Raising an Infant on a Budget: Clothing

posted by Andrea | 04/19/2012

In the months since Nora was born, I’ve received a crazy number of emails asking what items I would suggest for soon-to-be-moms looking to stay clutter-free and stick to a tight budget. While I definitely don’t have ALL the answers; after almost 5 months, I can at least share the items we regularly used for the newborn/infant stage.

All week long, I’ll be sharing my “must-have” items for infants.

Monday = Nursery Items

Tuesday = Baby Gear

Wednesday = Food, Medicine, Toiletries

Thursday = Clothing

Friday = Items for the New Mom

Saturday = Recap, a few more tips, and a FREE Printable!

I’m sure there are tons of different opinions on what you do and don’t need; so I just want to stress that these are the things that worked for us. They might not work for everyone!

My Must-Have Clothing Items for Newborns and Infants

If this is your first baby — I would suggest not registering for any clothes because you will get so many clothes gifts — see all Nora’s cute clothes in her Nursery Closet!

We got tons and tons of clothes as gifts (even though I didn’t register for any of it), but since my mom and I had basically found everything we needed at garage sales, I exchanged most of the clothes for bigger sizes. So now I’m practically set with clothes through 24 months!

With that said, here are a few of the must-have clothing items for newborn infants.

WHITE ONESIES (5-7 for each size)

Since Nora was born in November, we put a short-sleeve white onesie on under all her sleepers and outfits for extra warmth. I don’t think you’d need more than 5 of each size unless you don’t do laundry very often.

I also used plain white onesies to take her “monthly photos” and then just added the month number via my photo editing program!

SLEEPERS and SLEEP SACKS (5-7 of each size)

Nora basically lived in sleepers and/or sleep-sacks for the first 3 months of her life… because they were SO easy and comfortable. You might think that you’ll want to get your babies all dressed up every day… but I’m pretty sure you won’t! You’ll just want them to be comfortable!

Oh, and I’d suggest sleepers with zippers not snaps (so much easier!)

SOCKS / SLIPPERS  (3-6 pairs of each size)

Babies don’t have smelly feet, so Nora would often wear the same pair of socks for 2 or 3 days. We have a few really tiny soft pairs that we just rotated until laundry day. I did learn quite quickly that it’s a good idea to take off the socks before changing her diaper so she didn’t kick them in her poop!

Nora had 2 pairs of slippers that she basically wore ALL the time. They helped to keep her socks on and her feet toasty warm. She doesn’t wear them much anymore, but she practically lived in them for the first 3 months of her life!

I also want to note that I absolutely LOVE the socks that look like Mary Jane shoes (yes, they make these socks for boys too!) They are so comfy and practical, but look a little nicer than just plain socks all the time! Plus, babies don’t wear shoes for a while.


Nora didn’t keep her hats on for very long, but they sure were nice when she was a tiny baby — especially since she was born in late November.

And if you have a girl — you will no-doubt get lots and lots of super cute accessories! While these aren’t completely necessary, they are really fun and I’m glad we received a handful of headbands and bows.

CUTE OUTFITS (7-10 of each size — but you will get SO much more!)

We didn’t get out of the house much when Nora was a tiny newborn so we never really needed to get “dressed up”. She had a couple cute outfits that she wore when we actually left the house, but otherwise I just kept her in her sleepers.

As she’s getting older, we wear more and more “normal” clothing… but as I mentioned before, you will most likely get so much of this as gifts. I still haven’t purchased anything for Nora (besides what we got at garage sales last summer) and we definitely do not have a shortage of cute clothes for her .

My advice is to save your money for 12-24 month clothes that they’ll actually wear for more than a few weeks — but that’s coming from a very frugal gal who doesn’t like to go shopping!



Nora was born 2 days before Thanksgiving and a month before Christmas — so while we kind of missed the cute “Baby’s 1st Thanksgiving” outfits (we were still in the hospital), we did get one “Baby’s 1st Christmas” shirt, hat and socks. It was really cute, and since we had SO many holiday parties to attend, she got to wear it several times!

We also made sure we had a baptism dress ready for her — we just used the one I wore as a baby… but that’s still something to think about for your baby

What were/are your must-have newborn/infant clothing items?


Filed under: LifeOrganizingKids StuffFrugal Living

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  1. Beth


    We used a lot of hand-me-down clothes with both our boys. I was lucky enough to have a sister who had a baby boy almost exactly a year before I did. The clothes matched up with size and season almost perfectly! And up to around the “T” sizes with clothing, it is worn for such a short time it is usually in excellent condition even after two or three hand-downs. I have two boys so my youngest rarely has anything new, mostly hand-me-downs from his brother. Now that my oldest is five I am having trouble finding hand-me-down pants though because little boys seem to always have holes through the knees!


