After the excitement of giving birth to a beautiful new baby, you need to adjust to your new role as a mother -- you don't want to worry about basic baby supplies. You want to focus on the care of your baby, not on the stock in your baby nursery. Most new mothers plan and purchase a basic layette for their baby while pregnant to avoid those mad dashes to the store during your baby's first hours and days at home. A layette provides new parents with the security of knowing that everything they need for their new baby is washed, folded, and safely tucked away and organized in the nursery.

The term layette itself can be confusing. A full layette often includes your baby's complete set of clothing and equipment. A basic layette includes only those baby clothes and linens your baby needs in the first 6 weeks, often including undershirts or onesies, sleepers, sweaters or baby jackets, socks or booties, hats, receiving blankets, bibs, bedding, diapers, towels, washcloths, and toiletries.

A typical layette can cost anywhere from $300 to more than $1000. A layette checklist is very helpful when shopping for your basic layette. If you follow your list, it can steer you away from those impulse purchases and help to keep your costs down. Every store has its own list of recommended items for a layette, some recommending more undershirts or rompers than others. You will want to decide for yourself how many of each item you need depending on your preference, climate, and how often you can or want to do laundry. Stick to your list, not the store list!

It is best to shop for your layette 2 to 3 months before your due date. You can purchase your layette on the spot and bring it home, or some stores offer a layette planning service. If you don't know the sex of your baby, you can choose your layette for a girl and a boy. The store keeps your full layette until the birth of your baby. Once you have your baby, a friend or family member calls the store to tell them the sex of your baby, and the store delivers the appropriate layette or arranges for someone to pick up the layette and bring it to you.

When purchasing pieces for your layette, it is recommended to choose baby clothes in size 0 to 3. Your baby will very quickly grow out of newborn clothing, so if you don't mind rolling up sleeves, you can get more out of your layette by buying in larger sizes.

Save all receipts so items can be exchanged if you have a premature baby or if your baby grows faster than expected.

If you are still unsure about what you need, ask close friends or trusted relatives who have had children what they found most useful in their layettes. Listening to those who have gone before you can prevent you from over-spending or buying those items that sound good but end up unused.

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