Must Haves for Baby’s First Year

Babies may be tiny, but they require so much stuff! I remember feeling quite overwhelmed when I was pregnant with baby M. I did tons of research to find out what we needed and didn’t need, and now, I’d like to share what we used during our baby’s first year.

Also read: What to pack in your hospital bag

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Car seat:
This is obviously a must have. You can’t leave the hospital with your baby unless you have a car seat to safely take your baby home. Think about whether you want to get an infant car seat or a convertible car seat. Although you will probably buy a convertible car seat down the road anyway, it has to stay in the car, I would recommend an infant seat for at least the first few months, up to a year. That way, you don’t  have to transfer your baby in and out of the car seat a million times when you’re out and about. Bonus if you have a stroller that your car seat can click into. If not, look for adapters to make it possible. Or look into a travel system.
Things to look for in a car seat:
-Safety rating
-Easy install
-Weight restrictions
-Compatibility with stroller

A stroller is pretty handy to have, especially when you’re out shopping, running errands, or even taking a leisurely walk through a park or zoo. With a stroller, your baby has a comfortable place to rest, or sit and take in the sights, and you have a place for your purse, diapers, and snacks. There are tons to choose from, depending on your budget and personal preferences. We’ve had 2 different chicco ones, and they were both great, and I loved that they were compatible with our car seat. If you don’t want to worry about which strollers are compatible with which car seats, consider a travel system. You can often find great deals on these.
Things to look for in a stroller:
-Ease of use (opening and folding)
-Full (or almost full)recline
-Basket size
-Canopy size(if you’ll be in the sun a lot)
-Suspension (if you’ll be using it outdoors)
-Number of seats(depending on how many children you have or plan to have in the near future)
-Weight limit

If you live in a small home, you might not need a monitor, but I personally felt more at peace having one with baby M. The first couple of months, he slept in our room, so we only needed one for naps during the day, and we used one with sound only. However, when we decided to transfer him to his own room, we got one with video. I recommend getting one with a good sized screen, so you can actually see your baby and what they are doing.

For those times when they aren’t sleeping, and you need to set them down for a minute or two. I don’t know if it’s all babies, but mine loved to be in my arms around the clock and got upset when I set him down. He was okay with the swing, though, so I was able to grab myself something to eat or run to the bathroom. As he got a little older, he started being okay with his bouncer as well. Motion seems to calm babies, so swings or the Mamaroo might be worth their weight in gold when your arms need a break.

Again, babies love to be held. But you probably have other responsibilities and tasks to take care of. A baby carrier is how you get the best of both worlds! Cuddles for baby, free hands for mama, so you can clean or cook or make yourself some coffee. I used the K’Tan with baby M. It was so sweet when he would just doze off in it!

Playmat/baby gym:
Your baby will be growing and developing more and more every day, a playmat/baby gym is a great way to help them. They can work out their muscles with tummy time and then flip over to work on their visual development and hand-eye coordination with the hanging toys. I remember how excited I was when baby M grabbed one of the toys for the first time! His playmat was also where he learned to roll!

Diaper bag:
You need a bag to lug around all of the things your baby needs when you’re on the go. Thankfully, there are now tons of great options for diaper bags, many of which don’t even look like diaper bags. I started off with a decent looking one by JJ Cole, but recently “upgraded” to a super cute one from Little Unicorn that looks like a regular handbag. There are many great options for pretty much every budget, but keep in mind, you get what you pay for, and you’ll be using it for at least a few years, so might as well invest now, rather than having to replace it a few times.


You should try to figure out your sleeping situation before baby comes and plan accordingly, but also ask your baby’s doctor what they recommend. Generally, it’s best to have baby sleep in the same room as parents for the first few months, to reduce the risk of SIDS. We had baby M sleep in our room in a bassinet until he was 3-4 months, after which we transferred him to his crib in his own room. We did also try co-sleeping using Dockatot, and although co-sleeping was not for us, the Dockatot was great for making him feel more comfy and cozy in his crib (use this link for $10 off your Dockatot purchase!). If you don’t want to purchase both but want the baby to sleep in your room, you can just get a crib and have it in your room, and move it to baby’s room after a few months.

