How Many Baby Clothes Do I Need? Sizing, Checklists, Organization and More

Published by 
Jess Miller
Last updated: 
March 13, 2023

Are you working on your baby registry? Or maybe at the point where you’re trying to fill in the gaps after your shower and setting up the nursery? What baby clothes did you receive? Do you have enough? My guess is, you’re probably wondering how many baby clothes do I need?

More specifically, what baby clothes, how many of each type of baby clothes, and how to get the most out of your baby clothes in the first year.

Little beings certainly do make big messes, so you want to have a variety of options so you’re not doing laundry twice a day. But, there are definitely some corners you can cut and baby clothes you don’t need that can help you save money and space in the nursery.

Once you’ve got an idea of what baby clothes you need, how are you going to organize all of it? Let’s chat organization systems for every type of nursery. We’ll make sure you don’t miss having baby wear any clothes that are given to you because of sizing, and that you organize by type and season as well.

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How many baby clothes do I need?

Before we get into the organization of things, let’s make sure you know what you need and how much is enough. If you are working on your baby registry, then this information will be really helpful. Loved ones love to help expecting couples feel prepared by giving them things they know will be loved and used. Including detailed clothing needs on your registry can be a great way to get a lot of the basics out of the way.

People will love to give you adorable and fancy baby dresses, sweaters, and pants, and those are super cute and fun, but really you need the basics. If you include your baby clothing needs on your registry, guests will be more inclined to give you clothes you’ll actually use when they come to your baby shower and get you a gift.

Baby clothes sizing

First let’s talk about baby clothes sizing in general. Talk to any mom and she will tell you no two brands are the same when it comes to weight and height associated with a size range. You will learn in the first few months what brands work well for your baby but before then, some of it will require guess work.

Here are some general tips on baby clothes sizing I wish I had known

  • For brands that just give a single month for the size, consider that the upper limit (i.e. Carters)
  • Most brands do give height and weight suggestions for their size ranges but you may need to search for the size chart online
  • Find out what you and your husband were like as babies. Always in the next size up? Always on the smaller side? This may give you an idea of what to expect
  • I have found boutique brands to run on the smaller side. This is not a hard and fast rule, but it occurred often enough for us that I’d be aware of it
  • Once you hit the 18 and 24 month sizes (I know seems so far away!) the difference between those two size and 2T is so slight, just size up and get more wear out of each outfit
  • When in doubt, always keep the tags on and exchange for a bigger size or store credit. Even if you don’t get full value, it’s better than wasted clothes baby never wore

A guide to newborn clothes and months 0-3

Like I mentioned above, when deciding on how many newborn vs. 0-3 month clothes you should have, find out what you and your partner were like as babies. This can be a really strong indicator of what to expect from your own little one. It may also help you be more prepared.

How many newborn clothes should I buy?

Most people will tell you not to waste your time on newborn size clothing, and while on the whole I agree, I think it’s a mistake not to get any. N was out of newborn clothes in a matter of a month. However, as a new mom, those four weeks somehow feel like an eternity and a blink all at once. I was happy to have clothes that actually fit my baby during that time.

I’m not saying you should get hoodies, dresses, suits and swimwear in newborn size, but having some body-suits, footed pajamas and pants in size newborn is a good idea. N was absolutely swimming in 0-3 in the beginning. It was nice to have fitted clothes because they were easier to get on her, and if I’m being honest, looked better in pictures 😉

Newborn Clothes Checklist

So what is worth investing in newborn size? Well, newborns are known for blowouts and spit ups. This is because the poop of a breastfed baby is fairly liquidy and almost seedy. It felt like if the diaper was even slight askew, a blowout followed and another change of clothes. As you’re learning to breastfeed and milk lets down, you will also get breastmilk on you and baby which like any other milk smells soured.

For these reasons, you’ll want enough clothes so that you’re not doing laundry more than once a day, but not too many that it feels wasteful. Aside from blow-outs and spit-up you can actually get a fair amount of wear out of the clothes because a newborn won’t really get “dirty”.

Going home outfit

Think cute and comfy. You’ll definitely want cute photos, but also want baby to be warm enough and comfortable in their car seat. I love the idea of snap crotch t-shirt or long-sleeve with a personalized element and soft pants.

4 pack - long and short-sleeved body suits

I would recommend grabbing a pack of each, no matter the season. We often still put our summer baby in long-sleeved body suits and loved the ones with a little fold-over to cover her hands so she couldn’t scratch herself.

Body-suits are the shirts with the snaps at the crotch. It prevents the shirt from riding up and is easy for diaper changes. Often, the neck is designed so that when there is a blow-out you can simply pull the shirt down and off of them and not deal with poop going over the head.

N in newborn clothes

2 pairs - soft pull-on pants

Something to go with those body suits when you take baby out of the house in their car seat or baby wearing. This will be especially important if you have baby during a colder time of the year

2 - Kimono-style long sleeves

These are shirts with buttons on the side that you put on like a jacket. They can be an easy way to add a layer on baby without having to pull something over their head.

