Baby’s First Year: How I Survived with These Practical Essentials

Baby utilities

Becoming a new parent can be overwhelming, but with the right practical baby essentials, baby’s first year can be manageable and enjoyable. As a new parent, I remember feeling overwhelmed and unsure of what I needed to properly care for my baby. Over time, I learned what items were essential and helped me survive the first year. In this post, I want to share my personal experience. This definitely isn’t everything we purchased, but a list of the items that helped us get through the first year of life. 

Baby Feeding Essentials

Spectra S1

Breast Pump

A breast pump is essential for mothers who choose to breastfeed, exclusively pump on a schedule, or supplement. I chose to look for a breast pump that has adjustable suction and speed settings, a closed system for hygiene purposes, and a portable design for on-the-go pumping. I used the Spectra S1 and the Elvie pumps. I definitely prefer the spectra and did not use the Elvie that often. The Elvie would turn off if I had to bend over or if I moved my arms too much. For those of you who are on the fence between the Spectra S1 and S2, checkout Spectra S1 vs S2.

Nursing Bra and Pads

I wanted to add in a section for this because I used these items everyday while Exclusive Pumping. I spent way too much money trying to find the right pumping bra and I found that the Kindred Bravely works the best for me. I love the “Sublime® Hands-Free Pumping & Nursing Bra” in the size XXL Busty (250lbs, 5’ 6”, Size 18, 2X). I ordered 4 of them over the course of 6 months so I would have some to rotate. At the time the only pumping option was a Nursing/pumping bra but they now make pumping bras! 

The pads I used the most were the “Lansinoh Stay Dry Disposable Nursing Pads”. They worked really well at preventing irritation and were the most dependable at keeping me dry. I did try using some reusable pads off of Amazon but I did experience irritation during the day and when my daughter started sleeping through the night they would leak.    

Dr. Brown's Wide Neck Bottles
Dr. Brown’s Wide Neck Bottles

Bottles and Nipples

A good set of bottles is important for breastfeeding mothers who choose to supplement with formula or for those who exclusively formula feed. We chose a bottle with a wide neck for easy cleaning and a good seal to prevent leaks. My daughter used Dr. Brown’s Wide Neck Bottles and they have straw and sippy cup attachments that help with bottle weaning when the time comes. 

High chair with tray, white/silver color
ANTILOP High chair with tray


A highchair is an essential item for feeding time. It provides a safe and secure place for babies to sit while eating. When we were selecting a highchair we looked for one with adjustable heights, a secure harness, and a removable tray for easy cleaning. We started with the skip-hop highchair but when my daughter reached 4 months old she did not like the harness style straps. Our favorite highchair is the Ikea High Chair. This high Chair can be paired with a foot rest that you can find on Amazon or Etsy. 

Sleep and Comfort Essentials

Crib and Mattress

A safe and comfortable crib is important for baby’s sleep. It provides a secure and cozy place for babies to rest. When selecting a crib and mattress, make sure the crib meets safety standards and the mattress fits snugly with no gaps. Look for a mattress that is firm and provides ample support. We opted for a Beautyrest Crib Mattress that can be flipped over when the baby becomes a toddler. We ordered a crib by Million Dollar Baby through Pottery Barn. We have had issues with the crib and do not recommend it. Pottery Barns customer service in getting the issue resolved was phenomenal so I wouldn’t mind ordering through them again. 

Copper Pear Swaddle, Autumn


Swaddles and blankets are important for a baby’s comfort and safety. They provide warmth and help soothe babies to sleep.We chose Copper Pearl Swaddles that are lightweight and can be easily swaddled around the baby. We also used a Copper Pearl Sleep Sack to help transition the baby out of the swaddle. A sleep sack probably isn’t needed but it did help us get a full night’s sleep. I also love the “Autumn” pattern by Copper Pearl and I bought a ton of items in that pattern. I linked the Emerson Pattern because that is the color I ended up loving when my daughter got older. 

Baby Naps

The Dock-A-Tot was a tool I used when the baby was napping during the day. I was able to closely supervise naps and get a few things done around the house (folding laundry with the baby next to me or eating lunch with her next to me at the table). The Dock-a-Tot is no longer available due to changes in safe sleep standards implemented in the US. I did use the Lotus Travel Crib when we were on trips for our daughters naps. As of right now that would probably be what I would use. I also have the crib sheets. For more information on safe sleep check out this blog by March of Dimes. 



