Parenting Year One: Our Favorite Baby Products & Tricks!
I think I will forever pinch myself at how quickly Aveline turned one. The year, in all of it’s ups and downs, flew. It literally flew. I don’t even know how time can pass that quickly. But it did, so today I’m looking back at what our favorite products were for the year and our favorite tips and tricks! All of these things are things we loved so much that we will be implementing them for baby two when he/she arrives!
I need to preface this really fast: Pat and I are very practical people who truly don’t purchase things we don’t feel are absolutely necessary when it comes to raising babes. We have a lot of things that are the most basic, and cheapest, things we can get by with for our kids- but there are some things we think are worth spending money on. This is just a list of things that work for us!
Links to all previous baby posts are at the bottom of this post!
My Newborn Stage Must Haves:
The first thing we realized when we tried to sleep for the first night at home with Aveline was how terrified we were for something to happen to her. Before and throughout my pregnancy I had heard so many great things about the Owlet so when we started purchasing things for our small human this was on the first purchases we made.
Full disclosure. We loved the Owlet, and used it for the whole year. It sometimes malfunctioned and literally shit out on her birthday to which they responded the year warranty was up, BUT even with it not being perfect we still plan on using the Owlet for baby 2. Even though we were disappointed it failed us at the end and we couldn’t use the same one for the second baby we knew how much peace it offered us throughout the year, especially throughout the first few weeks and months, that we made it a priority to get another one.
Instead of a bassinet we opted to use this basket + stand. This is how Av slept for the first 3 months of her life. We absolutely loved the basket and stand system. We used it with the Dock-A-Tot until she was too long for it and then we just had her in the basket until we felt comfortable with her in the crib. We switched Av to sleeping in her crib solely at 3 months.
Sound Machine: This will be your best friend. Consistency is key, and this was one of the best ques we set for naps and bedtime. Not only did Aveline know when it came on that it meant a nap, but it helped her sleep successfully and smoothly. This was also a really big comfort zone while we were traveling. We love this sound machine so much.
Swaddles were not only amazing for the newborn stage, but now we use them on the go as blankets. Whether we’re traveling or heading to a game I always have a swaddle in my car and bag. (Spearmint Love is my favorite place to purchase swaddles, but Nordstrom also carries the same ones in pairs in their baby section)
After Av’s first few weeks we switched from cotton muslin swaddles to the ones below. We absolutely loved using them. I’ve also linked the swaddles we used for transitioning to get her to sleep in just jammies!
SwaddleMe Swaddles were hands down my favorites with Aveline
Then we transitioned to this swaddle around 4 months
Then we used this swaddle to transition her having her arms out, as soon as she was comfortable with that we removed the swaddle all together and had her sleep in jammies!
She was sleeping in just jammies at 6 months- but please remember every kid is different and this is just what worked with Aveline.
I will be trying the Ollie Swaddle with this babe and will be doing a review for it!
Dock-A-Tot- This was another thing like the Owlet for me. I knew before I got pregnant that I wanted to use it because so many of my friends had used it and loved it. This product did not disappoint and I truly loved every moment with this product. We used it for a total of 5 months.
We traveled SO much with Aveline for her first 3-6 months so we also had the travel bag and found it so useful. We were able to pack the dock, a swaddle and her sound machine in the bag and always checked it. It was just one thing that made the trips flow easily.
We chose to not have any of the other accessories for the Dock-A-Tot because we wanted it to be a place where we knew we slept, not played. We were very strict about keeping sleep and play separate and this was one way we did so.
Breastfeeding, Pumping, and Bottle Feeding:
The best thing a veteran mom told me when I was pregnant with Aveline was that if I wanted her to take a bottle to not wait too long to give her one. I knew before I had Av that I wanted to have as much help from Pat as I could get with her, so I knew I would be pumping and bottle feeding her. I can’t quite remember how long I exclusively breastfed for but we think it was 3 weeks. Again, it’s what worked for me- I don’t need haters or commentators on this, so if you don’t agree with it, keep your mouth shut. Remember that every mom is different and the awesome thing about being a parent is that YOU as the parent get to make the decisions!
