Saturday, August 27, 2011

Baby's First Year Necessities

A dear friend who is pregnant with her first baby recently asked me, "What were the things you couldn't live without with your babies?"

I remember being newly pregnant and seeing the gazillions of "new baby essentials" listed on websites and in magazines and hoping I'd register for and get what I really wanted and not just a bunch of STUFF that I'd wish I could exchange for more diapers. So what do you really NEED for the baby's first year?

My real advice, by the way, would be more like, "Put your money toward a second honeymoon before the baby arrives," or "Start a college fund instead," or even "Tell people to save their money and babysit for free later on." the top of my head, and based on going back over pictures of Ethan's first year, here (in no particular order) are my TOP TWENTY BABY'S FIRST YEAR NECESSITIES {a.k.a. "My favorite STUFF people gave us for our babies."}

1. Robeez shoes in a 6-12 months and/or 12-18 months size. They're best for the cruising and early walking phase. There are plenty of knock-offs around (just look for leather-like material and a stretchy opening) but I have found Robeez at Ross cheap.

2. A play mat, preferably with fun stuff to explore on the mat itself and overhead, so they can use it on their tummy (supervised, of course) or their back.

3. A bouncy seat. These are perfect to give mom's arms a break. I'm an attached mama who loves to hold my babies but I still had to eat or type an e-mail occasionally! My boys also liked to be rocked (usually with my foot) to sleep in them, too. Some vibrate, play music, etc. Options are fun!

4. A Bumbo seat is super-fun for "helping" baby sit up and for supporting them as they learn. Babies feel so big in it! I used mine as a booster seat when Ethan started solid foods, too. They're about $30 new and are best for babies from the time they can hold their head up well to when they become mobile, so I recommend borrowing one of these or getting one second hand.

5. Boppies are great! They make a good nursing pillow for mom and a nice pillow for Baby, too, for tummy time or on the play mat.

Ethan slept on his, too, but only when I was right next to him, of course. They're so comfy-cozy, who could resist??

6. Books are fantastic, of course, and the more graphic, the better! Babies love to be read it and love to look at the pictures. It's never too early to start building their vocabulary! Look for ones that have different textures they can feel, too.

Soft books they can chew and hold are also a great idea.

7. I thought (being an attached, baby-wearing Mom) that I wouldn't need a travel system. HA! I lasted a month before I BEGGED for one! This Graco version was just over $100 and worth every penny! The "system" involves an infant seat...

...a base for your car and the stroller itself, so that the carrier can be clipped into the car then into the stroller (hopefully while baby stays asleep). Most babies outgrow the infant seat (and/or become too heavy) at about 6 months, but the stroller can be used for years.

8. ALSO, a light, easily portable stroller comes in handy, too. These are for later in the first year but come in handy for short excursions or navigating small spaces. This "Jeep" stroller was great over rough terrain, including gravel parking lots and even dirt trails.

9. Baby toys. Ones they can hold (like this rattle) and ones that are crinkly, have ribbons to chew on, are bold in color, etc. There are oodles out there and it's fun to have a few tucked away in the car and diaper bag when you need to "change things up."

Ones with wheels are fun for encouraging crawling, too.

And...babies DO love looking at themselves!

10. Burp cloths. These can be as simple as a plain cloth diaper or embroidered, be-ribboned, etc. It's fun to have a few cute ones for when you're out and about. Obviously they're great to place over your shoulder or on your lap when you're burping your baby but they're great for wiping up all sorts of messes. They have a lot of other uses, too. You really can't have too many.

11. A stretchy blanket for swaddling. This one (above and below) had a "thermal" feel and was stretchy and oh-so soft. And it was made from organic cotton! It was great for nursing under, swaddling and just for Ethan to chew on. Get half a dozen, some fancy, some simple.

12. Somewhere for the baby to sleep near you in the early days. I had a mini Arm's Reach co-sleeper (as pictured above)....

...and bassinets are good, too, of course.

13. Somewhere for the baby to eat. High chairs are cute and may be convenient for some lifestyles but a simple booster seat works just as well, and typically young eaters like being "in the action" at the table, anyway.

14. While we're on it, I loved these soft-tipped spoons for Baby's first meals, the ones below are made by Gerber.

Along the same vein, these (Munchkin brand) mesh feeders were cool, too, for letting them try "big" food without the choking worry. Ethan's love of strawberries started here. I just let him go to town on them!

15. Diapers and wipes. I happen to love the Costco/Kirkland brand diapers AND wipes are top-of-the-line and a great value.

I do love the Pampers Swaddlers for the first few weeks. They have a line that changes color when the baby pees, which comes in handy in the early days when you're wondering if they're wet.

16. Lots of simple sleepers, onesies, creepers and rompers to go with the seasons. You can look through this post to see what MY baby wore day in and day out! :) Most of the time, comfort is your one and only priority but certainly have a few "cute" outfits for church, pictures, visits to Grandma's, etc.

A few pairs of light cotton pants for covering their legs if you'll be in air conditioning or cool weather. Think COMFY!

17. A baby bathtub. I can't recommend one because the one we had with Andrew didn't work very well (it was convertible = complicated) and Ethan took baths in the sink. I'd say, the simpler the better. You'll get 862 washcloths, too. You probably only need a half-dozen at the most. I usually just cleaned their faces with a washcloth and used my hands for the rest.

18. Burt's Bees (or some other type of body care/bath products). My vote is the more natural, the better. The Burt's Bees hair and body wash and lotion are wonderful and smell amazing. There are many other natural products available, Burt's Bees is just my favorite, and easy to buy from most big-box retailers.

19. Medicine chest items. I love these baby safety scissors. I would NEVER recommend trying to clip a baby's fingernails. Scary!!

A nasal aspirator. HATE using them, but gotta have them. GET THREE. Somehow they're always missing when you need one most.

These homeopathic teething tablets seemed to help when our boys were teething.

You need plenty of other items (thermometer, medicine dispenser, diaper rash cream, etc....these were just ones I had strong recommendations for.

20. A nursing cover (like the Hooter Hider, shown above). ANY nursing cover will give you the privacy and confidence you need to nurse whenever and wherever you need to.

THIS IS NOT AN ALL-INCLUSIVE LIST!! I didn't use pacifiers or bottles, I didn't have a crib, my boys hated wearing bibs, I didn't decorate a nursery, my kids were almost never there are some items missing. These are what I used and loved. If you see something missing, FEEL FREE TO ASK and I'll be happy to help!

And here are a few "would-be-nices" that come to mind:

1. A swing. Nice to keep baby happy (some nap in them, too) but expensive. Best to borrow or get second hand.

2. Hooded towels. You'll get 15 of them but you really only need one or two. Can you dry your baby off in a regular towel? Yeeessss, but these are so cute for pictures!

3. A jumperoo. This is great when they're getting tired of playing on the floor all day and are itching to be upright and can be used until they get too heavy/big for it. Expensive, so again, borrowed or second-hand is nice.

I HOPE THIS HELPS! Again, let me know if I've forgotten something or you want or need a recommendation for a specific item--I'm sure I'll be updating this list as more items come to mind!


  1. girl, your needs list is still way bigger than mine! i always tell people that an ergo carrier, diapers, and a handful of comfy outfits will get you through the first year. some "nice to have"s would be the bouncy seat, books, a few little toys, and a cheap stroller (because it's hard to try clothes on when wearing baby!). we do babies real cheap around here. maybe that's why we keep having them! ;)


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