Newborn Clothes Survival Guide
Congratulations on your pregnancy! Over the next nine months, you’ll be preparing for the arrival of your little one and I bet you’re feeling overwhelmed.
Ever wonder how long babies are in newborn clothes? Or how to wash newborn clothes? Have you spent much time thinking about how you remove poop stains from baby clothes? I can help with that. Here is a list of what clothing I, as a mother times six, think you need to have for your newborn along with some additional advice on where to get it and how to clean it.
Bonus: If you don't have time to read through my musings on the reasons why I recommend buying these newborn clothes, here's a great printable newborn clothes checklist you can click and print for free that tells you exactly how many newborn clothes you need:
What Clothes do I Need for a Newborn?
Onesies are one-piece clothing items designed specifically for babies. You’ve probably seen them a million times and never given them a second thought, but it turns out their design is actually incredibly helpful and intentional. The neck is specially designed to easily fit over big baby heads. The fabric is breathable to help maintain body temperature. The one-piece design keeps baby’s skin covered. The snaps make for easy diaper changes. Basically, they’re a baby-clothing Swiss army knife.
But one thing I’ve learned is that not all onesies are created equal. Look for onesies that have a good cut to them and high-quality fabric that will not stretch out of shape. Make sure the snaps work well, too–sometimes they’re crazy hard to use.
Bottom Line: Get a good amount of white onesies. Short sleeved if your baby is born in the summer, long sleeved if you baby is born in the winter. Your baby will wear AT LEAST one of these a day, so unless you want to constantly be doing laundry, grab several (probably around 10). If you want to anticipate your newborn inevitably outgrowing their clothes, you can also get three to five 0-3 Month onesies. And you can always create a few personalized onesies as part of your initial batch.
Baby pajamas are the best. The fuzzy ones make it seem like you have a living stuffed animal to play with and the thin ones hug their chubby little bodies in all the best ways. Plus, the pajamas with feet mean you aren’t constantly looking for the socks that Never. Seem. To. Stay. On. We actually put our babies in pajamas almost exclusively for the first few months of their lives.
Baby pajamas, like onesies, are also brilliantly designed. They either have zippers or snaps to make them simple to put on and make diaper changes easy. In fact, there are even jammies that have reverse zippers that start at the baby’s feet for extra convenience. Sleeping with loose blankets is dangerous for babies, so having pajamas that keep them covered no matter how they move means they are safe and warm and you, as an exhausted parent, can actually relax and know they are safe.
Bottom Line: Get several sets of baby pajamas in lighter and heavier fabrics to adjust for the weather. As with the onesies, your baby will wear at least one a day, so stock up with 6-8 pairs of baby pajamas.
While they may seem like unnecessary accessories for someone so small, hats are actually pretty important. Babies lose a lot of their body heat from their head, so keeping it covered helps maintain a healthy body temperature. Or, if you’re out in the sun, a tiny sun hat can keep that perfect skin from getting a sunburn. No matter the time of year, you will need a couple of hats on hand. The hospital will likely send you home with a knit beanie (usually an ugly knit beanie…) but we’ve liked the thin, cotton ones far better. They seem to fit better and be more comfortable for the baby.
We have found that our babies grow out of newborn-sized hats within a matter of days, so try and get the next size up.
Bottom Line: One or two knit beanies, one sun hat, and you should be set.
Keeping your baby’s feet covered is far more difficult than you’d think. Somehow their tiny, squirmy little feet just slip right out of everything! It’s important to keep them covered, though, to help maintain their body temperature. We honestly default to footie pajamas for the most part during the early days because it is so hard to find socks that will actually stay on.
When they are brand new, look for socks that have a fair amount of stretch to keep them on. As they get older, we’ve liked the socks that have little grippy dots on the bottoms to keep them from slipping as they walk. The more children we had, the more we appreciated multiple pairs of the exact same white socks so it was easy to find a match. Don’t mess with the cutesy-patterned socks–they will just drive you crazy.
I wouldn’t bother with shoes for the first few months unless you find a pair you just can’t resist. They seem to just make the baby uncomfortable, particularly if they have stiff soles. When your baby’s feet need protecting, there are soft “crib shoes” that work well, especially as your baby starts learning to walk. There’s a fair amount of research about how important it is for your baby’s feet to be able to spread without restraint as they are developing, so make sure any shoes you use are soft and fit well. Even if you just had one pair of sneakers and one pair of fancier shoes (for church or weddings), you should be set for a while.
When our babies are newborns, they have each been given a pair of hand-knitted booties from a good friend of ours. These were magic for keeping their little feet covered. They were soft, breathable, and they tied around the ankle to keep them on. So make friends with someone crafty or look online for a pair of hand-knitted booties.
Bottom Line: Lots of identical pairs of socks, one or two pairs of shoes for a few months in, and knitted booties are the greatest thing ever.
Babies are born with the sharpest little nails that aren’t recommended to be cut for a few weeks. And without the hand control to stop it, this means babies often end up scratching themselves. Baby mittens can help stop this. You can either find an actual pair of baby mittens, or look for onesies that have them built into the sleeves. In my experience, most newborn-sized long sleeve onesies had them built in, but it is probably smart to have a pair of mittens as well. Make sure to keep them clean because, like everything else, they will end up in your baby’s mouth.
