10 Must Haves for Baby’s First Year

What Should You Buy for Baby’s First Year?

It’s your baby’s first year of life and you are a brand new mom, or maybe it has been a while since there was a baby in the house.

There are a lot of new things out there that you might think baby just has to have.

Baby’s don’t need a lot to be happy and healthy, especially their first year.

I have compiled a list of 10 things I personally found useful for the first year of my baby’s life.

There isn’t an item on this list we didn’t use on repeat throughout the first year.

Every baby is different, and what worked for me might not work for you.

However, most products listed came recommended by my mom friends as well, so the products have a good track record.

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What Are My Must Have Items For Baby’s First Year?


This was highly recommended by a lot of Facebook friends, and it did not disappoint.

It was a place for G to sleep and still be around us.

If we were watching television on the couch and she was sleeping, we had G in the DockATot in the family room with us.  This is obviously personal preference, but we liked having her close.

This way she is also never sleeping in quiet; there is always noise going on around her.

We used this when we would go out of town when she was younger for a place for her to sleep.

We have a ranch style house, built in the 70’s, we didn’t have a pack and play because there just isn’t enough space.  And, also, with a ranch, it isn’t like I can’t walk down the hallway to get her.

The DockATot was also used to transition Baby G from the bassinet to the crib.

It was very helpful when it came time to stop swaddling.

The closeness of the DockATot helps the baby feel cozy and secure.

The cover is easily removable and washable.  You can buy from the DockATot website to get a choice of various colors or you can register for it at Amazon or Buy Buy Baby.  It is a great investment.

The Deluxe DockATot is for babies 0-8 months however by 6 months we were having to unclasp the buckle at the feet.  This defeats the purpose of the DockATot, so we had to stop using ours at 6 months.

They also make a Grand DockATot for older babies. We did not get this one as our daughter was in her crib and a halo sleep sack at this point.

We went with a neutral color just in case we have another baby of a different gender.

Rock and Play Alternative

I know the Fisher Price Rock and Play has a pretty bad rap nowadays, but it truly was a life saver for us.

However, seeing as the Rock and Play is no longer available, you will need some alternatives.

Halo Bassinest

The main alternative I see offered in a lot of mom groups is the Halo Bassinest.

I really like the concept of this bassinet, and I think we will be highly considering this one if we are able to have another baby.

The Halo Bassinest is capable of being really close to the bed.

The side closest to the bed can come down making those late nights a little easier especially if you are breastfeeding.

It also has side pockets if you wanted to keep diapering essentials in it for those 3 am feedings.

Snoo Smart Sleeper

If you have money to spend, this is the Cadillac of baby bassinets.

The Snoo Smart Sleeper has a built in swaddle for your little one.  This keeps baby on their back and keeps them from rolling around according to Happiest Baby.

It has built in white noise and movement that responds to baby.

You can rent the Snoo Smart Sleeper or buy it out right.

The Happiest Baby has a 30 day free trial with no commitment when purchased.

Other Bassinets to Consider

Velcro swaddles

I find it funny when we were in the NICU our nurses HATED our Velcro swaddles, and we hated the blanket swaddle.

Some of us will just never be as good at swaddling as our wonderful nurses.

These Velcro swaddles have a sack for the legs and then you can Velcro as tight as you need to, to complete the swaddle.

The sack is also better for the development of their legs and hips.

Since G was breech, our OT recommended these types of swaddles to give her legs and hips the ability to move freely.

It was great to hear this as we were already using them.

Velcro swaddles are so much easier than fighting with what corner goes where and the blanket coming undone with the slightest kick.

Definitely worth the investment.

I think we used these for 2-3 months.

Then it was putting her in the DockATot in her crib for naps, and the Dockatot made it so easy to transition.

Halo Sleep Sacks

Our daughter absolutely hated being cold. (She gets it from her mama.) Seriously from day one she screamed in unhappiness about being cold, and it would take us FOREVER to figure out that was the issue.

Insert the Halo Sleep Sack and figuring out we could layer under the pjs and baby wouldn’t overheat.

I honestly got worried with dressing her in too many clothes at night that she might get too hot.

The sleep sack is a safe way to having a blanket in the crib.  Especially if you have a baby like ours, who rolls from one end of the crib to the other all night.  She does this more now than she did when she was younger.

The sleep sack goes with them unlike a blanket that can come untucked, or they could get wrapped up in from all the movement.

They have fleece sleep sacks for the winter and cotton sleep sacks for the warmer months.

This isn’t a halo sleep sack, but Carter’s has a fleece sleep sack with sleeves. We used this sleep sack all winter because of the sleeves.

Once it was slightly warmer but still cool, we switched to the fleece Halo Sleep sack because it is a sleeveless sack.

Even with the layers and the sleep sack sometimes she would still wake up cold, we would put in a small thin blanket that would cover her legs, and she would go right back to sleep.

They last for months and are machine washable.


I am so glad we had a boppy.

It was a great nursing pillow even if that was a short-lived journey.  G preferred the cradle hold on one side and the football hold on the other, so it was nice that it was easily maneuverable.

However, once I was pumping exclusively, the boppy helped me feed G while I pumped if necessary.

It helped keep her propped after eating while I pumped.  She even fell asleep on it while I was pumping. This is not recommended up I was right there the entire time.

If she wasn’t playing on the blanket, she was propped on the boppy while I pumped.

The boppy was a great support and cushion for falls when G was learning to sit on her own.

The cover is machine washable, and there are so many options now for different covers, so when you are washing one cover you have another to put on.

