Need to talk? Call 1800 882 436.
It's a free call with a maternal child health nurse. *call charges may apply from your mobile

Is it an emergency? Dial 000
If you need urgent medical help, call triple zero immediately.

beginning of content

Dressing a newborn

5-minute read

When dressing your newborn, there are a few things to consider, such as which clothes to use, how to dress them and how to ensure the change table is safe.

Getting clothes for your newborn

Babies grow fast so you may prefer to buy just a few items of clothing in each infant size range. In Australia, the common size range for infant clothes is 000 for 0 to 3 months and 00 for 3 to 6 months. Some larger babies may fit 00 clothes when first born. You may like to buy clothes that your newborn will grow into soon, and roll up the sleeves until they fit.

Choose clothes for your newborn that have a low fire danger label and are close-fitting rather than long and flowing, since these can come into contact with flame and catch fire more easily.

Baby change tables

Make sure the surface you change your baby on is safe. A fall from a height of 1.5m or more can seriously injure a baby, so use roll-off protection on a baby change table. This may include raised edges around the change table, approximately 10cm above the surface that your baby is lying on. Alternatively, you could use a child safety harness if available.

Tips for baby change tables

  • Ensure the surface has no gaps within your baby's reach that could trap their fingers or other part of their body.
  • If your change table is foldable, make sure the locking devices work well and are strong so the table won't collapse.
  • Have everything ready before changing so you won't have to leave your baby. If you need to fetch something, take your baby with you.
  • Try to keep one hand on your baby at all times to prevent them rolling or wriggling off the change table, particularly as they get older.
  • Keep anything that could harm your baby away from their reach.
  • If broken, don't try to mend change table latches or locking mechanisms yourself. Take the table back to the manufacturer or discard it.

Dressing your baby for bed

For safe sleeping, don’t let your newborn get too hot or cold because this can increase the risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) and other forms of sudden unexpected death in infancy (SUDI). If you swaddle (wrap) your baby, use a muslin or thin cotton wrap, not a blanket, and don’t overdress your baby underneath it. For sleepwear, your baby should need the same number of clothing layers and blankets as you. Your baby’s back or tummy should feel warm and it’s normal for their hands and feet to feel cooler.

Babies regulate their temperature mostly through their head so to prevent them from overheating, don't cover your baby's head. Avoid putting them to bed with a bib or anything else that could cover their face or be a choking hazard.

A safe baby sleeping bag with fitted neck and armholes and no hood may reduce the risk of SUDI because it reduces the danger of bed clothes covering your baby's face. It also keeps their temperature at a more constant level.

If you use blankets for your baby, dress them according to the temperature of the room, since they can kick the blankets off during the night.

Dressing your baby in hot or cold weather

In hot weather dress your baby in loose, light clothing such as a singlet and nappy or loose top. If outside, ensure they wear a sun hat and sunscreen.

In cold weather dress your baby in layers so you can remove some clothing when you are in a warmer place. Babies lose heat faster than adults, particularly as the surface area of their head is relatively larger, so ensure that they wear a hat. To prevent overheating, remove the hat or hoodie as soon as you get indoors or into a warm car, bus or train, even if this wakes your baby up.

Tips for dressing your baby

The video below, from Raising Children Network, gives you some ideas about how to put clothes on your baby. It's important to be gentle, even if your baby is wriggling.

  • Put your baby's singlet over the back of the head first, then the face. Do the same in reverse when taking it off.
  • Don't pull your baby's arms because they will pull back. Gently guide the arm through the sleeves.
  • For long sleeves, bunch up the sleeve and stretch it to create a wider hole. Then reach through the hole to gently grasp your baby's hand and slide the sleeve on.
  • Do one arm first, then gently roll and slightly lift the baby while sliding the rest of the outfit underneath. Then do the other arm.
  • When babies are older they move and fidget more so reassure and distract them with something they can play with, singing, making faces or a nursery rhyme.

Video provided by Raising Children Network.

Learn more here about the development and quality assurance of healthdirect content.

Last reviewed: June 2020

Back To Top

Need more information?

Newborn clothes & dressing a newborn | Raising Children Network

How many clothes does a newborn need? And what newborn clothes are best? Get answers to these questions and more in our guide to dressing a newborn.

Read more on website

Dressing baby in the right clothes for bed | Raising Children Network

Babies sleep well when they’re not too hot or cold. Dress babies in enough clothes to keep them warm without blankets, or try a safe infant sleeping bag.

Read more on website

Swaddling your baby

Swaddling or wrapping your newborn baby can help settle them to sleep and reduce awakenings.

Read more on Pregnancy, Birth & Baby website

Your baby in the first few days

Find out what you can expect from your newborn, like how often they feed and sleep, as well as other things you need to know.

Read more on Pregnancy, Birth & Baby website

Preschool: practical tips for settling in | Raising Children Network

Settling in at preschool means new routines for your child and for you. Get practical information about arriving, leaving, clothing, food, safety and more.

Read more on website

Bringing your baby home from hospital

You may find yourself at home with your new baby, wondering 'where do I start?'. Find out how to make your first days back at home easier.

Read more on Pregnancy, Birth & Baby website

Babies in cold weather

It's important to be aware of how much clothing and the type of clothing your baby will need to keep comfortably warm in cold weather.

Read more on Pregnancy, Birth & Baby website

Dad’s guide to bringing a baby home

The day you bring your baby home is a big day, but it might take some time to adjust to your new life. Find out here how to get yourself and your home ready, and how to support your partner.

Read more on Pregnancy, Birth & Baby website

Bathing a newborn | Raising Children Network

Bathing a newborn is about safety and comfort. Use warm water in a shallow bath. Make sure everything you need is within reach. A bath every 2-3 days is OK.

Read more on website

Baby checklist- packing for hospital

Pregnant women often wonder what to pack for the hospital for the newborn. As your due date approaches, pack a hospital bag so that you’re prepared if labour pains and birth arrive a bit early. The packing for hospital checklist will give you plenty of ideas.

Read more on Parenthub website

Call us and speak to a Maternal Child Health Nurse for personal advice and guidance.

Need further advice or guidance from our maternal child health nurses?

Healthdirect Australia acknowledges the Traditional Owners of Country throughout Australia and their continuing connection to land, sea and community. We pay our respects to the Traditional Owners and to Elders both past and present.

This information is for your general information and use only and is not intended to be used as medical advice and should not be used to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any medical condition, nor should it be used for therapeutic purposes.

The information is not a substitute for independent professional advice and should not be used as an alternative to professional health care. If you have a particular medical problem, please consult a healthcare professional.

Except as permitted under the Copyright Act 1968, this publication or any part of it may not be reproduced, altered, adapted, stored and/or distributed in any form or by any means without the prior written permission of Healthdirect Australia.