Essential Gear for Baby’s First Year

I am constantly asked for recommendations regarding what baby gear to buy. Most parents don’t want to buy too much but they want to be sure that they have what they need when they bring home their baby. Here is my list of essential baby gear for your little one’s first year of life. Feel free to comment if you’ve found a product that works well that you would like to share or if you see anything I missed.

Disposable diapers We prefer Pampers. We bought 1 box of Pampers newborn and that was enough for Bo — he was a big boy to begin with. We were in size 1 at about 3 weeks old. We buy all of our diapers at Sam’s Club.
Diaper pail
We have the Diaper Champ and love it – it keeps the smell in, but just uses regular kitchen trash bags, so there are no special liners to buy

Changing Table
We bought one that is part of Bo’s bedroom set and put a changing pad on top. I anticipate that it will eventually end up housing a TV and gaming system.

Changing Pad/Changing pad cover
Buy a cute cover that matches the room at just use a waterproof pad on top of it.

Waterproof Pads
I love these Waterproof Pads. I use them everywhere — on top of the changing pad, in the crib, on the floor. Wonderful. We only had 3 when we brought Bo home. Now we have 9.

We prefer Huggies. We buy them in bulk at Sam’s Club.

Diaper bag
I splurged and bought a designer one. I plan to use it as a messenger bag after the baby stage ends. That’s how I justify it. πŸ™‚

Diaper rash cream
Desitin, Baby Aquaphor, Lanisoh Cream

On the Go
We had a Bijorn and it was okay but not the best. I prefer the Mei Tai carrier. It is easy to roll up in the diaper bag and more comfortable for both Bo and me to use. I also had a Hot Sling (we weren’t big fans) but several of my friends love them.

Bunting bags
JJ Cole Bundle Me. This is one of those totally optional purchases – blankets work just fine but this was good when it was very cold.

We bought the Graco Metrolite Travel System in Emerson. It has the infant seat and a stroller that the infant seat snaps on. It worked great and now is converted to a regular stroller. We also have a Jeep Stroller that I love to use for walks and a little umbrella stroller that we keep in the car at all times — just in case.

Car seat
Graco SnugRide in Emerson (part of the Travel System). He outgrew his first carseat at 5 months (many babies make it the entire first year in this — Bo was too tall) and now he has a Britax Marathon. You’ll want an extra car seat base for 2nd car. We borrowed two others (one for Mike’s car and one for my mom’s).

Travel Mirror
We have a mirror that we really like. Now that Bo is older he likes to look at himself in it. It’s funny. πŸ™‚

Cart Cover/Highchair Cover
We use this all the time and I absolutely love it. It was handmade. I bought it from Lazella Rose Boutique. It washes well too! Definitely a necessity unless you don’t mind your baby touching other people’s feces.

We used Platex VentAire. You want some stage 1 and some stage 2. Bo started taking 1 bottle of expressed milk a day at 1 month old and we’ve never had any problem with him taking a bottle.

Burp Cloths/Cloth Diapers
We used Gerber cloth diapers as burp cloths and they worked well.

Milk Storage
I used the bottles that came with the pump and then froze in Lanisoh bags.

I highly recommend the Svan highchair. It is expensive but it grows with the child and is nice looking. The only downside I’ve found is the plastic tray will not fit in our dishwasher.

I wish I would have had a Boppy for each floor. Unnecessary, but it would have been nice. Definitely a must have if you are breastfeeding – there isn’t a day we haven’t used it. Make sure you purchase 2 covers. You’ll want a backup when you need to throw one in the wash.

I highly recommend the Bumkin Brand. They are washable and waterproof. They are about a million times better than any other bib I’ve found. While they seem expensive, they are worth every penny!

We just bought the regular Gerber spoons.

Sippy Cups
Bo prefers the Advent with the more flexible spout. They wash well and really are spill-proof.

We bought the small Gerber bowls with lids.

Portable High Chair
We have the Fisher Price Healthy Care Booster at my mom’s house and it works very well. You could even use this as a primary highchair.

Ice Cube Trays/Silicone Mini-Muffin Trays
These are great for freezing homemade purees.