I absolutely loved pumping and bottle feeding more than I loved breastfeeding, so I am going into this baby with open arms and seeing what I like best with it, too! Pat is truly the best and wants to be able to help me with feedings. He loved being able to have that bond with Av and relationship with her- she saw us both as food providers and it was so great for me to know that if I needed to sleep in, or run errands, that Pat could do the same as I could if I were there… below are all of the things we used and love!
When I got pregnant with B2 my milk supply dried up. Honestly, it was almost a blessing in disguise because at that point I was exclusively pumping and it was starting to take it’s toll on me. We did a lot of research on formulas to ensure we picked the one best for our family. We chose the Baby’s Only Organic Non- GMO Dairy with DHA & ARA formula. Aveline took great to it and we never looked back.
Breast Pump | Pumping Bra | Bag Adaptors for Pump | Pumping Bags | Pump Wipes (amazing for traveling) | Bottles, Smaller Bottles | Bottle Cleaning Station (huge secret, friends. Buy a clean/organic dishwasher detergent and toss that shit in the dishwasher. We will not be washing bottles by hand this time) Favorite Brush | Travel Drying Rack | Formula
I really did like using the Spectra breast pump and have only great things to say about it. I loved that I was able to take it around the house with me since it didn’t have to be plugged in every time you used it. As much as I did like it I will not be using it for this baby. I will be deciding on a hands free/cords free pump as soon as baby comes (there are two about to hit the market that I’m waiting to decide between). I will be sharing with you which one I get and a full review on it after a few months of use!
I am doing this because we travel so much, and I also need to be able to work conveniently and efficiently while pumping to ensure I’m staying up on work for the farm. I am so excited for the next pump and cannot wait to share with you what I think!
Carseat & Strollers:
Choosing a carseat was one of the biggest challenges for me and Pat. There are SO many carseats on the market, and so many great ones that it truly took us a few months to not only research, but decide on a carseat. We decided on the Nuna Pipa Lite and have truly loved it throughout the first year with Aveline. We chose it because it had to not only pass certain standards in the USA but in Europe and having the extra testing and certifications made us more comfortable. You can use a car seat for two years, so we were hoping that we’d be able to have another baby close and knock two birds out with one stone, especially since this carseat was a little more expensive than most on the market.
Deciding on a stroller was much easier because so many of my friends had babies before me and I was able to see what they loved and hated before we had to make a decision about this on our own. We bought our stroller knowing we wanted to have our kids close together, so the decision to go with the Uppa Baby Vista Stroller where we could tote a toddler and baby around was easy. It’s 100% a big investment, but we figured purchasing a more expensive stroller up front was worth it instead of buying one just for Aveline then having to upgrade later on when we did have baby 2.
Towards Aveline’s first birthday we purchased the Uppa Baby Minu. This stroller is a dream. It is lightweight, easy to transport and use by yourself with one hand, and has the perfect under storage compartment. It was the easiest way for me to be able to take her with me to games once my bump got uncomfortable to wear her in the sling everywhere, and will make traveling with her while the baby is so small much easier. It’s also the perfect stroller for zoo & city days.
When the baby comes we will most likely use the Minu while traveling until the baby is a few months old. Flying with brand new babies is honestly so easy, because they can be worn on you. This not only makes them more comfortable because they’re on you, but it takes away the risk of strangers touching them and exposing them to germs/sicknesses- especially when you have a baby during the winter and early spring months.
Near the bottom of the post I talk about my favorite carriers and slings!
Bedding + Changing Pad Covers:
I love, love, love Burts Bees crib sheets and changing pad covers. Of the few we tried I felt that their quality is the best and the softness of them has held throughout the whole year. One thing I’m really glad I did was always order gender neutral things, even once we had a girl. That is making everything we have now useful for this babe if it’s a boy, saving us money in the long term!
I have three sets of sheets and mattress protectors for Aveline’s room. This allows one to be in use, one to be in the wash- need be, and one clean and ready to go. Blowouts rarely happen nowadays, but when they’re little those things are more than frequent so it’s best to have a few so you are prepared.
One thing I never knew I needed was covers for the top of your crib… teething was a beast to us and I would find sister gnawing the paint off of her crib she was chewing on it so hard. Do yourself a favor and buy these bad boys now and have them for when you need them!
The links below are for our mattress, the mattress protector, sheets, changing pad and changing pad covers we’ve exclusively used throughout the year.
