Gowns are the one-piece outfits that are open on the bottom, although they’re gathered with elastic. They make diaper changing really easy at night (you’re not fumbling with snaps, zippers, or god forbid, buttons). Many gowns have built-in mittens which you fold over a newborn’s hands to keep them from scratching themselves (especially in that 2 week period before you cut their nails).
We actually dressed Henry exclusively in gowns for about the first 2 weeks because we didn’t feel ready to “graduate” to putting on other clothes. I do really recommend them for nighttime, but they tend to ride up a lot when you’re holding them during the day so don’t be afraid to branch out into sleep-n-plays. If the gowns sound like something you’d be interested in using I’d try to register for 6-8. I believe they often come in 2-3 packs.
I’m not sure this is the real name of these, but they are the one-piece outfits, with or without feet, that zip or snap all the way up. They’re usually really soft cotton or terry. These are great for during the day because they’re very soft and comfortable and generally don’t having any doodads or scratchy things to get annoying or make the baby uncomfortable. They’re basically pajamas, but they’re acknowledged as “clothes” so if you have a thing about your baby being “dressed” during the day these are a great compromise—the baby is dressed but comfortable. Again I would recommend 6-8 of these.
Onesies come in short and long-sleeve. You’ll probably want some of both depending on when your baby is due and what the weather is generally doing at that time of year. Onesies are great because babies can wear them alone when it’s warm enough, or as a layer underneath outfits, or with a pair of pants when it’s a bit cooler. Onesies are more practical than shirts when the babies are tiny because the onesies stay put and don’t continually bunch up. These usually come in packs of threes and again I would get 6-8 to start.
Although in general I preferred onsies to t-shirts, it was nice to have some side-snap shirts—especially at the beginning when the umbilical cord is still on. Side-snap shirts are also nice to use at first because you don’t have to pull anything over the baby’s head which can take a little getting used to. That said, they’re not always easy to find. I’d buy 1-2 packs to try and see if you like them.
If it’s still going to be cool when your baby is born I would get a couple pair of pants (2-3) in basic colors. Paired with a onesie this can be a really comfortable, easy outfit that’s easy to layer more onto if it’s really cold. I wouldn’t go out of my way to buy shorts if your baby is going to be born during the warmer months. They come as part of the zillion cute outfits you’re likely to receive as gifts.
You’ll need some socks and a few hats—but you’ll probably get both for gifts as well, especially hats. Depending on what you decide to dress your baby in, a lot of their clothes will be footed at the beginning so you won’t need a zillion pairs of socks. That said baby socks are notoriously easy to lose. I would say 8-10 pair would probably be plenty. Eventually you’ll need some of the small “drool” bibs for when babies start to drool all the time around 3-4 months, or if your baby spits up a lot from the beginning. I’m not sure on amount—probably somewhere in the area of 6 to start with. Then you can see if you need to expand your holdings depending on your baby’s needs.
A homecoming outfit is something special you pick out to dress your baby in for their first trip home from the hospital. If you’re the kind of person that really enjoys “prepping” for special occasions than have a ball trying to find the perfect outfit. I would suggest buying a preemie and newborn sized outfit. If you have a small baby (somewhere around 7.5 lbs or less) they’ll be swimming in the newborn stuff at first, but the preemie clothes will fit great and they’ll look super-cute for pictures. If the list of everything you have to “get” before this baby arrives has already stressed you out, please give yourself permission to skip this item. I fell into the first camp, I’m a planner and organizer by nature and I really enjoyed gathering everything together for the baby. That said, on the day I came home from the hospital I could have cared less what Henry was wearing. We did dress him in the outfit I brought and he did look mighty cute but I just cared about being able to get into the car and up the steps to our condo and into BED. So don’t sweat this one—it won’t be the most important thing by a mile you’ll do or not do for your baby.
I mentioned preemie and newborn sizes in the section above. Unless you’re expecting to have your baby really early (medical reason for a scheduled c-section), I wouldn’t buy more than one or two outfits in the preemie size because even small (full-term) babies will grow out of these very quickly. The standard size you’ll receive for gifts is “newborn” or 0-3 months. Depending on your baby, how big they are at birth, and how quickly they grow, this size will fit them for a few months, or they’ll outgrow them before you even get the tags off. If you have the opportunity I would ask people to buy some things in 3-6 month size and if you’re compelled to buy some “cute” outfits for your baby, I would start-off buying 3-6 month sizes.
Maybe you have a dresser that you plan to use to store most of your baby’s clothes. We have a small dresser in our son’s room and use it to store all the blankets, sheets, changing table covers, socks, hats, etc. but we hang all of his actual clothes. If you plan to hang anything, you’ll want to buy some baby hangers because your normal adult-size ones will just be too big for all those tiny clothes. We use medium sized binder clips to hang pants from the hangers and they work like a charm.