Let's be honest. It is ALL about the baby clothes when you're pregnant. I mean, they are darling and tiny and conjure dreams of what your baby and parenthood will look like. And for new parents, those dreams are almost always pristine and fashionably put together!
Although I was too superstitious to buy anything in early days, by the end of my pregnancy, I loved perusing the baby boutiques and dreaming through my pocket book. So much softness. So many beautiful items. So many buttons and snaps I did not truly understand. And a whole wardrobe to buy! The saving grace? I KNEW in my core we were having a boy, and boys get far less rack space than girls. For every eight racks of girl clothes, there is two or three racks of boy and gender neutral clothes.
It’s hard to resist buying a ton of baby clothes - or putting them on your registry. Nor do you necessarily need to resist. Babies spit up, blow out, and take you down with loads of laundry that can be hard to get to. Multiple outfits come in very handy. But don't forget: babies grow quickly and your little one won’t stay in specific sizes very long. Moreover, most people don't really need or use a closet full of stylish baby outfits in early days.
Pro tip: minimize the number of newborn sizes (or, unless you are having twins or multiples, skip them altogether) and focus instead on 0-3 months when buying those initial baby clothes. Unless your baby is small, he or she won't be in newborn sizes long.
As for what and how many of each, here is a basic list of needs. Wants? Well, the sky’s the limit!
Baby Clothes Considerations
When it comes to clothing, there are basic considerations applicable to virtually every item:
Fit. Whether and how an item fits is very important. While you do want a little room to grow within the size range, you don't want the clothing to be so big it can ride up and block baby's breathing passages. You will also want to consider how an item fits - meaning where and how it touches the baby's body. For the first 10-12 days after he or she is born, a newborn has an umbilical cord stump. The size of that stump will depend on where it was clipped during the birth. They can be big; they can be small. Some liken the umbilical cord stump to a deep scab you don't want to tear off before it's time. Tight-fitting shirts and waist bands can irritate that area, so you want to have clothing that will keep baby comfortable while also keeping that area clean and protected.
Fabric content is also a consideration. Organic fabrics are fabrics made of organic materials. Pesticides and fertilizers are not used in the growing of the fabric source, and chemicals are not added to the fabric. As a result they tend to be soft and compatible with even sensitive skin.
Natural fibers (cotton, linen, cashmere, bamboo, etc.) don't trap moisture against baby's skin so they are better for baby's skin and better in the heat. Cotton is the most widely-used fabric in baby clothes, but bamboo is becoming increasingly popular. Bamboo is thermal-regulating, meaning it will adjust with your baby's body temperature. It is also hypo-allergenic and anti-bacterial. Linen is wonderful in warm climates, but it wrinkles easily, making it a more labor intensive fabric. Cashmere is beautiful, soft, and great next to baby's tender skin, but cashmere items can be pricey.
Man-made fibers (polyester, spandex, etc.) are often less expensive. Polyester cotton blends can be appealing because they do not shrink and are less likely to wrinkle. Cotton spandex blends are comfortable, stretchable, and move with your baby. In my experience, man-made fabrics did not last as long and they had a tendency to permanently trap stains. Additionally, man-made fabrics trap moisture against a baby's skin, which can cause rashes and discomfort.
Temperature appropriateness is also a must. Infants should be dressed appropriately for the environment. They can get too cold or too hot quickly, and they can't tell you that. They can only cry. When dressing your little one, consider the ambient temperature, air circulation, whether baby is sick, and warmth generated by his or her clothing. Think layers. Adding or eliminating layers is the best way to warm baby up or cool him down. Babies may need an extra layer or two when it’s cold outside; just make sure you’re quick to remove extra layers when you come back in so that baby doesn’t overheat. While the temptation is to bundle up a baby who is sick, it is usually better to put on less layers as fever spikes can cause overheating. A general rule of thumb is dress baby just one layer warmer than it would take to make you comfortable in the same location.
