I have a couple of good friends who are nearing their due date for their first babies, so I got inspired to write up a list of things that have been really helpful in our baby's first year and beyond. If you are reading this and have input or things that you think are great, please add in the comments below! Check Craigslist, Freecycle, and Ebay for deals and to re-use for some of the things (I would suggest buying new for crib, mattresses, and car seats).
Aden and Anais large muslin swaddles (watch a video on youtube to teach you how to wrap!) I read how the cheaper versions sold at Target and such are smaller, I don't know firsthand, but the regular size ones from Aden and Anais worked really well for us. I know others who loved swaddles that have velcro or zippers, but for our baby they didn't work as well. The muslin is very breathable/thin so I felt somewhat comfortable if it came unraveled that it would be safer. We haven't swaddled for a while, but our 15 month old still loves having one in her bed to snuggle with and hold on to.
Woolino Sleep Sack made from organic cotton and merino wool. This has been a staple! If you were going to buy one sleep sack, I would say this is the best. Our baby (15 mo) is still very comfortable in hers. We also have Aden & Anais thin one for the summer and Snugbag winter weight for colder nights. The Aden & Anais was definitely nice to have, but not 100% necessary. The Snugbag is awesome, very cozy and warm filled with bamboo fiber, but it is less versatile and our baby is starting to grow out of that one now at 15 months because it has a little less width and length and we have a tall girl.
Crib Mattress: Savvy Rest or Naturepedic, for more info see their websites or my reviews. These are my two top picks, depending on one's needs. Naturepedic is more affordable and has waterproof covers already as part of them. Savvy Rest is more natural and the latex foam is very comfortable. We use the Savvy Rest now with a naturepedic waterproof cover.
Arms Reach co-sleeper with a Pure Rest mattress and organic cotton topper. I was told by Arms Reach that their newer co-sleepers do not have any formaldehyde or flame retardants on the sides at least. I looked for a nicer designed or natural material co-sleeper, but didn't like the other options I came across as much, also didn't want to spend too much money. This worked really great for us.
Baby Bjorn Travel Crib - we looked into various travel cribs. I like this one for many reasons, easy to set up, directly on the floor, so no uncomfortable parts under the thin mattress, just flat solid floor. I put an organic cotton cover on the mattress which makes it softer as the mattress has a removable waterproof cover that is a bit noisy.
Ikea Sniglar Crib - no finish, solid wood, affordable, no particle board at least the one we have, simple design.
Svan High Chair - we found a great deal on a used one. I love that it is all wood, very stable, and can be used as a bench later on.
Inglesina Fast Table Chair - this is wonderful, a friend recommended it and we use it especially when we are visiting family. It is easy to install, secure, and packs down fast. Very handy!
Baby food: a stick blender is what we used. It is easy to clean up, works, and you can use it for making soup too! I am an advocate for multi-purpose and less junk whenever possible. The only downside is you can't just blend up one meal's worth. But we usually made food in bulk anyway.
Food Storage: Ball 4 oz glass jars for freezer storage. I wanted an alternative to plastic. Bought the plastic lids (don't really touch the food) because I read they are more airtight.
Organic Caboose nursing pillow - we didn't get this until our daughter was no longer an infant, so I am not sure how it would work for a really small baby. It is more convenient than a pillow because it can form to your body a bit. You could use regular pillows also or there are nursing pillows that are not organic/natural but have a strap to hold around your body. I used that at the beginning, which was really helpful but I can't 100% recommend it because it is made out of foam so I think it might have flame retardants in it.
Nursing pads - I used both Lanisoh disposable nursing pads and organic cotton nursing pads. If I was out in the world at all, the Lanisoh were really helpful because they were more discrete and didn't let any milk leak through. The washable ones were nice when I knew I would be at home or for later on in nursing when I didn't need as much protection.
Glass bottles - We have Philips Avent and Dr Brown's. The Avent is the one we use most. The short shape and wide mouth nipple are both nice. Our daughter didn't really use any bottles for any length of time, especially when she was an infant. I haven't purchased the Life Factory bottle, but am considering it. You can put a regular lid on it (good for milk storage) or a sippy cup lid.
If you need a bottle warmer we liked the Tommee Tippee because it is simple, can be used on the go and could be used for something else down the road if needed.
Moses Basket - we borrowed one from someone, as we weren't sure if we would use it. It turned out to be a really nice thing to have the first few months. It is lightweight, portable and cozy. It is important not to lift by the handles, those are decorative mainly I think. There are a lot out there that range in price.
Skip Hop Activity Gym - this isn't essential, but it is fun!
