Products you need for your baby
Which baby products are essential for the first year? Here's a list of the main things you'll need to clothe, move, and feed your baby, as well as give him a safe place to sleep and explore.
If you want to go beyond the basics, check out this list of product "extras" that can make the first year easier. You'll find specific information about the supplies you need in the first six weeks and what to put on your baby registry, too.
Baby clothes are usually sized as preemie, newborn, 3 months, 6 months, 9 months, and 12 months. Some babies never need newborn sizes (they go straight to 3 months), but that's hard to predict in advance, so you may want to have some on hand. Also, babies grow quickly, so make sure you have the next size up!
For everyday wear, think comfort and ease. Look for soft, roomy, durable clothing that allows your child freedom to move and explore and that can hold up through frequent washings. (Spit-up and grime take their toll.)
Should you buy organic baby clothing? It's made without harsh dyes or potentially harmful chemicals, but it's usually priced at a premium – and few would say it's absolutely necessary. Whatever you choose, use a gentle, baby-friendly detergent to avoid skin irritation.
Here are the basics your baby will need. (Suggested amounts are for a three-month period; replenish as your baby grows.)
One-piece outfits (5 to 7): Some of these are basically spiffed-up jammies appropriate for sleeping and playing – and because babies nap so frequently, especially at first, these are super convenient. Look for one-piece outfits that zip or snap down the front and all the way down the leg; these allow you to change your baby's clothes easily without pulling things over her head. Make sure whatever you buy opens easily at the bottom for diaper changes.
Shirts (5 to 7): Look for T-shirts and turtlenecks with plenty of room in the neck, or snaps at the neck, so they slip easily over your child's head. Many parents prefer styles that go over the tummy and diaper and snap at the crotch.
Leggings or pull-on pants (5 to 7): Separates allow you to change one piece of dirty clothing without assembling a whole new outfit, so they're useful to have on hand. Look for stretchy waistbands that fit easily over your baby's diaper and belly – and expand as he gains weight.
Outer layers (5): Sweaters, fleece jackets, and sweatshirts that zip up are easy to put on and take off. Many small children don't like pushing their head through a small neck opening.
Buy larger sizes and look for items with loose armholes that won't require tugging and fussing. Hoods are helpful for this age – just slip one over your baby's head when the temperature is chilly.
Avoid clothing that has dangling strings, tassels, and ribbons – these are choking hazards.
Hats and mittens: A broad-brimmed sun hat for the summer and a warm hat that covers the ears in the winter should do the trick. Mittens for babies are shaped like bags with elastic at the wrist, making them easy to get on and off little hands.
Socks or booties: You'll need lots of socks for indoors and some booties for outdoor wear.
Shoes: You may not need to buy real, hard-soled shoes during your baby's first year. Some doctors recommend waiting until your child is a strong walker because shoes can interfere with development. Until your baby's ambling well, cover her feet with socks or booties that have nonskid bottoms.
When it comes time to buy sturdier footwear, go to a store that specializes in children's shoes. A salesperson can advise you on the most comfortable brands and what size to buy to allow for growth, and will measure your child's feet to ensure a comfortable and proper fit.
Pajamas/sleepers (5 to 7): There are three things to think about when dressing your baby for bed: your baby's comfort, his safety, and your ability to get to the inevitable middle-of-the-night dirty diaper. No matter how cute it looks, avoid sleepwear that has complicated snaps or requires lots of effort to get on or off!
Soft, breathable natural fabrics like cotton are comfy, and if they fit snugly they're a good alternative to synthetic, flame-resistant clothing (usually made of polyester). Avoid ribbons, strings, ties, and other decorative items that could get wrapped around your baby and pose a choking hazard.
Diapers: Whether you use cloth or disposable or something in between (some diapers use a reusable cover with a disposable lining), your baby probably will go through ten to 12 diapers a day at first, so plan accordingly.
Wipes: Whether you plan to buy wipes, make your own, or use a washcloth and warm water, you'll want to be prepared.
Changing pad or table: You don't have to buy an official changing table, but you'll probably want to have some designated place for diaper changes. Some parents use a changing pad or just a towel on the floor or bed. (Keep your hand on your baby at all times when changing on an elevated surface!)