Must-Haves For The First Year
Now that I have two kids, I wanted to take time to update this post based on both of their needs and likes. Honestly, I didn’t have to add or change many must-haves for the first year, but I did remove some that I feel didn’t serve us and added a couple that Remy used and Miles didn’t.
I did a roundup of things I found useful during his 0-3 month stage, so I won’t repeat that here, just add on with things that we’ve used from that point on. Definitely refer back to that previous post if you’re in the newborn stage or welcoming a little one soon!
These are the things that have worked for us and I’d recommend, but make sure to check around at similar posts to get a more comprehensive look at what other babies have found useful during their first year. All babies are different, so keep that in mind when planning for your little one. I hope you enjoy!
As I’ve mentioned probably a million times, we didn’t want a ton of toys because we don’t have a ton of space. For the first year (and often beyond), children are fascinated with anything and everything, so it’s likely that they can be easily amused with every day things around the house (Miles loves Donut’s toys and kitchen utensils). These are toys that either I felt I couldn’t recreate at home or gifts that he loves.
Skip Hop Activity Center: this has been a pivotal piece in our home and one of our big must-haves for the first year since he was old enough to use it (probably not until closer to six months because he has always been so tiny). For me, it’s great because I can put him in it and get things done without having to worry about him crawling or moving around (ideal for showering/cleaning/working, etc.). For him, it’s great because he can get stimulation from the attached toys. Now that Remy has gotten better control of her neck and head, she’s been introduced to it and is loving it just as much.
Roll Again Tower: this was a Christmas gift from a friend and he’s really enjoyed playing with it. It’s been amazing watching his brain figure out to pick up a ball and actually put it on a ramp to go down.
Sit-to-Stand Learning Walker: if you follow me on Instagram, you know we have been getting a lot of use out of this as he learns to stand up and work on walking. Before he had any interest in that, he loved playing with the front part, which detaches from the walker and allows you to just use it as a stand-alone toy. He loved the buttons and sounds, which of course you can always turn off if you don’t want to hear Old McDonald in your head all day long.
My First Cell Phone: Miles LOVES my cell phone and has even locked it on several occasions when I’ve let him play with it. Because of that, I searched for one for him that actually looked like a cell phone. A lot of the ones I saw in the store were big, bulky, and expensive. I found this one on Amazon for $11 and he was enamored with it. It even comes with it’s own little charging cord when it gets low on battery. He still tries to get my phone, but this one distracts him for sure.
Fisher Price Deluxe Kick ‘n Play Piano Gym: This was a great purchase for when he was younger because it was good for practicing tummy time. It evolves as your child gets older and you can change the setup for when they’re able to sit/stand so that it’s still useful. The keyboard is also detachable once you’re done with the mat and hanging toys, so it’s likely something he will continue to use as he gets older.
Early Learning Centre Tummy Time Roller: I got this for Remy as something to help her with tummy time and to be able to gradually increase the amount of weight she puts on her arms. I showed her physical therapist, who also agreed that it was a good find!
Lovevery Play Kit: I asked for a Lovevery play kit for Christmas and we’ve gotten a lot of use out of this as well. Along with the toys are explanations for why each toy is included, the suggested order to introduce them, and additional ways to use each toy. There are kits available for different age groups and the toys included are developed by experts to be developmentally appropriate for your child. You can order a one-off kit or there is a subscription service to receive one every few months.
Baby Merlin’s Magic Sleepsuit: We transitioned Miles out of his swaddles once he started breaking out of them at night. There are a couple transition options, and what worked for us may be different for you, but we used the Merlin Sleepsuit because I had heard such wonderful things from people. We transitioned him around 3-4 months and this worked really well at keeping him asleep and calming any residual startle reflex. My suggestion would be to get two because they take a long time to dry even after putting through the dryer. You can use the code ERIN15 for 15% off if you buy off the website.
Note: this is what we used with Miles, but we found that Remy transitioned right into a sleepsack (next list item) and skipped this stage altogether.
Sleepsacks: This was the final step in our sleep journey, and we got there on accident. I had to wash both sleepsuits at the same time and thought that I could do so before his next nap. He ended up needing to go to sleep before they were done, so I grabbed one of these that I had previously ordered to see if he would fall asleep in it (I had tried previously and he wasn’t ready for it). He fell asleep for his nap and we never went back. They make sleepsacks with no sleeves as well, but I liked having the sleeves during the winter months. You may not even need this step as some babies just go to sleep with nothing, but this is what we’ve been doing.
