This section is from the "The Young Mother. Management of Children in Regard to Health" book, by William A. Alcott. Also available from Amazon: The Young Mother
The grand rule on this point is, to wear as little dress during sleep as possible. Some mothers not only suffer their infants to sleep in the same shirt, cap, and stockings that they have worn during the day, but add a night gown to the rest. No cap should be worn during the night, any more than in the day time. Or if the foolish practice has been adopted for the day, it should be discontinued at night. It is enough for those adults whose long hair would otherwise be dishevelled, to wear night caps, and subject themselves, as they inevitably do, to catarrh and periodical headache. Children's heads should have nothing on them by night; nor even by day, except to defend them from the rain or the hot rays of the sun.
The stockings, too, should be wholly laid aside at night, unless in the case of those who are feeble, apt to have their feet cold, or particularly liable to bowel complaints. Such may be allowed to sleep in their stockings, but not in those which have been worn all the day.
Indeed, neither children nor adults should ever wear a single garment in the night which they have worn during the day. The reason is, that there are too many causes of impurity in operation while we sleep, without our wearing the clothes in which we have been perspiring during the day-time—and which must be already more or less filled with the effluvia of our bodies.
It is a very easy thing to have a loose night gown to supply the place of the shirt we have worn during the day; and if nothing else is convenient, a spare shirt will answer. But both a night gown and shirt should never be admitted, especially in warm weather. The garment to supply the place of the shirt during the night, may be of calico in the summer, and of flannel in the winter.
The collar and wristbands of this night dress should be loose; and the whole garment should be large and long. No article of dress should ever press upon our bodies, so as in the least to impede the circulation; and for this reason it is, that writers on physical education have inveighed so much against cravats, straps, garters, &c. This caution, so important to all, is doubly so to young mothers, on whom devolves the management of the tender infant.
When the child has been perspiring freely during the evening, just before he is undressed, or when he has just been subjected to the warm bath, it may be well to use a little care in undressing and exchanging clothes, to prevent taking cold;—though it should ever be remembered, that those children who are managed on a rational system will bear slight exposures with far more safety, than they who have been managed at random—sometimes, indeed, with great tenderness, but at others, wholly neglected.