Planning your baby’s closet and deciding which clothes to add to your baby registry is fun and exciting. Baby clothes are cute and your baby will look cute in them! Although as a new parent, there are things to learn when it comes to baby clothes and you may have some questions. How many clothes of each size should I get? How fast will my baby grow? What should I register for? What clothes does a new baby actually need?
These are actually hard questions to answer and every baby is different. Babies are born at different sizes and grow at different paces. Generally, you do not need as many baby clothes as you may think.
I see websites and baby registry helpers recommending way too many baby clothes to expectant mothers. Half the items they recommend your new baby will never wear. Besides, I don’t believe in buying clothes to have “just in case” your baby needs it. Everything that was in my baby’s closet they wore (and at least a few times – if not more).
Read on to see how baby clothes work and why there are not many clothes a new baby needs. Furthermore, I will share tips on how to save money when it comes to baby clothes.
Things to Consider When Preparing Clothes for a New Baby
Babies Grow Fast
It is unbelievable how fast a baby grows during their first year of life. This is why there are 5 different baby clothes sizes dedicated to the first year. They are as follows:
- 0-3 mo
- 3-6 mo
- 6-9 mo
- 9-12 mo
With having 5 different possible sizes a baby can wear in 1 year – that is a lot of size changes, which means they do not need many clothes at each size. It is not like an adult that may wear the same size for many years where it makes sense to have a wide variety. When a baby will only wear a size for several weeks or months, it doesn’t make sense to have a huge wardrobe of each size. You will never get to wear them all.
In addition, when you compare a newborn outfit to a 9-12 month outfit they vary greatly. However, when you compare a 0-3 mo to a 3-6 mo they do not look that different. With that said, sometimes a baby can wear the next size up and grow into it. It is ok if it is a little big and they will get more use out of it.
Baby Body Type
The next factor to consider when determining what clothes a new baby needs is the baby body type. All babies are born and grow at different paces. For instance, my husband and I are tall, so both our babies came out big and long. Both my babies were ahead of the “clothes size schedule”. At 3 months my babies were wearing 6-9 month clothing.
Another issue I had, and still have with toddler clothing is needing different size shirts than pants. Lots of baby clothes come in sets with shirts and pants together (partly why you can get baby clothes cheaper). However, my kids sometimes needed a bigger size shirt than they did pants. So I ended up buying larger set sizes so the shirt would fit and the pants would be a bit big. Then they could wear the pants longer with a different shirt as well.
Different Brands, Sizes, and Styles
One of the hardest things to figure out with baby clothes is that all baby brands are different. Their sizing of clothes are different and they have different styles.
Different brands size their clothes a bit differently. This means that a 3-6 mo clothing item may not fit the same in every brand. For instance, my kids wear some Nike clothing and it typically runs a size smaller than most brands. So my kids wear a size larger in Nike than they do in their Carter or Jumping Beans clothing.
Personally, an issue I had was that my babies were long with a thin torso. Certain bands had more rectangular onesies and shirts while others had more boxy/square tops. My kids needed the rectangular clothes to fit their body shape not the square tops. With those styles it would be a struggle to snap the onesie at the bottom, but the neck and shoulders would be huge.
Then, I had another clothing issue with my daughter due to her length and thicker thighs. With some brands and styles an outfit would not fit because I couldn’t get the pants over her thighs even though that is what size she was in.
Next, the most frustrating part with baby clothes is when the same brand sizes their clothes differently. I have this with the Carter brand of clothing at times. One outfit at a size will fit great while another outfit at that same size will be too small. So the clothing styles, even in the same brand, may be different in sizing. This can make online shopping difficult because it is hard to see the type of outfit.
Lastly, when you are buying a new brand in a size for the first time, I recommend trying the clothing on your baby before cutting the tags off. As annoying as it is to have a baby or toddler try on clothing, the worst is when you cut the tags off and put the clothes on the baby only to find that it is already too small or does not fit. That has happened to me many times and a waste of money because you get very few wears out of it or none at all.
After time, once you know your baby’s body type, you will get to know different brands of clothing. Then you will find what brand of clothing you like for your child.
