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Baby clothes: What you really need

It is hard to know when to stop when buying baby clothes, but with babies growing bigger almost by the day, they soon grow out of much loved outfits wearing some clothes only a few times.

Tips for parents when choosing baby clothes include safety and comfort first, as well as clothes that are easy to put on and take off, and practical for when changing a nappy.

Where to get baby clothes

Many expectant parents receive so many hand-me-downs and baby clothes as gifts, they don't even need to buy much for their newborn's first few months. When you do shop for clothes, consider children's second-hand shops or charity shops if you're on a budget. If you're looking for flame-resistant clothing, however, it's best to buy new because second-hand items may have been washed incorrectly, losing their effectiveness.

Baby's first wardrobe

There are some essential clothing items that you'll want to have to hand before your baby's birth. If you don't know your baby's sex in advance, or if you plan on having more children, invest in colours that you'll be comfortable putting on either a boy or a girl.

These items (in three or six month sizes) should get you through the first three or four weeks:

  • Four to six vests. Short- or long-sleeved vests come in two styles: pullovers and ones with side poppers. The side-popper shirts are a little easier to put on a small baby. Vests are better than all-in-ones until the baby's umbilical cord falls off.
  • Three to four all-in-ones. These popular one-piece shirts snap under the crotch, so they hold nappies in place and keep baby covered.
  • Three to four bundlers. These are good for day or night. The long gowns, which close at the bottom with elastic or drawstrings, make it more difficult for babies to kick off their coverings and make for the easiest nappy changes. Mittens at the ends of the sleeves may be worn open or closed, to prevent babies from scratching themselves. Short gowns may be preferable for warm weather.
  • Three to six sleepsuits. Also useful night or day. If your baby will be sleeping in a cot, some experts recommend one-piece sleepsuits or other sleepwear be worn at night in lieu of using blankets or quilts. Experts advise parents to reduce loose bedding for infants under one year old to lessen the risk of cot death and suffocation. Some parents also use baby sleep bags, which are like wearable blankets that fit over baby’s clothing. Sleepers with footies will keep baby's feet warm. Footies should have rubberised soles once a child starts standing and walking, particularly on hardwood floors.
  • Three to four pairs of socks or booties. These should be loose enough so your baby can wiggle his or her toes. Those with a stretch elastic band at the cuff can't be kicked off as easily.
  • Four to six receiving blankets. Babies spend much of their first weeks wrapped in these soft blankets. The swaddling keeps them warm and makes them feel secure.
  • One or two hats or caps and jumpers. Knit caps keep babies cosy even inside during the first two weeks and bonnets shield them from the sun outside. A cotton or acrylic hat and jumper or cardigan are good for outings.

Depending on the weather, winter newborns may also need a few blanket sleepers, warm hats and mitts.

Over the year you'll add seasonal items such as swimsuits along with one-piece outfits and shirt and trouser ensembles to the baby's repertoire.

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