2 or 3 - Footed pajamas

Don’t go crazy in the newborn size with these, but having a few, especially if baby is born in a colder month, are great for hanging around the house when they aren’t swaddled or to keep them warm at night.

People are usually divided in two camps on this one, all about the zipper or all about the snaps. The zipper was my husband’s favorite because you couldn’t mess it up. They go on quickly and there is not button aligning to deal with in the middle of the night.

Others like the buttons (me!) because you don’t have to take the entire sleeper off to do a diaper change. Simply unbutton the bottom to access the diaper.

2 or 3 - Cotton Sleep Gowns

These are super use-friendly for those early sleep-deprived days and nights. They are designed to be lifted up for a diaper change and have elastic at the bottom to keep baby’s feet in. The neck has an easy opening to pull down over the shoulders in the event of a big mess.

Include specifics on your registry

Again, I highly recommend including these specific items on your registry so that you know the basics will be covered.

If your budget is tight and you really don’t want to get too much newborn size, then I would say the essentials are the bodysuits with snap-crotches and footed pajamas.

Baby Clothes Checklist 0-3 Months

You basically want all of the same essentials as the newborn list, but in the 0-3 month size. Remember, that if the brand has a single month, that is considered the upper limit. So, your 0-3-month old baby will wear Carters’ size “3 months” up until then.

I would just up the quantities a bit from the newborn list to avoid always doing laundry. Remember, this is considered an essentials list. Between gifts and hand-me-downs, you will likely wind up with more.

6 - Long and Short Sleeved Body-suits

I recommend getting both no matter what the time of year

4 to 6 - one-piece outfits

These would be long sleeved and pants for colder months, or romper/jumper style for summer babies.

4 to 6 - stretch pants

Get something with an elastic waist and loose-fitting. Tight leggings and jeans are very challenging to get on a 0-3 month old and you just won’t end up using them.

4 to 6 - side snap shirts

These go on jacket-style and can be great because some babies are sensitive to clothes going over their head

2 - warmer sweaters/sweatshirts

Go for a light-weight cardigan or hoodie for babies born in colder months. You want something thin that can still be worn with a car seat. I found I didn’t use the heavier winter jackets I was given for my 3 month old and instead put a warm blanket around her over her carseat buckle, or just wore her against me in the Baby K’tan and zipped her into my coat.

6 - Footed Sleepers (zip or snap)

See my note above of the benefits of zip vs. snap. In reality, getting a few of each is probably the best bet. Patrick favored zips and I preferred the snaps.

Baby Clothes in the First Year

How many baby clothes do I need in each size?

This is tricky to navigate because you just can’t predict how fast baby will grow in order to shop seasonally for the appropriate size. However, the basics and essentials listed above you will pretty much use until your baby is walking so investing in those numbers through size 12-18 months is probably a safe bet.

Basics like snap-crotch body suits, footed pajamas and stretchy pants are going to be your mainstays even as baby gets mobile. I found myself shying away from any shirts that didn’t snap until N was walking. With a wiggling, crawling baby their shirts always ride up and get twisted. Once they are walking is a good time to get on the cute pull-overs

How many onesies do I need in each size?

On the low end, you’re going to want to have at least 6 onesies in each size throughout baby’s first year. The same is true for body-suits and footed pajamas. Don’t plan too far out in the realm of more seasonal items because you can’t predict baby’s growth.

Baby clothes checklist first year?

Use this as a basic essentials checklist and plan to fill in with seasonal and more specialized-wear. For each size range (0-3, 3-6, 6-9, 9-12) plan to get:

  • 6 short-sleeved body suits
  • 6 long-sleeved body suits
  • 6 stretchy pants
  • 6 one-pieces (long or jumper-style depending on season)
  • 6 cotton footed PJs (fleece can be great for winter months)

Baby Clothes Functionality vs. Style

As you can see, in my checklists I am emphasizing functionality. I know baby clothes are adorable, believe me. But other than on very special occasions, it’s just not worth the hassle of getting them into fussy outfits. Certainly splurge or enjoy an adorable Christmas outfit or something for a big family party, but day to day, you want simple.

For example: I found items with hoods to be very cumbersome for my baby because it was always in the way in the car seat and when I was wearing her. I also rarely used heavy winter coats even in the dead of winter and opted for warm blankets instead. The exception to this would be if you have a lifestyle that will include a lot of outdoor time in cold weather when the hood would actually be on baby.

Dresses were another thing that just didn’t make sense until my baby was walking. When she was very little, it got in the way of the car seat and wearing, and once she was crawling they got caught on her knees. Now as a toddler, she loves ALL the dresses, so don’t rush it, you’ll get there 🙂

Seasonal Baby Clothes and Gear


If you are the kind of family that will be outside in the winter because of your hobbies or lifestyle of a walking town/city then you want to be prepared.

Here are some outerwear items that are worth investing in if you will be outside with baby

Car seat cover bunting

If you have a travel system, or a click and go car seat this is a great choice for a winter baby. It allows you to buckle baby safely against their body and the warm bunting goes over the entire seat. This is great for winter walks. Trina got one of these with L and absolutely loved it.

car seat bunting image

Fleece bunting

Always remember to never put baby in this and then buckle into a car seat. This should be used for baby wearing or stroller only.

