By Raising Children Network
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Babies grow fast, so it pays not to spend too much on many outfits in the smallest sizes. In the first few weeks, your baby needs clothes that are comfy and east to get on and off.

Newborn having nappy changed

Did you knowQuestion mark symbol

  • Cotton is most comfortable for babies.
  • Synthetics can make your baby clammy, and wool can irritate the skin (unless worn as an outer layer).


Size 000 is intended to fit babies from 0-3 months, and 00 to fit babies from 3-6 months. Some bigger newborns might even be ready to go straight into a size 00. You might have to roll the sleeves up, but it won’t be for long.

Sizes vary between types of clothes and manufacturers, so you might want to compare them to other garments you already have, rather than going strictly by size. Because babies really do grow very fast, you might want to try buying the minimum number of clothes in each size.

What clothes to get

Look for stretchy jumpsuits that button at the front, and tops with envelope necks that are easier to get over your baby’s head. It’s incredibly tricky to dress (and undress) a screaming baby in something that’s difficult to get over the head, or that has 50 buttons up the back.

Clothes should be soft, comfy and easy to take care of – you won’t have much time on your hands, so it’s best to avoid things that need handwashing and ironing.

Newborn babies need to be kept warm. In cold weather it can be easier to dress your baby in layers, so you can strip them back when you’re at the shops or in other warm places. As a guide, dress your baby in the same number of layers you’re wearing, plus one extra layer for warmth. A few bunny rugs or wraps will be very handy for wrapping your newborn baby.

Although it’s important to keep newborns warm, it’s equally important your baby doesn’t become overheated.

How many clothes to get

Doing the laundry becomes an almost daily occurrence with a baby, but you’ll still need plenty of changes of clothes. As a guide, the following will see you through for a newborn baby:

  • around six singlets
  • six jumpsuits
  • two nighties or jumpsuits for nightwear
  • three tops
  • cardigans or jackets (if it’s winter)
  • three cotton bunny rugs (for winter) or muslin (gauze) wraps (for summer)
  • a couple of cotton hats
  • a few pairs of socks.

How to dress a newborn

Lots of newborn babies find the dressing and undressing experience upsetting. The quicker and calmer you are, the less stress for both you and your baby!

  • Make sure the room is warm enough, then place your baby on a soft surface.
  • Put a nappy on your baby to avoid him weeing on you. 
  • Stretch the neck of a singlet and, supporting your baby’s head, put the singlet on from the back. Be careful it doesn’t touch his face as you pull the front over her head – little babies can get very upset by clothes scraping their faces like this. Do the reverse when undressing, once again trying not to let the garment touch his face.
  • Gently place his arms through the arm holes.
  • If you’re dressing your baby in a jumpsuit, unbutton it and lay him on top. Place his arms and legs into the holes and do up the snap fasteners.
  • Make sure your baby’s legs and arms are clothed if he’s going out in the sun (but it’s better to keep him out of direct sun altogether).

How to wash clothes

Baby clothes can be washed with the rest of the laundry, but strong detergents and fabric softeners can irritate your baby’s skin.

Cloth nappies and clothes soiled with poo need to be soaked in nappy sanitiser before washing. Nappy sanitiser also makes a handy pre-soak once your baby is eating solids – even with a bib, your baby’s clothes will get covered in food or juice.

Video: How to dress your newborn

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This short video shows you how to dress a newborn. It includes tips on what order to put clothes on, and how to distract older babies who fidget on the change table.

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  • Last Updated 11-02-2011
  • Last Reviewed 01-10-2009
  • Victorian Parenting Centre (2003). C-Frame: Connect, collaborate, change [CD-ROM]. Melbourne: VPC.