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What Clothes do I Need for a Newborn?


Shanna Keller

“These precious souls aren’t doing much, other than sleeping, drinking, and pooping” - Amir, a Poppylist parent

Registering for baby clothes can feel like math homework, with its own vocabulary, strategies, and organizing principles. Do you really need newborn sizes? What size will the baby be wearing by next winter? How many onesies does a baby actually need, and how often do they need to be replaced?

Here at Poppylist, we’re all about helping you figure out what you need, and (SPOILER!) in those early newborn weeks, you don’t need much as far as clothes are concerned. You’ll be sticking close to home, resting and bonding with your baby, and doing LOTS of laundry. We recommend a paired-back list of basics for the newborn stage, which we consider the baby's first 2 months.

What to Consider When Buying Newborn Clothes

Does my baby need newborn sizes?

Typically, baby sizing starts with newborn, then 0-3 months, 6-9 months, and so on. Newborn clothes are generally for babies between 5-8 pounds, and will fit most babies for the first 4 weeks or so. Most families decide to have a few newborn basics on hand, but you probably need less than you think. Laundry is happening constantly in those first few weeks at home, so parents typically decide to buy conservatively, launder frequently, and get as much use as possible out of these tiny little basics.

Certainly, when it comes to the newborn clothes, think basic (onesies, undershirts, PJs). Chances are, you're not taking your baby out to any dinner parties while they are still in newborn clothes zone, so as adorable as those frilly dresses with lots of accessories are, wait until your baby is a bit older to invest.

Laundry tip: Do more frequent, small loads to reduce the burden of folding everything at one.

Can newborns wear 0-3 month sizes right away?

Absolutely, if that’s what works best for your family. Just know that the 0-3 months size will probably be a little on the large size immediately, with the child growing into the size over the course of the next month to 6 weeks. If you don’t mind cuffing sleeves and pants, or slightly loose onesies, you can likely start putting your baby in 0-3 month clothes as soon as he or she is born.

New Baby Clothes Checklist

6 to 8 bodysuits and/or onesies

Simple cotton bodysuits are the foundation of a newborn wardrobe. They’re inexpensive, easy to launder, and (relatively) easy to get on and off tiny baby bodies.

They come in two styles: the traditional pullover, and foldover, which is usually called side-snap or kimono style. According to Salwa Khan, founder of Cubbiekit, pullover style is made with an envelope neckline so you can remove the baby's clothing by sliding it down instead of over the head in case of a diaper leak. This is a game changing hack for when you do not want to lift a poop-covered onesie over your baby's head! Thank you to the inventor of the envelope neckline!!

During the newborn phase, many families find they prefer the side-snap variety. “Newborn babies have limited—basically non-existant—neck control and typically don’t like anything going over their heads,” says Salwa. “That’s why the kimono style is popular for parents with newborns.”

Bodysuits also come in short or long sleeve varieties, so you’ll also want to consider the temperature and season, says Salwa. “Parents should ask themselves, ‘At what time of the year is my baby going to be born and how warm or cool do I keep my house?’ The ideal temperature for newborn sleep is between 68 degrees and 72 degrees. For newborns in colder temperatures, opt for long sleeve bodysuits and layer from there. For newborns in warmer temperatures, opt-for short sleeve bodysuits and layer from there.”

You might experience stains early on with spit up and other bodily fluids, so this Gerber 6-pack organic long-sleeved onesie bodysuit is a staple in our recommendations for expecting parents.

3 to 4 pairs of pants and/or leggings

Most parents find its easiest to dress their newborn in simple separates during the first few weeks. Cotton leggings are cozy and soft and easy to pull over a baby's diaper and bodysuit. Try to find leggings that don't have a super tight waistband which can press into baby's tummy and become uncomfortable. Loose and cozy for the win!

4 to 5 pairs of pajamas, sleepers, and/or footies

Choose a few pairs of footie PJs along with 1 or 2 gowns. Some families find they like to keep their newborns in pajamas during the daytime, too. If that’s the case for you, you may want to add one or two more to baby’s wardrobe. You’ll also want to get a few pairs with snaps, and a few pairs with zippers, to see which variety you prefer.

1 to 3 special occasion outfits

Here’s a tip from Poppylist co-founder Tamiz: “Add all the cute, stylish clothes to your registry so you don't have to buy them yourself. Otherwise, stick to versatile staples that you can mix and match.”

You’ll likely find that most of the time, you opt to dress your newborn in easy basics. But you’ll want at least one special occasion outfit to have on hand, to wear home from the hospital, for family photos, or to meet family and friends.

5 to 6 pairs of socks

Baby socks are inexpensive and come in packs of several pairs, so we recommend having at least a minimal number of pairs on hand to keep baby’s feet cozy during the first few weeks of life. Depending on the season (and how hard it is to keep tiny socks on your kid’s little feet) you may decide to let the baby go sockless most of the time.

If you don’t want to buy or register for any baby socks, look for onesies with the feet folds, such as these from Babybreez.

2 to 3 hats

Baby beanies are a great way to keep baby warm and feeling secure during the day, plus there’s nothing cuter than a baby in a beanie. Just remember to take the hat off before putting your baby down for naps and nighttime sleep.

Stocked with the pieces above—6-8 bodysuits, 3-4 pairs of pants, 4-5 pairs of pajamas, 5-6 pairs of socks, and 2-3 hats—you’ll have plenty of mix and match options to create cozy, comfortable, and easy to change outfits for your baby’s first 8 weeks.

PS: If you want to take the guesswork out of baby clothes basics, check out Cubbiekit. Cubbiekit acts as the backbone of your baby's everyday capsule so you're making less decisions about what to wear and spending more mental space on thoughtful decisions like "how do I feed my child? or "how can I get them to sleep better?" They offer accessibly priced high-quality, ultra-soft baby clothes, and even have a subscription option. Use our code CKPOPPYLIST25 for 25% off your purchase or subscription. Click here to shop Cubbiekit.

Prefer to rent? 

Many parents these days are asking themselves whether they really need to buy brand new baby items, or if there is an alternative. Look no further than Rent-a-Romper, a baby clothing rental subscription services that allows you to receive and then yes, return your baby's clothes once they grow out of them. Want to learn more about this service? Watch our Solicited Advice Webinar entitled "Building a practical wardrobe for your baby's first year" co-hosted by the founder of Rent-a-Romper, Lauren Gregor.

Additional Resources:

  1. The Baby Registry: A First-Time Parent's Guide
  2. 13 Non-Traditional Baby Registry Essentials
  3. Diaper Bags 101: A PArent's Guide to Finding the Right Diaper Bag