By Mrs. F. Lessels Mather, Central Midwives' Board, A.r.san.i.
Lavettes - First Vest - Barracoat - Day Gown
"A little figure robed in white, Spotless, serene, and pure" One is thankful to be able to say that baby is dressed in a better and more commonsense way now than in the days of our grandmothers, when a mass of starched lace, frilling, and embroidery was thought to meet all requirements.
While most mothers desire to see baby dressed prettily, some fail to recognise that true beauty cannot exist without fitness. In the preparation of baby's clothing we must think first of utility and fitness before ornamentation.
The number of garments and quality of the material used will naturally vary with the social position of the mother, but consideration of the same principles must be applied to all alike.
1. Baby's clothing must be warm - that is, must be made of a good non-conductor of heat, one which does not permit either heat or cold to pass readily through it.
Baby is extremely sensitive to changes of temperature.
2. Clothing should also be light, absorbent, porous, and elastic. Light, because baby must not be burdened with any great weight, which may impede breathing and free movement, and consequently arrest growth and development. What weight there is should be equally distributed over the whole of the body, so that no one part suffers.
Porous, to allow of the free and proper action of the skin, and permit of the passage of air. Absorbent, to take up moisture and perspiration; and elastic, so that it fits closely, but not tightly.
Wool meets all these requirements best of any material, serving the double purpose of keeping in the heat of the body and protecting from outside cold. It is light in weight, can be made porous, absorbent, and elastic. In our rather raw and changeable climate, wool should always be used as the main material in a baby's garments.
As warmth must be equally distributed, woollen material must be used for all undergarments. Never use flannelette. It is doubly dangerous, being only cotton "combed up"; it is not warm enough, and each washing makes it thinner. It is highly inflammable, and many babies' lives have been sacrificed through its use.
Baby's clothing should be loose and roomy. Tight garments and heavy ones are dangerous, as they may restrict the circulation of the blood, so necessary to every part of the body during this first period of rapid growth, and also cause coldness of the extremities.
A tight article of clothing might also impede breathing, and so prevent the growing lungs from expanding properly.
Baby's clothing should be light in colour, and white is certainly the fittest and most dainty. Needless to say, garments must be kept spotlessly clean. All napkins, etc., must be changed as soon as soiled, and all should be washed with good naphtha soap, never with ordinary soap or soda. No starched articles should be used to chafe the tender skin and cause needless pain.
If baby's under-garments are made at home, great care must be taken to make small, neat seams, which should all be on the outside. To fasten, it is best to use soft, well-ironed tapes rather than buttons, which might press against the soft flesh.
Before entering into details, it may be helpful to give two layettes, the first, a good plain set, costing £5 5s.; the second, costing £15, a more ornate and elaborate one: