Here is a list of some things that I couldn't have lived without the first year and some things that I still consider necessities.
Aden and Anais make the greatest baby blankets, especially to use this time of year. They are 100% cotton muslin and are incredibly soft and lightweight. We were easily able to swaddle Carter in these blankets and he didn't get too hot. They're also great to take on walks to drape over the car seat to keep the sun out of your baby's face. I received several sets of these as baby gifts and couldn't figure out why there were so popular but now I know why. Now that Carter has gotten older we've purchased their sleep sacks. They're just as great! I can't say enough wonderful things about their products. Yes, they're a little pricey but well worth the investment.
|aden + anais swaddle blankets|
|aden + anais sleep sack|
|Halo Micro-Fleece SleepSack|
Fisher Price Rock 'n Play Sleeper
I don't know what we would have done without this! My sister-in-law used it with my nephew and had given it to us a few weeks before Carter was born. I stashed it away in the nursery and hadn't given it much thought until we came home from the hospital. I vividly remember Carter falling asleep the afternoon we came home and we set it up in the living room so he could sleep and we could keep an eye on him. He curled up in it and slept for over two hours! I immediately knew we were on to something. The greatest thing about it is it's very portable. I could put him to sleep in the living room and at night we would move it into our bedroom. Once Carter was three weeks old we moved the rock 'n play into his room for naps and bedtime. When we traveled it was easy to take along and Carter always had his own bed. We even took it with us down to the beach and he slept in it! I cannot say enough great things about it. I did worry about the transition from the rock 'n play into his crib. He was so cozy and slept at in incline, so going from that to a hard, flat mattress seemed terrible. But that's where our great nanny came into play. I came home from work one day and she told me that Carter took both of his naps in his crib. It had gotten to a point where Carter was too big for the rock 'n play and was simply uncomfortable. So for any moms out there that are stressed about the transition, don't worry! They will do it when they're ready.
|Rock 'n Play Sleeper|
The NoseFrida Snotsucker
Sounds crazy right? I could not live without this contraption. The nasal aspirators that they give at the hospital are a complete joke. They may work to get snot that is practically dipping out of your child's nose, but when they get a cold and have serious congestion then you can forget about it. When Carter got his first cold I was so paranoid that he would get an ear infection so I was obsessive about keeping him clear and the snotsucker did the trick! I would always put a drop or two of Little Noses in each nostril and let that loosen things up and then off I'd go. If you don't have one, go and get one immediately. You can order it from Amazon and if you're a prime member it's free two day shipping. How much easier can it be?
Yes, they're incredibly expensive and a little terrifying as a first time mom but invest in a good one. I highly recommend the Medela Freestyle breast pump. A dear friend of mine let me borrow her Freestyle pump and it changed my outlook on pumping altogether. I got one of the hands free bras to use with it and I felt free- to an extend. No longer was I confined to a chair while pumping. At nights I would wash the dishes and actually do things around the house, to a certain extent, while pumping. In the mornings I dried my hair and did my make-up while pumping. It even made a world of difference while sitting because I could read a magazine and move around easily. It's very lightweight and travel friendly.
|Medela Freestyle Breastpump|
Get a water bottle to have with you at all times. For some reason the second you sit down to feed your little one or pump you will become so dehydrated you don't know what to do. It happens at the flip of a switch. I was given my water bottle at one of my showers and I didn't think much of it but ever since that day my water bottle hasn't left my side. Seriously. Ask any of my friends or family members. I take it with me everywhere I go. Plus, drinking a lot of water while nursing/pumping helps you drop the lbs!! Yay!
|CamelBak Water Bottle|
This book basically gives you pointers on how to get your baby on a schedule. I know that there is a lot of controversy about whether or not you should put your child on a schedule and feed on demand, but I can't say enough great things about our success with Baby Wise. I've had several friends use this method so I thought I would give it a try. I had Carter on a schedule by the time he was two weeks old. A lot of people claim that I just got lucky with an easy baby, and while I do agree with them to an extent, I also attribute his great mood and sleeping patterns to the fact that I kept and keep him on a schedule. Of course there days when we don't make it home in time for regular nap time but for the most part he eats and naps at the same time every single day and has since the day he was born. He takes wonderful naps, eats like a champion and sleeps 11-12 hours every night. That's not to say that we didn't have bumps along the road, because we certainly did, but this book helps you create stability in your baby's life and I think that is key to a happy and healthy child.
|On Becoming Baby Wise|
Invest in a nice diaper bag because you will carry it everywhere you go and you'll quickly learn that it will replace your handbag for a significant period of time. I wanted a nice bag that didn't scream DIAPER BAG! I also wanted something that Chris wouldn't mind carrying when he was out with Carter. In my opinion, most diaper bags are terrible. I ended up with a black Kate Spade bag very similar to the one below. I personally like mine better because it has outside pockets which are great for quick access to your phone, a bottle or a burp cloth. I scored mine at the Kate Spade outlet on a holiday weekend and ended up getting it for 50% off.
|Kate Spade Diaper Bags|
Yes, they're expensive too (are you catching on to a pattern?) but invest in one! They've even drastically improved since Carter was born. It is nice to be able to see your baby when they go to sleep. The newer ones will sync with your iPhone which is incredible. I'm sure by the time we have baby number two (not anytime soon) they will have improved even more. Chris always loves an excuse to buy an electronic gadget.