Portable Sound Machine: Both our kids use sound machines and I feel like it’s definitely one of our must-haves for the first year. We use a Google Home as our sound machine, which I like because I don’t have to use an app or reach down to physically turn it on/off (it’s in kind of a weird spot). I simply tell it to play white noise and it’s done. I do have a backup noise machine, however, in case I need to travel or the internet goes out. I went through several different kinds, and finally settled on this one. I bought one to try and then immediately bought another one because I was really happy with the sound volume, quality, and different options.
Reclined Bath Seat: This seat worked great until he was able to sit up on his own.
Keter Bath Seat: This was a hand me down from a friend and I love it for keeping this water-loving baby contained in the tub. It suctions to the bottom of the tub and I haven’t had a problem at all with him trying to get out.
Skip Hop Baby Bath Rinse Cup: Miles loves this because they have the same one at his swimming lessons and I’ve been using it with both kids to minimize the amount of water that gets in their face when rinsing their hair.
Munchkin Formula Dispenser: this was a great purchase that I used all the time when we were out and about on walks (obviously we weren’t outside much this winter). There are three compartments and it also comes with a bonus single holder as well. If your baby is past bottles and formula, it’s also a great option for snacks.
Spoonful One Puffs: these are a little pricey, but I don’t give them to him all the time so they’ve lasted a really long time. I liked these puffs because they contain all 8 allergens in one puff, so it’s a quick way to continue exposing him to them without serving them all individually. They also make a mix-in for younger babies and crackers for older, although by the time he’s that age he will probably get exposure from regular foods.
Bambas (or similar): these peanut butter puffs are great for continued exposure to peanuts, assuming that your child isn’t allergic of course. They’re originally from Israel and were one of the reasons why the guidelines were changed for when to expose your child to peanuts. It used to be that you were supposed to wait until after a year to expose your children, but then data came out that indicated that children from Israel had a much lower incidence of peanut allergies, which they contributed to feeding these to them at a young age. Now, it’s recommended that children be exposed earlier rather than later, and these puffs are a great way to do so. Plus, they’re delicious and I eat them all the time as well. The link above is to Amazon, but if you’re near a Trader Joe’s, they sell bags for $1.99.
ezpz Mini Mat: I got this silicone plate when Miles started eating and I love it. It sticks to the counter and he can’t get it up at all. It cleans super easy and can be thrown in the dishwasher as well. It’s a really great quality and I’m glad I bought it. It also comes with a travel bag so that you can take it with you to restaurants, which we’ve done a couple times!
ezpz Tiny Cup: made by the same company as the mat. I’ve been working with Miles on drinking out of this cup, which works sometimes, but he’s getting the hang of it. I also have a sippy cup on order for him to start learning with on his own, so I’ll update this post if it works well! Also, this cup is such a cute size I like just looking at it. 🙂
NumNum Pre-Spoon GOOtensils: I learned about these utensils in the Feeding Littles course I took (more on that below), and bought them to help him figure out utensils. I’ve been slacking a bit on giving them to him to practice with, but when I do he seems to enjoy them.
Honey Bear Straw Cups: I could not for the life of me get Miles to figure out how to use a straw until I got this. Is it a glorified, bear-shaped honey container? Yes. Did he learn how to use a straw? Yes. Almost immediately. I don’t know what made this different from other cups, but this is what taught him to use a straw and came recommended to me from other moms when I shared about having trouble with him learning. Definitely recommend.
Obviously, you don’t have to take online courses, but I took a couple to learn and get answers to questions that I had about sleeping/feeding/etc.
The Ultimate Guide to Starting Solids: my friend Marissa is an RD and focuses on nutrition during pregnancy and childhood. I took her course (SUPER affordable at $24) when Miles was just at 6 months because I had no idea how to start with feeding him. This course is a good general overview of what/how to feed babies and introduces the concepts of purees and/or baby led weaning so that you can get an idea about both. She also has sample meals and feeding schedules which can help give you a good starting point.
Feeding Littles: one of the things that’s suggested once you start feeling your baby solids is to get them exposed to the top eight allergens early and often. Some of them, like peanut butter and dairy, were easy to introduce using a puree feeding method, but I struggled at figuring out how to give him things like shellfish and regular fish. I knew a lot of friends who had had success with baby-led weaning, so I figured that this would be a good option to try. My only issue was that I was terrified of him choking and I also didn’t know quite how to offer him bigger sizes of food, so I wanted to take this course to answer all my questions (also highly recommended by many people I know). I felt much more confident after taking it and we have been eating this way since then. If you’re interested, you can use the code ERINSINSIDEJOB for $10 off the course.
What are some of your must-haves for the first year? Leave them below in the comments!