Video baby monitor

I know what you are thinking, “duh Valerie, this is a given.”.  And, I would say not necessarily before I actually had one of my own.

I originally only wanted to register for the non-video monitors.

Again, we live in a ranch house, and we share a wall with the baby’s room.

Did I really need a video monitor?  I didn’t think I did.

If you will remember from my baby registry post, I said registering is a fun thing to do especially for your husband or significant other.  My husband got trigger happy and registered for a video monitor, and it was surprisingly, or not so surprisingly, bought for us.

I will say it isn’t this amazing monitor, but it does its job, and I have been quite happy with it.

The camera in the baby’s room will give you the temperature in the room and send you a warning if it thinks it is too hot or too cold.

This is a good thing and a bad thing.

Because of this feature, we were not able to mount the monitor any higher than the crib posts.  Heat rises and the monitor is super sensitive.

So, you will be able to view a majority of the crib, but if baby rolls to the closer end of the camera, you won’t be able to see them.

Not long after we started using this monitor, the video monitor part we watch would not work unless it was plugged into the wall.  This was inconvenient but not a deal breaker.

The best picture of the camera is during the day with natural sunlight, but it is still clear even at night.

Blooming Bath Lotus

This must have is a personal preference of mine.

The pedal bath fit perfectly into our kitchen sink, and after it is dried, it can be folded up and stored in a cabinet or closet until the next bath time.

We have an older house with VERY small closets and not a lot of places to store things.  I felt like this bath was perfect for us.

The pedals have a lot of cushion, so even if your baby isn’t sitting up on their own yet you can still use this.

I am trying to remember, but I believe we started using this at 2 or 3 months of age.

We used this bath until G started trying to climb out of the sink which I think was around 6 or 7 months.

She was also starting to get too big for the sink.  We have a petite girl, so size wise we could have kept using this.

When we finished with the bath, we would wring it out into the sink and put it into the washing machine and dryer.

You could put it straight into the dryer and machine wash every other time.

I think, again, this will be personal preference.

A jumper/exerciser/bouncer

Whatever you prefer to call it, this was extremely useful once G out grew the rock and play.

I used the jumper when I needed to shower, and it wasn’t nap time.  The jumper came in handy when I was home alone and would have to cook dinner.

I would use it if I wanted to work out, or do some quick “cleaning” around the house.

It was a very useful product to have around, and the baby was entertained and getting exercise at the same time.

Our pediatrician recommended the baby not be in the jumper longer than thirty minutes. You can use that as a guideline if you so choose.

Also, when setting the seat level, be sure your baby’s feet are flat on the ground.

We had the seat slightly higher than it should have been at first, and we think this might have been why she started standing on her tiptoes at first.

The jumper we bought is the same price at Amazon or Buy Buy Baby.

I also saw this Skip Hop Activity Center and couldn’t decide which to get, but ultimately got this Baby Einstein Jumper.

Travel accessories

If you plan to travel at all whether it is in the car or a plane, you will need these next things.

We have used this car seat carrier twice.  One of the flights, we were able to put the DockATot inside with the infant car seat carrier, so G would have some where to sleep safely at our Airbnb.  So, it is super roomie with the DockATot and the car seat inside.

This stroller carrier is also great for traveling on a plane.  We wrapped our stroller in a blanket out of paranoia, but I don’t think we necessarily needed it.  The stroller carrier did a great job protecting our stroller.

It is even great if you take your stroller to the gate.

We checked the car seat and the stroller. You will find some who say not to. Check out my flying with an infant post for our experience.

If you are pumping at all for any reason, you might have to pump in the car especially on a long road trip. This adapter came in handy with our rental car while on vacation.

And, this hands-free pumping bra is an absolute must!


Toys were tricky for our baby’s first year. We started with soft, plush toys, but G wasn’t super interested in them. Most of her toys needed to have a hard piece on them for her to chew.

That is when we discovered this teether at a friend’s house, and I bought it immediately.  If your baby likes to chew hard things, this is a good teether.  The tips of it have ridges on them that massage the baby’s gums.

G would sit on the couch with her dad and just chew this teether.  It was the best thing other than frozen veggies.

This block set was bought by a friend, and I love it so much.  It can be used as a toy to chew on while they are in the everything goes in my mouth phase.  Then, you can match the shapes.  Once you are past that point, you can use it to recognize colors and shapes.  You can do simple math with this block set as well.  It doesn’t get much versatile than that!

Other First Year Must Haves Not Listed

Clothes are a given, so they are not going to be given a lot of attention here.  We got a lot of clothes from Carters, Target, and Old Navy.  Carter’s has the BEST selection of preemie clothes if you have a preemie like we did.

Burp cloths are a must!! I was using a burp cloth every time G ate.  She was one of those babies who spit up every time she ate until she became mobile.  The cloth diapers are the best burp cloths, but we did use the pretty ones from Target too.

The NoseFrida although a gross concept truly is a must have.  I think this shortened the amount of time G has had a stuffy nose.  The amount of mucous you can get out over the bulb syringe isn’t something I am going to type because I don’t want to gross you out.  However, I would say the NoseFrida is superior to the bulb syringe.  The bulb syringe is great for surface boogies.

A baby doesn’t need much their first year. These were our must have for baby’s first year.

Coming from a first time mom, I hope you find this list helpful.  Being a new mom can be overwhelming don’t let all the baby things overwhelm you too.

Enjoy your first year as a mom and your baby’s first year in the world.

What were your first year must haves? Let me know in the comments.

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