Pregnancy & Baby / Shopping

Newborn Essential Clothing Checklist: What You ACTUALLY Need for Baby

Last Updated: January 31, 2022

Newborn and infant clothes can be hard to plan ahead for. You will also likely receive gifts of baby clothes. So for baby clothes try to wait until the last couple months before baby’s arrival to fill in the gaps. If you have already received gifts or hand-me-downs, consider those and then either get cheap stuff or only a few outfits for each age range (Newborn, 3 month, 6 month etc.). Here’s what baby clothes to register for or buy for the first 3-9 months. Think of this as your newborn essential clothing checklist. Plus, jump below to download the spreadsheet for the whole Minimalist Baby Registry Checklist.

First, they grow sooo fast and all at different rates. One baby might be in size 6 month for a long time and another might be in 12 month for ages. Gap and Hanna Andersson are great quality, Cat & Jack and Carters are more affordable for the first year, and good enough quality. This is an area to definitely let people you know that you welcome hand-me downs!

Secondly, another tricky thing about planning baby clothes is that for those of us that live somewhere with seasons, it’s hard to know what season they’ll be in what size – beyond a rough guess. So don’t plan too far in advance! You might buy a super cute 9 mo swimsuit for your babe and then find they skipped into 12 mo quickly and the suit doesn’t fit! So here’s a checklist of the basics.

Note on Newborn sizes: Most babies can fit into newborn clothes for what feels like 3 days. We literally had just three newborn size onesies for this reason. And they’ll fit into a bigger size of 3 mo, worst case it’s a little baggie. So definitely buy a super cute memory maker “take home outfit” onsie, but other than that you’ll need a couple depending on how big your baby is at birth and how long it takes them to regain to their birth weight. You’ll also realize if you’re more of a one-piece sleeper jam 24/7 or a onesie and pants kinda mom.

newborn essential clothing for a minimalist baby registry checklist

Newborn Baby Clothes List: The First 3-9 Months

And even if you don’t plan to register for many clothes, make sure to add at least a few things to give people an idea of your style. People love to buy baby clothes as gifts. They also like to make you happy! So register for a couple items so people either buy those items, or can see what style of clothes you want for your kiddo. No, this won’t work for everyone. But most people will be happy for some inspiration so you like your gift! When it comes to when to start buying baby clothes, for the bulk of it, wait until after your baby shower or baby registry. In your third trimester is a good time to make sure you have the items you’ll need.

1. Sleepers or one-piece jammies

Sleepers or onesie jammies are great for nighttime (and day, depending on your baby). And kiddos wear one-piece PJs for the first 2 years. Tip: buy ZIP-UP sleepers, not snaps (you’ll thank me at 2am!). We used these underneath a sleep sack or wearable blanket! (mentioned up above in the Sleep section). And the newer two way zips are the best invention! You can get footed or non-footed sleepers, depending on your preference.

one piece sleeper pjs
One-piece sleepers: Sleeper sets are a bit more affordable. Depending on your babes preference, you might need a lot of these or just a few. Consider it an outfit, vs a onesie and pants.
hanna andersson christmas jammies trees
Hanna Andersson Sleeper: Hanna A has lots of cute holiday jammies. Since you’ll need jammies, anyway, I really like their subtle holiday ones that can feel cozy all winter, vs the over the top Christmas ones!

2. Bodysuits – long sleeve, short sleeve, and side-snap

Bodysuits or onesies (same thing when it comes to babies) are items you’ll likely get gifted! If you can, hold off toward the end of your pregnancy for most of your baby clothes purchases! Bodysuit sets are great ways to save money, and also get colors in a similar color pattern. Live in a hot climate? Sleeveless onesies are the cutest thing ever!

Another tip is to buy your shortsleeve and long sleeve bodysuit sets in alternating every other size range. For example, get short sleeve body suit sets in 6M, 12M, and long sleeve in 3M and 9M. Then you can get a few more unique items to fill in the gaps. This way, you leave room for purchases later. First, trust me, after you have your baby, you’re going to continue to come across the cutest stuff that you want to get your baby. Second, you’ll quickly learn what brands and styles work best for your baby! You might hate the sleeves or neckline, soft or too scratchy, or find the material too thick or too thin of a certain brand. So leave room for changes.

