The newest Armstrong baby is almost here and as we approach the final weeks, it’s been a scramble to refresh my daughter’s hand-me-down baby gear, wash newborn clothes, and pack for the hospital. As I’m dusting off this baby gear and washing all the little pieces, I think back to my daughter’s first year, remembering what I actually used the most. Of course, you have the usual necessities – bassinet, crib, infant carrier, etc. But I was able to put together a list of 8 things that I didn’t realize I would use quite so much that were real life savers for the first year. So make sure you put these on your baby registry!
IMPORTANT UPDATE: All Rock n’ Play models have been recalled due to infant deaths. Please discontinue use of this immediately. For more information visit the CPSC website here.
- A reclining glider chair. At first, I had a regular glider with the gliding footrest that I picked up at a second-hand baby store. But I quickly realized the footrest took up so much room and sometimes I didn’t want it at all. I also wanted something cozier that I could lean back in. I found a very comfy reclining glider chair, which my husband bought as a Christmas gift for me. I still have it in my toddler’s room (she calls it the Snuggle Chair) and I plan on moving it into my bedroom and later into the nursery for Baby. What I love the most about it is that I can lounge however I want to – feet up, reclined, or just rocking with my little one. There is so much room in this also. There are lots of different options out there at the big baby stores like Babies R Us and Buy Buy Baby. Make sure you use that coupon! We were lucky to get a good deal on the last discontinued model with the coupon savings on top of that.
- A good stroller frame. I say frame because it seems the best ones have the frame with detachable seat. With these, you can attach your infant carrier to the frame directly or with a compatible attachment. Then, when baby is bigger, you can attach the seat. We bought the Britax Affinity on clearance and it was amazing! I ordered the infant carrier attachment so I could connect my daughter’s Graco infant car seat to it. When it was time to put her in the stroller seat, I was able to turn the seat toward me or away. I believe the Affinity has been discontinued, but the other Britax strollers seem just as nice. A few tips for getting a good stroller:
- Visit your local baby store and take the stroller for a test drive around the store aisles.
- Make sure there is an attachment that is compatible with your infant car seat.
- Check out all the features and make sure it will work for your situation (type of sun shade, ventilation, recline options, brake, etc.)
- When you’ve decided on the one you love, check your local Facebook buy, sell, trade groups to see if there is a used one you can buy. If that’s not an option, make sure you ask about clearance/displays and use a coupon!
- Wearable blankets or sleep sacks. My daughter hated being swaddled, but she loved her wearable blankets. These are a great alternative to blankets, since you don’t want anything loose in the crib with Baby. My favorites were Halo and Aden & Anais brands. They both have lighter and heavier ones so you can switch them out with the seasons. I always had a Halo light cotton and a fleece, and an Aden & Anais light muslin and thick layered muslin. Our little one wore these until we transitioned her to a toddler bed. Knowing that she was nice and cozy in her crib without having to use a blanket gave me peace of mind.
- Dual-position swing. This is especially useful if you have a baby that spits up a lot. You can position the swing to move from side to side or front to back. Side to side is recommended to prevent spitting up. We had the Fisher Price Snug-a-Bunny swing and it was so soft and cozy. Whichever one you decide on, do make sure it can plug into the wall. You definitely don’t want to get stuck with a non-functioning swing because you ran out of batteries.
- NoseFrida Snotsucker. I know, it sounds gross. But for those early reflux days, and then later on when she caught her first cold, this was the only thing that cleared our baby’s nose really well. You’ll want to use saline drops with it also. FridaBaby sells their own saline spray, but we use Little Remedies Saline Drops. As far as getting baby to hold still during the sucking, ours went through stages. There were times when she thought it was the funniest thing, and others when she screamed like she was being tortured. But afterward, I could tell she was relieved to have all that stuff out of her nose. When she was small, I would lay her down on my lap. As she got bigger, I would have her lay down on a pillow and let her put the saline drops in herself.
Rock ‘n Play. After too many sleepless nights, I finally tried putting my baby in the Rock ‘n Play to sleep. The incline helped with her reflux and the shape of it snuggled her just like she wanted, since she hated to be swaddled. We got the okay from her Pediatrician since I know there are some SIDS concerns here. Please be safe and check out all risks and talk to your Pediatrician before trying this. Make sure you also do lots of tummy time to prevent a flat head.
- Kiinde breastmilk and bottle warmer. I really didn’t think I would use this very much, but it ended up being one of the most used things in my kitchen that first year. You can warm bottles, defrost and warm breast milk bags, and even food pouches or jars. It slowly warms everything to the perfect temperature without risk of burning your breast milk.
- Angel Baby Bottom Balm. This diaper balm by Earth Mama Angel Baby is super natural and works great. It’s also safe to use with cloth diapers, which we used the first few months. They have recently changed the name of if to Earth Mama’s Organic Diaper Balm, but it looks like the same great formula. We’ll definitely be picking up a couple packages – one for the nursery and one for the diaper bag.
Do you have a similar list or additional things you just couldn’t live without during your baby’s first year? I’d love to hear from you as we finish preparing for Baby #2!
Update: I actually didn’t use the Rock n’Play very often with #2. Instead, I used a DockATot Deluxe+ for supervised snooze time until she transitioned to her crib.