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Baby Layette Defined
These items are known as the baby layette. The word layette is old French for chest of drawers, and is now defined as a complete set of articles, including clothing, bedclothes and other accessories for a newborn baby.
When our grandmothers and their mothers were expecting their babies, they probably spent hours sewing simple outfits, knitting sweaters and blankets and preparing the baby layette. Outfits worn by babies were often unisex for the first year or so because they would have to be made before the baby was born, when the gender was still unknown.
Often called gowns, these outfits were usually layered and lovingly embellished with embroidery, smocking, tatting or soft lace. Clothing was made mostly from soft cotton and carefully hand-sewn to help make smaller and less irritating seams. Often, the mother also would make the baby's christening gown, and other female relatives and friends would make something to contribute to the baby's layette, such as receiving blankets, diapers and bonnets.
Nowadays, new mothers can skip the hand sewing and shop for baby clothes, but the necessary items for the baby layette are basically remain the same.
The old list looks like this:
- 4 dresses
- 3 petticoats (flannel)
- 2 sacks
- 3 pairs of booties
- 1 diaper cover
- 1 coat
- 2 shawls
- 6 dayslips
- 3 petticoats (white)
- 3 flannel bands
- 3 pairs of stockings
- 4 dozen diapers
- 2 bonnets
- 1 Carriage-robe
- 6 nightslips
- 2 kimonos
- 3 shirts
- 4 pinning blankets
- 6 bibs
- 1 veil
- 1 receiving blanket
Today's baby layette list looks more like this:
- Diapers: disposable (350 for the first month); cloth (4 dozen if washing your own, 1 dozen cloth diapers for burping and general use); diaper service (90 for the first week)
- 6 to 10 diaper wraps or nylon elastic pants
- 4 sets of diaper pins or "snappis"
- 5 to 10 T-shirts
- 3 to 5 pairs of booties/socks
- 1 to 2 hats
- 5 to 7 sleepers or gowns
- 1 cold weather sleeper
- 1 to 2 thermal blankets
- 5 to 7 lightweight receiving blankets
- 3 to 4 crib sheets (fitted preferable)
- 3 to 5 soft washcloths
- 1 dozen burp cloths (cloth diapers work well)
- Rectal baby thermometer (useful for taking either axillary or rectal temperatures)
- Baby scissors or clippers
- Baby brush and comb
- Mild soap (such as Mustela)
- 1 to 2 hooded baby towels, optional
Most baby layette items can easily be found at local baby supply stores or at a myriad of online stores.
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