From pacifiers to strollers, there are dozens of options when it comes to products for baby’s first year. It’s enough to make your head spin, but you don’t have to go at it alone. We’ve been there and can give you the lowdown on what you really need and what you can do without. Here are Truly Mama’s top 10 first year essentials for baby.
Ask any new mom and she’ll likely tell you her little one loves to be held. And while it’s great to soak up all the sweet newborn cuddles, it’s also nice to have a cozy place to put baby down when you need some freedom. The Boppy Newborn Lounger softly cradles your baby, so they feel like they’re being held while offering you a safe spot to put baby (under supervision, of course) so you can take care of yourself, too. Jillian loved her Boppy Lounger so much that she always recommends it to new and expecting mothers.
There are dozens of baby swings on the market, but this one stands out. The Fisher-Price Cradle ‘n Swing rocks in multiple directions with six different speeds and comes with plenty to keep your baby entertained. Soothing lullaby tunes can help calm a fussy baby and the mobile provides different shapes and colors to look at. Best of all, the cozy seat cover is machine-washable, so it’s easy to take care of any stains from spit-up or those inevitable diaper blowouts.
A baby monitor is definitely a must have for baby’s first year. This one comes with lots of features that make your life easier, like two-way audio, allowing you to calm baby with the sound of your voice from anywhere in the house. You can also program this monitor to activate the video at a certain noise level, like for a baby cry instead of a baby simply rolling in his sleep. The screen also automatically switches to black and white night vision when the lights are off, so you don’t have to change the setting from day to night.
With three different cameras, you can use this monitor in multiple rooms, making this an essential that you can continue to use as your family grows. You can scan between rooms or use the monitor’s split-screen option to view two rooms at once.
Another really great feature of this product is that there are “remote controls” on the device, allowing you to pan and zoom in on the video footage of your baby, in the event they move, roll, or you just feel like you need a better view (I’m notorious for zooming in to make sure he’s breathing, because I’m that mom). For me, this is one of my most-used features on the monitor!
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Whether you plan to breastfeed, formula feed or both, washing, sterilizing and preparing bottles is likely to be a big part of your life during baby’s first year. This sterilizer is big enough to sanitize six bottles at once, and the accessory tray holds small items like breast pump parts, nipples, and pacifiers so you can easily clean several baby items simultaneously.
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For formula feeding, Dr. Brown’s mixer is high on our list of first year essentials for baby. This formula mixing pitcher conveniently holds enough for four bottles so you can prepare, mix and store formula ahead of time. The mixing blade helps dissolve formula and prevent clumps. Plus, this mixer is dishwasher-safe and easy to clean.
Any experienced parent will tell you that kids (and babies!) often come down with colds and illnesses. Since babies can’t blow their own noses, they need a lot of help clearing their nasal passages. Enter the Nosa Frida Snot Sucker, which allows you to remove your baby’s pesky boogers by literally sucking them out. This little gadget has a filter, so no need to worry about inhaling your baby’s snot. As gross as it sounds, this is a must-have for baby’s first year, helping you both breathe easier when your little one has a cold.
Most babies start reaching for and grasping toys somewhere around three to six months of age, and while there are tons of baby toy options out there, this one offers many different features in one. Its multiple loops give baby many places to grasp, and the soft, pliable plastic makes it easier to hold than other types of rattles made out of hard plastic. This rattle isn’t just for small babies though—once your baby is old enough to sit up and crawl, this toy becomes even more fun, making noise and softly bouncing on the floor. You can also refrigerate this toy and offer it as a cool teething soother when your baby starts sprouting teeth.
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This play mat is a great way to take tummy time up a notch. The soft toys actually encourage your little one to reach, roll, and crawl to get to them. The different textures also offer a sensory experience and a safe way for your baby to explore their surroundings. And since the toys are attached, you won’t lose them once your baby is big enough to grasp and toss. The padding on this mat also offers some extra cushion and you can easily fold it up for storage or travel.
This push walker toy is designed for children ages nine months to three years, so it’s more suitable for later in your baby’s first year, but definitely still a must-have. Even before your baby is old enough to pull up and push it around, the toys and interactive gadgets on the front offer plenty of entertainment and learning opportunities. With more than 100 songs and light-up piano keys that introduce colors and numbers, this toy can help develop both gross and fine motor skills. You can also remove the activity center on the front from the walker itself, so it really functions as two toys in one.
This is another toy geared toward older babies and young toddlers, but it’s never too early to start working on your child’s coordination. This sports activity center comes equipped for either basketball or soccer play, and an LED scoreboard that counts to 10. Lights and sounds will also give your little one plenty to look at while helping to develop large motor skills.
The one drawback with this activity center is that it can tip over, so always supervise your child as they play with it. It’s also about two feet tall, so while it’s marketed to kids as old as three years old, your child may outgrow it before then.
There are tons of jogging strollers to choose from and some of them can cost you hundreds of dollars. This one is moderately priced at around $115, and is a great option for walks, runs, and hikes on sidewalks or trails. Even if you aren’t a runner, this stroller glides well on all kinds of terrain and easily maneuvers around corners in coffee shops or stores. Unlike some other jogging strollers out there, the Expedition ELX jogging stroller is lightweight and easily folds up to store in your garage or place in the back of your car. A dependable stroller is definitely a must have for your baby’s first year, and this one offers both comfort and ease.
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Reviewed by Chaunie Brusie, RN, BSN…