Baby Clothes 101: Essentials and Care

If you’re expecting your first child, you’re probably overwhelmed with all the purchases you need to set up the nursery. You’re also receiving plenty of advice from family and friends on what you should be doing and expecting as each week passes. 

One thing that you’re sure to receive a lot of—if you decide to find out the gender of your baby—is plenty of clothing. We’ve got you covered in knowing what the essential clothing is that your baby will need for the first year and how to take care of your baby’s clothing.

Clothing Essentials

I shared a list of essentials previously of everything you’d need for your newborn baby, but let’s get to specifics on clothing.

Onesies or Bodysuits

This is non-negotiable. Onesies are the complete outfit for your baby. They can be a shirt or they can be a layer to help keep your baby warm. You can make them whatever you want it to be and your baby’s wardrobe needs them. Keep plenty of sizes on hand and think about having several since you may go through two or three (or four or five) in a day! 

The nice thing about the infant bodysuits is that you can buy ones with solids and prints so that you can mix and match outfits and give your baby an infinitely larger selection of clothing. Make sure that you choose envelope-style necks. These folds are on the shoulders of your baby’s onesie and it’s to allow you to pull the outfit down over your baby’s legs, specifically in the instance when they have a diaper blowout. That way you minimize the mess.

Pajamas or Sleepwear

I talk about this all the time because your newborn baby is going to be doing plenty of sleeping, but it’s important to have the right sleepwear. I’m pretty partial to our newborn knotted gowns for nighttime. The material is soft, the knots are easy to tie and undo for diaper changes, and you’ll love the foldover mittens. 

As your baby gets older, you’ll want to get sleepers or footies – pajamas with footwear. These pajamas usually have snaps down the legs to make things more accessible for another late night diaper change. These are great for giving baby a complete outfit for cozy nights at home or evening visits to the grandparents. 


The best part of having a baby is being able to dress them up in whatever you want. Leggings are easy to pair with a onesie or bodysuit and allow you to add a little personality or flare to your baby depending on the print you choose. As your baby learns to crawl, leggings are perfect to help protect their knees. Try to find ones made of cotton or other comfortable fabrics to reduce chafing.

Sweaters or Jackets

You may think that you don’t need sweaters or jackets, but these are the perfect layering item for any time of the year. Your baby’s body hasn’t learned to regulate temperature. It doesn’t know how to cool the body down if it’s too hot or warm itself up if it’s too cold. Even in the summertime, you’ll find that most places use air conditioning and might make the room too cold for your baby.

For newborns, look for kimono tops or tops that have side snaps and ties instead of ones that require you to pull over your baby’s head. If you’re not used to dressing your baby, this is a good alternative to helping dress your baby. Plus, these tops can stay loose to help minimize the contact the clothing has with your newborn’s umbilical stump.

Baby Socks

baby socks

No matter what time of year your baby is born, infant socks help your baby’s feet to stay warm. Plus, just like your footwear, socks can complete an outfit. Babies are known for losing their socks off their feet. Try to find the socks that have elastic tops. This will help to secure socks on your baby’s feet. You should also buy several socks of the same color or pattern in case you do lose a sock – you’ll have a backup. 

Newborn hats or bows

You may think that your baby doesn’t need a hat, but there’s a reason that the nurses at the hospital make sure that your baby has a hat. Babies can lose a lot of body temperature through their heads. A hat can keep them warm especially when you’re out at the store, restaurant, or out visiting friends. We love our knotted hats that come with every gown because you can tie the tip in a knot so that you can adjust the size of beanie hat as your baby grows.

Caring for Your Baby’s Clothes

Now that you have all the essentials and plenty of cute outfits for your baby, you need to know how you should take care of them before your baby arrives and then after your baby has arrived.

Should I wash new baby clothes before my baby wears them?

Typically, it’s best to wash new clothes before you wear them, so you want to do the same thing for your baby. Washing baby’s clothes cleans off the dust or any substances that could have gotten on the fabric while in the store or in shipping to you. It’s a simple task that you can do to help you prepare for your baby.

When should I start washing baby clothes before I give birth?

There’s no rule when you have to start washing baby clothes before you have your baby. It’s all about personal preference. Some people love the smell of fresh clothes so they will start washing clothes around 36 weeks, while others are anxious and want it done start at 28 weeks. 

Can I use a washing machine and dryer for my baby’s clothes?

Yes! You can use your washing machine and dryer for your baby’s clothes. The only clothes to be mindful of are delicate hand-me-downs or vintage clothes — those are the ones you will want to handwash. Make sure that you use a mild detergent in the washer and run it on the correct cycle. Some parents worry about using a dryer because it may cause shrinkage. If you’re worried about the clothes shrinking, try setting it a lower heat setting and you should not have an issue.

Best Way to Store Baby Clothes

There’s probably a closet and a dresser in your baby’s nursery, but you may wonder which items to store and where. You want to use all the available space and keep things organized.

First, you want to keep all of the clothes that your baby can’t wear yet, in storage. It helps you to keep space focused on what the baby can wear now. Use canvas or cardboard boxes if you’re storing the clothes in an indoor closet. If you’re storing the clothes in the garage or attic, plastic storage tubs are the best to protect from moisture and insects. 

What baby clothes should I hang up?

There’s plenty of reasons you want to hang up the baby clothes. It’s easier to see all the items at once and easier to grab what you need, especially when you’re holding a baby in your arms. Hanging the outfits make it easy for someone else to go grab the clothes that you want and you don’t have to worry about someone messing up your neat stack of folded clothes or your drawer system when you hang them up. However, when you hang your baby’s clothing, this can be a tedious process.

I recommend hanging clothes that are difficult to fold or that would show wrinkles, especially those for when they are older. For girls, it may be poofy tulle skirts or dresses. For boys, you may have several dress shirts or vests. Keeping them hanging will ensure that they’re in good quality for when your baby is ready to wear them. 

What baby clothes should I fold?

Folding your baby’s clothes and storing them in a dresser is the fastest way to finish up the laundry. You’re going to be doing a lot of laundry during the first year of your child’s life. From blowouts to messy meals to whatever else your baby manages to get on his clothes, you’ll be regularly washing his clothes. Folding clothes can happen in any room of your house and then you just transport it to the nursery when you have a minute. Make sure that when you store the folded clothes, you store them vertically so you can see all the clothing in a drawer. Otherwise, you’ll find that you grab and use the top clothes the most instead of rotating through your baby’s wardrobe.

As your baby outgrows, you can move these clothes to a donation bin, a trash bin, or a save bin, especially if you’re considering having more children. While some parents may want to hold onto clothing for sentimental value, be careful not to hold onto ALL of the clothing your baby has. You may discover that your baby is a teenager and you still have boxes of their baby clothing. 

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