I am so proud of my little guy for all he has accomplished in his first year of life. But I have to honestly pat myself and my husband on the back for surviving this first year ourselves! Lord knows it was definitely not easy. However, it was probably the most rewarding year of my life. I remember back when I was registering for my baby shower and how overwhelmed I was at all the gear I didn’t understand how to use and all the options to choose from. I decided to put together a little list of the gear we used and appreciated the most this past year…and let’s be honest, we probably couldn’t have survived without!
Medela Breast Pump:
Nico and I had a lot of trouble with nursing in the first few months. He had issues with latching, and even when he did latch, he would only do so for a short time before ripping away and screaming. It was incredibly frustrating and made things really difficult when we were out of the house. I’m still not exactly sure why to this day, and thank goodness he eventually got the hang of things to where we have a wonderful nursing relationship. But those first few months were spent hooked up to a dreaded pump. I was given a breast pump from my insurance company (a different brand in which I will refrain from naming). It was absolutely terrible. I mean terrible. While it was supposed to be a double pump, only one side would really work at a time, and I would spend about an hour each time pumping multiple times a day. When it was time for me to go back to work, it just wasn’t going to be acceptable for me to take one hour breaks three times a day. I mean, that’s just crazy. With a bit of help from my mother-in-law (god bless her), I forked over the cash to purchase a Medela Pump and Style, and I am SO glad I did. It really made the transition back to work much easier knowing I had a reliable pump to make sure my son got the nutrition he needed from me.
The Dairy Fairy Nursing & Pumping Bra:
This bra is an absolutely MUST for working, pumping moms. There are many different size adjustments (since we are constantly getting bigger and small all day long), clips that come down for nursing and hooks that pull to the side for hands-free pumping. The best part is that it is also a regular bra! No more changing in and out of your regular vs. pumping bra. This bra is incredibly comfortable and you can wear it all day long. I wouldn’t have been able to get through work without this thing. Amazing.
Aden & Anais Burpy Bibs:
Nico spit up a lot in the early days, and these bib/burp cloth combos were the best for clean up. We also really enjoyed this brand for their soft swaddle blankets.
Uppababy Vista Stroller:
Now this item was definitely our splurge item (and many thanks to my parents and sister for making this splurge for us). For a family that doesn’t use a stroller very often, maybe this wouldn’t be practical. However, this stroller is essential for us! Nico used the bassinet that came with this stroller for two and a half months before we moved him into his crib. We used the adapter for the Chicco carseat which made it easy for us to transport Nico from car to stroller in the early days. The best part about this stroller for us though is the convenience for our city lifestyle. The basket is HUGE, and I was able to take so many trips to the grocery store, Target, etc. without having to use a car. I didn’t drive much during the week, so I would load up this stroller and go out for the whole day with Nico on foot. In the wintertime, we had TONS of snow in New York, and I don’t think I would have made it over the giant mounds of ice and snow without this monster of a stroller. When Nico got bigger, we also ended up purchasing the Uppababy G-Luxe umbrella stroller (which I love as well; it’s fantastic for subway use because I can carry it up and down the stairs myself, and it’s also great for traveling.) I still like to use the Vista when I am staying in the neighborhood. Both strollers have a recline feature which is a must for us, because Nico will not nap in his crib, but he will nap for a long time in his stroller. These strollers also have fantastic sunshades.
Beco Gemini Carrier:
This carrier was (and still is) absolutely essential to our life in the city! Like I said above, it’s not always easy to lug around our big stroller, especially on the subway, and sometimes you just need to get out of the door quick. Nico enjoys being carried, and it used to be a sure bet to a great nap. He will still nap in it sometimes now. I love this carrier because it has great back support. The weight is distributed to both your shoulders and your hips, so neither one is left strained. Nico can face forward or backward, and you can carry him on your front, side hip, or back. I have climbed three mountains on four mile hikes with Nico on my back in this thing. I’m telling you, it’s amazing.
Halo and DeeDee Sleep Sacks:
Due to the fear of SIDS, blankets, bumpers, stuffed animals or anything else really are not recommended for the crib until one year of age. Sleep sacks are an awesome alternative. We used the Halo velcro sacks when Nico was still being swaddled. He would easily pop out of regular swaddle blankets at night, and those waving arms would wake him up every time. The Halo sacks kept him sleeping soundly. Once he got a bit bigger and we stopped swaddling him, we switched to the DeeDee sleep sack. The winter one was my favorite. It feels like a big comforter, but you wear it. Kind of like a baby snuggie if you will. Our apartment got frigidly cold this winter, and even with warm pjs, these sleep sacks were completely necessary.