Bottom Line: Most onesies have them, but get a pair just in case.
When your baby is really tiny, almost all of their layering will be done with blankets. But as they get a little older, you’ll be glad to have more options when it comes to warmth. A good jacket or cardigan can help keep them warm during the colder months, especially when they start to be more mobile and won’t stay snuggled in a warm blanket. Honestly, even one or two sweaters, jackets, or hoodies will be enough, unless you live somewhere that is cold year round.
Bottom Line: One or two layering options is great.
Swaddling is one of those parenting things where everyone has their own method and preference, but basically it’s the practice of wrapping your baby so they feel cozy and secure. The blanket you choose can make all the difference in how successful your swaddle is. You need a blanket that is large enough to wrap around the baby, but thin enough to do it without too much bulk. We found we preferred the muslin swaddling blanket the best, but we found a few cotton ones with a little stretch that worked well, too. Whichever kind you prefer, get a LOT of them. We went through them like crazy. We used them for everything–especially as burp cloths. But because they are so thin, they wash easily and dry quickly, so they are easy to launder and it wasn’t a big deal. Need to lay your baby on the grass at the park? Swaddle blanket. Need to wipe up a quick spit-up mess? Swaddle blanket. Need a shade to keep the sun out of the baby's eyes? Swaddle blanket. They’re seriously the best.
Bottom Line: Get one blanket of a couple of different fabrics and once you find the one you like best, get about eight more.
If you don’t plan on using your swaddling blankets as burp cloths, you will definitely want to stock up on actual burp cloths. A burp cloth covers your own clothing as you burp the baby so that when the inevitable spit up comes, it lands on the cloth and not on you. But honestly, no matter how good your burp cloth is, there will be lots of times where it still lands on you. Having a stock pile of burp cloths on hand will give you a way better chance at wearing the same shirt for more than an hour or two, so they are a valuable tool to have.
There are a ton of different choices when it comes to burp cloths, but the ones we liked the best were long and thin and made of plain white cotton. These were easy to launder, fit comfortably on our shoulders, and did the best job of keep things clean.
Bottom Line: Lots of burp cloths, but be prepared to still get spit up on you anyway.
When it comes to diapers, there are two main categories: disposable and cloth. With all of our kids we have gone the disposable route, finding our favorite diaper brands as we go. It’s definitely worse for the environment, but the convenience factor was huge for us. There’s also the possibility of chemical exposure, so be mindful of which diaper brand you choose. You will be spending a lot of money on diapers, so look for sales and stock up when you can. However, be mindful of sizing–don’t get too many of one size or you may be stuck with diapers you can’t use as your baby grows out of them. Babies go through a staggering amount of diapers in the beginning, but it begins to slow down as they get closer to potty-training age.
Cloth diapers have a lot of benefits. They are more cost effective, better for the environment, and typically made of very clean materials. However, they definitely require an investment of time because they require laundering. If this is a route that is a good fit for you, there are some really inventive products making the use of cloth diapers easier–definitely not just one large safety pin like in the movies.
Bottom Line: You will buy a LOT of diapers. Be smart about stocking up when there are sales, but be careful about sizing. Cloth diapers are a great, cost-effective alternative to disposables.
We all call them baby wipes, but once you start using them, you’ll find they are good for basically everything. I’m pretty sure I’ll keep some in my bag even when I no longer have a baby in diapers. But when it comes to diapering, you will definitely use them. A lot.
Wipes are kind of a personal preference thing, too. I have friends who prefer the thicker wipes (like Huggies brand) but I think most of us land on a thinner, more durable wipe (like Kirkland). Just make sure that you’re checking the ingredients. Baby wipes don’t need to be anything other than wet, in my opinion. I try to make sure that ours are unscented and made with clean ingredients to keep that sensitive diaper area clean.
Bottom Line: Buy a few smaller packs of different brands and once you find the ones you like, stock up!
What Size of Clothing Should I Buy?
Be prepared with a small wardrobe of newborn sized clothes. Your baby may be smaller or bigger than this, but you won’t know until he or she is in your arms. Our babies tend to be smaller, so they stayed in each stage of clothing longer than the estimated age. Other babies we know skipped the newborn size altogether and stayed ahead of the estimated age. The important thing is not to stress about the number and make sure that your baby is comfortable.
In general, this is what manufactures plan for with their sizing:
- Newborn: Designed to fit babies up to 8 pounds and 21 inches in length.
- 0-3 months: Designed to fit babies from 8-12 pounds and 21-24 inches in length.
- 3-6 months: Designed to fit babies from 12-16 pounds and 24-26 inches in length.
How to Wash Newborn Clothes
Washing newborn clothes requires some special care to ensure that they stay soft, clean, and free of irritants that could harm your baby's delicate skin. Here are some tips for washing newborn clothes:
- Pre-wash: Before you wash your baby's clothes for the first time, it's a good idea to pre-wash them separately from other laundry. This will help to remove any excess dye or chemicals that could irritate your baby's skin.
