Preparing for a newborn can be overwhelming, to say the least. Shopping for all the necessary gear, looking into child care, picking doctors and a hospital, and actually figuring out how to take care of a baby are all huge parts of the equation. But, all the little unknowns can feel confusing, too, especially when it comes to getting your baby's clothes ready. Do babies need a special laundry detergent? And, can you put baby clothes in the dryer?
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, because babies have such sensitive skin, it is suggested that you wash baby clothes before they're worn. Using a mild, fragrance-free detergent can also help prevent any skin irritations on newborn baby skin. Given the many free-and-clear detergent options available now, using a detergent that is baby-specific is no longer a must.
Before washing any baby clothes, consult the care label, as noted by an article in Martha Stewart. Most clothing that requires special care will have instructions to help you wash and dry them correctly. It is worth noting the specifics of washing baby sleepwear, which, by law, have to be flame-retardant. In general, detergents don't strip away the flame-retardant properties of sleepwear, but soap flakes can, according to the article.
The downside of free-and-clear detergents is that they may not be the best at removing all stains. As Martha Stewart noted, because these detergents are less alkaline than others, they don't have very strong cleaning properties. This is where line-drying outside can be helpful, as the sun can help remove stains from clothing. (It can also fade colored clothing, and so, works best on whites.)
Unless noted specifically on the clothing's care label, there is nothing that says you can't dry baby clothes in the dryer. Vintage or particularly nice baby clothes might benefit from a line dry rather than being tossed in the dryer, as Martha Stewart mentioned, but other than that, it should be safe to dry your baby's clothes in the dryer. (You might want to use the gentle cycle though.)
Because you will likely be doing an infinite amount of laundry over the course of your child's young life, using the dryer, rather than line drying, can save you a lot of time in the long run. Consider the dryer thing a small parenting win, and go with it.