J.J. Cole Bundle Me:
This snuggly sack lines the inside of the car seat and kept Nico warm on all of our winter walks. Of course you must still layer, but you don’t need quite as many layers when you use this. It’s essentially a really warm blanket that stays put and won’t fall out of the stroller. I have heard that you really shouldn’t use these in the car though, because there shouldn’t be any extra fabric between the baby and the car seat for safety reasons. That’s just my side note safety tip, but we used it while strolling around all the time. We plan on getting a toddler one as well for this coming winter.
I don’t know about your babes, but mine would always take his socks off as soon as I put them on. These booties were phenomenal because they snapped on. Nico wasn’t able to take them off, and there was no more searching for missing socks. His feet were also kept super warm all winter long.
Phillips AVENT Pacifier:
Nico was never really hooked on the pacifier and still isn’t, but this bad boy definitely got him to fall asleep for naps when he was cranky. He only liked these in particular and spit most of the other ones out. I am ever grateful for this paci!
Last winter, Nico started to get a bit of eczema, or dry skin. We tried all different kinds of lotions, and nothing seemed to work. The doctor recommended we buy a tub of Ceravae, and this worked like magic!
Bright Stars Safari Gym:
Nico absolutely LOVED this play gym. There were times when I couldn’t get him to stop crying, and as soon as I put him on the play mat, he would stop and start smiling. He always wanted to be on that mat, and he would just kick, kick, kick away. I’m sure any gym would be fine, but this is the one we had, and we loved it. I know Skip Hop also makes a good one that comes with a tummy time pillow. We borrowed the pillow from a friend, and that encouraged Nico start embracing tummy time. So I would recommend that mat as well!
Fisher Price Snug-a-Bunny Swing:
We had the Rock and Play, the Jumperoo, borrowed bouncers, etc. Nico loved all of them. A lot. But this swing was definitely the most loved and used for the longest amount of time out of anything. This little here swing is what gave me the opportunity to shower on a daily basis. Nico took the longest naps in this swing, and I sometimes wish they had bigger swings for bigger babies! Haha.
This is the first toy that Nico was able to play with. It helps with grasping, and they even make some of them with rattles. Nico can still play with it now and he learned to throw, roll, and catch a ball with the Oball.
Panda Pals Book:
At first I worried about Nico’s lack on interest in books, but cue the Panda Pals soft black and white contrast book, and he was hooked! This was his first favorite book, and it opened up the doors to many more books. He is now obsessed with them, and wants us to read and re-read to him all the time. “Book” is one of the few words he can say out loud as well which makes me a proud mommy. Some of our favorites are Dr. Seuss’s ABC, Hop on Pop, and Maisy’s Train.
Ella’s Kitchen Food Pouches:
Most of the time, we made Nico’s food ourselves with a food processor. We generally gave him whatever we were eating in pureed form or in small bites. These pouches, however, are perfect for on-the-go or for vacation when we didn’t always have the equipment or storage for homemade food. We used a few different brands of pouches, but this is this one that Nico seems to like the best.
Music Class/Mom’s Group:
I know these two things aren’t really gear, but I have to say, my Mom’s group in the neighborhood was absolutely essential to my survival of the first year! We had multiple playdates, mom’s nights out, shared stories, texted and called each other constantly, and eased each other’s concerns and fears about the first year of parenting. I seriously consider them to be some of my nearest and dearest friends because we share such a bond going through this experience together at the same time. I would definitely recommend finding a mom’s group in your area! As for the music class, Nico is a huge music fan, and we regularly went and still attend the Munchkin Music Club Class. It’s great to have a weekly activity to look forward to that he loves so much. We love the class so much, we even had him come play for Nico’s 1st Birthday, and it was a hit. I would definitely suggest trying out a variety of different classes and activities and discover what your little one is interested in.
There are definitely more things we used and loved, but these items were all at the top of our list. Happy to answer any other questions you have about gear, and I also have advice for things that you can probably skip buying as well. Comment below for any questions! :-)
Hope you are all having a great week so far!
*As you might notice, most of my gear links to Amazon. We used the Amazon Baby Registry, and absolutely loved it! We could find almost everything we wanted on the site, and if we couldn’t, they allow you to add links to products from any site on the web. This was incredibly convenient and kept our entire list in one place. I would use them again in a heartbeat! FYI, this post is not sponsored by Amazon. I was just really happy with them, and wanted to share!