This is How Many Baby Clothes You ACTUALLY Need To Buy

How many baby clothes do you actually need?

Do you find most registry lists as overwhelming as I do?

A stroll through any typical baby aisle will convince you that babies need a lot more stuff than they actually do.  It is tempting to go crazy and buy every cute outfit you find, but you need to think about what you actually are going to use.

Contrary to what most baby retailers want you to believe, you can get by with less clothing than you think, especially with a newborn.

Here are a few things to consider when making your list:

The Season and Your Local Climate:

I can’t tell you how many clothes I only got one or two wears out of because I didn’t plan for the weather.  We lived in South Texas when Max was born (where there is exactly one month of actual winter), so there was really no need for the four different fleece jackets we owned.

Consider not only where you live, but what age your baby will be when each new season hits.  You won’t need a 0 to 3 months-sized snowsuit if your baby is born in April, but you will want to get a swimsuit in that size.

If you’re having a summer baby, you may also not need as much to hang around the house in. On days when it’s warm outside and you are home, it’s okay to let it all hang out in a diaper. Double bonus: You get more skin-to-skin contact and have way less laundry to do.

how to survive and enjoy a summer pregnancy

Summer Extras to Include:

  • A wide-brimmed sun hat (preferably with a tie to keep it on)
  • A pair of sunglasses
  • A swim diaper or two
  • A couple of breathable blankets (for shade without bulk)

By the way, don’t forget the sunscreen.

A winter baby will obviously need more warm clothing, but not too much: over-bundling is a mistake most new moms make.  The rule of thumb is to dress your baby in as many layers as you have on, and bring one extra warm blanket.

By the way, don’t bother buying a single baby blanket – if your baby shower experience is anything like mine, you will end up with about 20 of them without even asking.

winter baby

Winter Extras to Include:

  • A couple of soft hats that cover little ears
  • A soft zip-up or button-up jacket
  • Depending on how cold it gets, a fleece suit, or a contraption known as a bunting sack that will add an extra thick warm layer (and tons of cuteness).

Your laundry situation:

  • If you have easy access to a washer and dryer, you can stick with just a few outfits and do a small load every two or three days.
  • If you have to deal with the laundromat or just decide laundry once a week is more than enough, double up the counts on everything that could lose a battle with a baby mess.  You don’t need to worry too much about head and footwear here – they usually dodge the onslaught of bodily fluids.
  • Every new mom I meet gets to hear me sing the praises of this laundry bar. This old school remedy (your grandmother probably used this) is super cheap and has a very peculiar but pleasant smell – and I call it “The Super Duper Poop Remover” for a reason. This little workhorse saved every light-colored piece of clothing we had during the first few months, and I still have a little piece of it left after four years. Try making a bottle of the spray stuff last that long.
  • You can skip buying that expensive specialty baby detergent – there are many brands that offer detergents free of fragrances and dyes that you can use for everyone’s clothes, including the tiny ones.

What to buy now:

  • 2-3 infant gowns: Try to find ones with built-in scratch mittens if you can.
  • 3-4 side snap or kimono t-shirts (short or long-sleeved depending on the season)

These first two items will be very important in the early days when your baby’s umbilical cord hasn’t yet fallen off.  I was under the impression that you could just stick your baby in a bodysuit the moment they came home from the hospital, and that proved not to be true.

  • 5-7 pairs of socks: Try to get the same color and brand every time if you can to eliminate having to pair up 10 different colors.
  • A few (3-5) bodysuits (short or long sleeved depending on the time of year): Unless you feel like doing lots of stain removal, try to avoid whites and light solid colors. Patterns hide stains easily, and yellow might be a good idea if you’re breastfeeding (you’ll find out why soon enough).
  • 3-5 footed pajamas: So cute and easy for at home or a day out – plus, there won’t be any socks or booties to lose.
  • 2 swaddles or sleep sacks:  If you don’t know how to do a proper swaddle with a blanket, you can find ones with a Velcro closure – they’re pretty much foolproof.
  • A package of scratch mittens: Newborn talons can sure do a number on little cheeks, so it’s a good idea to have these on hand.
baby hunting for clothes

Don’t Let Those Pesky Size Numbers Fool You:

  • Go by measurements and weight limits rather than the range of months the tag says it fits.  I’ve had clothes that said 18 months last Maxine all the way up until she was 3 1/2.
  • If you’ve ever been shopping for jeans, you know that all clothing brands are not the same as far as fit. You may find a brand you like better than others once you know your baby’s body type. I found this out the first time I was trying to stuff two chunky legs into a pair of Carter’s leggings.
  • You may not need newborn-sized anything. Maxine was somewhat of a whopper, and never fit into any newborn clothes or diapers. I made the mistake of washing the clothes that I never got to use, which brings me to:

While you will want to wash every article of clothing before it goes on your little one, resist the urge to remove the tags and wash it all just to have it ready before your baby is born. You may get too much of one thing or size and need to exchange some things later.

Save for later:

  • Shoes: While they are pretty dang adorable, you won’t get much use out of them until it’s time to start walking.
  • Your main stash of bodysuits: Try out a couple in each brand before you decide which fits your baby best.
  • Pants: I thought I would need a lot more pants than I did, but the very tiny ones were worn maybe once or twice.  I found that they got in the way of diaper changes, so I would skip them unless going out somewhere and they were part of the outfit.
  • Hoodies/Pullovers: Turns out, babies are not fans of having anything pulled over their heads.

Those first few months of life go so fast, and you will be going through clothes really quickly.  Whether you’re on a tight budget, need to save some space, or just want to keep things simple, you don’t need as much as you think to start.

It’s always smart to buy big, because your baby will grow into things way faster than you expect.

Don’t forget to enjoy every moment of preparing for your little one, and be sure to take lots of pictures in every outfit you get!

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