|Summer Video Monitors|
Some folks use baby carriers a lot and others never take them out of the box. I really loved ours. We got the Beco Gemini carrier. I heard that the Ergo places a lot of stress on your shoulders and this carrier is designed to distribute the weight across your waist. You can wear the child facing you or outward facing. Once they're bigger you can move them to your back. I used this a lot when Carter was really little to go on walks when we didn't want to fool with the stroller. It was also a life saver when I flew with Carter by myself. I was able to strap him on and go through security without having to take him out. It was essential that I had the use of both arms and hands when traveling alone.
|Beco Gemini Baby Carrier|
I don't know what we would have done without this over the winter. It's the greatest! They suggest that you don't put your child in a heavy coat when strapping them into their car seat. Plus, they get really hot once they're buckled in. This allows you to put your child in the car seat in their regular clothes, throw a toboggan on their head and zip this up over them and they will stay toasty warm. If it's really windy outside then you can even pull this up over their head until you can make it to the car or inside. They also make bigger ones for toddlers so you can use them in their stroller.
|JJ Cole bundleme|
If you fly a lot, or even once, you need this bag. It allows you to put your car seat and base in one bag and you can strap it onto your shoulders and off you go. I have even had Carter strapped on the front, worn this on my back and pulled a suit case through the airport! It can be done and this is a life saver.
|J.L. Childress Ultimate Car Seat Travel Bag|
This is a great little chair to use when your child is first learning to sit up and eat solids. Definitely invest in the tray because it's perfect to feed them and easy to clean. It's also very portable!
|Bumbo Chair & Tray|
I preferred the Boppy over My Breast Friend. I absolutely hated having to strap on the MBF and it never stayed up high enough to support Carter. I loved the Boppy because I could easily move it around to get the right support I needed and it also doubled as a great support pillow for Carter on the floor or bed. I highly recommend the slip-covered one and get at least two slipcovers because one will inevitably be in the wash.
|Boppy Slipcovered Pillow|
Bravado Nursing Bras
These are great nursing bras. They're very comfortable and actually provide decent support when it's time for you to actually get dressed and go out for the day. They also make great nursing tanks. For a cheap nursing bra, perfect to sleep in, check out Target. They have some great options.
|Bravado Nursing Bras|
There will be plenty of times you'll need to feed your little one and you may have an audience. This is a great cover because you can see what you're doing and move the baby around easily from side to side. They actually make some cute patterns so you feel somewhat stylish. I used this a number of times in the car to cover up while I was pumping as we cruised down the highway.
|Bebe au Lait Nursing Cover|
This is a great app you can download on your iPhone. It has a timer which is a perfect when it comes to feeding your baby. You can also track your child's feedings, diapers, sleep schedule, outings, medical history, milestones, etc. The greatest thing about this app is that you can have multiple users under one account. We added our nanny as a user so we can check the app at any point throughout the day and we can see what Carter's schedule has been. This is very helpful when it comes to his meal times because I try not to feed him the same thing for dinner as he had for lunch. It also makes you feel like a part of his day when you know what he's up to.
Plastic bibs with a pocket
I don't know what we'd do without these bibs. They're waterproof and the pocket is essential. It catches all the food that mysteriously seems to fall out of a babies hands and mouth. You can easily wash them in warm soapy water after meal time and they're dry and ready to go just in time for the next one.
|Bumpkins Waterproof SuperBib|
I love these bowls because they come in different sizes and have lids. There are plenty of times when Carter doesn't finish everything in one sitting so you can easily snap the lid on the bowl and place it in the refrigerator. Once they get a little older you can suction the bowl to the table and they can feed themselves. They're great to travel with too.
|Munchkin Stay Put Suction Bowls with Lids|
Dreft Laundry Spray Remover
Once your little one starts to eat solids it's amazing how dirty they get. I have found stains in places on Carter's clothes that I can't even believe. This is by far the best strain remover I've found. It's great to get red wine stains out too! The only store I've been able to find it in is Target.
|Dreft Laundry Stain Remover|
It's important to have a comfortable chair in your baby's nursery. You'll spend many hours there feeding your baby, reading stories and rocking them to sleep. There are a lot of different options; however, if you're looking for one that takes up minimal space I highly recommend the Monte Luca glider. I did a lot of research on gliders and I had several moms recommend this particular brand but I wasn't sold on the look at first. I thought it was too modern for my taste. However, it grew on my and I love it now! Chris and I ran into a lot of problems with the chairs because of our height and most of the backs didn't come up high enough. But this one does the trick. They're covered in a stain resistant suede microfiber which is perfect considering you'll have milk stains on it in no time.
|Monte Luca Glider|
|Glider in Carter's nursery|
Amazon Prime Membership
This is probably the number one thing I couldn't live without. I had only ordered a handful of things in my lifetime from Amazon before Carter came along. I was given a complimentary prime membership through Amazon as a first time mom so I thought I'd give it a try. Now I don't know what I would do without it. Once the evenings and weekends roll around the last thing I want to do is go out and shop for household necessities. I rather spend that time with my family so I've resorted to ordering as much as I possibly can from Amazon and drugstore.com. The free two day shipping is hard to beat and the subscribe and save is worth gold! I have diapers, diaper genie refills, and wipes set up on the subscribe and save. I never have to worry about running out of any of the items because they're scheduled to be delivered on our time line. When we've traveled places in the past I've even ordered diapers, etc and had them shipped to our location beforehand so we didn't have to travel with extra baggage and we didn't have to go shopping upon our arrival. If you don't have it I highly recommend getting a membership today!
These are just a few things that I consider to be essentials for at least the first year of Carter's life. I'm sure I'm missing some things but I wanted to pass along my suggestions with the hope that it will help some other mom's out there.
Let me know if I'm missing out on anything!