We opted to use the Wubbanub detachable pacifier for our daughter and it has been an essential. We really love the new detachable feature that makes the wubbanub easy to clean including you can buy extra pacifiers to clip on. Also when our daughter was old enough to be able to have a comfort item in her crib, this pacifier is easy for her to find if she happened to wake up at night. 

Rocking Chair or Glider

A rocking chair or glider is important for soothing and bonding with the baby. It provides a comfortable and convenient place for nursing, bottle feeding, and snuggling.

When we were selecting a rocking chair or glider, we looked for one with a smooth and gentle rocking motion, comfortable seating, and a sturdy construction. We ordered the Delta Children® Emma Nursery Glider Swivel Rocker Chair from Target because of the price point and it was readily available. 

Hatch Sound Machine

Sound Machine

White noise can mimic the sounds of the womb and create a soothing environment for the baby. It can also help block out outside distractions and allow the baby to sleep more peacefully. The Hatch+ Second Generation was our first choice as it offers a variety of calming sounds and a nightlight feature. It can also be controlled through a mobile app, allowing us to easily adjust settings without disturbing the sleeping baby. By providing a consistent and calming background noise, a sound machine can play a crucial role in helping a baby get the rest they need.

Diapering Essentials

When it comes to diapering essentials I have a recent post that goes into more detail. Please check out “Baby Diapering Essentials: A Journey Through My Diapering Routine.”

Diaper Caddy

The diaper caddy became an essential in our house after our daughter was born. It was great to just be able to pick everything up and move it around to wherever we needed it. Also having everything organized made the task a bit easier. The caddy I decided on fits in a suitcase. When we attempted our first vacation we had a rough time, but packing the diaper caddy is one decision I don’t regret. Here are a few items I keep in our Munchkin Portable Diaper Caddy Organizer.

  • Diapers:
    When selecting diapers, we chose ones that fit snugly, have leak protection, and are made of soft and gentle materials. We opted for the Pampers Swaddlers. In Emma’s first year we had no accidents and the markings on the outside of the diaper made it super easy to know the diaper was on correctly every time. We also started using Pampers Overnights at bedtime when she was around 8 months old. They were able to absorb more and allowed her to stay dry during the night and sleep longer.  
  • Wipes and Wipe Holder: This is going to seem kind of extra but a wipe holder is so nice to have! The wipe holder keeps wipes moist and eliminates the frustration that happens when the pack of wipes are getting low. We use Water Wipes purchased in bulk and the OXO Wipe holder.
  • Diaper Rash Cream: Diaper rash is a common issue for babies, and having a high-quality diaper rash cream on hand can make all the difference. The cream we choose is gentle, easy to apply, and long-lasting. It should also help soothe and protect the baby’s delicate skin. We used Boudreaux’s Butt Paste at bedtime and if the baby was experiencing discomfort during the day. Aquaphor is also another great option for barrier protection. We preferred Boudreaux’s Butt Paste because of the variety of products they offer that work for our daughter including the Maximum Strength which helps if she has a diaper rash flare up that is really uncomfortable. 
  • Diaper Cream Applicator: Diaper rash cream is a barrier protectant which means it’s an incredibly thick cream that prevents liquid from sitting on the baby’s skin. When skin stays wet it can “break down” or become red and sore which can create an environment for Diaper rash to develop. A diaper cream applicator helps aid in a smooth even coating of the cream on the baby’s bottom without getting cream on your hands that can be tough to clean off your hands. The Bumco Baby Bum Brush is our go to and comes in travel size that fits in the diaper bag. 
Ubbi Diaper Pail

Diaper Pail

A diaper pail is useful for managing dirty diapers. It helps control odors and makes disposing of dirty diapers easier. When selecting a diaper pail, look for one with a tight-fitting lid, a sturdy construction, and a design that minimizes odors. We chose the Ubbi because the Ubbi bags are affordable and the Ubbi can also be used with regular trash bags. They also have travel bags that are great to have on hand when out and about. 

Transportation Essentials

Baby Carrier

A baby carrier is an essential item for busy parents. It allows you to keep your hands free while still being close to your baby. The recommended carrier should be comfortable, adjustable, and easy to use. It should also provide good support for the baby’s head and neck.

