It’s easy to get lost in the world of baby clothes, from sizes to names, it can be confusing.
The first time I went shopping for my first baby, I was completely lost when it came to the difference between bodysuits, baby grow and onesies. Are they all the same thing? Did I need all of them and how many of each should I buy?
Don’t panic! I’m going to explain exactly what they mean by baby grow, why a baby onesie is different to an adult’s one and why you need both onesies and bodysuits.
Babies need layers. That’s why baby clothes aren’t just about tops and trousers or dresses like the rest of us.
They don’t regulate their temperature in the same way so simple layers of cotton clothing – which is gentler on their sensitive skin – is the way to go.
There’s a general rule that was taught to me by the midwives after I had my first baby, it is to put baby in one more layer than you are wearing to keep them comfortable. So if you’re at home wearing a t-shirt you want to dress your baby in a onesie and a baby grow.
What’s The Difference Between a Sleep-suit, Bodysuit, Baby-grow and Onesie?
If you’re confused by all of these names then don’t worry, we are going to break them all down for you and it’s not a stupid question at all. There are a dozen of fellow mamas who are equally confused by what a onesie is.
The key thing to know is that there are many terms for baby clothes, but actually some overlap and refer to exactly the same thing! Marks & Spencer’s might call it an infant bodysuit and H&M a onesie.
What is a onesie?
A onesie, also known as a bodysuit, is a top that fits over the baby’s nappy (usually fastened with poppers) and has long or short sleeves but no legs. A onesie and a bodysuit are the same thing!
In the summer or on a hot day, your baby may be perfectly happy rolling around in just a short-sleeved onesie. It’ll let their legs go free to kick about and they can stay cool.
They’re also good as a simple layer for bedtime on very hot, sticky nights. I would often put my kids down in a light 0.5 tog sleeping bag wearing a onesie when the temperature crept above 22C in their room.
However, in winter a onesie, or bodysuit, is used as an extra layer to keep the baby warm. So on a chilly day you may dress them in a onesie, topped with a baby grow and then add a cardigan or jumper on top.
At night time a onesie can also be worn under pyjamas as an extra layer to stay warm.
When we talk about adult clothing, a onesie features long legs and sleeves, which in baby terminology would be described as a baby grow.
What is a baby grow?
A baby grow is also known as a baby gro or sleepsuit. They may also be referred to as footies or sleepers. It is an all-in-one outfit with feet – so no socks are needed.
Most baby grows are made of cotton but you can also find baby grows made from material such as muslin.
Some baby-grows will do up with poppers, while others may use zippers or buttons. Zippers are much easier to deal with at night when it’s dark– it can be easy to get confused with matching up the poppers especially when they extend down the legs too.
Many baby grows also come with scratch mitts built in to the sleeves of the outfit, to prevent the baby from scratching themselves. All you need to do is fold them over baby’s hands and they have scratch mitts that they cannot pull off!
What is a romper?
A romper is a one-piece outfit with open feet and hands. Some come with no sleeves or legs, which are fabulous in warmer weather. A romper may also be known as a romper suit or sleep suit by baby clothing brands (confusingly crossing over with the baby grow).
Tip- Always look at a picture of the item of clothing you are buying if ordering online, just to be sure you know what you are getting.
Baby clothing terminology summary
Pramsuit or snowsuit – a one-piece outfit for cold weather.
Bloomers – Cute little shorts that cover baby’s nappy. These are for the summer.
Scratch mits – Soft mittens worn on baby’s hands to stop them scratching their face with their fingernails. New-born babies tend to rake their hands over their face when they’re asleep.
Onesie or bodysuit – A top with no legs that fastens over the nappy. It may have long or short sleeves.
Baby grow (babygro/sleepsuit) – all-in-one outfit with long sleeves and legs covering the feet.
Footless sleepsuit – a baby grow with open feet.
Romper – a one-piece outfit with open feet and hands.
So What Type of Baby Clothes Should You Buy?
Putting all of this together, what baby clothes do you actually need?
For a basic “starter kit” you will be absolutely fine with:
* Cotton hats
* Cosy coat or pram suit for wearing outside
* Baby grows
* Cardigans or jumpers
You can keep your baby warm at night or when outdoors by layering them up with cotton blankets.
Your new-born baby won’t need to wear socks with a baby grow and they definitely won’t need shoes until they start tottering around on their feet towards the end of the first year. I found footless sleep suits useful at night with my first baby. She was a fidgety sleeper and sometimes her legs would get tangled up inside her baby-grow.
All of the other types of clothes, such as the sleeveless and legless romper and bloomers, are nice to have if you want to dress your baby up in pretty, different outfits. But they are not baby clothing essentials so don’t stress yourself trying to buy them if you can’t. They also won’t stay in them long whether it be because of the poo or vomit or other delightful stain they may decide to make.
You can get leggings, dresses and long or short sleeved tops in a range of sizes for your baby. Some parents may find they prefer simple leggings and tops to baby grows, so that they don’t need to fiddle with poppers when doing them up. It’s really up to you but we hope this helps!
What combination worked for you and your baby? Let us know in the comments!
I am a business graduate and live in Glasgow. After taking a career break after my second child, I have not looked back. I now have 4 children and love my role as a stay-at-home mum. I value all the benefits of staying at home with my children and feel I am privileged to be able to do that. I passionately believe that the role of a mother is more important than any other and should be celebrated.