Baby Clothes Checklist

Girl colors, boy colors, and adorable prints may be what draws you to a rack of baby clothes. To make your final selection, though, you need to consider safety, comfort, and practicality -- easy to put on and washable. Oh, and you probably want to consider the price, too. It's OK to shop in secondhand stores or high-quality consignment shops for babies for most things. Just be sure to wash everything first.

Newborn wardrobe essentials:

  • Onesies: 3-4
  • Sleepers/stretch suits: 3-6
  • Socks/booties: 3-4 pairs
  • Gowns that cover feet: 3-4
  • Hats/caps/bonnets: 1-2
  • Undershirts: 4-6 short- or long-sleeve
  • Light mittens: 1 pair (so tiny fingernails can't scratch)
  • Sweaters: 1-2
  • Bunting: 1 (if you live in a cold climate)

If you’re having twins, plan twice as much of everything so you aren’t always in the laundry room.

Safety first: no buttons, bows, or ties. Stay away from clothes with small buttons, decorative rhinestones, or bows, because they can be choking risks. Clothes with long ties or that pull tightly around your baby's arms, legs, or neck are also unsafe. Make sure decorations are sewed on tight.

Pick fire-safe sleepwear. Labels on your baby's sleepwear will show whether it needs to be worn snugly to be fire-retardant or if the fabric itself is flame-retardant. Flame-resistant fabrics have specific laundry instructions for you to follow to keep the retardant from washing away. In fact, this is one place where secondhand items may not be a good choice -- if they haven’t been washed the right way, they won’t work as well.

Shop by your baby's weight, not age. Age doesn't mean much when it comes to baby clothes; different brands size clothing differently. Weight is a better measure, and it is listed along with age on many baby clothes.

Think about how easy clothes will be to put on and take off. Dressing a wiggling newborn can be a bit of a struggle. Follow these tips when you choose clothes to keep dressing easier:

  • Wide necks or snaps at the neck make dressing easier. (If you pick clothes that pull over the head, do it quickly because babies panic when their breathing is blocked or when they can't see you.)
  • Snaps and zippers in the front are easier to put on and take off than those on the back.
  • Loose sleeves pull on and off easier than tight ones.
  • Snaps or other easy openings at the crotch make it quicker and easier to change diapers -- you don’t have to take off all your baby's clothes.

Choose washable. Buy clothes that say "machine washable" on the label to avoid the time and energy of hand-washing or ironing. Clothes made from 100% cotton are ideal, since they're comfortable, durable, and they wash well.

Think ahead -- wisely. Some babies never fit into the "newborn" size. Others may even grow out of 3-month-old size clothes after only 1 month. So, buy items in the 6-month or 1-year size to have on hand. Twins tend to be smaller than single babies, so the tiniest clothes might last longer. Some items can be worn a little big, until your baby grows into them. It’s not a great idea, though, to buy seasonal clothes, like swimsuits or winter coats, well in advance. It’s impossible to predict your baby's size.

WebMD Medical Reference Reviewed by Traci C. Johnson, MD on December 15, 2020

Sources

SOURCES:

McClure, R. Knack Baby's First Year, Globe Pequot, 2009.

Hobey, P. The Working Gal's Guide to Babyville, De Capo Press, 2006.

National Safety Council.

Sutter Health.

The Mayo Clinic.

The University of Michigan Health System.

FDA.

Shelov, S. Your Baby's First Year, American Academy of Pediatrics, second edition, Bantam Dell, 2005.

Spock, B. and Needlman, R. Dr. Spock's Baby and Child Care, 8th edition, Pocket Books, 2004.

Parenting: "Layette Checklist."

Children's Physician Network Pediatric Advisor 2008: "Clothing Needs for New Babies."

American Academy of Pediatrics: "Winter Safety Tips," "New Guidelines for Children's Sleepwear Choices."

U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission: "Safety Tips for Sleeping Babies."

Dr. Spock website: "Tips for Buying Baby Clothes."

Virginia Tech, Virginia Cooperative Extension:  "Planning for Baby -- Consumer Issues."

Fairview website: "Baby Laundry."

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