Season and Climate Help Determine Clothes a New Baby Needs
Depending on the time of year and the climate in which you live will help determine what clothes your new baby needs. For instance, both of my babies were born in the summer so they lived in onesies and single body pieces for the first several months. If you live in a cool climate or your baby is born in winter you may need some warmer clothing.
How Often Do You Want to Do Laundry?
How often you want to do laundry can also determine how much clothing your baby needs. As I mentioned earlier, you may go thru 3 outfits some days. So depending on how often you want to do laundry could determine how much clothes a new baby needs.
Although please note, poop and spit up stains won’t come out well if they sit for a week first so some laundry can’t wait for a few days to be done.
A New Baby Needs Practical Clothes
Next, those first few weeks and even months your baby isn’t going out to the movies, out to eat and out socializing. The baby does not need 10 fancy outfits as likely they will only wear 1 or 2 and maybe only 1 or 2 times before growing out of it. Baby outfits, especially fancy ones, are sooo stinking cute, but they are not practical.
Resist the urge to buy these non-practical clothes and save your money. Typically these are the most expensive outfits too. You might be able to get 4-5 onesies or sleepers for what 1 fancy outfit would cost. Save your money and avoid getting lots of formal outfits as realistically your baby is not going to wear them.
Furthermore, get clothes that do not have lots of buttons, ties, or take a lot of maneuvering to get on or off. These clothes will be frustrating for both you and your baby and are not worth it.
Clothes a New Baby Needs
So now that we went over factors to consider when getting baby clothes, here is what clothes a new baby actually needs. I suggest getting these clothing items in a 0-3 month size. Depending on how large you anticipate your baby to be at the start, getting some of these items in the 3-6 month size would make sense too (especially the sleepers or sleep n plays because a baby can always grow into them).
Clothes a new baby needs:
- 5-7 sleep n plays or sleepers for at night (if they wake up dry and clean you can use the same one for another night)
- 2-3 swaddles (to wear over sleepers when sleeping)
- 7 onesies
- 7 pants/shirt sets or outfits
- 5-7 pair baby socks
Start out with the basics and add anything as it becomes essential for you. Keep your receipts when you purchase items to make sure they fit and you actually use them. Also, you will likely get baby clothes as gifts at your shower and/or when the baby is born so do not go overboard buying baby clothes.
How to Save Money on Clothes for a New Baby
Babies are expensive and require all kinds of items. Baby clothes is an area that you can go wild and spend lots of money or save money by going basic and realistic.
Buying Less Clothes Keeps More Money in Your Pocket
Who cares if your baby wears the same outfit each week or same sleeper at night. They won’t remember and people don’t see your baby everyday. Buying less clothes is more money in your pocket. Remember, you will likely get baby clothes as gifts when your baby is born.
Here is the thing. If your 3 week old does not have enough clothes or you feel like you are doing laundry every other day, you can order some clothes online or take your baby on a little shopping trip and pick some up. On the other hand, if you are like me, buy clothes before the baby is born, but keep tags on and return ones you don’t use later. Just make sure you check the return policy and return in time.
Babies grow out of clothes so fast. Personally it pained me to have an outfit my baby only wore once or twice or worse yet not at all. Plus, I wanted my favorite outfits to last forever and see them on my baby often. For this reason, I didn’t buy lots of baby clothes.
Get Hand Me Downs
I found it very helpful to have hand me downs especially at the beginning when my babies were born. You can’t predict how fast your baby will grow or how many clothes it will go through in a day. New babies pee through clothes, poop in clothes, and spit up all over clothes.
Therefore, it was nice to have some hand me downs because they were already washed, and ready for those first couple weeks while learning your baby’s body type and what clothes fit best. Plus, this way if you only use an outfit a couple times you didn’t spend a ton of money on it.
So shop some garage sales and hit up friends and family that recently had kids to buy/barrow baby clothes.
Final Thoughts on Clothes a New Baby Needs
In the end, a baby does not all that many clothes. They grow so fast and will be in the next size before you know it. Stick with the basics and save money on baby clothes. Keep receipts and try clothes on before cutting tags off. Have fun with your baby’s wardrobe, without spending tons of money.
For more on how to prepare for your baby check out my Ultimate Baby Planning Guide. Grab your free 30 item checklist below.