Buying Baby Clothes When You’re Expecting: What You Need to Know

Thimble Newborn PhotoWhen you’re pregnant with your first child, everyone will tell you all sorts of different things about what gear and equipment you need for your baby (thanks for the tips Aunt June - your thoughts on high chairs from the 1970s are super helpful!). But very few people talk about fashion and there are indeed some tips worth sharing. Baby clothes have come a long way from the old days of bland, boring onesies. Today, clothing for children and babies is much more fashionable and functional (if you know where to look). Here’s what you should keep in mind when shopping for baby fashion.


1. Make it functional

Thimble Boys Overalls ToesWhen you’re buying clothes for your new baby, don’t just go for what you think is cute. There are many options out there that are stylish but consider how they function as well. Avoid outfits—and especially pajamas—with a large number of snaps at the diaper closure. Snaps take SO long to do with a squirmy baby and if you’ve lined them up wrong (happens at least 30% of the time), you're in big trouble. We suggest looking for zippers instead (like those featured on our overalls for boys and girls) or even magnets, which are popular on some pajamas. We’d also avoid overly frilly collars and sleeves—not only do they often require ironing, they frequently get in baby’s way. Steer clear of coarse fabrics and things that are dry-clean only as well—as cute as they are, you probably won’t choose to put them on baby day after day.


2. Get some workhorse essentials

Thimble Overall Basic T ShirtWhile it’s often fun to have the matching shirt, pants, sweater, and socks, you can save a lot of money and mental energy by investing in some essentials that go with almost everything. We recommend white, navy, and gray onesies, sweaters, and leggings. Also consider pink or black depending on your personal taste. This is very helpful in case of messes and the need to suddenly change pants or tops—you don’t have to replace everything if you have some solid basics.


3. It’s more for you than baby

Thimble Smiling Baby Lucy DressNewborn babies are much like potatoes. They don’t do very much or have very strong preferences (except when it comes to being awake at 3am—they're strongly in favor of that). Your baby won’t really care that you’ve dressed her in head-to-toe Disney characters so only do so if you Mickey Mouse yourself. Buy what YOU like because it’s really for you to enjoy. Babies don’t have to look like mini-adults by any means, but they also don’t need to sport trucks and princesses when they don’t even know what they are.


4. Buy larger sizes 

Thimble Newborn Nantucket SetMany family and friends buy gifts in 0-3 month or 3-6 month sizes and given how fast babies grow, they may not be in those sizes very long. We suggest buying six months or larger when shopping yourself—you’ll have less already in your closet in those sizes and your child will wear those items longer. Of course, if you come home with a teeny tiny baby, feel free to buy a couple preemie items (Gap has some great non-onesie options)—yes, they’ll grow out of them in a month or so, but it’s really nice to have a couple things that actually fit a wee one.


5. Consider getting fewer, better things

Whether you like it or not, you are going to be doing so much laundry with a newborn and all the messes he creates. This means that you’ll need items that can withstand frequent, heavy duty washing. Consider getting a smaller number of high-quality items that you really love rather than treating clothes as disposable. You can end up saving money in the long run, particularly if you want to pass things down from one child to another.

Most of all, enjoy the experience of shopping for a new baby and the joy that it brings. Your little one will be here soon, but until then, it's totally acceptable (and even encouraged) to get excited about their tiny little wardrobe!


  • Thanks for going over some things to consider when buying baby clothes. You mentioned that it’s important get some essential clothing items that can be used for any outfit. It sounds like it could be beneficial to have a lot of these, especially if you need to change their clothes often throughout the day.

    Taylor Bishop

  • Great point Angela – we’re working on a post with advice for family members buying for new babies and we’ll make sure to talk about being respectful of parents’ tastes as well as seasonal needs and limits!


  • I would also throw into the mix that you should feel comfortable communicating your personal tastes to your family. With both my son and my daughter, I’ve let my immediate family know what styles I prefer, as well as reminding them that there are huge seasonal differences between where they live and where I live. (Lon sleeves work in late Sept./early Oct. in Indiana… Not so much in Texas).

    They’ve been really open to sticking to the way I choose to dress my children and have become contentious of seasonally appropriate clothing. ???


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