Saturday, December 29, 2012

Clothing babies 12 weeks and up

When my son Innocent was born (sized 12 weeks 5 days), I didn't try to dress him. I wrapped him in a bit of baby blue fleece. I didn't even handle him much because I was terrified I'd hurt him.

When I was waiting for my son Andrew to be born (aged 13 weeks) I decided to try to make something he could wear. I made it to open in the back with no fasteners. I made the arm holes wide. I also wound up making it too big. I had the hardest time getting his tiny arms through the sleeves, as generous as I had made them.

(It's coming up over his face so you can't see him properly.)

Afterward I more or less admitted it had been a hopeless effort and the practice of gently sliding these babies into pouches was more practical. It still bothered me though.

The other day I started thinking about this subject again. I thought about what I had done previously. I thought about how NICU clothing is made. I thought about how fragile the babies are. Then I think I figured something out.

I decided to try to make a garment that would open flat. The baby would be laid upon it and then flaps would start being folded in. The end result would be something that looked like clothing but would be easy to put on and take off. It would also be adjustable for different size babies.

Today I made a prototype. I started by cutting out a baby-shaped piece of fabric, approximately the size of a 13 week baby. (I know green is an odd color, but frankly it's better if I don't start thinking about this little figure as a stand-in for one of my sons. Looking the way it does, there's no chance of that.)
Prototype baby, not quite 4 inches long

Then I just started cutting and measuring. The white part seen below is in knit, but ultimately it would be flannel. Flannel is both absorbent and is not slippery, ensuring the flaps stay in place without fasteners.

baby side of garment

For this particular garment I added a skirt. It is tacked firmly to the white garment in the center so it's all of a piece. A ribbon is sewn to the middle of the back of the skirt and to the left corner.

back side of garment

baby laid on garment

The arm flaps fold in first.

Then the waist flaps fold across.

Then the "diaper" folds up over the waist.

The right side of the skirt folds in next.

Then the left side folds over and the ribbons tie.

(the back)

I haven't seen anything like this but if you have, please let me know. If anyone is interested in making these, I'd be happy to help. I think that it would soothe some of the hurt to see your baby dressed instead of lying in a blanket.


  1. This is a WONDERFUL idea!!! When my friend's triplet boys Andrew, Benjamin and Caleb were born at 17 weeks all they had were little hats and blankets. You can read a bit about them here

    K would have loved little outfits for them

  2. How therapeutic to be able to dress and swaddle your baby... It's such a primal part of loving and protecting your children, especially babies. I love the pouches too, but this is quite ingenious!

  3. Thank you for posting this. If I may, I'd like to copy from this and attempt to make some for friends, the local hospital, or whoever needs them.

  4. Linda, you may feel free to do whatever you want with it. I'm just not at a point where I can make lots of them (or even another one - my husband had a very visceral reaction to seeing me "swaddle" the little model - he said it brought back the time when I clothed little Andrew), but I'm more than happy for someone to use this idea to help someone else. I wish I had thought of it for my own babies.

    And I'm so sorry to hear about the loss of your little one this past fall.

  5. Thank you. I do have images of our baby; would you like me to send one to you? I was 9.5 weekspregnant/ 7.5 weeks gestation. The birth was quite 'normal'- as if I was delivering full term. All at home and without complication.

  6. You can certainly send me any photos you wish. I would be honored to see them. (lostinnocentsorthodox @ gmail . com) If you would like to write out a birth story at some point, I can certain post that as well. (I understand that not everyone wants to write one and that it can take sometimes years to get to where you can, so don't feel any pressure.)


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