Inside: This is my “favorites” list of must-have baby gear that is so helpful for your first year with your little one – many items you wouldn’t know or think to register for! I’ve used all of these items personally in my first year (or longer!) with my twin boys. Lifesavers!
My Facebook feed has been inundated with so many posts about new babies this summer, and it’s brought back so many memories of the early days. My twin “babies” are 2 now, but I still remember so clearly the intensity of that first year. It is all-consuming to have a teeny-tiny human being completely dependent on you for its well-being.
I didn’t really grow up around babies, so having 2 at the same time, with no family help, was an intense experience. I felt clueless in so many ways: When do they eat? When do they sleep? What do they need? What items are best?
I can remember walking out of their room after putting them down for naps and asking myself, “OK – do I shower? Do I sleep? Do I eat? Do I cry???” And I remember that many-a-naptime, I would be on the computer scoping out and researching what gear I needed. A need had come up and now I had to find something to fill it. Hours and hours I poured online, reading reviews, assessing, comparing…all during that little precious window when I could be doing something more useful – like sleeping or showering!
The bummer was that these were things I needed but many of them, I never registered for because I had no idea I needed them until I needed them! Does that make sense? Usually, you register for things they need when the babies are newborn, but you aren’t thinking about what they need when they are a little older. A lot of times, you don’t even know what those items are.
I just wished someone could have handed me a list and said, “Kate, this is what you need for their first year. Just get these. I’ve tested them out. You won’t be wasting your money. Just get them.”
Well, here’s my list for you. I skipped the obvious ones because no one needs to tell you to get a stroller or a carrier or high chair. Instead, I tried to include items you might not have thought to register for. Every item on this list I used with my boys for the first year – or more – and in my book, they were must-haves.
I hope this will save you time and get you some rest or that shower you deserve!
(This post contains affiliate links.)
This is one my most favorite items, and I got comments from people on this one all. the. time. It’s a hand’s free bottle system and it is amazing, especially if you have twins! This is perfect if you want to give your little one a bottle while he is in the stroller or if you are in the middle of making dinner. I know, ideally, we want that baby in our arms while we are feeding him, but that’s not always possible. And you can still use this even if you are holding him – we did all the time.
This is actually better than a regular bottle because less air is getting in – so less gas and tummy aches. Also, because the baby’s head doesn’t have to be tilted back to drink, less liquid escapes back toward the baby’s ears – so less ear infections! This works for formula or if you pump. We ended up changing the nipple to one the boys liked better, and it also might take babies some time before they can keep the nipple in their mouths themselves (We were using this by about 4 months old). I used this all the way until they were a year old and off the bottle.
If your baby is formula-fed, this is a game-changer! It’s referred to as the Keurig for babies. You put the formula in, set the dial for the brand you are using, press the amount and out it comes, pre-measured and pre-mixed. This was amazing for our middle-of-the-night feedings. I was so, so tired when they woke up to be fed, and just knowing I could press a button instead of having to measure out was ah-mazing!
I can’t enough say enough about this noise machine. It’s an adult noise machine, not a baby one, but what I love about it is that it gets loud enough to drown out house noise. We used the Dohm at first, but it wasn’t sound-proof enough. This is especially great if you have a smaller house or if your baby’s room is close to the living area. There were many times when I was rocking the babies to sleep, and this noise machine put me to sleep, too! My husband and I use one in our room as well! We used the white noise feature, but there are several sound options.
This came in handy as the boys were gaining neck control but not quite able to sit up on their own. We used bouncy seats all the time, but bouncy seats limit visibility at the time when the boys were getting curious and really wanted to look all around them. Unlike the Bumbo Seat which has often been criticized by OT experts, this one offers back and neck support while allowing the baby to be in an upright position. And we loved the tray feature! It was great for toys, snacks – and their Podee bottles. 😉 This one also travels really well. It folds flat, and when we traveled, we used it as a high chair.
Chances are, a swing is on your registry. But I would definitely recommend this one for 2 reasons. #1 – take a look at the base. Most swings are huge and take up a ton of room. This glider has a narrow base and is much more compact. #2 – the seat comes out and you can use it just as a bouncy seat! I love when baby items are 2-in-1! That seat is super-durable, too. Confession: my son is over 2 years old, and we still use that seat when I need to secure him while I’m putting his brother down for a nap! (Note – recently, I was trying to recommend this one to a friend while we were at Babies R Us. We didn’t see it there, so I’m not sure if it’s discontinued – but it is still available on Amazon.)
I searched around quite a bit for playards, and I’m so glad we went with this one. It has adapted to every stage our boys have been in. At first, we just used it as a play area. Then, as we wanted to give them more freedom, we would take sections and barrier off certain areas of the living room. And now, we moved it to the back yard, and the boys LOVE having their own play area where they can bring their trucks, rocks, and shovels. They love going in and out of the door and do not feel confined at all! This one also has a little phone and other play objects built in.
This is perfect for when your little one is just starting to explore a bit but still needs to be contained. As you can see, it has a canopy, which makes it perfect for outdoors: parks, backyards, and beaches. This one is amazing when you are going to someone’s house, too. It keeps your baby contained but gives them more room than a Pack N Play. It’s much lighter to transport, also. This is also super-fun if you have a play date at someone’s house. There’s plenty of room for a few babies to crawl around and play with their toys.
If your baby is a pacifier-user, I totally recommend these! These are one of the best as far as orthodontic integrity, and my boys would take no other! The glow-in-the-dark aspect is my favorite feature. Genius! It’s perfect if you need to find it in your baby’s crib in the middle of the night, and as your baby gets older, he can find the pacifier himself. We loved this item! It also comes in a Girl version as well as Unisex, 0-6 months.
