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17 Things We Totally Used During Baby's First Year

With this being my final week on Baby’s First Year, I figured it was about time I compiled a list of baby stuff we actually got a lot of use out of and how long we actually used it for. I would never call the following a list of ‘must have’ items, but they are items that have served us well during the last year and they’re items I would tell someone to give as shower gifts or add to their registry. Many of them are hand-me-downs from Addie and all of them were either received as a gift or purchased by me (no blog freebies here kids!) There are some things I have that I could add to this list that I like, but I think there are better options out there compared to what I have.

If I had to give up all my baby stuff tomorrow and start all over, these are the things I would buy again. I wouldn’t upgrade them, change them out, or go for a different brand. I like them, they work, and if they’re not broken? Don’t fix or replace them!

One thing I’ve noticed since I first bought baby items for Addie is that baby products have gotten WAY too fancy. For example, I had an old Graco swing ($100) from Addie and received a MamaRoo ($200) as a shower gift — we all preferred the simple and classic Graco over the crazy fancy MamaRoo. I also prefer my old strap to the chair Fisher Price high chair ($40) over the TrippTrapp ($200) I registered for as well. I do love my TrippTrapp and love that I’ll get years of use out of it, but that strap to the chair high chair sure is handy. I’ll be perfectly honest and say I like nice stuff, but expensive doesn’t always mean better. Just because they make something doesn’t mean you need it (I’m looking at you bottle sterilizer and baby food maker). Obviously there’s a customer for everything or they wouldn’t make the products they do, so if you decide to go through this list, keep in mind that my family may be entirely different from yours and what worked for us may not work for you.

If I were to narrow it down to the five things I think a majority of parents would use and find the most useful from this list, it would be The Uncommon Kid changing mat, a carrier of some sort, the Pack n’ Play, the TinyDiner, and if you use bottles, the Boon Lawn drying rack.