Functionality and ease of use are so important to keep in mind. Remember whatever you put on must also come off - sometimes multiple times a day for diaper changes. Babies can sometimes be challenging to dress. Clothing that makes that process even harder - i.e., is hard to get on and off - can be really frustrating. Also, baby's clothes should be as easy to clean as possible. Optimally, you will want to be able to pop them in the washer and dryer with as little fuss as possible.
Price point is also something to keep in mind. It's tempting to spend a lot, but babies grow quickly and they can be hard on clothing. You can drop sky's the limit on a clothing item baby only wears once or twice. While you may want to splurge on some designer brands or special items, it is not pragmatic to go all in on every item. That said, going the cheapest route may not make sense either. In my experience, many less expensive brands did not wear as well for as long and often stained. There is definitely a second-hand market for baby clothes. Consequently, it may make sense to spend a little more for clothing that looks better longer and remains marketable to secondhand purchasers.
Style. Style is all about you and your esthetic when it comes to newborns. Enjoy it! The time will come - in a blink of an eye and far earlier than you expect - when your little one will have very definite opinions about what he or she will deign to wear. Gone will be the days where they will actually wear whatever you pick. And gone will be the days when your picking won't potentially trigger a tantrum or negotiation. Unless you are blessed with a toddler who will wear anything (and I know exactly one mom who hit that lottery - and even then with only one of her two kids), you've got anywhere between 24 and 36 months to dress baby however you want, so lean in!
Baby Clothes Check List
Before we get started, I think it is important to make clear that Bumbershoots by Nana does not receive any compensation by any of the brands or shops listed in this article (or any other). As such, you can trust that all recommendations are truly based on what we like and feel are great products. Now, on to the good stuff!
✔️ Bringing Baby Home Outfit. Dressing your little one to bring him or her home from the hospital can be a surprisingly special moment. It is emotional for many parents (myself included). In a way, it feels bigger than just dressing your child. Although for most the moment will likely just include the parents, baby and possibly close friends and family, it is the first time you get to "present baby to the world." It marks your debut as a new, independent family. It marks your vision as a parent. And indubitably it will be a moment (and outfit) that is well-documented in family photographs and video.
When selecting a bringing baby home outfit, you will want to consider the season. Is it hot? Cold? "Just right?" Pick something that will keep baby comfortable and allow him or her to ride safely in a car seat (nothing super bulky). Make something you and your spouse love. This moment is about you and your family, not anyone else. Also, you might want to select clothing that will photograph well. (Gosh I feel shallow writing that. But it is Truth.)
It's helpful to have layers and even a back-up outfit. While the outfit you painstakingly select may symbolize and mean so much to you, babies still spit up and have leaky diapers, and they honestly do not care what they do that on or in. Also, you'll want an outfit that fits well and is easy to put on and change diapers in.
When my son was born late summer, we had anti-scratch mittens, a little nursery cap, soft slippers, an outfit, and a blanket - just in case. I honestly think you can skip the mittens. Most likely a parent will be riding next to baby (and getting some hand-holding in). Baby likely won't get to accidentally scratch. Whether to use a blanket depends on the ambient temperature. Newborns do get colder than you, so if you are unsure check with a nurse to see if that last layer or two are necessary.
For some beautiful ideas for bringing baby home outfits, check out these suggestions by The Bump! For some truly precious outfits, check out Luli & Me, available on their own website, Bergdorf Goodman, and Neiman Marcus.
✔️ Bodysuits (also known as Onesies).
Featured onesies by Hanna Andersson
They're a warming underlayer. They're pajamas. They're a shirt. They're a complete outfit. Bodysuits/onesies are anything you want them to be!! And you will want a lot of them. At least 6! Babies can go through several (think four or more) a day!
As with all clothing, you will want to find styles and price points that suit. Some have short sleeves, like the Hanna Andersson oneself on top. Some long, like the Hanna Andersson onesie on the bottom. You may also want to look for special fabric features like natural materials or organic cotton. In addition, look for ones with wide head openings for easy dressing and undressing. You can also choose a style with side snaps, like the long sleeve one, which bypass having to pull the item over the head altogether. Another nice feature is loose legs holes.