  2. Ann


    I noticed several people posting about their multiple children. I bought only used or extremely clearanced clothes for my children as they grew up. Used clothes often have the tags removed because they were itchy or uncomfortable. Doing laundry became frustrating for me because I couldn’t remember what went to whom and for awhile, 3 of my kids wore the same size!
    My solution was to use a laundry marker to make tally marks on or near the tag spot. The oldest got one slash, the next got 2, etc. As I passed clothing down from one child to the next, I just added another tally mark so I knew who it belonged to.

    I just caught my 21 year old son putting 3 tally marks inside a t-shirt. When I asked him why he told me that he and his dad have the same shirt and now he’ll know which one is his! 🙂


    Andrea Reply:

    Ann — this is SUCH a good tip! Thanks so much for sharing… what a simple solution for a very common problem!

    This also makes me think of one of my friends from high school… they had 4 girls, and by high school, they all wore the same size socks. So their mom put their initials on the bottom of all the socks so she knew what socks when to each girl. However, that meant the every time my friend took her shoes off, there was a letter on the bottom!


    Ann Reply:

    I have a friend with several teen girls as well. Since matching socks are out right now, she just puts all the clean socks (unmatched) in a basket. Every morning each girl pulls out 2 socks and goes happily on their way (with no initials!)

    When I was in college, 4 of us did our laundry together. We each chose once color thread and put one small stitch in either the toes or the tops of our socks. Then we knew whose was whose!


  3. Debra Kapellakis


    Lovely photo’s thank you for sharing them. My little ones are now 20, 17 and 12. I like what you suggest for new MOm’s.


  4. Laundry Lady


    I personally recommend sleep and plays and pants with feet. This eliminates the need for shoes or socks. Until they get close to walking or crawling, babies don’e really need shoes (though I agree that it can be cute to have a couple pair for fun). My kids were always losing their shoes and socks anyway.


  5. jerilyn


    I’ve never really bought my kids anything new… we got a ton of hand-me-downs and clothing as gifts. We actually got too much of the little sizes (surprise!). Now I buy clothes used- usually at a twice annual children’s consignment sale. Last year I was able to get all of the size 5 clothes, shoes, and a winter jacket for my son for less than $100.

    I have some hand me down and used shoes for when they are really little but buy new ones when they are older. (But we always splurge on good, supportive shoes because if your feet hurt, so will the rest of your body).


  6. Steph


    I have 3 girls- ages 8, 6, and 2. When our first daughter was born we were on a super tight budget because I left my job to be a SAHM and we lived in a very high cost of living area. While we did get a lot of clothes as gifts, they weren’t the everyday clothes that a newborn needs. I agree with the white onsies, but a pack of colored ones to go with little sweat pants are cute and functional too. Walmart carries Gerber onsies and pants in packs for a very good price. So does Target. They also carry Gerber sleepers in packs of 2 or 3. My favorite was the sleepers- my two oldest lived in them! And the sleep sacks for in winter.
    For brand new clothes we would shop outlets- Carters and Osh Kosh. They do have the $5 racks in the back of the store and you can really hit them well sometimes, especially in between seasons.
    I found that another great place to shop for inexpensive baby clothes ( especially special occasion clothes and shoes) was a consignment shop. High end consignment stores can be gold mines! I once found a brand new, never been worn pair of pink Timberland boots for my daughter for just a coupe dollars. You can also get great baby gear at consignment stores. Recently I consigned several items, including a never used Bumbo, never used Jenny Jump Up, and Jumper-roo in pristine condition. Some people have issue with shopping second hand, but consignment isn’t really 2nd hand. It’s a very budget friendly way to shop for baby and a lot of the items are new.


  7. Leigh


    We get almost all our kids clothes used too. I agree with your list with the addition of cardigan sweaters and Robbieze style shoes to keep the socks on.

    There are two things we buy new. Multi packs of white onesies (long and short sleeve) in each size from Carter’s. I just can not find unstained white onsies used in any quantity. The stand-alone Carters stores have the best prices (usually 50% off) and they have good coupons.
    Multiple pairs of the same socks from Old Navy. 10 pairs of identical white socks means ever having any more than one odd sock out. Old navy puts the size on the foot in grippy so that you don’t mix up to small or too big or big brother’s socks.