These two images from the mid fourteenth century show a small baby bound in thick blue material, with only its face visible, followed by a much older infant, perhaps aged one, literally tied into its crib with green strips.
Depictions of the baby Jesus often show him in a loose white shift, the sort of garment that the swaddled child above appears to be wearing. which formed the basic underwear for all.
Washing could be a dirty and dangerous business though. Laundresses carried tubs of dirty linen to the rivers and London accounts in particular list women and young girls who had slipped, fallen in and drowned.
Perhaps one of the most useful images depicting the way boys' clothing changed over time is the 1470s Seven Ages of Man (below), where we see a baby swaddled and bound, then the infants of the next three stages are dressed in a similar loose garment, before the jerkin becomes shorter and accompanied by hose, in the figure on the right.
Even as recently as our grandmother's generation, Monday was the regular weekly wash day and it literally did take a day, scrubbing, rinsing and mangling all the household linen. Sitting behind my computer, trying to meet a number of deadlines for reviews, articles and books, with my two boys playing on the floor beside me, I am grateful for the labour saving devices and the lovely colourful modern baby clothes that make my life a little bit easier.
Here is the link to the F&F Tesco site where my clothes came from: