Dress your baby as you would dress for room temperature. This most often will just be a diaper and a single layer of clothing. If you keep your house on the cold side, then you may want to dress him or her a little more warmly and vise-versa. If you dress your baby for sub zero temperatures despite the fact that your baby will not be going outside, your baby will develop a fine, pinpoint sized, red rash called a heat rash. This is due to an overdressed baby trying to sweat, but having immature sweat glands. Instead dress your baby for room temperature and bundle him or her when taking him or her outside. At the other end, an underdressed baby may be fussy or crying and may not feed well. Some babies will have hands and feet that are colder than the rest of the body. For these babies it is better to place socks on their feet and get shirts with gloved ends than to overdress the torso. Also remember that most of a baby's heat is lost through the head after the torso, therefore one of the best things you can do to keep your baby warm is to place a hat on him or her. Otherwise dress your baby as you see fit, but make sure that the elastic bands and such are not too tight or constrictive by being able to place a single finger under the closer fitting areas. Some babies have actually been strangled on the draw string type gathers on some nightgowns, therefore I recommend removing the draw string. When washing your baby's clothing and bed linens, try to use a mild soap such as Dreft or Ivory without perfumes. Do not use fabric softeners or bleach as these may irritate your baby's skin. Double rinse the linen or change detergents if your baby develops a rash from the linen.


Outdated clothes, toys and furniture can pose a hazard to your baby. Always inspect items for the following: can baby's head fit between the slats in the baby bed, are there small pieces that can be torn off and swallowed, are there sharp parts and are the clothing joints too constrictive? Some older blankets were sewn together with nylon thread. The nylon thread is easily wrapped around fingers and can cut off the blood supply, but are hard to see around tiny fingers.


Copyright 2006, Joe Matusic, MD, FAAP, AME