Onesies (and t-shirts) are also where you are most likely to find political, parenting, social, or culture imagery and comments on baby clothes - like this onesies referencing the comedy television hit Schitt$ Creek (yes, I was (am) a fan!):
You are also like to find cute baby comments or "punny" imagery, like with these onesies by Touched by Nature, an inexpensively priced brand whose onesies are made with 100% organic cotton.
P.S. Ever wonder what the flaps are on the shoulders of baby's onesies are for? They let you pull the clothing down over baby’s torso and legs instead of up over the head for a more sanitary outfit change when the onesie doesn't have side snaps.
Sometimes called a "one-piece" or "bubble", a baby romper is a one-piece all-in-one outfit that typically comes in fun, fashion-forward styles. Rompers usually snap at the crotch for easy diaper changes. They are great for playdates, family gatherings, and photo shoots. You will want at least two in different styles: "dressy" and casual.
There are so many brands we recommend, but obviously cannot list them all here. For dressier outfits, my go-to is Janie and Jack. They are pricier, but the quality is amazing and the fabrics are seemingly stain resistant - at least they have been with regard to my little guy. We also like Burt's Bees Baby. The fabrics are organic and their clothing is affordable. Nordstrom carries many brands we also recommend, including Little Me, Tucker + Tate, RuffleButts (so cute!!!), Mini Boden, Kissy Kissy, and others. We also love Tea Collection, Monica + Andy, and Peek.
Shirts are another staple item. Most sources suggest having four to eight to start.
When selecting shirts for a newborn baby, you will want to consider fit, both for size and placement. Unlike articles of clothing that secure around the legs, shirts can ride up. You don't want them to be so big they can ride up and block baby's breathing passages. With regard to brand new babies, you will also want to accommodate baby's umbilical cord stump.
There are many styles of soft baby shirts to choose from: kimonos, t-shirts, undershirts, button downs, short-sleeve and long-sleeve. Some long-sleeve shirts even have built-in anti-scratch mittens.
The side snaps or ties allow you to dress the baby without having to pull the shirt over his or her head. They also are loose around the waist, making them a good choice for while baby still has his or her umbilical cord stump. Note this top by Monica + Andy has the included fold-over anti-scratch mittens.
When looking at t-shirts and undershirts, look for large head openings or shirts with shoulder snaps or folds that allow for easy dressing. Button down shirts are super cute for a preppy baby style, but they can be difficult to get on and off. Babies like to wiggle.
First up: bloomers.
I often think of bloomers (basically a diaper cover that is cloth) more with respect to baby girls, but bloomers are not limited by gender. There are cute little boy and gender neutral styles as well. Bloomers are worn over a diaper with a top or under a dress, generally, but can also be layered over leggings, tights or a bodysuit. How many you need depend on how dependent your outfits are upon them. Keeping in mind the blowout and laundry factors, four to eight should be sufficient.
There are brands for every style of bloomer. RuffleButts has a cute frilly bloomers and bloomer-based outfits for girls. That line is carried by Nordstrom, Neiman Marcus, and Amazon, but you can also find them at the RuffleButts website. Louelle has some beautiful bloomers and bloomer-based outfits for girl, boy, and gender neutral looks. Old Navy and Amazon also have a selection of bloomers suitable for girl, boy, and gender neutral looks.
Next up: pants and leggings.
Baby's pants are amazingly versatile. They’re great for pretty much everything - outings, stroller time, tummy time, hanging out around the house. They come as leggings, soft pants, dress pants (still, they are usually just soft pants), jeans (usually still soft pants, but they do come in jeans material as well). Look for baby pants that come in comfortable fabrics, like cotton, that won’t irritate or chafe baby’s sensitive skin. If you want to dress a newborn in bottoms, make sure you can roll the waistband down to accommodate the umbilical cord stump. You will want four to eight everyday pants or leggings. I would wait to buy dressy pants unless and until an occasion calls for it. Similarly, I would wait to put the baby in jeans until he or she is a bit older, as jean material can be rather rough and uncomfortable. The brands we love have all been identified above. Also, you might like Roux's organic cotton leggings and harem pants:
Roux is a relatively new brand with a modern esthetic that is getting attention these days.
