Last updated January 7th, 2021
I still remember how surprised I was when the beautiful ‘Petit Bateau’ PJs I had carefully picked out before my daughter was born was only worn once. Literally, 2 days later, she had outgrown it! At the time, I made a mental note to myself, remembering to always buy baby clothes in bigger sizes, especially during their first months. They will outgrow them so fast you will easily find a tiny toe peeking through their onesie overnight.
It was not long before we had to pack those adorable outfits we’d gotten and the carefully picked-out sleep suits, and put them in the part of the closet dedicated to clothes that need to be donated or kept for other potential siblings.
As your baby grows and you start being familiar with how it all works, you realize newborns have very specific needs and that their first few months will pass by in a flash. If you’re a mommy-to-be wondering what to buy to welcome your little one to this world, this article is for you!
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How many clothes does a newborn really need?
Babies grow so quickly that an extensive wardrobe is absolutely not necessary during their newborn phase. My advice is to always think practical and have on average 3 of the same item, depending on how many times a week you do laundry.
Newborns are usually in a “uniform” which consists of PJs, onesies, pants, socks, and hats. If it’s winter, of course, knits and jumpers are on the list. People will give you sweet and fun baby dresses, jeans, or hoodies, but all you really need is a very specific list of basics.
All your newborn needs are his main home outfits drawn from a concise list based on your lifestyle, laundry habits, functionality, and safety. Consider sizes, seasons, and practicality as newborns have to be dressed to make diaper change easy and to make them comfortable (consider the fabric and warmth).
Keep in mind your little one will outgrow newborn clothes in a few months or even sooner. Some babies even skip straight to 3-month-old sizes.
Which size should I buy?
With time, any mom will learn that the size to buy depends on the brand of clothes and the height and weight of their child. When shopping for your new baby or adding clothes to your baby registry, it is generally advised to only pick just a few newborn items and then go on selecting the 0-3 months size. This option generally fits the average height and weight of newborns.
Some brands show sizes based on a single month, which usually means this is the upper limit. Remember not to remove all tags and try one on. If you see it doesn’t fit at all, you can always exchange in-store for bigger sizes.
When you’re tempted to stock up on newborn clothes, remember that newborn outfits are for babies weighing 5 to 7 lbs and that newborns generally outgrow this size within the first week or two.
Factors to consider before buying newborn clothes or registering
Besides the size and the functionality of clothes (which we will get to in a bit), it is important for parents to consider some factors that could influence the quantity of clothes to buy your new baby and the quality as well.
- First, ask yourselves questions about your general lifestyle. Are you usually an active family? Do you travel often? Do you attend a lot of festivities? Do you co-sleep? All of these answers could help you tremendously in the choice of clothes, the quantity you’ll need for frequent changes, and the layers (co-sleeping requires fewer layers because babies who sleep next to their moms tend to be warmer during the night).
- Second, what are your laundry habits? If you do frequent laundry rounds, you’ll need fewer clothes as you’ll be able to catch up with the clothes change spiral. If you do laundry once a week or less than that, factor in the fact that you’ll be changing lots of clothes because of spit-ups and diaper blowouts so add items to your checklist.
- The third and most obvious factor to take into consideration is the season. Will it be cold or warm when you welcome your new baby? If it’s a cold season, make sure to factor in warm overalls, hats, mittens, socks, and blankets. Some parents love booties and slippers as well. If it’s going to be warm, make sure you get a light blanket for sleeping outside and a good hat to protect against sun rays.
That said, what is the list of clothes a newborn actually needs?
It is true that the number of times a newborn must be changed are many a day. Spit-ups, diaper blowouts and milk stains require a lot of continuous outfit changes. Also, because a breastfed baby can have stools that are liquid, a slightly moved diaper can be followed by a blowout and thus another change of clothes.
After having factored in the points mentioned above – i.e. the frequent clothes changes, your lifestyle, your laundry habits and the season you’ll be giving birth in – here is a general checklist of newborn clothes you’ll need (based on an average):
- 2 hats
- 2 swaddles
- 6 pairs of socks. Make sure they stay on by following these tips
- 6 short-sleeved bodysuits – kimono are the most practical
- 6 long-sleeved bodysuits – also kimono
- 6 one-pieces (depending on the season)
- 4 pairs of cotton pants (make sure the elastic is not too tight as colics can be terrible)
- 2 sweaters for extra warmth – knit or cotton depending on the season
Functionality vs Style
We all fell for those cute tiny human outfits at one point. Whether it is when you buy a gift for a newborn or go through your baby registry, baby clothes are so adorable you’ll want to buy every unfunctional item out there. But trust me, having a checklist that focuses on functionality rather than style will make your life easier and make you save money.
Here is a guideline for full functional baby clothes:
- Looking for shirts and bodysuits with snaps in front or on the side.
- Make sure the bodysuits and shirts have wide neck openings
- Make sure the pants are loose and have a stretchy elastic waistband.
- Look for all cotton clothes or soft cotton blends to avoid itchiness and irritation of your newborn’s sensitive skin. Cotton clothes will also keep your baby cooler in hot weather.
Safety guide to buying baby clothes
The clothes you dress your baby in can be safety hazards if not thought about well. Before style, remember your child’s safety. Among SIDS safety guidelines are the choice of clothes.
Avoid clothes that can wrap themselves tight around your baby or go over their heads. Blankets are to be totally avoided in the first months. When putting your baby in a car seat, make sure they are not over-warm and that seat-belts are well-fastened over one or two layers of clothes only.
When dressing your baby in outfits, make sure the clothes don’t have buttons or bows that could be easily removed and could cause a choking risk or strangulation.
It’s also important to look out for clothes with a low fire hazard label. Newborn rompers and jumpsuits should have this label.
How do I dress my newborn?
When your baby is screaming not to be changed and you feel they are under torture, it is easy to panic. An easy trick is to not be afraid to “alter” your baby’s clothes to fit him. Don’t be afraid to slightly tear a too-tight neck or open extra snaps to ease their head through. Also, singing, cooing, and talking to them will help soothe them and make changing time enjoyable.
Always remember to make sure your baby is not under or overdressed.
How do you dress a newborn to stay warm?
It is universally knows that your baby needs the same number of layers as you, plus one extra for them to be completely warm. Layers are efficient, especially in cold weather, as you can remove or add depending on the temperature. Always make sure they are not overheated, especially when sleeping.
How to wash newborn clothes?
First, remember to wash newborn clothes before putting them on your baby.
Dreft is recommended by pediatricians and dermatologists to be used in the first few months of your baby’s life, because of the quality of detergent. Regular detergents like Tide & Downy, while they smell great and soften clothes, can be a bit too strong for your baby’s sensitive skin.
How do I know my baby is cold?
Feel the nape of your baby’s neck to find out if he’s hot or cold. Signs that babies are too warm are flushed cheeks and looking like they are sweating. When they are cold, they have overly cold hands and feet and are less active.
Preparing your life and home for a newborn baby is beautiful and overwhelming. With the tips above, factors to take into consideration like lifestyle, habits, seasons, sizes and functionality, and adding a lot of organization, you can plan well how many newborn clothes you really need and go through your baby registry in an efficient way.
Remember to enjoy every minute as it flies by and they grow up so fast!