the hints of color in the layette of the royal personage whose coming was prophesied. When Joan arrived, this delicate color touch was charmingly suited to her hazel eyes. The diminutive green bows were posed like fairy butterflies hovering about a pink blossom.

Only snowy batiste or nainsook, as sheer and soft as it can be obtained, should be chosen, and from this the wee dresses may be fashioned with very little trimmings but with tiny stitches. Hand-run tucks may form the yoke, or feather-stitching of Madonna cotton may trim neck and cuff and hem. Only the narrowest and softest of lace may be used about baby's neck for her flesh is too delicate for anything harsh. Tiny flowers may be embroidered on the yokes. Under the dress is a petticoat of very soft flannel; one that buttons on the shoulders is satisfactory, for it can be removed without taking off the dress. Her soft knitted shirt of wool, silk and wool, or lisle and wool gives way to a band with shoulder straps for warm weather. This knitted band, which some physicians advise and others do not, may be used in place of the flannel band, an unhemmed strip of flannel six inches wide wrapped tightly about the baby's abdomen during the first weeks after birth. Woolen stockings are pinned to the diaper of a soft material which will endure the boiling that follows every wearing. All the baby's clothes should be washed with pure white soap and any possibility of chafing from strong soap, which might thus remain in the garment because of improper rinsing, is thus avoided. Since the first weeks of a baby's life should be spent in undisturbed quiet, this simple outfit will answer every, need except for outdoors. Then a knitted sweater or wool jacket open in front, or a, similar but longer garment may be needed ; but babies must not be dressed too warmly—the atmosphere of the room must decide this. The out-of-door coat or cape should be long enough to cover the feet. First dresses are twenty-one inches long. A close-fitting cap of silk crêpe, interlined for cool weather and lined with soft silk, will accompany the coat.

Wraps of various kinds are necessary. Squares of silk and wool, or flannel blankets stitched in cream or a pastel color, also a strip of flannel two yards long finished in the same way, are all welcome. These flannel blankets launder nicely and can always be as fresh and dainty as everything about a baby should be.

To sum up what I have said, here are a few practical suggestions :

Clothing for babies should be simple and easily laundered.

Garments should be carefully made or chosen to allow for ample freedom in movement.

Some physicians say all babies should be protected by woolen covering on the abdomen in cool weather.

Sufficient clothing for all ordinary needs should be supplied, but a too generous layette is extravagant.

White clothes are best for babies, since they are most sanitary; and cleanliness is the chief consideration in the health of the child. White clothes are not only much easier to wash but are the only kind which may be boiled and, therefore, kept absolutely clean.

Play-pens with padded floors give to the growing baby a tiny kingdom of her own. By the time she is sufficiently old to attain this little domain, her skirts are shortened, she is ready for socks and for the soft moccasins which enable her little toes to wiggle and twist and grow strong enough for the exciting day when she first pulls herself up and puts her weight on her feet.

Then the months begin to slip by very fast, and, before long, Baby has begun to walk about her playpen with naive assurance.

Fine dimities and lawns, smocked and tucked, may be used for the very little one who is toddling about from chair to chair, but there are also charming little rompers that are very practical. The tiny dress is cut from one piece with two under-arm seams sewn together. Imagine a quaint English print with two little black sateen chicks for pockets ! This same pattern might be used for a dimity, cut out deeper in the neck and shirred to give a well-fitted sleeve effect, yet quite demure, as all little kimona-sleeve dresses should be. And from this same design may be fashioned a little buff chambray bound with red and white finely checked gingham.

The child of to-day has bare knees and usually wears one weight underwear the year round. A great deal of her bodily freedom is decided by underwear. The body should be kept dry, clean, and warm; hence the underwear should be of loosely-woven and soft materials which absorb moisture and are easily cleansed.

Shoes should be made suitable for comfort and for the proper development of the feet. They should be plain, wide-toed, low-heeled, and, above all properly fitted. They should not be too heavy, but should be pliable, bending with the feet.

A child should never be conscious of her clothes. Sometimes we see children tightly banded at the waist, with scratchy collars, poorly fitted sleeves, improperly adjusted hose-supporters, and uncomfortable shoes. Such improper clothing will cause crooked shoulders, twitching muscles, improper posture, and, of course, nervous irritation.

It is well to remember, too, that a child's nature responds very quickly to Beauty and to the touch of genuinely good and attractive raiment. Emphasize simplicity in material and cut, attractiveness in design and color, freedom in movement, and, lastly, suitability to the financial status of the family.

A simple layette will consist of:

6 dresses (all hand-made 'slips).
3 gertrudes (muslin)—petticoats buttoned at the shoulders.
3 gertrudes (flannel).
3 vests of silk and wool, cotton and wool, or cotton, according to season.
3 flannel bands.
3 nightgowns of flannelette or muslin for warm weather.
1 kimona (flannel).
2 flannel squares.
2 blankets (cashmere).
2 sacks (wool).
36 diapers (cotton birds-eye)
3 crib pads.
3 soft knit towels.
6 wash-cloths.
1 rubber sheet.
3 pairs bootees.
4 crib sheets.

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