Friday, June 18, 2010

Baby Clothing Size and Selection Guide

I learned my first lesson about baby clothes while I was still pregnant:  there is no real standard when it comes to newborn clothes sizes.  The other lesson (always always always allow for shrinking), I learned with the first wash.  Within a few days of giving birth, I learned my third lesson:  zippered pajamas and one piece pullovers that snap shut as opposed to 2-piece top and bottom outfits are most convenient for the 20ish diaper changes I do every day.

Some brands ran very oversized swallowing my infant son though they were labeled 0-3 months or even newborn!  Others claimed to be 0-3 months but were barely larger than some premie sized clothing I had.  Yet another strange scenario I encountered was the occasional discrepancy of size within a brand.  For instance, the striped 0-3 months size Faded Glory organic footy pajamas were significantly larger than the ABC pattern in the same size and line.  My son wore the ABC's for weeks before the striped ones fit.  As my son has grown, this problem has not decreased.  To complicate matters, almost all baby clothing regardless of brand shrinks significantly after laundering.  I have seen a few items decrease by nearly half!

Above: 5 days, 5 lbs. 10 oz., wearing Carter's premie size long sleeved onesie with newborn size socks

Right: 2 weeks, 6 lbs, wearing Gerber Newborn size pajama

Below: 2 weeks, 6 lbs, wearing Faded Glory Organic 0-3 months size pajama in ABC print

As you can see, even the newborn size was large on my little guy, and the empty legs are splayed out as he bends his knees.  While it is hard to tell in the picture of the Faded Glory, it's actually much larger than the Gerber.  The Faded Glory was cut very generously for width, which I appreciated as he grew.  I've found Gerber brand clothing to run the smallest of any clothing line for babies that I've encountered.

Faded Glory Pros:  Organic 100% cotton, conveniently available at WalMart, Organic pajamas and two-piece clothing sets for $5, soft fabric, comfort features like padded zippers
Faded Glory Cons:  Inconsistent sizing, some styles/color selections ran too big to fit newborns, some styles/color selections (stripes again, specifically the blue stripes...tan stripes were large but didn't pill) had a bad problem with pilling in the wash

Gerber Pros:   Best fit for newborns, variety of cute patterns, and designs, available at almost all baby stores, almost always come in multi-packs with a mix of colors, comfort features
Gerber Cons:  Thin material, don't seem as durable as other brands, are outgrown quickly since they are so small (my son wore them comfortably for about two weeks and outgrew them within 4 weeks of receiving them)

Now my son is 4 months old and about 18.5 lbs and 25.5 inches long at his 4 month check up.  For the most part, he wears 12 month sizes or larger.  We have started stocking up on 24 month sizes as they go to clearance.

Left:  6 weeks, 12 lbs, Carter's 3 Month size.  Fits very well, and was tight by the time he turned 3 months old.

Right:  4 months, 18.5 lbs, Gerber 3-6 month sleeveless onesie.  I should note that this onesie seems to run slightly larger than sleeved versions in the same size.  As you can see, he won't be wearing this much longer.

Now for the shrinkage problem:

On the left side is a 9 month pair of jeans from the Genuine Baby line by OshKosh pre wash.  On the right is post wash.  No more folding necessary!  I actually bought several 9 months Genuine Baby clothes on clearance at Target while I was pregnant.  What I did not anticipate is that he would outgrow them before the fall, which is when I intended to use them!  It was too late to return them because Target has a 60 day policy, so I used them for the purpose of this article.  These pictures are from this week--one before laundry day and one after.  For the record, the jeans did not shrink much in the width.  Most of the shrinkage was in the length, which worked out well since they were way too lon.  The other Genuine Baby items (2 piece hoodie and pants set, cotton knit sweater, and long sleeve onesie) did not shrink significantly unlike every other brand he's worn.

To the left, he's sporting a long sleeved 12 month Carter's onesie.  The picture was taken about 3 weeks ago.  Notice how it is roomy but not too huge on my 4 month old?  Also take note of how his socks fit now.  And, yes, he is quite pleased with his attempts to denude himself!  On the right, he's wearing a 12 month Carter's again, but in the short sleeved variety.  This was taken about the same time, but for some reason the 12 month short sleeve onesies fit more snugly in both length and girth than the long sleeve.  The material is thicker too in the short sleeved version.

Above we have 3 different brands of 24 month sized onesies.  From left to right we have Gerber, Toughskins, and Faded Glory Organic.  As you can see, the Gerber still runs the smallest and fits very well, but the length makes it more like a play romper than a traditional onesie.  It is also still the flimsiest material compared with the other 2 onesies.  The Toughskins, which I found at Sears, is a very well-made brand made with high quality fabric.  It runs the largest of the 3.  The organic Faded Glory onesie is the softest.  All three were very economical choices.  The Gerber came in a 5-pack for $9.99, the Faded Glory was $3 at WalMart (not bad for organic), and the Toughskins were on sale for $4.  It is the thickest, most durable, and roomiest of the 3 choices so I don't mind that it costs a little more since he'll also be wearing it the longest.

