When my wife and I were getting ready for the arrival of our baby girl, I remember feeling completely swamped with all the things we needed to buy, and that included baby clothes. I remember thinking what on earth were babygrows and onesies, and when should our baby wear them? Also, what was the difference between sleepsuits and bodysuits?
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If you are confused and overwhelmed as I was, don’t worry. There are a lot of terms to describe all the types of baby outfits you can buy, and these names can vary between different stores as well. So here is a guide on all the kinds of baby clothes you can buy for your little one, for girls and boys.
- 1 Types of baby clothes
- 2 When should you buy separate items of clothing?
- 3 Are scratch mitts necessary?
- 4 Baby clothes glossary
- 5 What baby clothes should you buy to start with?
- 6 What clothing sizes should you buy?
Types of baby clothes
You can group baby clothes under two overall umbrellas; one-piece clothing items and separate clothing items. You’ll want to start off mainly with one-piece clothing items for newborn babies but as they grow you can slowly start moving over to separate items. Let’s look at one-piece items first:
What are baby one-piece clothes?
For young babies, you’re going to need a lot of this type of clothing. One-piece clothing items are basically just whole outfits, which combine a top and bottom together. They usually come with poppers to keep the clothing in place. Onesies, rompers, jumpsuits, bodysuits, babygrows, pramsuits and coveralls all come under the umbrella of one-piece clothing.
The main advantage of this is that it keeps the diaper in place. Also, separate items of clothing tend to slip down or slide up on young infants.
However, while having two or three poppers is ok for putting clothing on your baby after a diaper change, things can get tiresome very quickly when you’re fastening ten poppers several times a day (which you can find on some jumpsuits and babygrows – see below).
What is a onesie?
A onesie is probably the most common item of clothing you’ll have for your baby. They look like T-shirts so they have no legs (although they can be sleeveless and have long sleeves too) and they have flaps at the bottom with poppers to fasten around your baby’s diaper. Your baby can wear this underneath some other clothing in the winter months, but in warmer weather they should be fine just in a onesie.
Onesies are also fine for bedtime too. If it’s particularly warm in the height of summer, your baby will probably just need a onesie. However, they’ll usually a second layer on top, such as a babygrow, pyjamas or sleepsuit, for most of the year unless you live in a very warm climate.
We had a lot of onesies for my son and daughter. The only thing I found frustrating was attaching the onesie only to find I had fastened a popper in the wrong place. I’ve lost count on the number of times I’d made that mistake!
Are onesies and bodysuits the same thing?
Yes, onesies and bodysuits are the same thing. I found this confusing at first when I was buying clothes for my first child.
What is a babygrow?
This is also a one-piece suit like a onesie, but a babygrow (or babygro) has pants so a baby’s legs are covered (and usually the feet but not always). Typically this type of clothing has sleeves, but you can find sleeveless options and ones with short sleeves. Babygrows are a great option for sleeping and they usually come up with poppers (although some will have zips and buttons). Zippers are probably the easiest to deal with, as poppers can be pain, especially if you’re doing a diaper change in the middle of the night. Some babygrows can have a lot of poppers to attach and it’s so easy to get one wrong, so you’ll need to start all over again!
What’s the difference between babygrow, jumpsuits, coveralls and sleepsuits?
Well, believe it or not, they are basically all the same thing in that they are one-piece outfits with pants that cover the feet. There are a couple of subtle differences though:
- Sleepsuits are usually a little thicker with fabric at the bottom of the feet, which is great for your baby at night. Some sleepsuits might come with a hood, and they will almost always have sleeves.
- Coveralls, babygrows (or babygros) and jumpsuits are really all the same. Some might come with a hood though.
What is a romper?
Rompers are a bit similar to onesies. However, they have shorts at the bottom to put your baby’s legs through. Therefore, they don’t have flaps underneath to put around your baby’s diaper. When your baby wears a romper, their feet and hands are open, which makes them a great option for the summer.
Do you need a pramsuit or snowsuit?
These are like jumpsuits except they are a lot thicker. You’ll need a snowsuit or pramsuit if it is very cold outside and they always come with a hood to keep your baby’s head warm. Just make sure you only use one of these when your infant is in a stroller or baby carrier. Avoid putting your little one in a car seat wearing a pramsuit, as the straps can easily come loose which puts your baby at risk when you’re driving.
When should you buy separate items of clothing?