This was another one of my favorite items. It always seemed a waste to me to get cute shoes for babies before they were walking. These booties were perfect! They are warm and cozy, and they stayed on nice and snug, with 2 snap sizes! One of my biggest frustrations with other socks and booties was that they were either falling off or my boys were pulling them off. I’m not saying these never come off, but it was rare and they were so much better than other booties we tried. These booties were the only things my boys wore the entire fall/winter/spring until I needed to get shoes for them. They are roomy and leave space for your baby’s feet to grow! (Note: I really can only recommend the fleece ones. There are ones in other materials, but I never tried them and the reviews seem to indicate that they were deficient compared to these.)
Once teething set in, my boys were drool monsters! It took minutes for their shirts to be soaked, and I didn’t want them to be wearing plastic food bibs with their cute outfits. These bandanas were the perfect solution! So adorable and baby-stylish – and they were thick and cozy. They never, ever soaked through.
This is the cup when you need to start transitioning from the bottle to the cup. This mimics a regular cup, so it starts preparing babies at a young age. Because it doesn’t have a spout, it is also recommended by dentists! I wouldn’t say this is 100% spill-proof (especially when the baby chucks it off the high chair), but it will not leak the way a cup with a spout will when it falls on the floor. When you look at the design, you wonder how a baby can get his drink out, but believe you me, they have no trouble! At 2, we are still using these cups!
We transitioned to this after we gave up the swaddle and never looked back! The material is light and breathable, so it works with any kind of pajamas in any season. I loved knowing our boys were safe and cozy in a blanket but without any danger or risk of suffocation. There’s plenty of room for their legs to move, and as they get older, it discourages climbing out of the crib because their legs have just enough restriction. Our boys still wear these at 2 years old, although I fear we are close to maxing out the biggest size☹️. But these sacks have served us well for just about 2 years.
A baby gate is another one of those items that you need that sneaks up on you real fast. All the sudden, your baby is everywhere! For me, that was everywhere times 2! What I love about this gate is that it is a strong, sturdy one that is pressure-mounted! No power tools required! It’s also a one-handed open/close, so it’s great when you have the baby in your arms and don’t want to climb over!
In addition to these items, I have a few books to recommend as well as a couple twin items.
14| Moms on Call Basic Baby Care 0-6 Months by Laura Hunter LPN and Jennifer Walker RN BSN
I remember when I first came home with the boys from the hospital and really wondered why no one forced me to take some kind of parenting class! Moms on Call was a huge help! It’s written by 2 pediatric nurses and was my go-to handbook for the first year. My most favorite features of this book was the emphasis on sleep and scheduling. There’s a great section about sleep training and getting your baby to sleep through the night after 3 months (worked perfectly for us!).
Also, it gives sample schedules for eating and sleeping as well as when to change and move on to the next schedule based on the baby’s age and development. I would have never known any of that if it wasn’t for this book. And it worked flawlessly. This book was highly recommended to me by many moms I used to work with, and I highly recommend it to you! There’s also the second book for the first year Moms on Call Next Steps: Baby Care 6-15 Months as well as a toddler edition. I’ve used (and am using) all 3 books.
15| The Happiest Baby on the Block by Harvey Karp, MD
This book was another lifesaver, especially during the first 3-4 months. Dr. Karp’s premise is that after a baby is born, it’s really like they are in the 4th trimester; recreating a similar atmosphere can work wonders in calming them and helping them sleep. He talks about the 5 S’s (Swaddle, Side/Stomach Position, Shush, Swing, and Suck). I don’t agree with him on his evolutionary philosophy, but his strategies for calming babies and helping them sleep worked like a charm! (And did you know they actually make machines that do the shush-ing noise??? I wish I had know that then!)
16| Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child by Marc Weissbluth, MD
I cannot recommend this book highly enough! (Do you see a theme in my book recommendations??? I’m all about the sleep!) Not only does this book give you step by step instructions for helping your baby sleep through the night (he gives different options to do this), but he gives the science behind why sleep is so important to babies. I loved that part! It is so critical to your baby’s development to be getting good, quality sleep for both naps and nighttime!
He also has a section on trouble-shooting and how to solve some difficulties your baby might have in sleeping. Not only that, this book outlines what good sleep looks like for your baby and how to get it all the way through the teenage years! This is one book you will want to hang on to and is so worth getting.
I’m including a small section on twin items (small as in 2!). Except for a few things such as strollers and baby-wearing aparatus, I don’t think there’s a big need (or market) for twin-specific items. However, I found these 2 items super-helpful for us!
Once your baby is old enough to sit up and be taken out of the carrier, the Buggy Bench is a great solution when you don’t have a shopping cart with double-seating! We used this one right up until the boys were 2 years old. You probably can’t do an enormous shopping trip using this seat, but I’m sure you already have a bunch of other twin hacks to solve that problem. Our boys did really well with the seat, and this would work well if you have 2 children close in age also. The seat goes up to 40 lbs!
18| Twin Z Pillow
This is technically a breastfeeding pillow, but we used it for everything! I breastfed our boys for 5 months, along with giving them formula, but tandem breast-feeding didn’t really work for me. However, when I did do it, this pillow was great! What I really loved about this pillow was that I could use it as a double boppy for them! We used this pillow up until the boys were mobile enough to crawl out of it. This was a life saver when I need to give them both bottles, have tummy time, or give them a cozy place to relax!
It is really tough to know what baby gear you will need and what items are a waste. In my book, these items were lifesavers for me. Being a mom is super-demanding work, but these items made my life a heck of a lot easier.
Thoughts? What did I miss? What’s on your must-have list? I’d love to know!