How Many Baby Clothes Do I Need

I remember when I was pregnant with my first child. One of the questions I asked everyone I knew with kids was, “How many baby clothes do I need?”. It’s a hard one to figure out because you want enough to keep them clothed, but babies grow so fast, and you don’t want to be left with a big pile of unworn clothing. 

To help you figure out what you need, I’ve put together this guide. It breaks down the clothing you’ll need for your baby for the first year of their life.

A Quick Word On Sizing

The sizing of baby clothes can be a pain to navigate. It’s done by age, which means that it’s really just a guess. My boys ran big, and from the day they were born, they’ve always been at least one size up from where they should be. So just remember that the age is only a guide.

More helpful brands will put a suggested weight and length as well as an age range. Others will only put a single month. In both these cases, the single month or the size of the child, you should take these as a maximum recommendation. For example, if a top says 3 months on it. It will probably fit when they’re anywhere between newborn to 3 months.

Every brand has such a different size that I ended up ignoring the labels. Once I got all my baby clothes, I washed them and then went through the pile sorting. I put them into groups based on their actual size. I put the size I needed in the nursery along with a box with the next size up as spares. This helped with sizing and also made rotating clothes quick and easy.

Thoughts On Laundry

The amount of clothes you’re going to need will be dictated by how much laundry you’re willing to do. The number of clothes I’m suggesting should be fine if you do the laundry every 2-3 days. If you don’t want to do it that often you’ll need a few more items. 

Newborn Clothes

Newborn babies grow fast; for some full-term babies, you might find that they’re out of newborn sized clothes in no more than four weeks. So you don’t want to go mad on buying this size.

I suggest that you try and get some information on how big you and the baby’s father were as newborns. If you were both big babies, then you could get away with skipping newborn and go straight to 0-3 month clothes.

That said, it can be handy to have a few newborn items because it’s easier to get the right-sized clothes on a wriggly and uncooperative baby. Especially while you’re new parents and still have the fear that you’re going to break their arm as you dress them.

Footie Pajamas

These one-piece outfits are so much more than pajamas. My babies spent most of their time in these outfits. They’re easy to take on and off, keep your baby warm, but still provide good access for nappy changes. When it comes to newborn clothing, I wouldn’t use anything else. 

The other reason to stick with these for the first week or so is that there is nothing that’s going to irritate the umbilical cord stump. If you put trousers on, you have to get them to sit just right; otherwise, they can irritate the cord stump.

Assuming that you’re going to use these exclusively, I’d recommend that you get between 6-9 of them.

baby wearing jacket

Kimono Style Jacket/Jumper

Layers are a good option for keeping your little one at a comfortable temperature. But, putting a jumper on a newborn can be a challenge. Until they have head control, it can be really hard to get anything over their heads. That’s why I love these kimono-style tops. They go on like a jacket but have internal buttons on one side. This makes sure they stay on, and there are no spots for a draught to sneak through. The side snaps are good for while your baby’s umbilical cord stump is still attached as well.

I recommend having two of these, one to wear while the other is in the wash.

Hats

Newborn babies need hats. It’s to keep them warm as they adjust to being in the big wide world. At my hospital, every newborn baby is given a knitted woolen hat at birth. I know that not all hospitals do this, so make sure that you have your own. I recommend having two.

A Special Outfit

It’s hard to resist a lot of the adorable outfits you see. But if you buy every single one that makes you say “aww,” you’re going to have hundreds. I suggest you pick one that you love. You can use it for photos, and then you’ll probably never use it again. These outfits are cute, but they are not easy to put on.

Bibs

Bibs are a great way to save on changing outfits. If your baby is drooly or spits up milk, then a bib can catch it. It’s so much easier to whip the wet bib off than it is to change a whole outfit. Most bibs are one size, which means that you’ll be able to keep using them no matter what size your baby is. 

I recommend having 6-9 to start with. You may find you need more once teething starts, but this is a good number that should work for most families.

Blankets

Blankets are so useful with newborn babies. They are an easy way to keep your kiddo warm without having to go through the battle of dressing them. I recommend that you have two lightweight blankets. These allow you to layer up as needed and means that you can have one in the wash.

Swaddles

Swaddles are definitely an optional extra, but they’re worth considering. For some babies, they can be the magic ticket to help them fall asleep. You can either swaddle with a blanket, in which case you’ll want to get a couple extra, or you can use specially shaped blankets and swaddles that make it easier to get your baby wrapped safely.

Newborn Checklist

  • 6-9 footie pajamas
  • 2 kimono-style jackets/jumpers
  • 2 hats
  • 1 special outfit
  • 6-9 bibs
  • 2 lightweight blankets
  • 2 swaddles (optional)

0-3 Months

In your 0-3 month clothes collection, you’ll still want a selection of footie pajamas. They remain just as useful as they are for newborns. I also recommend getting some more kimono-style jackets/jumpers. You may also want to get some larger hats. At this point, you should be able to find some that you can roll a little so they’ll last through to 6 months.

Bodysuits

In warmer months, you might not want to have your little one all bundled up all the time. Bodysuits are great for letting babies move freely while still keeping their core warm. I suggest getting a mix of long and short-sleeved bodysuits. This gives you options depending on where you’re going and what the temperature is like. 

These also work well as an extra layer underneath footie pajamas. So they’ll get a lot of use.

