Baby essentials for the first year
While I was pregnant, I read so many blogs about baby essentials for the first year. I wanted to keep things minimal and only bring things in that we truly needed and would last us a while. I feel like this is a common theme with new parents but it is still so easily to get wrapped up in a long list of products marketed to babies and naive new parents (raises hand). My general thought was “can we go without this?”, “is this just marketed to a baby and not truly helpful?” (i.e. baby washcloths…which are the same thing as an adult washcloth) and I also asked “do I want this in our home?”
There were a few things I splurged on and I don’t regret it. I know they’ll last us for future children and many of those items we are still using a year later. I also searched high and low to bring in things that were beautiful. This may not be a priority to you, but for me it has made the transition to having a baby seem so much more intentional. It has also felt like it’s kept my brain calm from all the clutter.
For this blog post I wanted to focus on our must-haves. Things that we truly used and got us through the past year!
You probably know by now that every baby is different. So what worked for us may not for you – and that is okay! My tip: keep the tags on until you use it and keep the packaging if possible because you can always return something or sell it on a secondhand app like Mercari or Poshmark.
Speaking of, I bought so many brand new items on my wishlist from Mercari. I would definitely check there first and turn on search notifications if you’re looking for something specific. If possible, I’d also borrow from friends and family. We borrowed a snoo, playgym, tub, and a few other essential items from my sister which I was so thankful for! I will also add, we were generously gifted most things on this list from friends and family with our baby shower.
Absolute Must Haves-
Taking Cara Babies: One of the best gifts someone got me is this course. Seriously. I watched it so many times and read all of their blogs as well. Willow started sleeping in her room and sleeping through the night at week six and I believe thats because we used this method!
CPR Course: This is the other best gift I didn’t know I needed. My sister gifted this to me and Jordan and so I watched it one day…which I’m glad I did. We had an incident where we already used CPR and I can not express enough how necessary this is! For $29, please get this or make sure you’re up to date on infant CPR.
Bibs Pacifiers: Not only cute, these worked great for Willow!
Snoo: Like I said above, we borrowed this from my sister. I am glad we had it for a few months but I’d rent it if I were you because you never know if your baby will like it or not. I did love that we had a basinet to move around the house and the transition to the crib wasn’t hard at all!
Snuggle Me Organic: This has to be hands down our most loved and most used product. This is my go-to on getting gifts for friends from now on. I recommend getting two covers, even though the lounger itself washes great.
Silky Tots Cover: You may want one of these covers or crib sheets if your baby comes with as much hair as ours 😉
Snoo swaddle: We used this even when we stopped using the Snoo! I love how easy it is and makes diaper changes simple.
Magic Merlin: There were a couple months when we used this. We transitioned Willow to a sleep sack when we’d find her in the morning completely broken free of the suit! I’d say I had a love/hate relationship with this but I’m putting it on the list because we used it for a few months.
Kyte Sleep Sack: This was our next step after the swaddle and the Merlin. Once again, we transitioned Willow out of this when we’d find her in the morning completely escaped from the sleep sack. I think babies have a way of telling us when their ready to move on 🙂
Charlie Crane Rocker: This is one of those splurges we asked for that our sweet friends got for us. You’ll use this for maybe the first five months of your baby’s life – which isn’t long but I loved moving this around the house with me. I also have some of the fondest memories of bringing Willow to my shed and letting her rock in this rocker while I sewed. This is not a necessity, but if you’ve been eyeing it I will attest that it is beautiful, useful and I’m so glad we had it.
Crib: We decided to splurge on a dresser that will grow with Willow instead of a crib she will sleep in for a few years. So this one from Ikea is perfect!
Blackout curtains: These were not blackout enough for us so we have layered these over the blackout shades below. They’re mostly for decor!
Blackout shades: These are hiding behind bamboo shades and work perfect. For the price, I’m totally fine manually folding them up and down!
Hatch Rest: I have really liked this sound machine!
Fan: I didn’t know we would need a fan but I’ve found Willow sleeps better in a chillier room. This fan has worked great and is cute!
Mattress: I love this mattress! It can be washed and is safe and breathable for baby.
Hatch Changing Station: We borrowed this from my sister but I’m glad we did! It’s fun and helpful in the beginning to track your baby’s weight to make sure they’re eating enough. It connects to your phone easily.
Diaper Pail: This has been great and I love that we don’t have to use bags
Willow Breast Pump: This is the breast pump I chose and I loved it! I had the second generation and found it new on Facebook Marketplace. I used the reusable containers and had a little bit of trouble with them but nothing huge. I believe since they’ve come out with a third generation that has fixed many issues! I will note, this is not what you want to use if you are exclusively pumping (which I did for about six months). I saw a decrease in my supply because I am not sure it’s powerful enough for exclusive breast feeding.
