You don’t need to buy EVERYTHING. Babies, in fact, can survive, and actually can thrive, with a few essential items. The best bet is to trust yourself, learn from your baby, and buy things as you need them. Having less “stuff” cluttering your home right when the baby is born will make it easier to focus on your baby and will give you time to determine what is and isn’t necessary. There is no point in spending a ton of money on products you don’t know if you’ll use.
When it comes to what I believe to be the top seven products you actually need in your baby’s first year, I focused on three core things. Efficiency, safety, and practicality.
Sure, your baby registry will be filled with a lot of the regulars - car seats, strollers, onesies, and fun items like bath toys, but there are a few special products I couldn't (and wouldn’t) want to live without during those first 12 months. Here they are!
1. Swaddles: Keep Baby Happy, Safe, & Cozy
When it comes to muslin swaddles, I use them for EVERYTHING. Obviously, they are fantastic for swaddling - a technique of wrapping your baby to keep them safe, secure, and warm.
In reality, swaddles double as burp cloths, nursing covers, and a clean place to lay your baby down. And in desperate moments, they will keep your baby covered after those surprise diaper blowouts when the laundry isn’t clean. (I am most definitely speaking from experience on this one.)
There are a ton of options when it comes to swaddles these days. But if you want the softest, most amazing fabric, I highly encourage you to opt for a 100% muslin cotton square swaddle. (You can even find the Modern Burlap and Milk Barn swaddles in the Sweet Acorn shop!)
Age: 0-6+ months (Depends on baby’s size and tolerance)
2. Sleep Sacks: Well-Rested Baby, Rejuvenated Mama
Once my kids grew out of swaddling, I started using sleep sacks (also known as sleepers). A sleep sack is essentially a wearable blanket that zips from the bottom up. There are a lot of variations, but I’ve found that this is the perfect option for keeping your baby warm and covered while they sleep, without using a blanket. Most often, sleep sacks are made with cotton, muslin, or fleece.
My family lives in Maine, so sleep sacks have helped our babies sleep safely and comfortably through all four seasons. In the summer, you can put your sweet babe in a onesie and then use a lightweight cotton sleep sack. In the winter months, you can opt for a thicker fabric. As a bonus, sleep sacks make midnight diaper changes a breeze!
Age: 0-24+ months (I started using these at 8 months!)
3. Nursing Tank: A Comfortable Staple Every Nursing Mom Needs
Soon, your reality will feel somewhat like a non-stop nursing station. But I promise it gets better after the first month! After nursing all of my babies exclusively, I can’t say enough positive things about the health and bonding benefits of nursing. If you breastfeed your baby, one of the products that will make your life easier is a nursing tank.
For the last several years, I have lived in nursing tanks. I don’t know about you, but when I was recovering from delivery, the last thing I wanted to wear was a stiff bra. Instead, I opted to wear a super comfy nursing tank - quite literally day and night!
The key when picking out good nursing tanks is to get ones that are long and cover your full torso. Not only are they comfortable, but they make nursing in public easier!
Benefits: Machine wash and dry, easy, simple, and comfortable
4. Milk Snob Cover: Your New Convenient Obsession
Say hello to my latest obsession: Milk Snob Covers. While I am trying to keep this post fairly unbiased based on the products I sell, I can’t avoid endorsing this product.
13 years ago, when I had my first baby, I had one of my friend’s sisters make me a few nursing covers. Given that I’ve nursed all of my babies, nursing covers were absolutely a necessity. Well, Milk Snob has taken nursing covers to the next level.
Made from light, thin jersey fabric, your baby won’t be able to kick the Milk Snob cover off like most nursing covers. Nor will they need to - it’s so light that they won’t get hot! There is also one hole for your arm that makes getting the cover on and off easier for burping, etc. The fabric and design of the cover make it feel comfortable and cozy and as if you are wearing a shirt - just with more coverage!
Uses: Nursing cover, car seat cover, and shopping cart cover
5. Nursing Pillow: Keep Baby & Mama Happy
Like I’ve said, I nursed seven babies for at least 12 months each. That results in a lot of time spent nursing! While I wouldn’t trade those precious moments for anything, I am thankful I didn’t have to spend them without a nursing pillow.
There are quite a few options for nursing pillows out there, and the one you choose depends on your body and baby. I found the nursing pillow to be most helpful with getting each baby in the right position and maintaining a healthy posture.
The other benefit of a nursing pillow is that it allows you to be hands-free and supports the baby when they aren’t old enough to themselves.
Uses: Nursing, working, relaxing, eating dinner (anytime!)
6. Baby Wrap: Get Your Hands Back, Get Your Life Back
I can’t say enough good things about baby wraps, slings, and carriers. I started using them long before babywearing became so mainstream. The key is to use the right wrap/carrier for your baby’s age, size, and activity level. I’ve found that true baby wraps (like the Moby Wrap!) are convenient, comforting, and perfect for keeping your newborn safe and sound.
I found that once my babies reached eight months, I liked to switch them over to a ring sling where they could sit on my hip as if I were holding them. I have found this to be the ideal solution to a baby who wants to be held, but you need to stand, walk, or do a task like laundry and dishes. You are given your hands back, but your baby feels like you’re carrying them.
Another great option is a full baby carrier. I’ve personally been using the Ergo baby carrier since 2007. I started using it for my babies when they were around four months. The key is that your baby needs to be able to wrap their legs around you. This type of carrier is great for allowing your child to take naps, look around, and enjoy multiple positions.
Age: 0-12 months old (depends on the size of your baby!)
7. Bouncy Chair: Your Golden Ticket to Showering
As you can probably tell, I spent a lot of time carrying around my babies. But at some point, mama needs to have a shower! A product my babies loved was our bouncy chair. These chairs are small and easy to move around the house and don’t take up a lot of room.
Whether you’re showering, cooking, cleaning, or maybe just taking a breather, your baby can sit comfortably, look around, and even play in the safety of their own chair.
There are a lot of bouncy chairs with fancy bells and whistles and others that are quite simple - it is totally up to you which style you prefer. Honestly, we never used the vibration option on our chair. We did, however, use the visor when they were sleeping.
Age: 0-9+ months (or until your baby is ready to move around and have more activity!)
When it comes to your first baby, there are a lot of decisions to make. But don’t let the stress of registering or picking out baby products overwhelm you. You truly don’t need it all and in fact, will be better off if you don’t go out and buy everything! Yes, that feels funny to say as someone who has an online retail shop, but it’s the truth. And with all baby advice, you will learn what works best for you and your baby!
What do you think? Have you had your first baby already? What couldn’t you live without? I’d love to hear! Comment below.