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  • Aden + Anais Swaddlers 1 of 17
    Aden + Anais Swaddlers
    I don't know where these things were when I had Addie, but what I would have given for them with her. Huge lightweight muslin swaddling blankets with super cute prints and a crisp, fresh feel (which sounds dumb when you're talking about blankets, but I'm serious, these things are amazing. Big enough to cover a car seat from the sun, shield a nursing mom, lay on the grass or play peek a boo, one four pack of these blankets are all we needed.
    Months of realistic use: Considering Addie is seven uses them to wrap up her babydolls? YEARS.
    Buy them from Amazon (four pack)
    : $37
  • Summer Infant Clear View Video Monitor 2 of 17
    Summer Infant Clear View Video Monitor
    I've wanted a video monitor ever since I knew they existed. I love the darn thing. I can be absolutely sure the baby is asleep, awake, sleeptalking or being naughty. Love it. The end. (Even when she's spooky.)
    Months of realistic use: As long as you want you to, before it gets creepy at least.
    Buy it from Amazon: $135
  • Boon Lawn and Stems 3 of 17
    Boon Lawn and Stems
    If you use bottles at all, this thing is the best darn bottle drying rack out there. It holds big thick glass bottles and the pretty little stems hold the smallest of sippy cup valves high in the air so they don't get lost and so they do get dry. It's cute to look at, looks good on any counter and makes drying and storing bottles a way nicer experience for everyone.
    Months of realistic use: Years, once you're done with bottles it can hold sippy cups, little dishes and other little hand wash items.
    Buy it from Amazon $22
  • Kicky Pants Jammies 4 of 17
    Kicky Pants Jammies
    I think I found these by accident, maybe I bought them from a flash sale site? Needless to say, they are a staple in Vivi's pajama wardrobe. Silky soft, antimicrobial and comfortable as anything I can imagine, Kicky Pants one piece jammies are where it's at. They can be kind of expensive but the basic coverall style runs big and fits for a long time (since they're a capri style and super stretchy.) Vivi can still wear a 6-12 month size up to an 18-24 month comfortably.
    Months of realistic use: Depends on your baby but the way these are cut and how stretchy they are, plan on getting several extra months out of them.
    Buy them from Kicky Pants $29
  • Graco Swing 5 of 17
    Graco Swing
    I was going to get rid of this thing after Addie, it just seemed like so much to store for the chance we may have another baby. Boy am I glad we didn't. Honestly all it does is swing back and forth, it plays songs but they're painful to listen to. If nothing else could get Vivi to fall asleep and we were near death, the swing always worked. (We were also given a MamaRoo but all of us preferred the old Graco Swing.) It's simple, it had stupid bears all over it and I have a soft spot in my heart for it. It doesn't store easily (most swings don't) but it was essentially free since we got it as a shower gift with Addie.
    Months of realistic use: 7-8 or depending on when your baby can sit up well.
    Buy it from Amazon: $100
  • Itzbeen Baby Care Timer 6 of 17
    Itzbeen Baby Care Timer
    Poor Itzbeen baby timer, you get such a bad wrap for being such a stupid product. I beg to differ, I will defend your honor. You see, when I wake up at 2 am to feed my baby and see that it is 2 am I get defeated. "5 more hours until 7 am. If I get her fed and changed that's 4 more hours of sleep before Cody wakes up, assuming I get her back to sleep. ZOMG IT'S 4 AM AAHH!" However, with the Itzbeen I never had to torture myself by looking at the clock. The Itzbeen would tell me it had been 3 hours since the baby last ate (really? It only felt like 20 minutes.) and that she had been asleep for 2 hours (that felt more like 10 minutes) In those blurry hazy first few weeks I don't care what time it is, I care how long it's been since the baby has been fed. a 20 minute nap can feel like 3 hours and vice versa. I'm surviving in 2 hour increments, I don't care if it's 3 am or 3 pm. I passed the Itzbeen onto my sister who feels the same way I do about clock watching in the middle of the night.
    Months of realistic use: Kind of unlimited, you can turn it from a babycare timer to a time out timer to an egg timer for all I care. I love you Itzbeen, you were totally worth my $20.
    Buy it from Amazon: $17
  • Jumperoo 7 of 17
    Jumperoo
    This was a shower gift from a friend and while it takes up a fair amount of space, it's where she spent an awful lot of time as a very grumpy baby. She used to sit in it while we ate dinner and even now at a year old she likes to get in it and jump her little brains out. Another one of those baby products like the swing that isn't totally necessary, but man are you glad you have it when you need it. A good one to lend between friends.
    Months of realistic use: 7-9, possibly more (maybe less) depending on when your baby holds their head up, starts walking and their overall size.
    Buy it from Amazon: $78
  • Maclaren Bouncer 8 of 17
    Maclaren Bouncer
    This certainly isn't the fanciest chair out there but it's also not the most expensive. I was a little worried that it would be too boring for Vivi but she loved the thing. Four PM was known as ‘red chair o'clock' in our house. Yes, babies can get a little tippy in it since there's no real side padding but she never fell out or seemed angered by the lack of plushness. Take the back support out and it stores small and flat. Also really easy to move from room to room (but never with a baby in it.)
    Months of realistic use: 5-7 or depending on when your baby can sit up and roll over with determination.
    Buy it from Amazon:$50
  • My Breast Friend 9 of 17
    My Breast Friend
    I had a Boppy from Addie, in fact I flat out refused to even say ‘My Breast Friend' because it's officially one of the stupidest product names ever. Then I used one at the lactation consultants office and bought one online an hour after getting home it made that big of a difference in my comfort in nursing. It's firmer than a Boppy and is flat so there's nowhere for your baby to slide into and get squished. It's since been passed onto Emily who agrees it's pretty amazing compared to the Boppy.