Baby winter bunting

This may not be necessary until baby is a bit older, unless you plan to spend a lot of time outside in colder months.

Baby Wearing/Maternity Coat

I never got one when N was a baby, but totally regret it. This coat is perfect if you have a large bump in winter and need a maternity coat because you can then use it for baby wearing too. I ruined some of my fleeces by stretching them and zipping them over me and N when I wore her on walks. I will definitely be investing in this next time around.

Shoes and Socks

In the first 3 months, these are often more trouble than their worth, but necessary in colder months so make sure to get ones that will actually stay on!

I love, love, love the fleece Zutano booties. Size-up for more use because until your baby is walking it doesn’t really matter if they are too big. I also adored the hand-knitted fleece booties I was gifted because they actually stayed on too. Trina loved these also and got some for L.

zutano booties

For socks, just be ready for a constant battle. They’re always going to fall off, but are a necessary evil. Pulling them up over the pants does seem to help a bit and provides some comic relief.

I very rarely put a pair of shoes on N aside from her fleece booties in winter until she was walking. It just seemed unnecessary, and some experts say a rigid shoe can be a disadvantage to a baby learning to move.

Hats and Headbands

When N was a newborn and through her first winter we utilized hats like crazy. I really liked ones that had ear flaps for cold days and lighter-weight cotton ones for cool nights. We always found N needed to size up one or two sizes in hats while in clothes she was pretty true to size.

Baby Clothes Organization

Baby clothes storage ideas

It is likely that you are going to purchase, receive, or be given hand-me-downs in a variety of baby sizes. Let’s get an organization system in place to ensure you know exactly where all of your clothes are in what sizes. This way, you won’t miss the window to wear any of the adorable clothes you receive either!

Even if you don’t have a ton of clothes in each size now, setting up a system for each size will make storing and switching clothes in and out a breeze. It will make it easy to find what you need when baby sizes up, and easy to re-locate clothes for your next baby or to hand on to a friend.

How should I organize various baby clothing sizes?

I recommend getting a Rubbermaid bin for each size range in the first year (0-3, 3-6, 6-9, 9-12) or you can use sturdy cardboard boxes. Clearly label the outside of your chosen container for the clothes to go in. Within each bin use ziplocks, grocery store bags, or smaller containers to create subcategories for clothes.

This was an important step for me because I was given a ton of hand-me-downs in a variety of sizes and seasons. Having things sorted just by size wasn’t quite enough. Taking the time while pregnant to sort them down even further was the perfect nesting task and really served me on the other side.

This is an especially great system if you don’t have a lot of closet or storage space in the nursery because the non-relevant sizes can be stored away until it’s time to use them.

How to organize various baby clothes sizes if I have a lot of closet space?

If you have a lot of closet space, consider putting all of your clothing onto child-sized hangers and putting baby clothes size dividers between sizes on the closet rung.

How to organize baby clothes without a dresser?

If you do not have a dresser in baby’s room, I recommend investing in some hanging shelves for the closet and lots of kid-sized hangers. Hanging shelves will create small cubby-like spaces to easily organize baby’s essentials.

You could also invest in some bins or baskets to go on a shelf or other cubby storage system. Another more creative idea would be to mount peg-board on the wall in baby’s room or your room and use storage baskets on the pegboard for baby’s clothes.

How to organize baby clothes without a closet?

Without a closet, you should definitely opt for a dresser and/or cube storage system. In N’s nursery, I opted to use a changing table topper to convert a regular dresser into a changing table. This meant all of the storage and long-term use of a dresser with the safety of a changing table. At first, we just had a changing pad on top of the dresser but as she got more and more mobile it became unsafe.

In the dresser drawers, place smaller dividers, containers or baskets. Arrange clothes by type. This will keep your drawers more organized. Baby clothes are tiny, and being able to grab exactly what you need quickly will be key.

You can read more details about how to organize a nursery dresser for a newborn, and exactly what to have in each drawer in my article all about setting up your nursery.

Baby clothes mystery solved

Well, there you have it! You not only know exactly what you need in terms of essentials through the first year, but also exactly how to organize everything so that you don’t miss an outfit 😉 Your postpartum self will thank you for putting these organization systems in place ahead of time.

Baby clothes are like a revolving door. You won’t believe how fast the little one of yours grows. Swapping out and organizing clothes isn’t something you’ll want to waste time on later.

Are your nesting instincts ready to dive into that pile of baby clothes or what? Or maybe you’re working on your registry and can’t wait to pick out the cutest essentials?

Whatever the case may be, you can add even more structure to your nesting with over 150 printables in the Nesting Planner. You’ll be stressing less, documenting your pregnancy, and will know every detail (including clothes!) has been taken care of with our help.

So what organization systems are you putting in place to store baby clothes in your nursery? Any more tips to add? Leave a comment below! I love to hear from readers <3

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