Manual Breast Pump: Towards the end of my pumping journey, I discovered the manual breast pump. If you have to choose one or the other, I would have to choose this. Seriously, nothing works like it!
Glass Bottles: Something about plastic bottles is gross to me so I was drawn to glass bottles from the get-go. These last forever because of the silicone exterior. I learned about these after dropping another glass bottle and having it shatter – I have dropped these many times and they haven’t broken!
Goat Milk Formula: At 8 months, we started supplementing with formula and I am so thankful for Mt. Capra. This formula comes as ingredients…which I know sounds like a hassle but it has been one of the best things for us! I actually enjoy weighing out the ingredients every 1.5-2 weeks and keeping the formula in the fridge. I also appreciate the transparency of this brand and the supportive Facebook group. I seriously can’t say enough great things about it!
Beaba: I was unsure if I’d actually use this, so I bought it secondhand on Mercari. This is one of my favorite baby tools we’ve gotten! We use this about every other day, depending on how much food I want to make and store. We also got little containers to keep the food in and Willow lights up when she sees the containers brought out because she knows she’s about to eat. Making her food has been something I’ve really enjoyed and I know we’ve saved SO much money this way.
Forage Feeder: This is not only cute but so practical from a teething baby to a baby that’s learning to eat solids. We fill this with blueberries, avocado, bananas and Willow loves it. It’s messy, but so worth it in my opinion. My tip: get the clip to attach to a bib!
Reusable Pouches: I love filling these with the food I make in the Beaba or yogurt! Here is another option.
Stokke High Chair: I’ve always adored this chair! My friend Angela’s son had one as a baby and it has grown with him over eleven years…so I knew it was worth it. I just love that it slides right up to the table and creates family time over meals – which is a big deal to us. We opted for the tray which is optional but we’ve used it a lot since Willow eats a lot of little meals throughout the day.
Gathre Bib: We’ve tried two types of bibs and this one won for us! It’s small, folds easily and wipes perfectly.
Maxi Cosi Zelia Travel System in Sand: I know researching strollers and travel systems is a huge deal. Since we live in an area where the most walking we do is around our neighborhood, I knew my needs for a stroller were few. I wanted the car seat to be lightweight, the stroller to be easy to fold, it to grow with my baby, not have a lot of extra stuff to store, and to be pretty. This stroller hits all of those things!
What I love about this system is everything is included. It starts as a bassinet and then folds into different seats as your baby grows. I loved the idea of having a bassinet but disliked the thought of just one more thing to store in the attic after a few months. We have loved this travel system! At 11 months we are still using the car seat and I love how it easily attaches to the stroller when we are out and about.
The only thing we have had a problem with is one of the front wheels gets stuck often but honestly it isn’t a huge deal to us. I think this is a great option when you want the features and look of a Nuna or Uppababy but don’t want to spend too much. I do think the Maxi Cosi Zelia is worth every penny and don’t have any complaints!
Clothes & Accessories–
Since babies grow so fast, I kept my clothes list small. I like to think more minimal in this area.
Baby Bag: I love this backpack and how versatile it is. This isn’t a “baby bag” but we use it as one and love it! Plus, we just love the Able company as a whole.
Bag Organizer: this fits perfectly in the backpack we use and can easily transfer to other bags!
Kimono Wrap Onesies: This style is the only onesies I recommend…what baby wants a tight piece of clothing stretched over their head?! The extra snaps are worth it in my opinion. We also found sets of these at H&M.
I also picked out special outfits I loved from Rylee and Cru, Quincy Mae, Mebie Baby and found some on our babymoon from some local shops. I also just love to make Willow clothes. My tip for clothes is to not buy too much. If you have a washer and dryer, you really don’t need a ton!
Toys & Books
Playgym: The playgym we borrowed from my sister is discontinued but it was from this same shop. There are so many other cute options out there like the Lovevery gym and this cute one.
Hazel Village: We just love these little dolls!
Slumberkins: Currently the gratitude bear is Willow’s favorite. We call him Beary Grateful and she is always carrying him around which is top of my list for favorite things she does at this age.
Plan Toys Ball Punch: This little toy is so fun!
Tegu Blocks: We love these magnetic wood blocks and can’t wait to get more when Willow is a little older!
Jesus Storybook Bible:This is the best little Bible for kids – or even a great read for adults! I love how it brings every story back to the Gospel. We read this every night with Willow and I can not recommend it enough 🙂