Dressing a baby can be a wonderful bonding experience: face to face, mother and baby, sharing a quiet moment. On the other hand, it could be a wrestling match in which a parent tries to put trousers or tights on a wriggling baby quite determined to crawl away. Many a tear of frustration has been shed on both sides.
Most parents have found dressing their baby stressful at some point. This usually happens when a sleepy newborn transforms from a compliant, passive baby to a wriggly and stubborn protester with a mind of his own.
Baby clothes can become a minefield. Tiny pairs of trousers can suddenly become a battle of wills. Never mind doing the poppers up, there isn’t even a leg in the leg hole yet. Worse still, once a baby can see that their actions are having an effect on their mother or father, it suddenly becomes even more fun and they often redouble their efforts to escape.
So what can be done to make dressing fun? First take away the stress and fear. Once a parent can relax, a baby picks up on this lightened mood and may relax themselves. Make life easy. Baby clothes need not be a struggle. There is no reason why a baby cannot wear all in one clothes all day long. Why keep the one-piece clothing to bedtime? There are many one-piece day outfits now available with just one quick row of poppers to manage.
Secondly, a parent often fears that their bundle of joy could hurt themselves with their flailing and determination to escape. There is always a danger that a baby could fall on the floor or just crawl away into danger, half undressed.
The first thing to do is change them somewhere safe. Many parents are turning to portable changing stations. These are rigid changing mats with a padded soft mat for the baby and raised sides to stop baby rolling off. The changing station can clip on anywhere, from the top of a bath to a chest of drawers. Some parents have one upstairs and one downstairs. They can be stored away on their side between uses. It is important to remember to never leave a baby unattended whilst on a changing mat. With the firm base of the changing station
offering resistance, the baby feels secure and cannot roll away from under a firm pair of hands. Stress levels are lowered as a parent now knows they can be firm without fear of their child hurting themselves.
It is very useful to always keep an object of distraction near the dressing area. A rattle, a hair brush, maracas, or a favourite small doll are all ideal for this purpose. Keep one set of items near at all times, perhaps one set upstairs and one set downstairs. In an emergency, car keys or house keys can offer a welcome distraction. Another technique is using every child’s favourite form of entertainment: their mum or dad. A child has known his or her parent’s face since birth and it is always their favourite sight as a baby. Pulling faces, singing songs, and games such as “Peep-o” are all perennial favourites. Even if a song is old and familiar, sing it in a different accent or change familiar words to silly words or noises instead. The surprise element will amuse a baby, who will hopefully be too immersed in the company to try and wriggle away from getting dressed.
If you have easy wear outfits, a safe place to dress and change, and a small cache of amusements to hand, getting a little one into those cute baby clothes need not be a battle.