A father’s field guide to dressing a small child

Published 12:00 pm Wednesday, June 21, 2023

By Les Ferguson, Jr.

We’ve had a rash of new babies associated with our church. And by rash, I do mean rash. It seems to be catching. 

All these babies come from the sons and daughters of one family — and their spouses. One back in March. Two last week. And a fourth is coming soon. 

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I’ll keep their names private, but if you are worried, contact me and I’ll tell you what part of Lafayette County to avoid. As in, don’t drink the water.

And since we just had Father’s Day, I’d like to share some good home-spun parenting advice for new dads – as the title reads – suggested by my good friend Ron, who gave me permission to edit and share.

A Father’s Field Guide to Dressing a Small Child…

It’s best to let the mother of the child pick out the right clothes.  This will avoid questions like, “What were you thinking?” 

Once the outfit selection is complete, verify that a fresh diaper is installed on the child. Do not proceed if a foul odor is present or there is evidence of a soggy diaper.

If at any point in the process, you catch wind (sorry, not sorry for the pun) of an “unfresh” diaper situation, all progress must be stopped. I recommend immediate relocation of the child near or in the vicinity of the child’s mother. At this point, quietly extricate oneself from the area. 

After a fresh diaper is installed, you can recommence the dressing sequence, starting with a shirt. 

Place the shirt carefully over the head, onto the shoulders, and then one arm at a time is wrestled through the appropriate side. Note: Selecting the wrong hole results in a backward installation and extreme female irritation – often expressed with questions like, “Am I going to have to finish this?” For your health and safety, do not answer – just quickly and quietly fix your horrendous error.

At this point, take 10 minutes to recuperate – you won’t make it through the process if you don’t pace yourself. However, it is best to do so as unobtrusively as possible.

Again, check for a fresh diaper.  Be aware that there is a tendency for the child’s plumbing to trigger during dressing activities.  

Slip on the shorts or overalls. Tuck in a shirt if appropriate.  A ragged-looking child does not reflect your parenting skills to the mother or virtually any other female.  I cannot explain this phenomenon. 

If the process is not completed at this point, expect the mother to take over with a measure of exasperation. How large or small that exasperation is depends entirely on the amount of time you have expended up to this point. Power knowledge: Acting clueless will not be of any benefit.

Good luck – you will probably need that along with copious amounts of grace. But trust me on this, you are making memories and smiles that will last long beyond those precious childhood years.

May God bless all the new parents and children in the LOU community – and remember what Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and don’t stop them, because the kingdom of God belongs to such as these.” (Luke‬ 18‬:16‬ CSB)

Les Ferguson, Jr., is minister at Oxford Church of Christ. Write to him at lfergusonjr@gmail.com