You can buy them anytime, but our children started wearing separate items when they started walking and were more mobile. So really when they start transitioning from a baby to a toddler. You can buy baby tees, leggings, pants, shirts, dresses, skirts, bloomers to name but a few.
What are bloomers?
These are essentially pieces of underwear which cover your baby’s diaper. These can be a good option if you’re going out somewhere, particularly for girls wearing dresses. The diaper can easily become visible when the dress slides up or if your baby is rolling around on the floor.
Are scratch mitts necessary?
They are a good idea for newborn babies as you don’t want them to scratch their face, particularly when they’re sleeping and you haven’t got your eye on them. Unfortunately scratch mitts can easily fall off, so you can try tucking them inside your baby’s sleeves, or look for some which have elastic or velcro to help keep them on.
Baby clothes glossary
Here is a quick summary of some of the terms used for baby clothing and accessories:
Onesie (or bodysuit) – This is a top with poppers on the bottom to fasten over your baby’s diaper. Bodysuits can have long or short sleeves.
Babygrow (babygro or sleepsuit) – These are like body suits except they cover the legs and feet as well. The poppers will usually be around the leg and crotch area, but some may run up towards the shoulder or neck. It’s essentially an all-in-one outfit with long sleeves.
Rompers – These are one-piece outfits which have shorts to cover a baby’s legs. The can be with or without sleeves and they won’t have poppers, so your baby will have open hands and feet.
Jumpsuit – These are very similar to babygrows. Some will come with a hood.
Burp cloths – Pieces of cloth that can protect you and your baby’s clothing when an infant brings up some milk after a feed.
Muslins – These are light cotton cloths that you can use as a burp cloth, for swaddling a baby, and for comforting an infant.
Pramsuit (snowsuit) – A thick one-piece outfit which covers the body, arms and legs
Bloomers – Shorts or underwear which cover a baby’s diaper.
Scratch mitts – Small mittens to cover a newborn baby’s hands. It prevents them from scratching their face with their fingernails.
Swaddles – These are sleeping outfits which completely cover your baby and help them sleep in a fixed position on their back. These can be zipped up, or they can wrap under the arms and legs.
Hooded towel – A towel which you can wrap around your baby’s body after a bath and keep their head warm.
What baby clothes should you buy to start with?
I wouldn’t buy too much to in the beginning. A lot depends on how often you’re planning to do laundry, and also the birth weight of your baby. Hopefully, you may have a rough idea on how big your baby will be at birth from the last scan. Then you will know how many newborn size clothes to buy, or whether you can go straight for 0-3 month clothing. Over at Pampers, they have a checklist on what to buy for a newborn baby:
- 6 onesies, rompers or bodysuits
- 6-8 receiving blankets
- 2-3 soft towels
- 2-3 sleep suits
- 6 gowns/jumper suits
- 1-2 jumpers
- 6-10 T-shirts
- 4-6 pairs of socks/booties
- A snowsuit or pramsuit (if you live somewhere cold)
What is a layette?
This is also sometimes called a ‘layette set’ and it’s basically a pack of clothes you can buy for a newborn baby. There’s no rule on what clothes you’ll find in a layette, but usually you can expect a couple of onesies and some sleepwear. After that it can really vary, and layettes can contain different items such as bibs, burp cloths, hats and scratch mitts.
What clothing sizes should you buy?
Ok, so now you understand all the different kinds of baby clothes, what size should you buy? This can also be confusing as the sizes can vary between different stores, and as you know babies come in all shapes, sizes and grow at different rates. For the first two years of baby’s life you have the following sizes available; preemie, newborn, 0-3 months, 3-6 months, 6-9 months, 6-12 months, 9-12 months and then 18 months and 24 months.
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Once your baby transitions into a toddler you then have the ‘T’ series of clothing sizes to learn about; 1T; 2T; 3T, 4T and 5T, as well as considering the regular sizes 2, 3, 4 and 5.
Related Post: What Are Toddler Clothing Sizes?
Confused? Well, it shouldn’t be, but the biggest mistake is buying too many clothes in one size, only for your baby to outgrow them too quickly. This is especially common with newborns who can grow out of the newborn size in just a few days, or you could even skip this size altogether depending on the birth weight of your child!
I recommend just buying a few items in one size and once you find something which fits comfortably, stick to the store you bought it from as much as you can. Also, don’t just check the age on the label for baby clothing, use the actual size instead. In general bigger is better as your baby can always grow into a piece of clothing at a later date.