- Use gentle detergent: Choose a mild, fragrance-free detergent that is designed for babies or sensitive skin. Avoid using fabric softeners or dryer sheets, as they can leave residue on the clothes and irritate your baby's skin.
- Wash in warm water: Newborn clothes can be washed in warm water, but avoid using hot water, as it can shrink or damage the fabric.
- Separate colors: Wash light and dark colors separately to prevent color bleeding or fading.
- Hand-wash delicate items: If you have any delicate or hand-wash only items, such as special outfits or blankets, it's best to wash them by hand in cool water with gentle detergent.
- Air-dry: It's best to air-dry newborn clothes to avoid shrinking or damaging the fabric. Hang or lay the clothes flat to dry, and avoid using the dryer.
- Iron if necessary: If your baby's clothes are wrinkled after washing, you can iron them on a low setting.
By following these tips, you can help to ensure that your baby's clothes are clean, soft, and comfortable.
Removing Poop Stains
Yes, your baby will get poop on their clothes. And even though the blowouts always seem to be timed at the very most inconvenient times, they really don’t end up being a big deal. Removing poop stains from newborn clothes can seem daunting, but with the right approach, it can be fairly easy to do. Here are some steps you can follow to remove poop stains from your baby's clothes:
- Remove excess poop: Use a spoon or knife to gently scrape off any excess poop from the clothes. Be careful not to rub or smear the stain, as this can make it harder to remove.
- Rinse with cold water: Rinse the stained area under cold running water to flush out as much of the stain as possible. Avoid using hot water, as this can set the stain.
- Pre-treat with detergent: Apply a small amount of liquid detergent directly to the stain and gently rub it in with your fingers. Let it sit for a few minutes to allow the detergent to penetrate the fibers of the fabric.
- Wash as usual: Wash the clothes in the washing machine on a regular cycle, using warm water and a mild detergent. Avoid using bleach or fabric softeners, as they can damage the fabric.
- Check the stain: After washing, check to see if the stain has been removed. If the stain is still visible, repeat the pre-treating and washing process.
- Dry the clothes: Once the stain is removed, air-dry the clothes or dry them in the dryer on a low setting.
There are also a few old tried-and-true tips that pass down, like leaving the washed, stained onesie out in the sun to dry or using dishwashing detergent to soak stains.
I won’t lie and say that there hasn’t been a onesie or two that landed straight in the trash because it was just a lost cause, but generally most poop stains will come out if you follow those steps.
Buying Newborn Clothing
Where to Buy
There are many places where you can buy newborn clothing, both in-store and online. Here are some options to consider:
- Baby stores: There are many stores that specialize in baby products and clothing. Examples include Babies "R" Us, Buy Buy Baby, and Carter's.
- Department stores: Many department stores have a section for baby clothing, such as Target, Walmart, and Macy's.
- Online retailers: There are many online retailers that sell newborn clothing, such as Amazon, Zara, and Nordstrom.
- Secondhand stores: You can often find gently used newborn clothing at secondhand stores such as Once Upon a Child, Goodwill, and thrift stores.
- Local boutiques: Depending on where you live, there may be local boutiques that sell newborn clothing.
When shopping for newborn clothing, be sure to check the sizing charts and consider buying a variety of sizes, as babies grow quickly. It's also a good idea to look for clothing that is easy to put on and take off, as well as comfortable and soft for your baby's delicate skin.
How to Get Newborn Clothes on the Cheap
There are several ways to get newborn clothes for cheap or even for free. Here are some ideas:
- Hand-me-downs: Reach out to friends or family members who have recently had a baby and ask if they have any clothes that their baby has outgrown. Many parents are happy to pass on their gently used clothes to others.
- Thrift stores: Check out your local thrift stores or consignment shops. You may be able to find gently used baby clothes at a fraction of the cost of new clothes.
- Online marketplaces: Browse online marketplaces like Facebook Marketplace, Craigslist, or eBay for second-hand baby clothes. You may be able to find great deals on clothes that are in good condition.
- Garage sales: Look for garage sales in your area that are selling baby clothes. You may be able to find some great deals on gently used clothes.
- Freecycle: Join your local Freecycle group and post a request for baby clothes. People in your community may have clothes that they are willing to give away for free.
- Baby shower: Register for baby clothes at your baby shower. Your friends and family may be happy to give you clothes as a gift.
- Community groups: Check with local community groups, such as churches or non-profits, to see if they offer clothing donations or have free baby clothes available.
By using these strategies, you can save money on newborn clothes and get the items you need for your baby without breaking the bank.
Here are some additional tips for buying newborn clothing:
- Shop in the off-season: You can often find great deals on newborn clothing if you shop in the off-season.
- Buy used clothing: You can save a lot of money by buying used newborn clothing. There are many places to find used clothing, such as thrift stores, consignment shops, and online marketplaces.
- Ask for hand-me-downs: If you know any other parents with young children, ask them if they have any hand-me-down clothing they are willing to give you.