Baby essentials the first year

Baby essentials the first year

Posted: July 2, 2024 Updated: July 2, 2024

Very much in the Other Things category I thought I’d do a round up of essentials we used for our baby in the first year.

I’ll preface this by saying I believe there is so much waste in the world and so many things are purchased and not used long enough. If you can pass on items you buy, or obtain things second-hand, go for it! So many baby products are easily cleaned, shared and able to be used again and again.

Of course, make sure you know what you’re buying and inspect it for safety when it comes to things like high chairs, cots and prams.

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Play gym

While I made do for the first two months, having a proper play gym is great for your new baby. My play gym hack, if you are looking to save space / money / the environment, was made by hanging toys from a clothes drying rack! I tested and used my most stable rack, and our baby used it for the first two months of her life. It’s definitely a handy space saver too.

I will say once your bub gets a bit stronger they can pull these over, so the clothes rack distraction is best for the early months (trust me, you do laundry every day with a newborn 😅).

Since then we were given one (second hand) similar to this adorable Fisher Price mat. We’ve seen our girl learn so many new skills on that mat, including rolling and when she learned to kick the arch to make the hanging toys jangle! It’s also a great way to see them grow when suddenly they can reach the highest toy. 🥲

Be sure to get a mat that’s machine washable and has a flexible canopy, bub is going to pull on it!

A baby bouncer, or two!

I collected two baby bouncers off Facebook Marketplace before our girl was born. One I requested and took a forty minute round trip walk into the city to collect (while pregnant!) and carried home. The other was offered to me when I was collecting some cute baby clothes.

It hadn’t crossed my mind to buy these, but once we started using them they were invaluable. Both of them, every day.

We had two different styles and each had clear benefits for us and for our baby.

The first this super cute bear design by Ingenuity which we kept in her bedroom by the change table. We’d put her there after nappy changes so we could keep her safe while dashing off to wash our hands.

Why it was perfect: I refer to this as our luxury bouncer. Initially she’d be in there, the tiniest little thing for a few minutes while we washed our hands. But we noticed the deep reclining design was actually quite cosy for her. It also allowed us to put a blanket over her (she was born in winter) to keep her warm.

She sat in there while we had our meals. It was the most gorgeous thing around the two month mark when her eyesight progressed and she could see the two toys dangling!

The second bouncer we had was a far more typical model by Fisher Price. It had an arch over the top with toys that could spin if tapped. Just like the Ingenuity rocker we were able to see our daughter’s progress as she began reaching for them, and learning how to hit them and make them spin.

This unit was a bit more lightweight and was actually useful to take into the bathroom so I could watch her while having a shower.

This is the model we had but it doesn’t seem to be made anymore!

Bathroom Sink

Weird item, right? Well the best thing is that it costs you nothing. For the first two months or more we used the sink in our bathroom to bathe our little bub. The basin is so useful because it’s already at the perfect height for mum or dad. It meant no leaning over hurting your back or standing up holding a slippery little bub! It was especially useful after my c-section when my range of motion was limited.

A few things to note, clean your basin each time before use – you don’t want toothpaste residue in there! Fill with hot / warm water first but finish with cold so that the tap is cold. This way if your baby reaches out to touch it they won’t burn their little fingers.

If your change table is on wheels you can take that into the bathroom with you. We’d wheel it in, undress our daughter and then it was just an easy turn into the warm water of the basin. It also meant we were holding a slippery baby for about three seconds before getting her into a fluffy towel.

Moses basket

A Moses basket is a small basket, usually with a stand, that your baby can safely sleep in. What’s different about it? It’s lightweight so you can move it anywhere around the house.

This was an amazing item for us, it allowed us to have our girl sleeping nearby at all times. It meant that we didn’t have to continually go into our bedroom to check up on her. Instead she’d be sleeping beside the dinner table, or taking a nap while my husband was working in the office.

The added bonus was that she learned to sleep in different environments and conditions. A bright room in the middle of the day, the TV on in the living room in the evening, or while we had guests over.

I even popped the Moses basket in the car and took it to my parents house when we visited for dinner!

Our girl grew out of the Moses basket when she was about three months old, but depending on the size of your bub this could be useful to you for much longer.

A cheaper alternative to a Moses basket is to use your pram bassinet! We had the bassinet portion of the pram in the house for storage, and we used it in our living room on a few occasions when she was struggling to fall asleep for an afternoon nap. It allowed her to settle because she wanted us to be close by, and we were still able to do things without being stuck in the bedroom.

I bought my Moses basket second hand, gave it a clean and purchased a new mattress and a set of sheets. By the way, Kmart bassinet sheets fit perfectly in my pram and protected it from spills. The Aussie floral design was one of my favourites.

Hospital Bassinet

We rented a hospital bassinet thanks to the recommendation of our OB. A hospital bassinet is just what it sounds like, the sturdy, raised bassinet you’ll find on maternity wards around the world.