Changing table:
Not a must have, but you will want a designated diaper changing area. Before the second bedroom was baby M’s room, it was our office, so we just repurposed our desk into a changing table. The same could be done with a dresser. All you need is a changing pad. Just make sure that it’s a comfortable height for you. There are also cribs with changing table attachments.

Definitely not a must have, a great thing to splurge on. I loved nursing baby M in mine, and it made those night wakings so much more comfortable. We still use it daily/nightly for his nap/bedtime routines. And with all the great styles out there, you can pick one that matches the rest of your home decor, and keep it well past the baby years.


Bottles and accessories:
Baby M was not a picky one when it came to bottles, but he was colicky, so even though we started off with the Medela bottles, we switched to Dr. Browns to help with his gassiness. After a few months, his tummy got better we tried a few others, and we really liked the Munchkin Latch bottles. You might have to try a few different ones before you find the one that works best for your baby, so I suggest not buying huge sets of one type of bottle until you’ve tried it and know your baby will use it.

Bottle warmer:
Especially useful for those night wakings, so that you don’t have to boil water and wait for milk to warm up. We used the Dr. Browns one and it worked great, but there are many options out there.

Nursing pillow:
Your arms can get pretty tired during those long nursing sessions 50 times a day, so it’s nice to have some extra support. And once your baby gets a little older, you can use it to prop them up, and as support when they’re learning to sit. I used the boppy, but there are many out there.

Pump and accessories:
If you’re going to formula feed or exclusively breastfeed, you probably won’t need this, but if you want to nurse but also have your baby take a bottle when you’re not around, a pump is definitely something you should get. I suggest a double electric pump and a hands-free pumping bra. Medela Pump in Style is what I used, and it was great, it lasted me all 9+ months that I nursed.

Nursing cover:
There are a few different types, but my favorite it the multi-use nursing and car seat cover. It’s awesome when you can use one item for many purposes, it just makes life easier. There also covers that look like cute scarves.

Bibs and burp cloths:
For all the drool and spit up those first months. Otherwise, you’ll be changing your baby’s outfit ten times a day.

High chair:
When you finally feeding solids, you’ll want a designated area to keep the mess contained.

Utensils and dishes:
Plastics spoons and plates/bowls with suction make for an easier meal. And try using sippy cups from a young age so that bottle weaning will be easier down the road.

Bath time:

Baby bath tub:
We used the 4Moms Infant tub, it was great because it had a thermometer built in so that we could keep the water the right temperature, and it allows dirty water to drain as it fills with clean water. Once baby M was sitting up well on his own, we just used a non-slip mat in our regular bathtub.

Washcloths and shampoo:
Look for products that will be gentle on baby’s skin. We love Honest, Burt’s Bee Baby line, Mustela, and California Baby. For wash cloths, I found that muslin cloths work best.

Hooded towels:
The hoods keep your baby’s head warm after bathtime. Choose cloths like muslin or terry cloth, so it wouldn’t be rough on baby’s skin.


Baby M was a fussy baby, but pacifiers helped soothe him. He only took the big green ones that hospitals used to provide. He also loved his wubbanubs.

Diapers and grooming:
Rashes are the worst, but the do happen sometimes. You can try to prevent them by using more natural based diapers, but if they happen anyway, you’re going to want to have some diaper cream on hand. We loved the Burt’s Bees Baby diaper cream, or the Honest healing balm. You’ll also need a comb or soft hair brush, nail clippers, lotions, baby wipes, thermometer, toothbrush, and Nose Frida.

Onesies and outfits:
This one is a no-brainer. Footie pajamas are great, that way you don’t have to deal with multiple clothing items on your screaming newborn. Also get baby mittens, or shirts/ onesies with built in mittens, as babies tend to scratch themselves. Don’t forget to get a few hats and some socks. I love Carter’s baby clothes, and Gymboree has some awesome stuff.

Blankets, swaddles, and crib sheets:
The Muslin swaddles can be used in many ways, and the Velcro swaddles are pretty good at keeping baby from getting startled awake. You’ll need a blanket or two if you have a winter baby or you live in colder climates.

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