This baby gown was made at a time when gowns of white linen or cotton were very fashionable female clothing. The skirt is unusually long, and may well indicate that the gown was kept for ceremonial and formal use only, although the signs of wear and tear suggest that it was used on a number of occasions, probably over a considerable length of time. The skirt length is further emphasised by the very short bodice, and the garment may possibly have been adapted from a girl's or woman's gown.
By the 1870s excessively long skirts like this were going out of use because they were seen as unwieldy and also unsafe, especially when a baby was carried about in someone's arms. Where a family cherished a gown of this length and had handed it down through the generations, the skirt was often taken off the bodice and cut shorter, or shortened by taking horizontal tucks in it.