Clothing

Young babies need to be kept warm, because they are not very efficient at maintaining their body heat in a cool environment. An indoor temperature of about 20°C is adequate provided the baby is warmly clothed, in a vest, suit and cardigan or shawl. However, even the youngest baby may be taken for short outings on cold days if he is covered with extra blankets and wears an outdoor quilted suit. A bonnet, mittens and bootees for outdoors are also essential. His skin should never feel cold to the touch. Babies born in the winter months should spend most of their time in a warm room, away from draughts, but with a window slightly open for ventilation. Once the baby weighs more than 4kg the room does not have to be kept so warm. Provided he has enough clothes on, a room temperature of 16°C will keep him comfortable.

A small amount of sunshine is also beneficial, although excessive direct sun can cause overheating or sunburn.

Babies need at least three changes of clothing – more if the family has no washing machine or if drying clothes is difficult. A stretch-suit, with a vest underneath and a cardigan on top, is ideal indoor wear; in poorly heated houses, or when asleep, the baby needs a blanket or shawl as well. Avoid nylon clothing, which does not allow sweat to evaporate. Wool, cotton or wool-and-cotton mixtures are best. Because babies grow so quickly, it is unwise to buy many clothes in the first size.

Put the baby in larger suits as soon as his existing ones become slightly too tight: tight-fitting stretch-suits are just as bad for a young baby’s feet as are tight shoes and socks later on.