Sleepers, sometimes called pajamas or footies, are a mainstay. A sleeper is an all-in-one baby outfit, often made from cotton or snuggly fleece. Generally, sleepers have long sleeves and cover baby’s feet—perfect for keeping your little one snug. They are not just for bedtime, though. They make great daytime outfits too. And not just because newborns sleep much of the day and much of the night when you add it all up. Sleepers are cute and snuggly - the quintessential baby outfit - but they also can make great outfits for outings and family visits because they are comfortable and often playfully stylish.
Sleepers generally have zip-up or snap-front fastenings that make for easy diaper changes. Stock up on a few of these, as you’ll probably use between 1-3 a day.
Pro Tip: While sleep sacks, like the luxury handcrafted sleep sacks made by Bumbershoots by Nana, will be an essential item once baby first starts trying to roll over (usually around 2-3 months old), newborns are better suited to swaddles.
Regardless of the season, newborns need hats for warmth and sun protection. Let's start with warmth.
While newborns are small, proportionally their heads are actually pretty big compared to the rest of their bodies. All that surface area can let lots of heat escape. That is where beanies, sometimes referred to as nursery caps, come in. Also, if your little one is born in the colder fall and winter months, you will need to get a warm winter hat for outdoor excursions as well. (See below for more on warm winter hats.)
Most recommend you have three (3) beanies for a newborn. In truth, by the time a newborn leaves the hospital, they usually do not need to wear a beanie unless your home or the ambient air is brisk or on the cold side. However, as with all things baby, it is really nice to have one readily available in the event one is needed. If you like the look and want your little one to wear one as part of an outfit or style, rather than function, keep an eye out for overheating.
Beanies typically come in cotton, but sometimes also in knitted or crocheted form. Keep in mind that despite the label, one size will not necessarily fit all. My son, for example, was a very large baby, and the beanie the nurses put on him in the delivery room literally popped immediately right back off. (It's ok to giggle at that image!) All that to say pick a cap that has some ability to expand to fit larger as well as smaller noggins. Also, you will want to ensure the material is soft and gentle against baby's tender skin. For a list of top beanies, click here.
Speaking of baby's tender skin, babies need to be protected from the sun. Sun hats are invaluable for this. You should have at least one sun hat, but as they seem to be easily lost, having two is great.
When picking a sun hat, look for one that has UPF (ultraviolet protection factor) fabric, fabric that has built-in sun protection. It is an added layer of sun protection beyond the sunscreen you will also want to apply. Select a hat with a wide brim, which provides great shade and therefore greater protection of baby's eyes, ears, neck and skin. To guard against disappearance, ensure proper fit and seek styles with chin straps or ties. For a list of top sun hats, click here.
You will want between 5-10 pairs. Socks are important because they keep your little one's toes warm. As babies don't wear shoes, socks can be a very visible and stylish addition to baby's outfit. For a list of top brands, click here. Also, I was stoked to find my favorite sock brand for grown-ups, Bombas, now has socks for babies!
Pro tip: Buy several packs of the same color or pattern, so it won’t be an emergency if one goes missing.
✔️ Infant Gowns.
Infant gowns are easy to use, but they are also great while the baby’s umbilical cord is present. They keep the area clean and irritation-free, and the gowns provide easy diaper access while keeping baby covered. You will need 4-6 of them unless you are able to do laundry every day. Many of the brands mentioned previously have beautiful infant gowns in various styles. We also love those by Peregrine Kidswear, a great brand that focuses on organic bamboo fabric and gender neutral styles, available at Nordstrom and on the Peregrine Kidswear website.
✔️ Slippers or booties.
Babies should not start wearing shoes until they start walking, but baby slippers or booties (a hybrid of a slipper and sock) can help keep those tootsies warm. When selecting booties or slippers, make sure the shoes fit with a bit of wiggle room. Size 0-3 months are perfect for a newborn wardrobe.
