Putting a waistcoat on a cat: Getting your baby dressed in the morning

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Dressing your baby is just like dressing a salad; a salad where the lettuce keeps jumping out of the bowl and getting back into the fridge.

Like a lot of newborns Captain Poo Pants spent his first couple of days in a perspex box reclining under heat lamps for jaundice. My first experience of dressing him was therefore wrestling him into a Lone Ranger eye protection mask and our first days of parenthood were like watching an endless documentary about Ray Charles’s holiday.

Blindfolding someone that doesn’t want to be blindfolded is difficult at the best of times. Blindfolding someone who doesn’t know what eyes are is more difficult still. Dressing him has got easier since then but every day is still a major operation.

The first tranche of clothes you’ll come across are marked 0-3 indicating the number of days they will fit your baby for before you need to buy a whole new wardrobe. Don’t worry, you can store these somewhere inconvenient ‘in case we have another one’.

You might succumb to the temptation to buy clothes that are ‘fashionable’ or ‘nice’ but just like with your own clothes this will quickly give way to comfort and ease of access. Just think, if you soiled your underwear 8 times a day, would you wear dungarees? That’s why Captain Poo Pants, like a miniature Robin Hood, almost always wears leggings.

The gentleness and tenderness with which you approach dressing in the first months, afraid you might pull an ear off, quickly gives way to what I like to call ‘enforced yoga’.  By 4 or 5 months as your little one is able to combine superhuman strength with erratic and irresponsible limb thrashing, the whole operation  becomes as complicated as putting a waistcoat on a cat, as difficult as changing Michael Flatley’s trousers mid-riverdance, as tricky as working backstage at a modelling show for centipedes, as taxing as trying to capture an octopus streaking at the cup final.

At almost 7 months, Captain Poo Pants and me have built up and understanding. He now recognises that the darkness and isolation of having a jumper pulled over his head isn’t permanent. He knows to push his arms up his sleeves and although he still goes a bit Gene Kelly when he sees his trousers, maybe one day we’ll master that as well.

As long as he isn’t bawling, soiling himself or me, dressing time is a fun, albeit time consuming, time of the day.

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