    Months of realistic use: Eh, depends on how long it takes you to get the hang of nursing. BUT, you will be using it 8-10 times a day if not more for the first 8 weeks so if that says anything...
    Buy it from Amazon: $40
  • Graco Pack n’ Play 10 of 17
    Graco Pack n' Play
    This was another leftover from Addie. It doesn't have lights, bells, whistles or anything fancy. It has a bassinet, a changing pad and four walls. We keep it up in our bedroom filled with toys as a safe place to leave Vivi corralled if we have to accomplish something without her at our ankles. She slept in it in our room for the first four months and Addie slept in it until she was three. Most are kind of heavy and awkward but fold up pretty small for what they are. Play yards have gotten super fancy, but really all we need is a place for a tiny baby to sleep and a place for a mobile baby to safely play.
    Months of realistic use: Up to three years, or until they learn to climb out.
    Buy it from Amazon: $70
  • Fisher Price Papasan Chair 11 of 17
    Fisher Price Papasan Chair
    A hand me down from Addie, Fisher Price went and made the newer models of the papasan chair a little too fancy. I just needed a chair that would fold flat but be comfy for the littlest of baby while I took a shower or did laundry, this chair totally fit the bill. We never really used the vibration or the music, but it was nice to have. Older versions of the papasan can be found at second hand stores for cheaper or Fisher Price has come out with the Little Lamb Deluxe Infant Seat, which looks pretty much similar. I'd suggest this chair before the Maclaren chair.
    Months of realistic use: 5-6, depending on when you baby can sit up
    Buy it from Amazon: $50
  • Puj Tub 12 of 17
    Puj Tub
    Essentially a funny shaped piece of flat foam that simply yet elaborately folds into a tub that fits almost any sink, it's the perfect height, size and shape to fit the tiniest of newborn in the 5 different sinks I tried it in (it worked in a bathroom vanity sink the best.) While the price is high, it's easy to store away for the next baby (it's completely flat!) and is an even greater piece of gear to share between friends (Emily currently has mine.) Once she moved out of the Puj she went straight to lying in the big tub with a little bit of water.
    Months of realistic use: 3-5, depending on how big your baby is.
    Buy it from Amazon: $45
  • Various and Assorted Carriers and Wraps 13 of 17
    Various and Assorted Carriers and Wraps
    I have almost every baby carrier known to parent kind and I have my preferences, I used a Sleepwrap (Moby Style) for the first few months, a Mei Tai for the next few months, a Sakura Bloom on occasion (and still to this day), I carry a pouch sling with me at all times and now that she's so heavy our Ergo is the first choice of baby carrier between my husband and myself. If I had to tell you to just pick one? I'd say the Mei Tai if you want to use it from birth and the Ergo would be in a very close second (the reasons I won't put the Ergo first is that you need an extra piece to use it with a newborn, it is not very compact and sometimes you need an extra set of hands to really feel confident in putting it on.
    Months of realistic use: Up to 35 pounds, whenever that happens. (Or when your back says "I'M DONE!")
  • Tiny Love Mobile 14 of 17
    Tiny Love Mobile
    Another Addie hand me down, this was one of my big splurges with Addie, the mobile that would surely make her smarter. The songs weren't horrible, the animals were cute and it held both her and Vivi's attention long enough for us to get something done. Vivi would even fall asleep to it for naps which was wonderful. It has a remote all though I'm not sure we ever used it, it was the irregular shape, pattern and high contrast colors that kept their attention. Totally worth it for the time we used it with both girls.
    Months of realistic use: 5-9, depending on when they can sit up on their own. (The sound box could be left on with the mobile part taken off for music but we never did that.)
    Buy it from Amazon: $40
  • Uncommon Kid Diaper Clutch 15 of 17
    Uncommon Kid Diaper Clutch
    This thing was kind of a splurge, a friend of a friend makes them and I trust my friend an awful lot. Y'all, this thing is the best changing pad I've ever seen, used, own or even heard of. Waterproof and wipeable lining with an adorable fabric backing, it has two pockets to hold diapers and wipes as well has a carrying strap so you can sling it over your wrist and carry a baby no problem. It's huge, covers public bathroom changing tables, but folds up super small. Vivi is a big baby and she still fits on this pad and will for a long time.
    Months of realistic use: We're at 12 and still going strong.
    Buy it from The Uncommon Kid on Etsy: $54
  • Woombie 16 of 17
    Woombie
    I have naughty babies who demand to be swaddled but can break out of the most constrictive of tie up. The woombie kept Vivi's little limbs contained and no matter how hard she tried she couldn't bust out of the things. If you can find them second hand or borrow from a friend that's the best way to go as they're kind of expensive but having two so you can switch them out to wash them is a good idea. I've seen generic versions popping up here and there as well. They are sized so if your baby insists on being swaddled you'll have to buy a couple of sizes as they are not one size fits all.
    Months of realistic use: Up to a year, but you'd have to go through different sizes. (3-4 months of each size.)
    Buy it from Amazon: $26
  • Tiny Diner 17 of 17
    Tiny Diner
    I had one of these with Addie and bought another one to use with Vivi on our own kitchen table (I keep the old one in the car for use in restaurants.) It's a big silicone mat that sticks to the table with 5 big suction cups and keeps your baby's food off the table and the crumb catcher actually does a decent job of doing just that. It rolls up into itself when you're done so you're not left with all sorts of mysterious slime and crumbs in your bag.
    Months of realistic use: Up to 2 years, maybe longer.
    Buy it from Amazon: $8

Find more Casey on her blog, twitter, Pinterest, Flickr and facebook.

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