Bath time
Baby Hooded Towels
You will need 2 or 3 hooded towels – depending on how often you do laundry (which will be much more often, trust me!)

Baby Washcloths
Lots of washcloths,we probably have 20. We use at least 4 a day — one at each meal plus bath time.

Baby Wash
We use Johnson’s shea and cocoa butter bath. Bo has very dry skin.

Baby Shampoo
We use the classic Johnson’s formula.

Baby Lotion
We use Johnson’s Soothing Naturals.

Baby Brush and Comb
Ours came in the kit with thermometer etc. Great item to register for!

We used a Safety 1st bath seat in the sink until about 6 months. After that he sat in the sink on his own until about 9 months and then we transitioned to the regular tub.

Baby soothers
Bo didn’t like his at first but now it is the ultimate soother at naptime and bedtime. I’m not looking forward to breaking the habit but at the same time, it has saved our sanity

Bouncy Seat
We had the Zanzibar bouncer and used it a ton during Bo’s first 4 months. You definitely want one.

We had the SnugGlider from Graco. You sit the carseat in it and Bo loved it. My mom had a regular swing at her house that he also enjoyed.

We play classical music each night when Bo goes to bed and at naptime. We have several cds we alternate in his Sony Dream Machine. It has definitely helped us to establish a routine and he knows that classical music equals sleep. I also love this Sleepytime cd.

Receiving Blankets
We used these mostly for playing on the floor. I spread a blanket for tummy-time. Unfortunately, he no longer stays on the blanket!

Plush Blankets
No need to register for or buy these – we received lots of blankets as gifts, people like to buy baby blankets. If you are looking for a gift, I love these from Ambajam.

Swaddle Wraps
We had a Swaddle Me but Bo never liked to be swaddled. All babies are different though and I would have one on hand just in case.

We’ve used these at night since day one. Bo loves them. We’ve had two in each size and he is currently in the large sleepsacks. You’ll definitely want more than one for when there is a middle of the night accident or blowout.

Small Blankie/Lovie
Bo has several lovie blankets but I didn’t put them in the crib with him until he was about 7 months old and I knew he had the cordination to move them. I was scared of SIDS.

Crib Mattress Pads
Purchase at least 2.

Crib Sheets
I would buy at least 3. I really like these ABC ones from Pottery Barn Kids.

Optional. We have a Cubs one but it is probably something we could have lived without. He only used it for about four months. Once baby can sit up it should be taken down.

Baby Monitor
We have this multi-child one from Graco and it works great. We decided to go ahead and get the multi-child version when Bo was born so we can monitor two rooms at once.

Portable Crib
We have a Pack ‘n Play. It is good for traveling and for grandparent’s house. We have one at my mom’s and one at our house. We really only needed one. I recommend that you purchase at least 2 sheets and changing covers too.

Baby Clothing
Start out with just a small number of basics in newborn sizes. If you need more very small stuff, or preemie size, then someone can run out and get it for you. Bo was too big for the little outfit I took for him to wear home — Mike had to go shopping! New babies don’t need much more than pjs. You also want a few onesies and knit pants. I wouldn’t get carried away unless you know you will need something for a special occassion.

Cotton hats for sleeping, warm hat for going out. Bo wore hats to bed for the first three months.

One piece sleeper type outfits. We prefer Carter’s Sleep N’ Play
and Children’s Place stretchies. Bo lived in these the first 3 months.

Bo never wore his newborn socks. He was born with gianormous feet!

Medicine Cabinet Supplies
Infant Kit
Register for a little kit that comes with clippers, nasal aspirator bulb, thermometer, a few other essentials. I am amazed at how quickly babies nails grow!

Baby Tylenol
Good to have on and hand and to give before shots.

Hand Sanitizer

For Mom
Nursing bras
The only ones I would recommend are the Medela Sleep Bras. (Yes, you will wear a bra to sleep…) Other than that I found that just lifting my regular bras and tucking my shirt in them worked the best and was less messy.

Nursing Pads
I leaked the first month and then eventually they figured out what was going on and the leaking stopped. During that time I used disposable pads though – I like the Lanisoh ones best. They seemed softer than other brands and didn’t wrinkle under my bra as much.

