Skip to Content

Guide to the different types of baby clothes

Baby clothing names left you feeling confused? 

When I was shopping for my first baby I was totally lost when it came to the difference between onesies, bodysuits and babygrows. Were they all the same thing? Did I need everything? And how many of each should I buy?

Pregnant mum looks at baby onesie sorting through baby clothes

Do not worry. This article is going to explain exactly what the heck we mean by babygrow, why a baby onesie is different to an adult onesie and why you need both onesies and bodysuits! 

If you want help with what size baby clothes to buy and how many, I’ve got you covered! Check out my post that gives you a complete checklist on how many newborn baby clothes to buy in each size

Let’s take a look at key baby clothing terminology and definitions. 

This post contains affiliate links.

Baby clothes explained 

The reason why baby clothes aren’t just about tops and trousers or dresses like the rest of us is that babies need layers. 

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. 

The general rule of thumb, as explained to me by the midwives after I had my first baby, is to put baby in one more layer than you are wearing to keep them comfortable. 

So if you’re at home wearing a tee you want to dress baby in a onesie and a babygrow. 

How you dress your baby at night is made super easy by companies like The Gro Company, who make fabulous baby sleeping bags. Each sleeping bag, known as a Gro Bag, comes with a chart showing you what baby should wear for bed depending on the temperature in their room. This is an easy guide to make sure your baby doesn’t get too hot or too cold. 

For newborns you can get Gro Swaddles which feature an easy zip near the legs so you can change their nappy at night without completely unwrapping the bag! So clever.

What’s the difference between a onesie, sleepsuit, bodysuit and babygrow?

If you’re confused by all of these names then don’t fear, we are going to break them all down for you and it’s not a stupid question at all. 

Search any internet parenting forum and you will see dozens 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! Different baby clothing brands may use different terms, but actually it’s all one in the same. 

What is a onesie?

A onesie, also known as a bodysuit, is a top that fits over baby’s nappy (usually fastened with poppers) and has long or short sleeves but no legs. 

So a onesie and a bodysuit are the same thing! 

Baby clothes onesie

In the summer on a hot day your baby may be perfectly happy  rolling around in just a short-sleeved onesie. It means their legs are free to kick about and they can stay cool. These short-sleeved onesies are really cute.

They’re also great 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. 

In winter a onesie, or bodysuit, is used as an extra layer to keep baby warm. So on a chilly day you may dress baby in a onesie, topped with a babygrow (more on those in a minute) and then add a cardigan or jumper on top. 

At nighttime a onesie may also be worn under pyjamas as an extra layer to keep baby warm. 

When we talk about adult clothing, a onesie features long legs and sleeves, which in baby terminology would be described as a babygrow.

What is a babygrow?

A babygrow is also known as a babygro or sleepsuit. They may also be referred to as footies or sleepers.

baby wearing a baby sleepsuit or babygro

It is an all-in-one outfit with feet – so no socks are required. 

Most babygrows are made of cotton but you can also find babygrows made from material such as muslin. 

Some babygrows will do up with poppers, while others may use zippers or buttons. Zippers are much easier to deal with at night when the light is low – it can be easy to get confused with matching up the poppers especially when they extend down the legs too.

Many babygrows also come with scratch mits built in to the sleeves of the outfit. All you need to do is fold them over baby’s hands and they have scratch mits that they cannot pull off! 

The Gro Company makes Grosuits, which feature quilted sleeves. This keeps baby’s arms cosy when they are tucked up in a sleeping bag at night, as the baby sleeping bags do not cover arms.

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. 

Baby wearing a romper

A romper may also be known as a romper suit or sleep suit by baby clothing brands (confusingly crossing over with the babygrow). 

Always look at a picture of the item of clothing you are buying if ordering online, just to be sure you know exactly what you are getting! 

Baby clothing terminology summary 

Onesie or bodysuit – A top with no legs that fastens over the nappy. It may have long or short sleeves. 

Babygrow (babygro/sleepsuit) – all-in-one outfit with long sleeves and legs covering the feet. 

Footless sleepsuit – a babygrow with open feet. 

Romper – a one-piece outfit with open feet and hands. 

Pramsuit or snowsuit – a one-piece cold weather outfit. 

Bloomers – Pretty little shorts that cover baby’s nappy. These are for the summer months. 

Scratch mits – Soft mittens worn on baby’s hands to stop them scratching their face with their fingernails. Newborn babies tend to rake hands over their face when they’re asleep. 

baby clothes definitions guide - the difference between a bodysuit, onesie, romper, sleepsuit and babygrow

So what type of baby clothes should I buy?

Putting all of this together, what baby clothes do you actually need?

As a basic “starter kit” you will be absolutely fine with: 

  • Onesies 
  • Babygrows
  • Cardigans or jumpers
  • Cotton hats
  • Cosy coat or pram suit for wearing outside

You can keep your baby warm at night or when outdoors by layering them up with cotton blankets.  

Your newborn baby won’t need to wear socks with a babygrow and they definitely do not need things like 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 babygrow!

When she was all tucked into a sleeping bag I knew her toes would be warm, so I didn’t need to worry about her feet not being clothed. 

But footless sleep suits are not an essential item of baby clothing. 

If your baby is born in the summer then you can simply strip them down to a sleeveless onesie on very hot days. 

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 baby up in pretty, different outfits. But they are definitely not baby clothing essentials!

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 babygrows, so that they don’t need to fiddle with poppers when doing them up.

It’s really up to you.

If you need more help with what to buy for your baby then you can check out this ultimate baby registry checklist. It’s got everything you need, and none of the stuff you really don’t.

← Previous
Delicious Christmas mocktails to enjoy during pregnancy
Next →
Free unicorn printable activities for kids