Oh baby, baby: Outfits – dress for success

baby outfit guide

Buying baby clothes for your new arrival can be a quite challenging experience. Where do you start? When do you start? What do you really need? Do you have enough stuff? Do you have too much stuff? Are the outfits emphazing the gender too much or not enough? Does this look cute or is it borderline tacky?

All these questions are all too natural. We were most certainly the “gone overboard” fraction with newborn clothing. We enthusiastically bought lots of onesies, pajamas and bodysuits for newborns, only to find that our baby turned out to be quite long (56 cm/22 in) and thus the newborn-sized clothes were actually too short for her and we went straight to dressing her in outfits for babies 1-2 months of age. Luckily, her cousin was born a few month later and could thereby benefit from unworn new outfits. This was a big lesson learned for me, to rather get only a couple of newborn-sized onesies and bodies, rather than piling up lots of stuff that might not even fit.

It seems, the better strategy is to have the next size larger already lined up and if you realize you need more onesies than the recommended starter kit amount for newborns, dress the mini-me in the bigger size ones until you caught up with your washing cycle. For reasons that still confuse me to this day, moms love to “scare” women who are pregnant for the first time with their horror stories from the trenches of motherhood of how the needed sooooo many clothing items and that you better stock up to rather be safe than sorry. It’s coming from a good place as people love to share their experience to help you prepare for your journey, but I would still argue, it’s still better to then stock up on the next size up, rather than amassing a gazillion first outfits that your child outgrows within the first month. Try not to worry too much about not having enough outfits, you will be perfectly prepared and your baby will not have to be without clothes (unless you want them to of course).

That being said, there is no standard newborn size when it comes to clothes (sadly it’s exactly the same challenge as with clothes for us grown-ups). Every company uses its own measurement. So while our daughter was definitely too big for newborn outfits from the vast majority of companies, everything we bought at Gymboree in the US was magically a perfect fit. In Germany, baby outfits are mostly measured in centimeters unlike in the US where it’s newborn/1-3 month/3-6 month, etc. So I recommend erring on the safe side and rather than getting the small size (50 cm/19,5 in, newborn), opt for the next one up (56 cm/22 in, 1-2 month). However: don’t forget the average newborn is 51-52 cm/20 in.

Also, don’t forget that your baby will only wear each of its outfits for a very limited amount of time, as it will outgrow even the cutest onesie within 2-3 month. Hence, a great resource for clothing is second-hand outfits, either through family and friends or through online second-hand websites and the numerous baby flea markets out there. Maybe get one or two cute key pieces new (as we all know, it is soooo much fun browsing a store full of baby clothes) and get the rest as hand-me-downs or second-hand. Especially since it can actually bring friends and family great satisfaction to know that another kid will enjoy wearing an outfit that already looked very adorable on their own baby.

Moreover, with everything you get, keep in mind that you will go through 6 to 9 diaper changes every day. That means you will partially undress and dress your baby 6 to 9 times a day. Sometimes you will go through those motions with a perfectly calm and content baby, other times your little bundle of joy will seem less joyful and scream at the top of her lungs and you want to be quick. So convenience is key when it comes to the clothing you pick. Hence, the smaller the number of tiny buttons you need to fasten, the better, as this all takes time and is fiddly. If you can get outfits with a zipper, do yourself a favor and get those, as they are vastly superior to buttoned ones in terms of convenience. It is much faster, which is especially essential for the nighttime diaper changes when you are still half asleep.

As for the onesies. Do yourself a favor here as well and choose options that have a side-tie or side-snap. It’s somehow quite a scary and daunting act to pull a onesy or a pullover over your babies head, as they seem so delicate and fragile. If you have an option that you can open and close on the side (rather than an envelope neck which should be your go to option from when your baby is 9 month and older), you avoid this, plus it makes it much easier to get the tiny arms of your mini-me in the right position. Moreover it is actually also faster to take off and less of a mess, when there is a blow out and time is of essence.#

Keep the seasons in mind! So if your baby is born in June your starter sleeping bag should be a light one and you want to have short sleeved outfits handy for starters. If you shop ahead for the outfits for the first year, do your math, does your baby need warmer winter clothes when she/he is 6 month old or will it be spring/summer/fall by then? We got the cutest warm woolen hat as a birthday present for our daughter that is for kids 3-6 month old. So it would fit her right at the height of summer and since we have no plans to take her on a hike on a glacier, she will thus probably never use it. It’s a bit trickier if your little munchkin is born in spring or fall, but for anything your newborn will wear that is NOT for outside/walks with the stroller, a long sleeve light version probably suffices unless you are strictly against heating your home.

Regarding sleeping bags. One per size is enough. If that one needs washing simply use the one the next size up. I recommend getting the first three sleeping bags, again on of each size (newborn/50cm, 1-2 month/56cm and 3-6 month/68cm), then you are all set for the first couple of month. Here size is less of an issue anyways as your mini-me will actually even enjoy a more compact bag as it reminds him/her of the tightness of the womb, which is makes your baby feel calm and secure.

This should be a no-brainer, but I will still mention it: wash all baby clothes before delivery. A lot of manufacturers add a ton of nasty chemicals to the fabric, to enhance the colors, the softness or to make imprints stick to it. Therefore make sure you let the baby clothes have their own baby shower in your washing machine, so none of this is left in the clothing. Therefore you avoid that your mini-me inhales or sucks on any questionable chemincals. You might think this is not a big deal as surely the companies would keep the customer base in mind for whom their products are made for, but I wouldn’t et on it. Before there is any negative fallout from consuming any toxic coloring chemicals or else, the direct link between the clothing piece (a.k.a. the company that made them) and the health issue of your child has long vanished.

Complete list of baby clothing for your newborn (newborn size)

  • 6-8 onesies (side-tie or side-snap)
  • 4-5 jumpsuits / pajamas (preferably with zippers and with feet)
  • 2-3 cardigans (2 in summer, 3 in winter)
  • 2-3 long pants (with feet in winter)
  • 1 outdoor one piece outfit, if it’s winter
  • 2-3 sleeping bag (each in a different size)
  • 2 hats (choose one that you can tie underneath the chin)
  • 2-3 pairs of socks

Anything that you can’t find on this list or anything you buy more of is something you can buy for your own peace of mind or because a friend strongly recommended it and you feel you can’t live without. But rest assured, this is probably all you need.

If you really think, you only feel happy and truly prepared if you have twice the amount of onesies or PJs listed here, rather buy them in the next size up. For the next size up, the exact same list applies (minus the sleeping bags).

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