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How to dress and undress your baby

Place your baby on a safe and flat surface when you dress and undress them. This could be on a changing mat or the floor.


Never leave your baby unattended. If you do not have everything you need, put your baby in their cot or secure them safely in their pram while you get everything.

Be careful not to:

  • twist your baby
  • move too quickly
  • overextend their arms or legs
  • put them into any uncomfortable positions

Dress your baby in layers

Dress your baby according to the air temperature. Dress them in the same number of layers as you have on, and add 1.

Do not overdress your baby for sleep. A nappy, vest and babygrow are enough. Overheating can increase the risk of cot death.

Sleep temperature and dressing your baby for sleep

Cot death (sudden infant death syndrome)

Check how warm your baby is

You can check your baby's body temperature by putting your hand on their tummy or chest. If it feels warm, they are warm enough.

Do not go by the temperature of your baby's hands or feet. These often feel cold, especially in the first weeks after birth.

Remember to protect your baby from the sun. Dress them in loose-fitting outfits that cover their arms and legs. Protect their face, ears and neck with a wide-brimmed hat.

Protect your baby from the sun

Unsafe clothes

Some types of clothes are not safe for babies and can be a choking risk. For example, do not use clothes with drawstrings or hats with cords or strings.

Do not put headbands and hairbands on children under 3. Always remove your baby's bib when getting them ready for sleep.

Clothes safety for babies

Suffocation risk for babies

How to dress your baby


Wash your hands and get everything ready before you begin to change your baby's nappy.


Make sure the nappy is not too tight. You should be able to gently slide your finger along the nappy line.

How to change a nappy

Bodysuits, vests and T-shirts

  1. Using both hands, gather the fabric of the top around the neck opening.
  2. Stretch the neck opening wide and gently put it over your baby's head.
  3. Gather the fabric of the sleeve around the armhole.
  4. Put your hand in the armhole from the outside and gently hold your baby's hand.
  5. Without pulling your baby's arm, gently pull the sleeve over their hand and arm.
  6. Repeat for the other sleeve.

Take care to support your baby's head and body while putting on bodysuits, vests and T-shirts.

Babygrow, sleep suits or onesies

  1. Lay the babygrow flat and place your baby on top of it.
  2. Gently put each leg into the leg holes.
  3. Stretch the armhole at the sleeve and put your hand in from the outside.
  4. Without pulling your baby's arm, gently pull the sleeve over their hand.
  5. Fasten up the popper buttons or zip as needed.

Be careful with clothes you take straight from the drier. Poppers or metal fastenings might be hot.

Button shirts and polo shirts

  1. Place the shirt over your baby's head.
  2. Gather the sleeves around the cuff and put your baby's hand through the opening.
  3. Carefully pull the sleeve over your baby's arm.


  1. Place your baby's feet in the trousers and gently pull up the trousers.
  2. If you need to fasten the back of an outfit, gently turn your baby on to their tummy or sit them up with support.


  1. Stretch the sock hole wide.
  2. Pull the sock over your baby's foot.

Take care that a thread or one of your own hairs does not catch around your baby's toes. This can stop circulation to the toes.

How to undress your baby

  • Begin at your baby's head and carefully loosen and slide the outfit down over their body.
  • Support your baby's head and body with one hand as you lift them to take off their clothes.
  • Carefully undo buttons, zips and fasteners.
  • Loosen and rearrange the item until it can be easily removed.
  • Slowly remove all items of clothing until your baby is safely undressed.

If you need to turn your baby on their side, support their body weight.

Your baby's bodysuit may have envelope folds at the shoulders.

A baby's bodysuit with envelope folds at the shoulders
Envelope folds on the left and right shoulder make it easier to remove a bodysuit by your baby's legs.

Use these to pull the clothes down your baby's body and slide over their legs. Do this instead of pulling the bodysuit over the baby's head.

Page last reviewed: 21 June 2023
Next review due: 21 June 2026

Slaintecare logo
This project has received funding from the Government of Ireland’s Sláintecare Integration Fund 2019 under Grant Agreement Number 8.