Breast Pump
I bought the Ameda Purely Yours Carry All and it’s been great to have the bag to carry it — we take it everywhere. Definitely a must have. I know most people go with Medela but a friend recommended this one to me and I’ve had excellent success with it.

Nipple cream
I used Lanisoh lanolin for the first 2 months. Then eventually I didn’t need it anymore.

Baby Book
I didn’t start Bo’s book until after we were home from the hospital. Many websites that list what to take to the hospital recommend this book. I recommend a laptop. You can type the birth story and publish it on your blog. Then it is all documented to write in the actual book later. πŸ™‚

Baby’s Room

We have this one and it works well.

Trash can

Baskets for toys

Basket for extra changing supplies
We use this one in blue. I also have three of these in Bo’s closet to hold random things. They are cute and work well.

I recommend having a drawer or small basket with changing supplies on each level of your house so you don’t have to go all the way up/down to the babies room to do a quick diaper change. This was very helpful those first few months. Now, I always change Bo upstairs. I consider the stairs and heavy lifting part of my exercise program. πŸ˜‰

We use the Evenflo Soft And Wide Gate to separate the living area on the main floor from the kitchen. At this point, it’s just easier for Bo not to venture in there. We love this gate and it works very well.

We use the Summer Infant Deluxe Wood Walk-Thru Gate at the top and bottom of the stairs going to the second floor.

We do not have a gate at the top of the basement steps but luckily with the way our house is setup we can close a door that keeps the basement stairs off limits. At the bottom of the stairs we have a semi-circle of the Superyard XT to keep Bo out of the cat litter.


With the kitchen off-limits, childproofing hasn’t been too difficult. We have locks on the bathroom cabinets and plate covers on outlets. We don’t really have to worry about doors and such yet, but I am sure that day is coming. This kit looks like a good way to start the childproofing process.

Keys, Rattles, Teethers
Tropic Isle Playgym
Fisher-Price Ocean Wonders Aquarium
Activity Table
Push Toy
Melissa and Dougwooden toys – Rattles, blocks, food, puzzles, etc.
Laugh n’ Learn Kitchen
Fisher Price Amazing Animals Train
Baby Inchword
Fisher Price Giraffe
Art Cards

For Mom
Secrets of the Baby Whisperer
Baby Wise
Baby Wise II
Super Baby Food

For Baby
Whose Nose and Toes?
That’s Not My Car…
Belly Button Book
Harry the Dirty Dog
The Little Red Hen

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4 Responses to Essential Gear for Baby’s First Year

  1. Soupy says:

    I loved the Miracle Blanket for swaddling vs. the Swaddle Me. Keifer always escaped the Swaddle me. The Miracle blanket is a bit more, but worth it.

    I love the Ergo carrier (ergonomically correct for babie’s hips and mama or daddy’s backs!). You can wear on front, back or side/hip. We also have the baby insert pad.

    I loved the Hotsling.

    For books, I also liked the “Healthy sleep habits, happy child” for sleeping tips, and “The Happiest Baby on the Block” for the tips to use w/newborns (the 5 S’s)

    For a crib “lovie” we have this- it is safe to use- and K loves it still

  2. Binky says:

    Not for everyone, but a few other items to consider are…

    Humidifier – especially useful for a baby in cold and dry climates.

    White Noise/Sound Machine – Great to drown out the noise from passing cars, noise in the house, etc. At night it even doubles as a sound machine for your own room since you’ll hear it through the baby monitor. The machine from Brookstone works great.

    Baby Sleep Positioner/Flat Head Pillow – My daughter is almost 2 and her head is still a little flat from constantly being on her back as a newborn. I wish I knew about these things sooner.

  3. Ameda Purely Yours Breast Pumps says:

    It doesn’t seem so noisy to me, but I do it at home. I might be more aware of the noise if I were pumping at work. It makes a small beeping noise with each pump in addition to the motor noise. Sometimes I put a pillow over it to muffle the sound if the babe is next to me and on the verge of sleeping.

  4. baby slings says:

    I don't know what I would have done without our sling when my second came along. It was such a huge help. I would pop baby in and go about tidying up or entertaining my oldest. It was nice having bubs right there with us. πŸ™‚