Here are some pictures of my son in 18 months clothing.  Can you believe it?  My 4 month old can wear 18 month sized baby clothes!  On the left, he's wearing an 18 month Carter's Romper, which was on sale at Sears this week for $4.  As you can see, it an overall good fit.  It's a little long in the crotch, but that's good because it leaves him plenty of room for his diapers.  He wears mostly cloth, so he needs the space.  Even here though, there is some disparity of size.  I have another 18 month romper purchased previously from Beall's Outlet (another place to find great deals on baby clothing and those dot discounts!), but it is bigger than this romper.  It may possibly be because the romper from Beall's snaps up all the way.  This one is a pullover style.  FYI, I love rompers because they have the convenience of onesies but with more substance for cooler temperatures or going out.

In photo to the right, he's wearing an 18 month shirt and shorts set by Circo from Target.  The t-shirt is roomy, but the shorts fit comfortably without being too loose.  These were on clearance for under $5 last month along with a number of other prints, colors and sizes going up to 5T.

Here are some mix and match shirts and pants.  Both of those pictures were taken within the past 2 days.  The yellow shirt is a 9 month size by Bon BeBe paired with Carter's 12 month size pants.  The shirt is a nice fit right now and does stretch out a lot after being worn, so he has plenty more use left in that.  The pants are on the long side to allow for growth and comfortably sized in the waist.  In the other picture, he's wearing an Okie Dokie brand, 18 month shirt with Faded Glory's organic 0-3 month pants.  The pants came as a set with a matching striped hoodie for $5 regular price.  They still fit well because of the roomy cut, but they are a little short now.  And the shirt has plenty of room without being ridiculously big.

There you have it!  I hope this helps a few moms pick the clothing styles that make diaper changes easy in sizes that will allow the most comfortable fit and longest use for their babies.


  1. Thanks for the info. It will definitely help as we go to buy clothing for the baby. Do you have any suggestions for what you need to have (sizes and types) of clothes for the first month or so after the baby is born?

  2. Lucky you living in the Cayman Islands! Since you don't have to worry about cold weather, I highly recommend onesies and baby gowns for newborns. They are the easiest to take on and off and have little to no buttons/snaps so changing clothes will be fast that way--which is what you want when your little one is fussy! You'll be wrapping your newborn in blankets a lot, so don't worry about the onesies not covering enough. The gowns were great because there were no buttons. You just lift them up like dresses for the diaper changes. Carter's makes a really cool convertible gown that uses snaps to turn into pajamas with legs to give you both options.

    Davie was born in January, and it was pretty chilly in the house so I had him in footy pajamas. Now that it's warm, he wears onesies or rompers almost 24/7. The great thing about onesies is that they're easy to layer. You can put a pair of pants or a jacket over it to make a complete outfit or for extra warmth.

    As far as sizes, I recommend that most of your newborn clothes be 0-3 months with a few 3-6 months. If your baby is very small, add a handful of Gerber newborn clothes. This will give you a selection of clothing that will last for a few months and give you time to figure out what size you need for the next growth phase. Davie went straight to 12-18 months after he outgrew the small sizes because he was growing so fast and we wanted his clothes to last longer. Plan for 2-3 outfit changes a day for spit up accidents and diaper accidents, especially if you're having a boy. Depending on how often you want to do laundry, that will give you an idea of how many outfits you need to start with.

  3. Wow he is such a big boy!! Brianna is wearing 18 months and she's a little over 20 lbs. I loved the baby gowns when she was a newborn, so easy with diaper changing. Right now she always wears dresses, again easy for diaper changing :)

  4. Wow he is adorable! Have you checked out wholesale organic baby clothing by Colored Organics. They have the highest quality onesies I have found, they are a US company ( which I love to support! ) and they have great styles and colors. I also really like that they have tagless onesies so I can sew my own label in the garment.

  5. One of the top priorities for moms is to consider what's best for their child. Mothers only purchase well fitted cool baby clothes which are comfortable for their babies to wear. They take into consider particular factors such as the fabric, texture, size and the design which can influence their decision of buying.

  6. Great thoughts you got there, believe I may possibly try just some of it throughout my daily life.

    Newborn Baby Clothes

  7. Hi, it may help seeing how babies develop relative to size averages and see what track your baby may follow. Charts that show average baby size development are at the website The charts appear to be from the CDC.