Baby Bjorn Bouncer - this chair is great. It is simple, folds down, can be used as a seat later on, and bounces with movement from baby. The activity bar is a nice addition to keep baby entertained. We loved having this!
Infant Car Seat - you can use this on the floor to put baby in temporarily, we didn't use it at home really, but I know some people that have. It should only be on the floor and no where near where it could tip over. But it could be an option for a seat or short nap.
Skip Hop diaper bag - you can use anything really, but this particular one has been good for us. I like to keep it filled with supplies and ready to go. Sometimes I even just keep it in the car. I think this one is tasteful and doesn't really feel like a diaper bag. All the compartments are very useful and it has the option of attaching it to a stroller if that is important to you. We actually never used that feature.
UppaBaby Cruz and Mesa Infant car seat - no one else can tell you what stroller and car seat you should choose because it depends on your needs, lightweight, foldability, durability, shock absorption, etc. I wanted something that was not too heavy, could stand up when folded, reversible seat, had a large container underneath with easy access, and had adjustable handle height. Uppa Baby has an infant carseat that is easy to take in and out of the stroller, so that helped with the decision. The Mesa car seat also fit really well in our smallish car. It is a simple and not bulky design. I don't think it is cool though, our baby would sweat sometimes in the summer if she fell asleep in it.
Ergo with infant insert - this has been amazing for us. For walks, for shopping, for doing things around the house, for rocking to sleep if we were out somewhere. I know you can use the Ergo for a while too, and have baby on your back. The infant insert we didn't really use often, but it was a nice thing to have for sure. When baby is really tiny, it feels a bit big still. So having a wrap style carrier would be good.
We used the Baby K'tan during the first few months. This is really nice for an infant, they are right close to you and there is no bulk. This didn't work as well when our daughter got bigger, because there is less back support, and less support in general. But having this or some kind of wrap in the first few months is extremely helpful. I also had our daughter face out in this for short amounts of time when she was older, which she loved.
Kate Quinn Organic wash cloths - these are soft, organic, and they come in a pack of 10. I thought we could use our washcloths that we have, but ours weren't really soft like these. These seems just right for the first year. Later on, you can soak them in water and put them in the freezer for your baby to suck/chew when teething too!
Primo Euro Bath - this is something that I wish wasn't plastic, but it works so well. It is lightweight and can be used from infant to 24 months. We also had the Puj, a collapsable foam tub that fits in the sink, but it didn't work for our sink and set up.
Babo Botanicals Shampoo and Body Wash - we tried California Baby first which was good, but I think I like this company and product a little better. I came across it on another website/blog which said it was one of the least toxic brands out there.
Hevea Baby rubber ducky - click on the link to read my post about this rubber ducky. Way better than what seems to be standard now for rubber ducky. This one is all natural materials and won't get water inside which can easily grow mold. It is also lightweight, a larger size, stays upright, and has a sweet face. I think this is a great gift!
Naturepedic changing pad - this is very versatile and can be used anywhere. It has a strap which we used at one point.
Honest Diapers and wipes - I also liked Earth's Best and Seventh Generation, but these fit the best for some reason. We order them as a bulk order and they are much more affordable that way. Their wipes are our favorite, they don't have too much wet on them which seemed odd at first but ended up seeming to be better for baby's bum.
Weleda diaper cream - I haven't tried too many others and this one seems really nice. It has worked great when we have needed it. You might just want to try a trial size first as we don't really use it that often and it turned out to be quite a large container.
Grovia diaper cover - this has turned out to be our favorite cloth diaper system. We use the organic inserts, pre-folds and flat diapers inside.
OXO wipe container - a friend had this and I realized that is exactly what we needed maybe 2 months in. In the first few months especially there is a lot of diaper changing. You want to make it as easy on you as possible. Grabbing wipes easily is a big part of that. This container is awesome. You only need one hand to use it (very important). Press down on the top and it clicks open, there is a weighted piece that holds down the wipes so you can easily pull only one out. Highly recommend this!
Safety nail scissors - a friend recommended this and they are great!
Snot Sucker - we didn't use this a lot early on, but now it has really been helpful. Our daughter even asks for us to do it when she has had congestion.
XLEAR Xylitol Saline Spray- we used this when our baby was very little and still use it now, helps loosen congestion if it isn't already.
Colic Calm - we bought this and did use it, although I don't really know if it worked. But if I was going to get something like it, this is what I would recommend because it is homeopathic.
Instant Digital Thermometor - the one we have is ok (does on forehead or under arm) but I might try to find one that reads the temperature even faster.
Infant Tylenol - it is good to have this on hand just in case, we have only used it a couple times, but there are times when medicine is very helpful.
Babo Botanicals Sunscreen