Pants

Once you start using bodysuits, you’ll also want some pants to go with them. I suggest that you opt for ones made of stretchy material. Baby jeans and cords look adorable. I know they’re hard to resist. But, they’re a nightmare to put on, and even worse to take off, especially after a diaper blowout.

My other tip is to get ones with incorporated feet. This saves you from fighting to keep socks on.

Six pairs of pants should be plenty to keep you going.

Socks

If you don’t get pants with feet, then you’re going to need socks. I wish you luck in this endeavor. As far as I can tell, small baby’s feet are designed to repel socks, no matter what you try. 

If you are willing to take on this battle, I suggest that you get as many pairs of socks as you do trousers. If you can, get all the pairs the same. Matching baby socks is a challenge, even when you aren’t sleep deprived.

Sleep Sack

If you started with a swaddle, you might want to consider looking for a baby sleep sack or sleeping bag. Once your baby is rolling over, you need to stop swaddling. These are a good next step.

0-3 Months Checklist

  • 6-9 footie pajamas
  • 2 kimono-style jackets/jumpers
  • 2 hats
  • 3-6 short-sleeved bodysuits
  • 3-6 long-sleeved bodysuits
  • 6 pairs of pants
  • 6 pairs of socks (optional)
  • 1 sleepsack (optional)

3-6 Months

The basic items for your baby in both size ranges 3-6 and 6-9 months are pretty much the same. The only changes are in the details of the clothes.

Your baby should have good head control by this point. This makes jumpers easier to put on. So if you want to reduce the number of snaps in your life, you might want to ditch the side fastening kimono-style jackets and switch to more traditional jumpers.

Pants with attached feet are going to get harder to come by as your baby grows. So you will probably, at this point, have to begin the inevitable battle with socks. You can get sock keepers which some parents swear by. These are usually good until your child is around 6 months old. 

3-6 Months Checklist

  • 6-9 footie pajamas
  • 2 jackets/jumpers
  • 3-6 short-sleeved bodysuits
  • 3-6 long-sleeved bodysuits
  • 6 pairs of pants
  • 6 pairs of socks

6-9 & 9-12 Months

Once your child is starting to move around more, you’re going to want to start moving away from the footies pajamas for daytime wear. As soon as they start trying to crawl, their legs come out of the holes, and they start to get tangled. That’s when you’ll want to start the move to tops and pants instead.

At this age, bodysuits are still good to keep in rotation as they work well as underclothes for layering. If your little one is in a t-shirt and pants, you’re going to see their belly a lot, which is fine when it’s warm, but not ideal if there’s a chill in the air.

You may also find that it’s time to get a new hat. I’d recommend waiting to buy them until you need them. It can be hard to predict if you’re going to need a sun hat or a winter hat.

6-9 & 9-12 Months Checklist

  • 3-6 footie pajamas
  • 3 jumpers
  • 3 bodysuits
  • 3-6 t-shirts
  • 3-6 long-sleeved tops
  • 6-9 pairs of pants
  • 6-9 pairs of socks
  • 2 hats
baby sitting on snow wearing a winter jacket

Seasonal Items

Depending on the time of year that your little one arrives, there will be some extras you’ll need to add to your wardrobe.

Jacket/All In One Winter Suit

If you’re having a winter baby, then you’re going to want some warm and cozy outerwear. I recommend going for the all in one winter jumpsuits. They go over the top of whatever your baby is wearing and keep them snug and warm. If you’re unsure about size, I recommend going the size up. It doesn’t matter if the arms and legs are too long. Your little one isn’t going to be walking about in these much. 

The ones with zippers down the leg are much easier to put on. If you find ones with zippers on both legs, then you’re onto a winner.

Do be aware that your baby should not wear these in their car seat. You can’t buckle them in tight enough with these or big winter jackets, so I suggest keeping a blanket in the car for winter days.

Sun Hats

Training your child to wear a sun hat is an exercise in patience. It doesn’t matter how uncoordinated they are; your child will find a way to get their hat off. But, persevere because if you get them used to sun hats early, it makes life easier once they become willful toddlers.

Items You Can Do Without

You might have noticed that I haven’t suggested shoes at any point. That’s because until your child is cruising or walking, you really don’t need shoes. Even then, barefoot is better. Kids who go barefoot learn to balance better and earlier. In some cases, solid soled shoes can hamper their development and delay walking.

Once your child is running about, then it’s time for shoes. The only other time is if your little one is walking outside.

If your floors are cold, then you might want to choose socks with anti-skid soles. These will give your child grip while still giving them the freedom to move. 

One Day’s Worth Of Clothes

To give you an insight into how I came up with these numbers, I thought I’d share with you how many outfits my boys went through at each stage in their lives on a given day. I’ve given the average amount as well as the worst-case scenario. I’ll spare you the details of how they got dirty enough to need that many changes. You can have the fun of discovering just how many ways a baby can get messy on your own.

Outfits per day by age:

  • Newborn: 3 -7 outfits
  • 1 – 3 months: 2 – 7 outfits
  • 3 – 9 months: 3 – 4 outfits
  • 9 – 12 months: 2 – 3 outfits

Final Thoughts

With gifts and hand-me-downs, you’re probably going to end up with more clothes than you need. I suggest holding off on buying clothes until after your baby shower. That will give you a better idea of what you’ll need to buy. Most parents end up with items that their baby never wore, so keep that in mind when you’re stocking up. I hope this helps you get ready for your little one. If you have any questions, do leave a comment below.

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