  • Easy All Purpose Carrier: As a plus sized mom (250lbs, 5’ 6”, Size 18, 2X) I ended up spending so much money on other carriers trying to find the right carrier that was comfortable and breathable. The Ergobaby Omni 360 All Carry Positions has been the ultimate game changer and is super easy to use. I was hesitant on purchasing this because of the price point, but I do regret not having this sooner because of how easy and comfortable it is. 
  • Newborn Wrap Carrier: Baby wraps can be a learning curve but I really enjoyed letting my daughter sleep while I did some things around the house. I tried the Moby Carrier but the fabric made my baby and I hot so I would definitely use the Solly Baby Wrap again.  
Graco Click Connect System


A stroller is essential for getting around with your baby and should be lightweight, easy to maneuver, and compact for storage. It should also have a good storage basket and adjustable features for baby’s comfort. We used the Graco Click Connect (which is no longer available and we bought it last year). The Click Connect was inexpensive and came with a Carseat, Car Seat base, and stroller. I would highly recommend going for a similar system because we were able to learn what worked best for us and our lifestyle without spending too much money in the beginning. 

Car Seat

A car seat is essential for safe transportation of your baby. The recommended car seat should be easy to install, adjustable, and have a five-point harness for maximum safety. It should also be compatible with your vehicle and fit your baby comfortably. Graco has some great cost effective options that grow with babies from newborn to booster seat. We used the Graco Click Connect which is no longer available but was a great system to get for us for the first year.

Essential items for Parents

Infant Optics Monitor

Baby Monitor

When we moved our baby into the nursery at night the “Infant Optics Digital Video Monitor DXR-8 Pro” made it much easier to keep an eye on the baby. We also opted for a system that does not utilize wifi and works on a closed circuit system. This is a really good option for travel and the DXR PRO has a feature that removes background noise like a sound machine.

Diaper Bag

I went through a couple of diaper bags through my daughter’s first year. The first one I had on my baby registry was a backpack style. The backpack didn’t have a wide enough bottom so it would constantly fall over when placed on the floor. It was extremely annoying and was super gross falling over on the ground during diaper changes and doctors visits. The Mommore Bag I chose is a bag that could hold my crossbody purse, Spectra breast pump, Ceres Chill, and changing supplies. The bottom was flat and had multiple compartments to organize everything. It also came with a changing pad that came in handy. I loved this bag but now that my daughter is transitioning into toddlerhood I am in search of something smaller. 

Postpartum Support

Something we did was request DoorDash and Target gift cards for people who weren’t sure what to get us. This allowed us to do a Target Drive Up Pick-Up or order delivery in those first few weeks. We also had friends of ours who sent us a Pre-made meal delivery gift card from Fresh n’ Lean. We ended up keeping this service for the first 6 months after our daughter was born because it made lunch planning super easy. 

Something I do wish I had utilized was hiring a Postpartum Doula. Most Postpartum Doulas help with lactation support and can help answer any questions you may have after babies arrive. This would have definitely provided some breathing room in those first few weeks of bringing the baby home. I had a hard time after my daughter was born and this is definitely something I wish I had done and will be doing for and future babies.

Remedies & Medications for Babies First Year

Infant Acetaminophen

This is something that I had on hand in case it was needed. Acetaminophen is used for fevers and as a pain reliever that is used sparingly. My daughter’s pediatrician provided a dosage chart when she needed a couple of doses around 6 months old. We use the Little Remedies Acetaminophen that doesn’t have dye and has a berry flavor that makes it easy to administer. Our back up option is Genexa which also is dye free and has cleaner ingredients than other name brands.


On our baby registry I had a temporal thermometer which was my favorite to use. It was expensive and it began to fail after a couple of months. So we rely on a Safety 1st 3-in-1 Nursery Thermometer which works and takes a quick read.

Gas Relief Drops

In the first few months my daughter would get gas as we were figuring out which formula worked best with supplementing with breast milk. We would use Little Remedies Gas Relief Drops to provide gas relief. Little remedies also has a product called Gripe Water which works for similar situations but did not provide relief for my daughter. I know a few other parents that swear by it so it would definitely be worth trying. 

Frozen Teether

We used the Nuby 3pk 3 Stage Teether Set and this set came with 3 teethers that grow with the baby. I would place them in the refrigerator (or in a bowl of ice water for quicker cooling) and offer them around the clock when teeth were coming in. We also used the Haakaa Baby Fruit Food Feeder Pacifier when her gums were really sore. The haakaa also makes a “Popsicle Mold” which makes reloading the teether very easy. My daughters favorite popsicle combination was breastmilk and pureed blueberries.  

