I remember waiting for my first baby – doing all the research, typing into Google what baby clothes do I need? Trying to get organized… I ended up with too many baby clothes to be honest, and many of them didn’t get worn.
When my little boy arrived, I found it easiest to put him in simple long sleeved (preferably with inbuilt mittens), footed one piece sleepers. All the time. Yep. Boring, but easy.
There’s no real need to ‘get baby dressed for the day’, newborns keep odd hours and will spend much of the day sleeping. It was a little easier too in that boys clothes tend to be more utilitarian than girls… so there was not as much pressure to try this or that outfit or get through all the tutus and dresses.
One thing to remember as with all things motherhood: your mileage may vary!
You may have a baby who spits up a lot – in that case you might find it easier to put your newborn (once the umbilical stump has healed) in separate tops and bottoms so you can just change the top if it catches some spit up. Bandanna bibs are also great for this.
Psst… before we dive in you might want to quickly brush up on your baby clothes names, definitions and terminology so we’re on the same page. 😉
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What Baby Clothes Do I Need for a Newborn
As I mentioned, newborns don’t really need much. They certainly don’t need pretty or dressy clothes (though one or two outfits for occasions can be fun). Here are the basics that will form your newborn’s staple wardrobe:
1) 5-7 Onesies
This is the equivalent of baby underwear!
For a summer baby, you can dress baby in these alone or with shorts or leggings. In winter, fall, or spring these work well under your one piece sleepers for added warmth. The snap crotch is a must to keep the shirts from riding up.
Newborns tend to not like having anything pulled over their heads, so consider getting a kimono-style wrap front version. Though keep in mind that increases the number of snaps you’ll have to do up!
Onesies come in:
- short sleeve, or
- long-sleeve styles
with either a t-shirt style, snap up, envelope, or kimono style neckline. My personal preference is for envelope or kimono style onesies as I found my coordination is not really up to the task of getting a stretchy t-shirt neckline over a newborns head (the number of baby vests I put on backwards… poor baby…) I also don’t like the snap neck as the snap sits behind the baby’s shoulders and looks uncomfortable.
Choose whichever best suits the weather around the time your baby is born and as always, use your own judgement as to how warmly or lightly to dress your baby.
Here’s my handy chart for deciding what type of onesies you need depending on the season and the weather where you live:
- Summer – you want a mix of sleeveless and short sleeved onesies.
- Fall – for warmer days or indoors, you might need a couple of sleeveless onesies, but you’ll mostly use short sleeved and some long sleeved onesies.
- Winter – you’ll mostly use long sleeved onesies.
- Spring – as the season transitions you’ll want a mix of all three sleeve-lengths to get you through.
2) 7-10 Sleepers
Sleepers are a total staple for newborn clothes – so make sure you have plenty! 7 is the bare minimum I recommend getting, however, it depends on how often you intend to do laundry and how often your baby gets them dirty.
I was lucky in that my baby never spat up. (Unicorn!) So, I was usually able to keep my little one in the same outfit all day.
If you’re expecting a winter baby, go for the higher number as sleepers will probably be your main outfit choice – in summer, you might only use sleepers at night or not at all if it’s really hot and you’ve got a light wearable blanket!
- choose zip up outfits for convenience and ease of use.
- if you can, get the ones with fold over cuffs (in-built mittens!) and foot covers so you won’t need to worry about separate mittens and socks (which often come off).
3) 1-2 Sweaters, Cardigans or Jackets
Add a sweater or jacket (or two) to your list if you’re expecting a winter, fall or spring baby and the weather is cool.
You’ll need this to go over the top of baby’s outfit on cold days or when going out.
I’m a fan of button or zip up cardigans or jackets over a traditional sweater as pulling a neckline over baby’s head is challenging.
4) 5-7 pairs of baby socks
Newborn babies don’t do much with their feet, but socks are great to keep those tootsies warm. Even if you’re using mostly footed clothes, there’s still going to be times when you need socks.
You may think you don’t need socks if you’re having a summer baby, but it’s worth grabbing a few in case of cold days… plus newborn socks tend to be tube-like so they will likely last you through the first six or more months of your baby’s life.
Hot tip: pick up a mesh laundry bag to contain those itty bitty socks in the wash so they don’t go missing.
5) 2-3 Wearable Blankets or Swaddle/Sleeping Bags
If you’re in a colder climate, make sure you include some wearable blankets. And even if you’re in a warmer climate, make sure you have 2-3 swaddles or swaddle bags ready to go (hospitals are cold and even warm climates can have cold winter nights.)
One thing you’ll notice as you look for the right wearable blanket or swaddle bag for your baby is that they all have different ‘tog’ ratings. This is a measure of how warm the blanket it is.
As a rough guide:
- 0.2 tog – a very light blanket for temperatures above 74°F (24°C).
- 1 tog – a light blanket suiting temperatures between 68°F (20°C) and 73°F (23°C).
- 2.5 tog – a warm blanket suitable for temperatures between 61°F (16°C) and 68°F (20°C).
- 3.5 tog – a very warm blanket suiting cold temperatures below 68°F (20°C).
When you’re choosing a wearable blanket, make sure you look for the manufacturer’s guide for what clothes you should dress baby in for the tog and temperature level! It’s super handy!
Read More: How Many Swaddle Blankets Do I Need?
6) 1-2 Hats (Mostly for Cold Weather Babies)
If you live in a cold climate and you’re expecting a winter baby, you’ll need these items as well:
If you prefer to dress your baby in separates, you’ll want to grab some tops and bottoms:
- 5-7 leggings – if you prefer to use separate tops and bottoms for your baby, soft stretchy leggings are a must. I would avoid all fashionable and non-stretchy fabrics (like denim, or even non-stretch cotton) because it’s just so much easier to get stretchy leggings on and off. My little one (he’s 3) still wears leggings in the winter.
- 5-7 tops – again, onesies are the best because they don’t ride up… but you could grab some fashionable t-shirts, blouses, or long-sleeve t-shirts to go over the top of the onesie.
- 1 crib shoes – if your baby is always wriggling out of his socks, try popping some soft crib shoes over the top.
- 3+ bibs – if your baby spits up a lot, it can be handy to have her in a bib for easier mess clean up. Of course, you can’t tell this before baby is born, so it’s wise to have at least a couple of bibs in case you need them. If you find you really, really need them, you can always order more on Amazon.
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