How to Make a Basic Essential Layette
for Eighteenth Century Re-enactor Infants
Stockings, Shoes, Booties
While there is documentary evidence that some eighteenth century infants wore these, I have yet to see any surviving examples upon which to base replications. They do not appear to have been considered necessary, and they can be dispensed with. The extra-long skirts of the petticoats generally keep a baby’s feet warm. If your baby’s feet seem chilly, you can layer on another petticoat or another blanket. Baby won’t really be needing reenactor-footwear until ready to learn to walk.
All such devices were improvised. When my children were babies, I was doing civilian, domestic-site based interpretation, which is fairly sedentary, so I never felt the need to devise one. Colleen Humphreys on the other hand, as a camp-follower with four children, has investigated this topic thoroughly. While I don’t necessarily agree with her interpretation of some other aspects of 18th c. baby clothing, on this one topic I am happy to defer to her extensive experience, her "experimental archaeology" and her exhaustive discussion of it, which can be found at:
(scroll about half way down to "To Carry Your Babe")
- Diaper, known in the period as "napkin" or "clout"
- Pilch or Pilcher, a diaper-cover
- Roller, swaddling-band, belly-band, or "surcingle"
- Bed gown or robe
- Bib, also Drool cloth, burp cloth, the "muckinder"
- Stockings, Shoes, Booties
- Baby sling, baby carrier
- Blanket, basket, bedding
- Final Reminder
Baby Swaddling Photo Series
Baby Gown Photo Series