Nasal Saline Drops & Nasal Aspirator (Aka Booger Sucker)

We had the Frida Baby Electric NoseFrida Nasal Aspirator and the Frida Baby Baby Nasal Aspirator NoseFrida The Snotsucker All-Natural Saline Nasal Spray on our baby registry and we have ended up using both. When our daughter is sick the electric can make her upset after repeated use but the manual doesn’t make any noise and can be used while putting her down for a nap or bedtime and it doesn’t bother her. So we use the electric as needed and use the manual when she’s sick. The mist that comes with the Manual Aspirator has a sprayer that doesn’t work very well but we did use the bottle up before switching to the Little Remedies Saline Spray and Drops. I also like to have the bulb aspirator we brought home from the hospital on hand in case she’s refusing the others. The bulb is small and easy to use so she usually doesn’t mind it.


When our daughter would get constipated we would make sure she drank plenty of milk (or fluids in general when she was older) and we would use the Frida Baby Windi the Gaspasser when she was showing signs of discomfort. The packaging suggests lubricant or coconut oil when using the gaspasser and we used coconut oil.


When our daughter was a newborn I would wipe her off at the end of the day with a warm soft washcloth. I love the Washcloth Set by Cloud Island™ because they are soft and gentle on my baby’s skin. I would gently wipe her neck (remove any milk or drool residue) and private area to make sure it was cleansed. After her umbilical cord fell off I continued the wipe down every night and started adding in a bath twice a week. I used Earth Mama Foaming Baby Wash during baths. I used the orange scented foaming castile soap but Earth Mama also has an unscented foaming soap that works just as well. We started to implement a bath every night after our daughter was 6 months old to help keep her clean after she began eating solids. She would get food around her neck and folds that would cause irritation if not cleaned regularly. Now it’s a part of her nightly bedtime routine that she enjoys. Also we have a bath toy that she has had since she was 3 months old that she loves to use in the bath and it’s the Ocean Buddies Turtle by Tikiri Toys. It doesn’t have any holes so no water gets inside to grow mold. 

Dry Skin

My daughter has only had issues with dry skin on her legs if she is crawling around with no protection on her legs. I use First Aid Beauty Cream on myself and when my daughter has dry skin on her legs or face I use my own lotion on those places rather than buying a product for her since she doesn’t have any skin issues and dryness is extremely rare for her to have. If you want to read more, here is a link to First Aid Beauty’s website that discusses using their moisturizer on sensitive skin. “Safe for all skin types, the cream can be used by all members of the family, even children and babies. This clean formulation is allergy tested and fragrance-free with no greasy after-feel.” – First Aid Beauty. Also Pipette has a great line of products that I would use if she needed more skin care products. 

Cuts and Scrapes

When my daughter was learning to walk or I happened to be behind on trimming her nails she would get scratches on her face and hands. On smaller spots I would use breastmilk and on larger cuts and scrapes I would use the Active Skin Care Baby Spray. I started with the hydrogel but love how the mist dries faster so I don’t have to worry about it getting rubbed off.

Frida Baby NailFrida Set

Nail Trimming

This is an easy one. I have an Electric Baby Nail Trimmer and the Frida Baby NailFrida Set with nail clippers. The nail clippers are quiet and super easy to use during naps with a little viewport to make sure the baby’s tiny fingers don’t get hurt. 

Oral Care

My daughter started to get teeth early at 4 months old. She had a new tooth coming in every month and had 6 teeth when she was 10 months old. She also had 4 molars come in at one time the week of her first birthday. We used a finger cloth (Pre-Toothbrush) at 5 months, and started introducing a Dr. Browns Infant-to-Toddler Toothbrush at 8 months old and now we use a toothbrush and a little bit of the Dr. Brown’s toothpaste to keep the toothbrush in her mouth longer. We have also switched to a Colgate baby toothbrush now that she is a toddler and has better dexterity. 

A Good Toy Rotation

Having a good set of toys for your baby is very important. Especially when your little one get’s to be a toddler. We compiled some of the The Best Toddler Toys for you to check out. They have worked great for helping use keep out little one engaged throughout the day.

These are just some of the practical baby essentials that helped us survive our first year as parents. It’s important to remember that everyone’s needs and preferences are different, so don’t be afraid to do your research and find what works best for you and your family. If you have any tips or recommendations of your own, we’d love to hear them in the comments. I hope this post was able to help you out on your journey!