C is turning one this week. I don’t share a ton of “baby stuff” here, but I know we were looking for the baby must-haves before and after he was born. So here are the items without which we don’t think we could’ve survived.
It’s hard to believe he’s going to be one. A lot of people can’t believe he’s grown up so fast, but I’m more shocked that my husband and I are still alive! Well, mostly me.
If you’ve been following along my motherhood journey, you won’t be surprised to hear there were many moments I wondered if I’d ever make it through the day, week, month. Making it to 1 year was rarely in my mindset! But here we are with a very happy, healthy baby boy!
This is a cumulative list for the past year. I don’t think you need all of these things before your little one is born (I’ve starred those that are great from day 1). We really tried (and still aim) to limit the number of “things” we have. We also had no idea what we were doing, so a lot of these things I never knew existed until I was faced with a specific need!
Our Baby Must-Haves
I really wanted to cosleep with our little guy before he came along, but my husband was nervous about it. A great compromise was getting a Dockatot. C slept in here (naps and overnight) until he was about 2.5 months old. We swaddled him and then lay him down. It kept him safe from himself and from us accidentally rolling over him.
We never had any problem with his sleeping in here. It really kept him warm and happy. It was also great for traveling and moving during the first few months – he was in the same bed every night, so we didn’t have to worry if he’d feel uncomfortable.
There are a number of accessories you can get with it, which we did, but the only one I think is necessary is one extra cover when you have to wash one (usually in the middle of the night – hah!)
When he grew out of it, we sent it to my sister for her baby and they used it until he outgrew it! It’s also available at Target and Amazon. So it’s basically a must-have for all the babies in our family!
2. InLighten Bouncer*
I was looking for a baby “rocker” or “bouncer” before C was born and landed on this InLighten Bouncer (also available from BuyBuyBaby). I liked that it had a fairly small profile and wasn’t crazy expensive.
I’m not exaggerating when I say that this bouncer saved our lives as new parents. We put C in it in the first week or two. When my husband went back to work, I had to figure out how to pump after he ate and keep him upright. I put him in the chair and he was a happy camper, usually falling asleep.
He sat in the chair as a place to keep him safe and contained until he was six months old (oftentimes while I pumped or we made dinner). The bouncer has lights, music,vibration, and those two hanging characters. We rarely used the lights, music, and vibration.
That bunny though. He and C must have gotten into a fight because there were a few tears before they became best friends. He and the cloud just never hit it off, I guess!
3. Car seat/stroller*
So this one is a bit more vague. We had a car seat/stroller combination made by GB Lyfe. It wasn’t the greatest thing ever, but I will say that having the car seat that snapped in and out of the car and into the stroller was a godsend. Naps were never interrupted because we had to change “venues.” If you’re in a debate, we can’t encourage you enough to get a system like this!
4. Glass Emery Boards*
I’ll never forget my husband’s face when I told him we needed to get nail clippers for our little guy when I was pregnant. He had never thought about cutting a baby’s nails!
And if you know the madness with which babies can grow nails only to scratch their precious faces, you know how important nail care is.
A friend recommended these crystal/glass nail files. With these files, you can kind of just go to town on their nails and soften up all the edges that miraculously pop up out of nowhere without fear of hurting them. We bought the 3-pack, keeping one in his backpack, one by the changing table, and one near the living room. Because you NEVER KNOW when you’ll need a nail file!
And insider tip – nails are best done when your baby is asleep. I don’t know why, but sleeping babies don’t seem to care if you do their nails!
5. formula pitcher
When we added formula to our daily feeding setup (read about that here), we had some annoying experiences with losing milk when we shook the containers we were using to make a batch of milk. I’d never before thought about a formula pitcher that mixes formula powder into water, but my need became urgent and mandatory.
I was only able to find a formula pitcher online when I went to search and we LOVE this thing! Formula can last 24-48 hours after mixing (depending on the formula). You can pour what you need from the pitcher and warm as needed for your kiddo!
6. Milk Cooler
About four weeks into the grand life of pumping, I found a cooler in the bottom of my pump bag. It had four small containers and a perfectly molded ice pack. It’s intended to store breast milk after pumping. We used the cooler for breast milk and formula as needed
This cooler went in the car with us for trips near and far. It’s been on plane rides to Sacramento (when we lived in LA), Portland, Austin, and San Diego! It holds up to 24 ounces of milk. This little cooler made travel totally possible for us! If you plan to ever leave your house (with or without your baby), add this to your must-haves.
*Side Note: I’m still planning to do the article of traveling with a baby in cars and planes. If you have questions before I get to it, however, please don’t hesitate to ask!
7. Inverted Plug for Car
This one is possibly debateable the first year of a kiddo’s life, but because I chose to exclusively pump, I needed to constantly be able to to “plug in.” I didn’t have a cordless breast pump (a novel invention in my opinion).
Anyway, I bought an inverter plug that let me plug in a standard electric cord to my car and pump on-the-go. I used this little thing for six months!
Now we have it in the car for whenever we might need to plug in – I’m assuming something that will forever be helpful for our family that likes to take car trips! It takes a standard cord as well as USB cables, but I wouldn’t plug them all in at the same time.
8. “Activity Centers”
I had a lot of internal battles between what our mothers considered necessities and trying to limit the number of baby items in our life as well as the neon-plastic that seems inevitable. I won’t lie and say that on a few occasions, our moms just bought us the item. And then it turned out to be the best thing!
The two times were for a play gym and a sit-to-stand. The play gym was a gift at 3 months (he also would have enjoyed it earlier). It entertained C and since he wasn’t rolling at the time, it was a great place to put him so we could have all of our hands. He also started grabbing and reaching for things soon after we got it.
Ours was this one (also at Target). We’ve since dismantled it, but he plays with the piano and the animals that hooked into the mobile. If neon plastic hurts your soul as much as mine, a number of friends have this one that’s much more muted and nice too look at!
My mom found a sit-to-stand by Infantino that has fairly muted colors. It has a variety of activities, changes height as your baby grows, and turns into a kids’ table, so we’ll be using it for a few years!
This is great once your baby can definitely hold her or his head up and is starting to engage with toys. At one year, C doesn’t love being in the seat, but he loves standing on the side of the table and playing with the animals (as well as dancing to the song it plays)!
Sadly I can’t find the same color palette, but this is same the activity center.
In searching for a baby bag, we really just wanted something that my husband and I would both feel comfortable carrying. We landed on this Diaper Backpack in Navy Blue.
It isn’t decked out with everything imaginable, but as it turns out, that’s better. We’re able to use the big space however we need from day to day.
I didn’t think much about our backpack more than that it worked for us, but then I started having friends ask about it. They often had complaints that there wasn’t any space in their backpacks because there were so many nooks and crannies.
Since this backpack doesn’t scream baby, it can be used long past C’s baby days!
10. Stick Sunscreen
Once that fateful day comes when you have to put sunscreen on a baby, your whole world comes crashing down. Ok. Maybe not actually, but trying to rub thick, mineral sunscreen into a baby’s skin who wants nothing to do with it is rather a frustrating experience.
We received this stick sunscreen (also available from Target) at our baby shower last year. Since babies can’t wear sunscreen for six months, I all but forgot about it. And then came that fateful day and I rediscovered the stick of magic!
You use quick motions to apply the sunscreen and then it rubs in quickly. I use it all over C’s body (whatever isn’t covered by clothes) and he doesn’t seem to care. And then I’ve successfully won the day because I put sunscreen on his baby skin! This will be on my list of baby (and kid) must-haves for years to come.