Your baby’s first clothes

How many sleepsuits and vests does your newborn need? What about outdoor wardrobe? Here’s your must-have list


You may be tempted to buy huge amounts of gorgeous newborn clothes but in reality your little one will grow out of early outfits within weeks. And don’t forget you may be given baby clothes as gifts, so try to keep to the essentials.


What your new baby needs:

  • 6-8 bodysuits or vests – for babies born in spring, autumn and winter these are usually worn under a sleepsuit (or a little outfit). They are like little T-shirts that fasten with poppers between the legs. In summer these can be worn on their own. It’s a good idea to be well stocked as those early messy poos have a tendency to escape!
  • 6-8 sleepsuits/babygrows – for the first weeks of his life, your baby will probably practically live in a sleepsuit. These are perfect because they are comfortable, warm and practical and, secondly, you may not feel up to struggling with tiny tights or trousers. Always get the ones that fasten down both legs so you don’t have to take the whole thing off to change a nappy.
  • 2 cardigans – handy to have whatever the time of year. Babies are not as good as adults at regulating their body temperature, and although they shouldn’t be allowed to get too warm, it is important they don’t get cold. A cardigan is the perfect way of keeping baby cosy.
  • Hats – invest in a sunhat and a woolly hat for winter. It’s a good idea, anyway to keep your newborn baby’s head covered up when you’re out and about.
  • 1 warm jacket or pramsuit – again for winter babies and on chillier days these are ideal for keeping baby warm while you’re out. But beware – don’t try to put them on when you are in a rush as babies often hate being manoeuvred into bulky garments.
  • 2 pairs of scratch mitts – newborns often scratch their faces, and as their skin is still so new and fragile it can quickly become sore, or even infected.
  • 6 bibs – whether breast or bottle-fed, some babies have a tendency to “posset” (bring up tiny amounts of milk) and a bib – plastic-backed works best – will help protect their clothes.

Although it’s sensible to buy neutral colours before your baby is born, once he or she arrives you will want to add a more personal touch. Bodysuits (or vests) and sleepsuits are practical, but nowadays they are stylish too, featuring everything from popular children’s characters to trendy slogans. “Sleepsuits or ‘onesies’, as they are now called, are great because there are some fantastic designs out there. And for mums it makes it look like the baby is in a proper outfit but you have the ease of a sleepsuit,” says Janet McKenzie, owner of

How long will your baby’s first clothes last?

The short answer is that it depends on how fast your baby grows – and how big he or she was at birth. Some babies will go straight into 0-3months and some will still be in newborn when they are almost 12 weeks. Here is a typical size guide – although no two stores are the same :

Age Max Height Max Weight kg/lbs

Newborn 56cm 4.5kg/10lbs

0-3months  62cm 6.5kg/14.5lbs

3-6 months  68cm 8.0kg/17.5lbs

It may come as a bit of a shock how often you have to completely replace your baby’s wardrobe. One day she will seem cosy in her little pink suit and the next you won’t believe she ever fitted into it. But don’t panic – friends and family will often buy clothes as gifts (and the really sensible ones will give you slightly bigger sizes for your baby to grow into!).

Dressing up

Once you have mastered the “onesie” or babygrow you may want to venture into outfit territory. “I find it’s the mums of girls who buy the most,” says Janet. “And people buying for girls will always buy the fancier ones.” A popular addition to the newborn wardrobe is the “outfit”. This is often a three-piece combination – dress, tights and cardigan for girls or T-shirt, trousers and jacket for boys. “We sell a lot of bright, statement pieces,” says Minnie Craske, owner of Lottie & Ted’s baby store in Reigate, Surrey. “People buying a gift do tend to buy a whole outfit and are very much design-led.”

The secret to putting on a babygrow

The best way to get your baby – who will no-doubt be screaming, wriggling or curled up in a ball – into a babygrow is to lay the garment flat and then place her on top. Always make sure she has the nappy on already as you don’t want any nasty surprises on the nice clean suit! Start at the bottom: open one leg of the babygrow and ease your baby’s leg into it and then do the same with the other. Next, gather up one sleeve and hold it open while you slide your baby’s hand through. Repeat with the other arm and then finally do up the fastenings. It is at this point that you’ll realise you have missed a popper or your baby will do a poo and you will have to start all over again!


Newborns and young babies should always be dressed in soft, comfortable clothing and fabrics. Denim, cord and heavy materials are just not suitable. “I only buy 100% cotton for babies,” says Minnie. “It’s perfect for babies because it is so soft and breathable.” She adds: “Organic is best and a lot of mums are hot on whether a fabric is organic or not.”


It’s also a good idea too to wash the clothes before you use them – as you don’t know how or where they were stored before they reached the shop. And when it comes to choosing a detergent, non-biological powders or liquids are thought to be better as they contain less enzymes and are therefore kinder to delicate skin.

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