The OB recommended it for a few reasons. One, the unit is on wheels, you can move your sleeping newborn around the house without disturbing them.

The tub is plastic, meaning you can see right into it, so lying in bed you can easily see your baby and know they are fine. Third reason, it’s so easy to clean. Our girl would throw up multiple times a day, sometimes twice just in the process of getting to bed. It was so easy to just wipe down the sides, no fabric walls to take apart and wash.

The fourth thing that was brilliant for us, the mattress inside was just a bit smaller than a standard pillowcase. This meant we had endless sheets to change over for our endlessly vomiting baby.

Probably the best, and actually unexpected advantage, was that having baby accessible at waist height was incredibly helpful after my unexpected c-section. It meant that I didn’t need to bend over to a standard bedside bassinet or a deep cot.

We used a company called Hospital Bassinet Hire Melbourne, but you can also rent from Hire for Baby who we have had fabulous experiences with for our baby capsules and car seat installations.

Our rental was around $300 and we used it for three months, until our girl grew out of it. All rental companies I’ve come across provide a weekly extension if it’s still suitable for your baby.

Rear mirror

A mum friend had insisted on a mirror so I could see my baby in the rear-view while driving. She recommended a low-cost option from Kmart at just $12. I picked it up the next time I was in store but I found it didn’t work for our car! It barely fit the headrest in our BYD, but also, it was very difficult to get the angle right so we could see our girl’s face.

Instead I bought the Maxi-Cosi mirror which has a ball and socket joint at the back allowing you to find the perfect angle on all axis. At a little over twice the price it’s worth the extra money spent.

Baby Earmuffs

Weird concept? Not until you need them! I read recently that the maximum sound a baby should be exposed to is around 80dB. You can get that just by using the vacuum cleaner at close range.

So it’s easy to think of situations where bub might be exposed to loud noises. In our case it was for our first trip as a family, flying overseas, to meet her dad’s side of the family.

We bought the baby size earmuffs by EMs which I feel were reasonably priced. However if you need a less expensive option Amazon have similar products available.

A toy library membership

I got a funny look when I told my local toy library that my daughter was four months old and I was signing up. Yep, I was a bit early! Actually, for our local toy library they have products suitable from 6+ months, so it wasn’t long before we were finding great toys to amuse our girl.

If you’re unfamiliar with the toy library concept here’s a quick explanation.

You purchase a membership, this gives you access to borrow say, four toys at a time. The borrowing period is three or four weeks, plenty of time to see if your kid loves or loathes it. At the end of the loan you simply return the toys (give them a clean of course!) and that’s it!

Why is it great? Kids are sooo different, even from babies. There were things we brought home that she didn’t like at all, or just flat out ignored.

Imagine if I’d spent 50 bucks on something for nothing? Ooft.

Even something they like, they may not enjoy for very long. After that it collects dust, takes up space in the garage and then either gets sold on Market Place with pieces missing for a few dollars, or worse, ends up by the side of the road for hard rubbish.

For me though, I love it for a few key reasons. 1. We have a very small house, I do not have space to keep big toy sets. 2. Having a child produces a lot of waste, if we can share amazing products that means there will be fewer wasted ones. 3. It’s a great way to trial products, it’s been so satisfying to borrow something before buying it to be sure it’s a good fit.

Essentials bought in bulk

I was recently chatting to a soon to be mum, giving her a few tips, including this one so I thought I’d add it to the article. If there are essentials you can buy in bulk, do it!

I don’t mean food, I bought food like we’d be in baby-lockdown and it was a bit silly. We still ate it all, but I probably didn’t need to. The best things I have bulk bought were down to two main ones.

Baby wipes, you use a tonne, and with everything else going on you cannot monitor how many you have left or if there’s a spare packet in the drawer. And heaven forbid you take the packet from the nappy bag because you might forget to replace it (been caught out myself!).

I buy a box of six packets of wipes from Aldi. I’m not sure how long it lasts, maybe two months? It’s great though, for a few weeks I don’t need to think about it and the cost is under $15.

The other thing to order in bulk is… toilet paper! You know you need it every day, so if you’ve got the space order a box from Who Gives a Crap. Then relax knowing you’ve got 48 rolls until you need more. That’s about a six month supply, easy.

If you don’t believe me, try carrying a baby, two bags of groceries and a massive packet of TP under your arm. Doesn’t work now that you’re holding a baby 😁.

The wrap on the premium rolls are all black and white – which is high contrast and great for newborn’s eyes. You could line these up during tummy time for some visual stimulation, too easy!

Looking for more baby and pregnancy content? Take a read of my experience with the glucose tolerance test. If you’re coeliac or on a gluten free diet check out all the gluten free ready meals at Woolworths.

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