baby long sleeve bodsuits
Longsleeve bodysuits: $15. Long sleeve bodysuit sets (Carters, Carters Just One You @ Target, Cat & Jack etc) A pack in every other size in range 3M, 9M. Other than the basic bodysuit sets, it’s nice to get a couple more unique ones like these henleys.
short sleeve bodysuits baby
Short sleeve bodysuits: $10. Great for warmer weather or layering. Getting sets in every other size range 6m, 12m etc. depending on your seasons of course. Long sleeve onesies most newborns can wear year-round though.
side snap kimono bodysuits
Side-snap Onesies (Wrapover Bodysuits): Size nb or 3 month. These kimono style bodysuits are amazing for the first couple weeks when belly button area is sensitive on newborns (from their stump healing). Some babies also hate having things put over their heads, so really depends on your babe. You can find these at H&M, Cat & Jack, Carters, etc.
mitten cuff onesies baby
Mitten-Cuff Onesies: $8. Great for newborns, with a cuff that flips over to cover their hands. Helps with baby scratching their face on accident, and to flip over while we out on fall and winter walks.

Mom Hack: As tempted as you might be to take all the tags off all your baby clothes. Just do the first NB/3mo sizes. You can still have a baby drawer sorted out with your other clothes sizes, but this gives you some wiggle room for returns! By about 5 months our baby was solidly in chunky monkey territory and I was able to just grab all the 9mo onesies we hadn’t taken tags off exchange them for bigger sizes 12M and 18M.

3. Pants

Yes, even if you have a summer baby, you’ll need baby pants and long sleeve items (even if just at night or taking into an air conditioned space). Remember: baby’s usually need one more layer than us! Carters and Cat & Jack both have some great layering sets as well that come with a bodysuit, pants, and hoodie. You won’t need equal amount of pants as body suits, just make sure you have a few in each size!

baby wiggle pants
Hanna Andersson Wiggle Pants: Some of our favorite baby pants! Wait for the Hanna A sales, to get them at a discount.
baby leggings pant sets
Baby pants sets: Save on pants sets! Great for putting over onesies to complete baby’s outfit. Target, Carters etc.

4. Hoodies or Jackets

We only needed a couple baby hoodies. Baby was mainly wearing these out and not around the house. We loved the soft baby bear hoodies from Hanna Andersson, and a fleece sherpa lined hoodie from Carters. You’ll also find some basic baby hoodies if you’re getting any of the baby layer sets. They often come with hoodie, onesie, and pants.

baby bear hoodie with ears
Hanna Andersson Baby Bear Hoodie: As usual, wait for the sales. These hoodies are great for layering and the hood is actually a size that a baby can actually use.
baby layering set
Carters Layering Set: Not super warm, but good for some seasons!

5. Hats, Socks, and Booties

Baby accessories are pretty darn cute. What you’ll need depends on the weather where you live. But here are some basics we found useful for having a fall baby in the Pacific Northwest!

best baby socks - hanna andersson best ever first socks
Hanna Andersson Best Ever First Socks: $2-8 for 2-pack. Perfect thick socks to keep a winter baby happy! They stay on baby feet and are soft terry material inside. There’s always some colors on sale so plan ahead. You can get sale sets for $2!
baby fleece booties similar to zutanos luvable friends
Luvable Friends Fleece Booties: $10. We used these as “shoes” for going out and baby wearing. They’re similar to the Zutano booties.
patagonia baby fleece hat
Patagonia Fleece baby hat: $15-35. We used the tiny baby hat provided from the hospital for the first month or so. Then we got our baby this fleece-lined baby beanie for winter. He adored it and was the happiest outdoor baby around! The previous version of this came with an under-chin snap, not sure why they changed it!.
baby drool bib
Baby Drool Bib Bandana/ Handkerchief set: $12 for an 8 pack. Great for when they start teething and drooling on everything. Helps keep their clothes a little dryer and you can get them a fresh “bib-dana” instead of a new outfit!

Baby Clothes You May or May Not Need:

We needed early walkers baby shoes for 9-12 months, since our little one was doing cold weather crawling and cruising. We didn’t need “baby legs” leg warmers for easier diaper changes, baby hangers (cute, but not really used beyond showcasing your adorable nursery) are on our list of baby items you don’t need.

Download the Minimalist Baby Registry Checklist Spreadsheet

This post is part of my Minimalist Baby Registry checklist series. You can download the spreadsheet for a “Pay what you want” price. Consider your checklist spreadsheet a planner for everything you need and a baby budget! While your Amazon registry is your shareable list with friends and family for gifting.

spreadsheet for minimalist baby registry checklist

I hope you’ve found this checklist for newborn essential clothing helpful! Let me know if you have any questions!

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