Clothing And The Modern Mother
( Originally Published 1924 )
A conversation with a real mother of two girls —Peggy-Love, ten months of age, and Sylvia-Ann, six years old, ran about as follows:
Inquiry—"What clothes did you prepare for Peggy-Love?"
Mother—"I had six shirts."
I.—"Silk and wool ?"
Mother—"No, silk-and-wool and cotton. The silk some-times cuts, and the union of the three materials is more satisfactory."
I.—"What size were they ?"
Mother—"They were size three, but if I were buying again I would choose even a larger size. Peggy was a normal seven-pound baby when she arrived, but she has almost outgrown them and they aren't worn out because they have been so carefully laundered."
I.—"Did Peggy-Love wear flannel bands?"
Mother "What an old-fashioned idea ! No, indeed. You know they're not being worn at all by babies at the best maternity hospitals."
I. "Not even the knitted ones with straps over the shoulders ?"
Mother—"No, not any bands."
I.—"Did Peggy-Love wear anything so old-fashioned as petticoats ?"
Mother—"Yes, she had flannel ones buttoned on the shoulders."
I.—"How many dresses did she have to begin with? How long were they—twenty-one inches ?"
Mother—"You know the first few weeks, a baby is just kept dry, clean, and warm, like Baby Bunting; so blankets and nighties are sufficient. Dresses aren't at all necessary because she's not going out. By the time she begins to go into society, she wants short frocks ; so all intelligent mothers make even the first clothes twenty-one inches in length. A dozen simple hand-made dresses will do nicely for the first year. These first ones should be made large enough to wear through the year."
I.—"Does Peggy-Love wear stockings and shoes ?"
Mother—"She has always worn stockings—that is, since she began wearing dresses; and just as soon as she stood on her feet in her play-pen she was rewarded with a pair of shoes. Then Sylvia-Ann named her `goody-two-shoes'."
I.—"Were the stockings silk and wool?"
Mother—"No, silk and lisle."
I.—"Did she wear a specially prepared shoe?"
Mother—"No, just white kid shoes. She had moccasins before she began to stand; but if she had developed weak ankles or any signs of flat feet, I would have had her fitted by a specialist at once.
I.—"Do not the special ankle supports weaken the ankles?
Wouldn't it be better to depend upon massage for strengthening them ?"
Mother—"The best physicians recommend the supports." I.—"What kind of diapers were in the layette? Did Peggy-Love wear stork pants ?"
Mother—"I used cotton birds-eye; linen is cold, and a special treatment gives cotton an absorbing quality. The cotton endures the frequent boiling which is so essential. Stork pants should be put on the child when she is traveling or occasionally at other times, but they are injurious and will cause chafing if they are kept on too long. In hot weather they are criminal. Some children are well-trained in their personal habits, at one year, but they are exceptional. All children can and should be trained by the time they are a year-and-a-half old. Then muslin drawers buttoned to a muslin waist take the place of diapers."
I.—"Do you like rompers for babies?"
Mother—"Indeed I do. They give children freedom. The ones that button clear across the bottom are best for tiny children."
I.—"What kind of coat is Peggy-Love wearing?"
Mother—"The outside of her coat is separate from the padded inner lining. It can be laundered nicely, much better than when all parts are fastened together. It is a cream-colored Bedford cord; and as the outside gets soiled much more quickly than the inside, one has to wash but half a coat. I feel that everything for children should be made to enable frequent washing."
I: "What kind of cap does she wear in winter?" Mother—"A knitted one of wool which is warm without being heavy."
I.—"Is Peggy-Love a happy baby?"
Mother—"As happy as the day is long!"
I.—"What kind of clothes is Sylvia-Ann wearing to school?"
Mother—"For the greater part of the year I prefer wash fabrics made up into simple one-piece dresses, with bloomers like the trimming or like the dress. I find that bloomers of a plain color—the becoming hue which is in all of Sylvia-Ann's dresses—are a wise selection, because then they will harmonize with most of her dresses."
I.—"Doesn't she wear wool at all ?"
Mother—"In the coldest season she wears wool jersey or serge dresses, with linen collars and cuffs."
I.—"Do those bloomers match the dresses ?"
Mother—"No, wool is not so satisfactory in bloomers. Dark sateen ones are worn over muslin drawers."
I.—"What kind of hats does Sylvia-Ann wear?"
Mother—"Always the very plainest—soft velour or a tam o'shanter for school, beaver or felted materials in winter, and for trimming a ribbon band or a long streamer—plain Milan for summer."