Mommy Certified: Baby Must-Haves For The First Year
There’s no shortage of baby stuff on the market. If you’ve been wondering what you really need to get you through your baby’s first year you are not alone. Check out our baby gear expert Malika Lewis’ list of things you won’t want your nursery or diaper bag to be without.
Crib & Mattress
Often new parents opt for a pack ‘n play or bassinet for the first few months but you’ll most likely want to transition to a crib at some point during your baby’s first year. Make sure the crib meets all current safety standards and that the crib has never been recalled.
As for a mattress, choose a firm crib mattress that is appropriate for newborns because mattresses that are too soft can increase your baby’s risk of SIDS . Always try to buy your crib and mattress new. If you choose to buy second-hand (from someone you trust), do your research and make sure everything is in working order before your baby arrives.
Bumpers, blankets, quilts and loose blankets that are included is most crib bedding sets really have no place in your child’s crib. All you will need are three to five fitted crib sheets and a possibly a waterproof pad to outfit her crib. Lightweight sheets are perfect year round to keep your baby warm in winter and cool in spring and summer
We recommend: Muslin Crib Sheets Aden & Anais
While it’s fun to have cute outfits for special outings, think comfort and ease for everyday wear. Most infant clothing is sized according to a certain stage or age range (preemie, newborn, 0-3months, etc). Get whatever size will fit while giving her a little room to grow, remembering that sleepwear should fit snugly. Speaking of growing, since babies sprout of their clothes so quickly, accepting hand-me-downs is a great way to save money.
For Organic Basics clothing, we recommend: Under The Nile
Many newborns enjoy sleeping in swaddle blanket. Generally speaking, swaddling helps babies feel snug and also helps them from startling themselves awake. Remember to experiment with swaddling – try with both arms in, one out or both out, whatever works. Many swaddle blankets carry double-duty as privacy blankets or burp clothes so make sure to have at least three on hand.
We recommend: Aden & Anais
Since 2005, the American Academy of Pediatrics has recommended the use of sleep sacks over the use of quilts or loose bedding. Think of a sleep sack as warm, cozy blanket that baby cannot kick off, or more importantly, kick over her head. Get the appropriate size for the weight and height to ensure their sleep safety.
In the beginning, you will most likely change your baby anywhere from 10-14 diapers a day! Make sure you are prepared with a 40-count box of newborn diapers if your little one is less than 8 lbs. If he weighs more, you can start with size 1 and go from there. Make sure not to load up on smaller sizes until you are sure which brand you prefer. If you plan to use cloth diapers, many cloth diaper services offer a starter set of diapers and accessories to get the ball rolling.
Start with a few cases and then buy in bulk as you discover which brand works best.
We recommend: Diapers & Wipes from Honest Company
While not absolutely necessary (yes, we’ve heard of a towel), many moms appreciated a designated surface to change their baby. Whether it’s attached to a dresser or a pad you put on the floor, changing pads can be very useful when you want a clean surface to change your little one.
We recommend: Patemn Pad
Having a well-stocked diaper bag or backpack can be extremely helpful when you want to leave the house. If the bag of your dreams isn’t exactly a diaper bag, don’t worry; just make sure it is big enough for a couple of diapers, bottles and a change of cloths and your belongings as well.
Even if you plan on breastfeeding as much as possible, a breast pump will allow you to bottle feed your child as needed. Options include simple manual pumps, or more advanced electronic pumps. The most expensive breast pump may not be the one best suited for your lifestyle so ask your doctor or a lactation consultant for advice.
For information on your workplace rights as a nursing mother, visit United States Breastfeeding Comittee
Bottles & Sippy Cups
Whether you plan to breastfeed or formula feed your baby, you’ll need plenty of bottles to get you through the first year. Try not to stock up on too many of one brand before your baby arrives as you will need to see which one you and/or your baby prefer.
Check out our Top 10 Baby Bottle suggestions
A good breastfeeding pillow brings your baby to nipple height without you having to hunch over or hold too much of the baby’s weight. This may be extremely helpful as you recover from delivery. Of course when you are not in the comfort of your own home, you will not necessarily have access to your pillow. Consider purchasing a sling or carrier to help you out when you are on-the-go.
We recommend: the Boppy
The benefits of reading aloud to your child are endless. Once they are 4 to 6 months, they will most likely show interest in what you are reading and want to join in on the fun. As they get older, they will become more familiar with the characters and story lines. Board books have thick pages perfect for little ones to chew, mouth on or throw! If you are having a baby shower, have your guests bring at least one book they loved as a child to build up your child’s library collection.
We recommend: Whose Toes Are Those?
Bouncy seats, or bouncers, are a safe place to sit your baby long enough for you to get a little work done. Whether you choose one that is automated or bounces when the baby kicks, make sure it is light enough for you to move from room to room.
We recommend: BABYBJÖRN Babysitter Balance
Bibs & Burp Clothes
While they do not need to match, you are going to need a lot of bibs and burp clothes. Burp clothes can also double as wipes or wash clothes while cloth bibs are great to catch drool. As you introduce solids to your infant, you’ll want to buy wipable bibs with pockets to catch food.
We recommend: Zebi Baby bibs
Small plastic bowls are easy for you infant to handle and safe should they decide their bowl looks best turned over on the floor. Feeding bowls do not necessarily have to be designed for an infant but make sure they are BPA- and phalate-free and refrain from placing in the microwave.
We recommend: Boon Catch Bowl
The long handle helps parents navigate the spoon into the child’s mouth while the rubberized tips are small enough for a baby’s mouth. They are also soft enough for your little guy to handle when he wants to prove his independance and try to feed himself.
We recommend: Beaba spoons
Even though many high chairs allow you to recline the seat for bottle feeding, yu may hold off on getting one until your baby is ready to start solids. If you are short on space, consider one that hooks on to a table or attaches to a dinning room chair.
We recommend: OXO Sprout High Chair
Infant Car Seat
Infant car seats are specifically made to keep the tinest of babies safe while riging in a car. While infant car seats range in weight and height capacity. It is very unlikely your child will fit in the seat last 10-12 months. For a guide on what type of car seat to buy, check out the National Highway Safety Administration’s car seat guide.
If you live within walking distance of most of your needs, you’ll want to think long and hard before investing in a stroller. Some are lighter and easier to fold, while others handle the bumps of city streets with ease. Once your child is 3 to 6months old, most parents opt for a lighter weight stroller for travel. Choose one that is age appropriate and can be folded with one hand in case junior is simultaneously perched on your hip.
A carrier can be both a helpful way to be hands-free around the house or to bring your child with you when you don’t necessarily need a stroller. There are an array of baby carriers on the market to choose from including slings, wraps and soft structured carriers. Consider who will actually be using the carrier and at what age your child will be. It all depends on your comfort level so you may want to try them out in the store or borrow one from a friend before making a decision.
For information on the benefits of babywearing, visit Babywearing International
Health & Safety
Purchase a basic first-aid kit to deal with minor medical problems or create your own. Make sure to include any perscription medicines and your doctor’s phone number.
Most infant health care kits include a digital thermometer, nasal aspitator, soft bristle brush and comb, nail clippers and a medicine dropper. Although you may never use everything, it’s a good idea to have these items on hand just in case.
It’s never too early to think about creating a safe environment for your baby to explore. Start out by covering outlets, reguraly checking your smoke and CO2 detectors, anchoring large pieces of furniture to the wall and placing hazardous cleaning supplies, medicine etc out of your babies reach.
Malika Lewis is a experienced baby concierge and all around baby product guru. She is also a certified child passenger safety technician.