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Children's Glossary

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Bed Gown
A long shapeless gown, open down the front, worn by babies was called a bed gown. They might be made of a variety of fabrics, especially prints, and might be pinned or tied.
Blanket Robe
A robe blanket was a garment without sleeves, but shaped through the bodice. Usually of a light wool, bound with ribbon and was wrapped about the baby for warmth. Generally it was worn beneath the gown.
"Breeching" was the time at which a young boy (age four to seven years old) would be taken out of his child's gown and stays and given his first pair of breeches (adult clothing). Sometimes a party would be given to celebrate the end of his childhood.
Child's Gown
Child's Gown A back-fastening gown was worn by girls until about age twelve or fourteen, and by boys until breeched at age four to seven years. The gown most often resembled a woman's but those worn by boys sometimes resembled men's coats and would button center front.
Referred to today as a diaper, in the 18th century the clout was made of linen diaper fabric and was either pinned with straight pins or tied with tapes.
Infant's Shift
A miniature of the adult shift was worn by children (both boys and girls) as the undermost garment. Made in a variety of white linens, they were cut and constructed from rectangles and squares.
Infant's Shirt
A loose fitting T-shaped garment worn by babies, its length only to the waist and open down the front. Constructed of rectangles and squares in plain linen, it could be pinned or tied. Some might be trimmed with lace.
Leading Strings Bands
Toddlers' gowns often had cords or strips of fabric sewn to the shoulder, which were used by adults to guide and prevent the child from falling. They might be used on older girls' gown as a symbol of their need for parental guidance; replaced by leading reins in the 19th century.
Over Cap
A fancier cap was put over the under cap. These were more fashionable and also provided extra warmth and protection.
Pilch or Pilcher
A cover of fulled wool used over the clout for further protection was referred to as a pilch.
Pudding Cap
Pudding Cap
A padded cap was tied on the head of a child learning to walk. It protected the child's brain when it fell and hit its head. There was a belief that if the head was hit it would be permanently soft, and falling frequently could lead to the brain turning mushy like pudding. Toddlers were often and lovingly referred to as "little pudding heads."
Skeleton Suit (1780-1820)
Skeleton SuitA small boy's suit with the trousers buttoned onto the waist of the jacket or waistcoat was known as a skeleton suit. It was usually high-waisted and tight fitting.
Stays were worn by children, both boys and girls, from the age of 18 months or when they were walking well. The first stays a child wore were "soft" or lightly boned and were never tightly laced. Stays were intended to support and round the soft rib cage. By two or a little older, the stays would be of a heavy linen, boned with pack thread, reeds, wooden splints, or baleen. These stays fostered good posture. Again, the lacing would be gently firm and not cinch or pinch. Boys wore them to age four to seven years old; girls for the rest of their lives. (See also Woman's Clothing-Stays)
A "bellyband" of strong fabric wrapped around the baby's body to support the abdomen and suppress the navel, a surcingle was often satin covered.
Swaddling Clothes
Clothing and strips of fabric were wrapped about a baby to hold its arms and legs immobile, straightening and strengthening the body. A practice from Roman times, swaddling began to disappear in the early 1700s, but remained a practice in some countries until the 1920s.
Under Cap
A plain cap was worn next to the young baby's head to help protect it from drafts.