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How to dress and undress your baby

Place your baby on a safe and flat surface, such as a changing mat or the floor when you dress and undress them.

Never leave your baby unattended. If you have forgotten an item, place your baby in their cot or secure them safely in their pram while you get it.

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 of clothing

Dress your baby according to the temperature. Add or remove layers depending on your baby's comfort and how hot or cold it is. A simple guideline is to dress your baby in the same number of layers you’re wearing yourself, plus one.

Beware of overheating your baby, particularly when they're sleeping. Overheating can increase the risk of cot death, also known as sudden infant death (SIDS). Babies can overheat because of too much bedding or clothing, or because the room is too hot. The room temperature for a sleeping baby should be between 16 to 20 degrees Celsius.

Read more about cot death

Check how warm your baby is

You can quickly judge your baby's body temperature by putting your hand on their tummy or chest. If they are warm there, then they are warm enough.

Don't judge your baby's temperature by their hands or feet as these will often be cold, especially in the first few weeks after birth.

Be aware of unsafe clothing items

Some clothing items are not safe for babies and can be a suffocation risk.

Read more about unsafe clothing items for babies and children

How to dress your baby

Nappy

  1. Lift your baby's bottom gently.
  2. Slide the nappy underneath your baby.
  3. Peel open the nappy tapes. Secure them across the front of the nappy.

Take care that threads or one of your own hairs do not fall into the nappy. For boys, this can stop circulation to the penis if it gets caught around it.

Cloth nappies

  1. Lift your baby's bottom gently.
  2. Slide the nappy underneath your baby.
  3. Fold the sides of the nappy over your baby's tummy.
  4. Secure in place with nappy grips or the nappy's built-in fasteners.
  5. If you're using a wrap, slide this under your baby's bottom. Fasten the wrap with its tabs or popper buttons.

For both types of nappies you should be able to gently slide your finger along the nappy line.

Read more about how to change a nappy.

Body suits, vests and t-shirts

  1. Stretch the neck with both hands and roll it in your hands.
  2. Slip gently over your baby's head, then pull it over the baby's neck and shoulders.
  3. Stretch the armhole at the sleeve and put 3 of your fingers in from the outside.
  4. When your baby straightens their arm, take their palm and gently pull the sleeve over their hand.
  5. Close the clasps or buttons at the bottom for body suits.

Babygrow, sleep suits or onesies

  1. Lay the babygrow out flat.
  2. Start with the legs, and gently put each leg into the leg holes.
  3. Stretch the armhole at the sleeve and put 3 of your fingers in from the outside.
  4. When your baby straightens their arm, take their palm and gently pull the sleeve over their hand.
  5. Fasten up the popper buttons or zip as needed.

Button shirts and polo shirts

  1. Carefully place the shirt over your baby's head and slowly pull the shirt over their body.
  2. Gather the sleeves up to the cuff and put your baby's hand through the opening.
  3. Carefully work the sleeve up the rest of your baby's arm.

Trousers

  1. Start at your baby's feet and gradually work the outfit up their body.
  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.

Socks

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

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

How to undress your baby

  1. Begin at your baby's head and carefully loosen and slide the outfit down over their body.
  2. Always support your baby's head and body with one hand as you lift them to take off their clothes.
  3. Carefully undo buttons, zips and fasteners.
  4. Loosen and rearrange the item until it can be easily removed.
  5. 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.

baby bodysuit with envelope folds
Envelope folds on the left and right shoulder allow you to remove the bodysuit by your baby's legs

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

page last reviewed: 25/01/2021
next review due: 25/01/2024