During Colonial times, from the late 1600s to the early 1700s, children dressed much differently than children do today. Women usually made their children's clothing themselves, as well as the clothing for the rest of the family. Some clothing, however, was imported from Europe, especially when colonists first began building their homes and settlements.
During the colonial times, both male and female babies wore the same type of clothing. Babies most commonly wore gowns, which were a one-piece item with a long skirt and long sleeves. Parents used a "biggins" to keep a baby's head warm. A biggins was a type of hat that was made of linen or wool and was tied under the chin. Babies also wore aprons to keep their gowns from getting dirty.
When babies learned to walk, their mothers sewed strips of fabric onto the shoulders of the gowns. These strips were known as leading strings, and whoever was walking with the toddler held onto them to keep the child from falling. A toddler might also wear a "pudding" on his forehead, which was a padded roll used to protect the head from injury.
Boys began to wear doublets when they reached around the age of four. Doublets consisted of fitted, long sleeved jackets and petticoats. More grown-up looking clothes were given to boys when they were around six years old. When a boy began to wear breeches, this meant that he was not a baby anymore and the family often celebrated this day. Along with the breeches, boys wore button-up shirts that were sometimes ruffled around the collar and cuffs. A coat completed the outfit. Shoes were normally dark brown and made of leather.
Girls wore a stay, or corset, on top of a smock. A waistcoat, which looked much like a snug, long-sleeved jacket, was worn over the top of the stay. Girls wore one or more petticoats, depending on the temperature. Petticoats were made of wool, which protects from fire. This was helpful for protection during cooking. Girls commonly wore aprons to protect their clothing when they were cooking and cleaning. Girls wore dark leather shoes similar to what the boys wore, but sometimes the girls' shoes had a small heel.
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