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Every mother loves to dress her baby as nicely and daintily as possible, and as soon as the first baby is expected she spends much time and money in planning and making the layette. BUT most new parents make the mistake of getting together a too elaborate and too expensive trousseau.
Friends and relatives often like to contribute, but some of their gifts are impractical and useless. Many a young mother has admitted that she made the first layette far too large and elaborate, secretly hoping for a little daughter.
When, however, a little son is the first to arrive, and then perhaps two or more baby boys in a row, she finds she has never used any of the dainty little dresses and petticoats which cost so much time and money. Because a baby grows so rapidly, it is wiser and more economical to have only necessary, fundamental clothes at first.
Only two plain little magyar dresses and a couple of petticoats are needed in the layette until the sex of the baby is known.
Mothers so often request a list of the essential first garments needed for the layette that the following may be a useful guide:
Four singlets - fine woven cotton to be worn next to the skin.
Four singlets - woven silk and wool, or cotton and wool, or nylon and wool, or fine-knitted wool. (Do not get singlets with draw-string around the neck.)
Four dozen napkins - 3 dozen soft Turkish toweling, 1 dozen butter-muslin (3 or 4 thicknesses). Note: Napkins can be made of old soft sheeting.
Four to 6 nightgowns.
Two dresses, 2 petticoats - more can be made for a baby girl.
Four matinee jackets. (In winter, small knitted cardigans which fasten up to the neck are warmer and more practical.)
Three pairs of flannel pilchers or 3 pairs of knitted woollen pilchers.
One small shady poke-bonnet or 1 small shady linen hat.
Four pairs of bootees. (These are popular gifts.)
One large shawl.
Two smaller shawls or carrying blankets.
Six small handkerchiefs.
Details of the choice of the garments depend on individual taste. Every mother who spends her time and money wisely should be able to provide a completely satisfactory and dainty outfit for her baby.
Modern hygiene and up-to-date manufacture methods all tend to simplicity in a baby's first clothes. The mother who buys her layette ready-made not only misses a great rewarding pleasure but will find it much more expensive.
Important points to observe in clothing a tiny baby:
Materials used should be soft, non-irritating, and porous to admit air.
Clothes must be simply and smoothly made, without thick seams and hems, and they must be loose enough and short enough to allow baby's every movement to be unhampered.
They should be warm, yet light, so that they are not a burden to tiny bodies with bones not yet hardened.
Sleeves of nightgowns and dresses for the early months should be either magyar or raglan to allow for baby's rapid growth and gain in weight. (With a deep hem these will still fit baby all the second year.)
A very important point not always observed is to plan clothes so that they are easy to put on and take off - handling a very young baby need never be awkward then. This saves nervous strain for both mother and baby. Clothes which are open right down the front, or down the back, or have a large enough neck so that they can be slipped easily over the feet or over the head will obviate the necessity of forcing baby's head through a narrow-necked singlet or nightgown - a pullover which is very frightening to a tiny baby.
Bootees and mittens must be loose enough and long enough never to cramp baby's fingers or toes. Both are best fastened with woollen cords instead of satin ribbon, which tends to slip.
Big bows of ribbon should not be tied under the baby's chin. They soon look untidy and are unhygienic, as baby may probably suck them or vomit on them.
When baby be comes increasingly active and wants to kick or roll, rompers will be found to be a better type of garment than a dress.
Toward the end of the second year baby will show signs of independence and take an interest in his clothes and attempt to dress or undress himself. So it is important to encourage this spirit of independence and plan "selfhelp" clothes, easy to button and unbutton (or zip), with the openings where the child can reach them, so that he can soon learn to put them on and take them off.
It is well to remember that the length of time a dress or nightgown can be worn will depend on the size of the hem, as the width will fit for some time, especially with some tucks on the shoulders to let out.
An extra-deep hem should be made, or if buying these garments a size longer than actually required should be bought and the extra length turned up. Clothes should be planned for economy as well as for attractive appearance.