I don't know about you, but when it comes to everything for my baby I do SO much research, its almost overwhelming. There are so many products out there claiming to be the very best and choosing the right items can be overwhelming. As Taylor's first year is quickly wrapping up, I spent some time thinking about some of the essential items I have been SO happy to have!
All of these items can be found on Amazon, but I've included links to the product pages for you mamas who like to do a little extra research!
We tried to use a traditional swaddle with Taylor for the first few months, but he was quite the hand ninja! The Love to Dream Swaddles offer a more natural way for your baby to sleep and the sides hug tight to keep them feeling secure. We started with the Swaddle Up Original and then transitioned to the Swaddle Up Transition Bag once he started moving around more. The Transition Bag is great because it allows one arm to remain swaddled while the other is free.
I didn't even know that a crib rail cover was a thing until Taylor chewed all over the railing of his crib! I ordered this immediately and it's saved the rest of the crib from his teeth. I wish I had purchased this sooner. I also recommend the crib bumpers; not only will they protect your baby's noggin, but it will keep those pacifiers IN the crib.
In the days when Taylor did allow us to swaddle him, these blankets were my go-to! Not only are they incredibly soft and warm, but they also are quite stretchy, providing an easy and tight swaddle. I recommend this blanket to everyone - they're amazing and I honestly prefer them as swaddle blankets more than any other brand.
We never used the expensive Snuggle Me Organic or any products like that. The Boppy was just what we needed. It was so versatile - I could put it around my waist to provide support while breastfeeding, I could put a blanket over the top and place Taylor in it for a nap (while carefully supervised!) and it was a great tool for Taylor as he started to learn how to sit up right. It's also quite small, so I brought it with us on our first plane ride and it offered the perfect setup for Taylor to sleep, while saving my arms!
We don't have a large house, so finding items that were slim and easy to move around was key. We love this product because it took up hardly any space at all, was very quiet, and out of the 8 ways to swing and 2 directions, we were always able to find a position that worked for Taylor. We could also take the rocker off of the top and move it around the house.
We tried quite a few different pacifiers and these just stayed in the best. These rubber pacifiers are really soft and the shape is a little more natural than others we've tried. They are 100% free from BPA, PVC and phthalates.
I try to be conscientious about packaging waste and really struggled to find a feeding system that met all of my needs while minimizing waste. While I WISH there were reusable breast milk pouches for babies (as part of a feeding system), I was happy to find Kiinde because their products are recyclable and I like that you don't lose milk transferring from bottle to pouch to bottle (also saves on washing!). You can pump directly into a Kiinde pouch and use the same pouch to feed. I found this whole system incredibly easy to use and very efficient. I also love that you can squeeze the bag and let out almost all of the air, which means less gas! The only thing I didn't love was the bottle warmer, its REALLY slow, which is great for ensuring my baby's bottle is a safe temperature, but sometimes you need warm milk FAST. I will add that recently, I did learn about this brand, Junobie, that has reusable silicone breast milk bags, I haven't tried them myself, but if you're not going the Kiinde route, I might suggest checking these out.
I can't say enough amazing things about this cup! Taylor struggled with his first sippy cup, but he LOVES this Grosmimi cup. I bought the straw and the sippy cup attachment and he had no problem learning how to use the straw. My favorite feature is that the bottle itself can rotate, allowing me to move it while hes holding it or drinking to ensure the straw stays in the juice. He like to drop this from his high chair and it has so far survived the abuse!
So many of the grip products out there just DON'T stick. I will load them up with food and 10 seconds later, it's all over my floor. The Bumkins silicone plate stays put, even with my aggressive kiddo trying to rip it off and has three dividers that are perfectly sized, allowing Taylor to practice self-feeding. Silicone is great because it can withstand a wide variety of temperatures, including the microwave, oven and dishwasher (top rack). It's BPA-free, PVC-free, phthalate-free and lead-free.
We started solids with Taylor at about 6 months and while I have tried my very best to find ways to turn our meals into meals he can eat too, sometimes its just too hard or he has a picky night. These food pouches are great to have on hand for when you're in a pinch. They're ethically sourced from American farms and packed with essentials fats and proteins to support growth and brain development. Additionally, there are zero added sugars or preservatives and they're allergen-free! One of my favorite things about this brand are that they will ship you a kit to recycle your pouches - how amazing!
I've tried both bamboo and muslin wash cloths and I prefer the muslin ones way more. They're so soft and don't irritate Taylor's sensitive skin at all. We use these for post-meal cleanups and during bath time. Aden + Anais has muslin cloths too but they're way more expensive!
I've tried A LOT of diapers and have watched a lot of YouTube video reviews and I keep coming back to Pampers Pure. They're a little bit larger, providing extra coverage and they stay on great. They also don't give off a weird (chemical) odor when they're soiled like many other diaper brands do. They're free from chlorine, parabens, latex, and fragrances and come with adorable prints! I'm not picky about wipes, so I use a variety of different brands but my one suggestion is that if you have a wipe warmer, don't go for Water Wipes. They're placed in the package individually, meaning only one comes out at a time vs picking up the one behind it for easy access the next time.
Our house had hardwood floors so I wanted a safe surface for Taylor to play on. Yay! Mats are 6'x4' and made of high density 100% non-toxic, hypo-allergenic foam and I love the neutral color palette. You can also buy additional tiles to make it larger for your space.
There are pros & cons to this travel system, but I think that the pros outweigh the cons here. This stroller is INCREDIBLY light at only 20lbs, almost 7lbs lighter than most other strollers and its so easy to fold. I can have Taylor in my arms and fold it one-handed. As a travel system, I love the flexibility to just pop Taylor's car seat in and out with ease, without having to have purchased a bunch of accessories or removing the seat. It also stores standing upright, which is a space save for our single-car garage.
The cons to this travel system are that it doesn't have a hard plastic, secure cup holder (don't go walking with cups/cans with an open lid) and the car seat is a bit snug. Taylor has always been on the larger size, but I felt likely he started to feel snug in there by about 7 months - he's coming up on 12 month and using it just fine, but I know there are roomier car seats out there. Additionally, this stroller is not built for more kids. When the day comes that we decide to have Baby #2, we will have to go out and purchase a second stroller. My sister just purchased the Mockingbird Single to Double Stroller, so I am hoping to test this one out sometime soon!
There you have it - my list of essential items for baby's first year. I'm feeling so nostalgic reading through all of these . . . I can't believe that next month we will have a TODDLER. While I have had a hard time finding the inspiration to post during quarantine, I am hoping to pull out the stops for Taylor's first birthday and I look forward to sharing it with you!