Also, make sure the booties are flexible and allow toe and foot wiggles. Babies need to be able to wiggle their toes and strengthen their feet and ankles to prepare them for walking. Pro tip: One way to check for proper flexibility in the bootie or slipper is to feel your babe's toes through the top of the shoe. You don't want a shoe that is so structured you can't feel them. Also, look for slippers or booties that have secure closures to keep them from accidentally or "accidentally on baby purpose" coming off.
We love Zutano booties. They stay on, meet best practices guidelines, and come in different fabrics (fleece, cotton, organic cotton) and prints. For a list of other top slippers or baby booties, click here.
For a fall or winter-born baby add:
If your baby is born during the fall, winter, or somewhere cold, winterwear will be an essential part of your baby's layette (your newborn's first wardrobe). It’s tempting to focus on what looks cute to you, but don’t forget about performance. A cold baby is not a happy one — and a crying, miserable baby, or product frustration, does not make for happy parents, either.
✔️ Sweaters/Sweatshirts. Having 2-4 is nice! When it comes to sweaters and sweatshirts, pick material that is soft and not scratchy. While you can always pull them over baby's head, it can be helpful to find styles that button or zip up the front, as pulling items over baby's head can be more challenging.
Pro tip: Mittens that clip on a sleeve or that run through the coat or sweater on a string stay on better and are less likely to disappear.
For a list of top baby mittens and gloves, click here.
✔️ Winter Hat.
Selecting a winter hat is much like selecting a sun hat and other articles of clothing. Pick materials that will keep baby warm but will also be gentle on his or her skin. You do not want a scratchy, rash-inducing hat. You may also want to select one with chin straps or ties to help keep it on. For a list of top winter hats for baby, click here.
✔️ A warm bunting sack – or coat.
Baby buntings are similar to sleepers, but they generally have attached hoods and are made with materials designed to protect baby from the cold. There are different degrees of buntings. For milder climates, consider this bunting from Nordstrom:
If you live in cold climates with snow, Patagonia has heavier duty options that are still light in terms of weight even though packed with (recycled!) 700-down duck and goose fill. It is also easy to use, with two side zippers that make it easy to get on and off. The Infant Hi-Loft Down Sweater Bunting pictured has a soft, furry hood to make it nice and cozy as well. They are a bit pricey, but if you are on a budget or are feeling thrifty you can always check your local consignment stores or social media marketplace sites for a gently used secondhand one.
Remember not to put your baby in buntings or a coat before strapping them in a car seat. Bulky clothing prevents the car seat from working as intended. Instead, place the warm articles over the baby’s lap.
For a list of other great buntings, click here.
✔️ Warmer slippers.
Ok. Maybe I just wanted an excuse to include these cute little Ugg Bixbee baby booties, available at Nordstrom or Amazon. But seriously, if you are venturing out in the cold, the booties baby wears around the house may not be sufficient to keep those little toes warm.
For a summer-born baby:
Summer babies do not generally need anything extra except, of course, good sun protection, sun hats. and possibly shorts.
Regarding swimsuits. Babies can go into water from birth. However, they can't regulate their temperature like adults, so it's very important they don't get too cold. Babies can also pick up an infection from water. Therefore, it's generally best to wait until your baby is around 2 months old before you take him or her swimming. If you do choose to take them swimming, be sure to adequately protect baby’s skin from the dangerous sun. Consider a full coverage suit built-in UV protection. The swimsuit featured above is not full coverage, but is made with UV protection fabric. For full coverage, UV protection options by Hanna Andersson, click here.
What your baby doesn't need:
Shoes. The potential effects that baby shoes could have on developing feet has been debated among pediatricians for awhile. That said, most experts, including the American Academy of Pediatrics, say that babies should not wear shoes until they begin to cruise or walk. Baby's little feet are made mostly of cartilage until they are around 9 months old, and they are born flat-footed, with the arch developing over the first few years of their life. To develop the muscles and bones in the feet as needed to help them prepare to walk and run, they need to be able to move their feet freely. So, stick with those cute socks and slippers or let those little tootsies go bare!