Diapers, Skincare + Bath Time:
It is so important to me that we have been, and are, cautious of what we put our babies in and what we put on them. Almost every single product I use for her Av’s bath and skincare is organic and/or EWG certified, and we have chosen to use Honest diapers throughout most of her life, along with wipes that are ragrance-free, dye-free, alcohol-free AND contain no parabens, phthalates, bronopol, or methylisothiazolinone.
Below this section is a list of what our favorite products have been, and only ones we’ve consistently used and trust.
YOU HAVE TO PAY ATTENTION TO WHAT IS IN THE PRODUCTS YOU PUT ON YOUR BABY (AND YOU)!
Ever since Aveline was born we exclusively used Badger Baby Balm on her. I will never forget her pediatrician complimenting how great and soft her skin was throughout her monthly checkups throughout her first year. Around 10 months I started also adding Baby Mantra’s Calming Massage Oil to her skin before the Badger Balm to help her skin stay nourished throughout the winter months.
After trying Burts Bees, Honest and a few other diaper creams I fell in love with Baby Mantra’s Diaper Cream. To be honest, I truly try to avoid using anything on her bum unless it’s absolutely necessary.
Our go-to rash helper? Burnt Flour. My dad taught me this trick during Aveline’s very first diaper rash and to be honest I thought he was f*cking with me. Like you want me to burn perfectly good baking flour and then put it on my daughters butt? Absolutely not. But, after nothing else worked I tried it… and it made the rash disappear overnight… you were right, dad… you were right…
How to burn flour-
Light a candle and open a window. I don’t care if it’s winter in Chicago and 8 degrees, crack the window- you will thank me. Also turn that fan above your oven on if you have one.
Place a skillet on the stovetop and turn the temperature on medium/low
Pour a cup of unbleached, organic flour in a pan (dad recommends a cast iron skillet but we don’t have any in Chicago with us so I’ve used a normal one)
Slowly stir the flour until it turns brown and smells like shit.
Once the flour is all the way browned transfer it into a bowl to cool. Once it’s cooled I put it in a small mason jar and put it in babe’s room!
NOTE: I usually make a couple of cups at once so I have a couple of mason jars ready when need be. This stuff is literally magic and will save you so much money on diaper creams. Trust me, friends!
For bath times we used this bath system with the BabyDam while Aveline was a newborn, but as most of you know, sister hated baths until the middle of October. Now that she loves baths I’ve listed her favorite toys and soap!
Diapers & Nighttime Diapers | Wipes- we’ve always used the sensitive ones | Bath Soap & Shampoo | Everyday Lotion- Baby Badger Balm | Nighttime Foot massage- Badger Sleep Balm | Oil to help during harsh winters- Baby Mantra Calming Massage Oil | Baby Mantra Diaper Cream | Flour I use for the burnt flour concoction | Sunscreen (Pat and I use this one exclusively now) | Favorite humidifier- SO good for cold winters!
Bathmat | Toys: Rescue Boat with Helicopter | Jellies | honestly, she is entertained with cups and her soap bottles so usually that’s all we have in the tub with her!
When Aveline could sit and was ready to start eating mashed/solid foods we used the Bumbo. It was so easy to put away when we weren’t using it and was easy to wipe down and keep clean.
We are not fancy people by any means. Truly. We tackle life with a practical approach and believe in saving as much money as we can. That being said, there are SO MANY baby products we did without or bought the “basic” of. Our favorite being the Ikea high chair. We bought one for our Texas home and then after we had a bug infestation in our dining room in Illinois and had to get rid of the one we had as a hand me down we got another one for Illinois. That bad boy has been on of our favorite parenting hacks. Easy to clean, lightweight and easy to take to grandparents’ and friends’ houses, AND under $25? Sign us up!
Another thing I did to save money was that I used a simple food processor to make her purees once she was ready for them. This seems like a small victory, but I am so proud that we never bought any canned/pouched food for her- I made everything she ate when it came to purees! (if you are interested in a blog post about that let me know in the comments!)
Below are our favorite eating utensils and tools!
Bumbo Seat | IKEA Antilop High Chair | Bowls- let’s be honest, she eats straight from her tray most days but when we’re feeling fancy sister uses those- mostly because she can’t pick it up off her tray | Spoons, More | Sippy Cups
Teething is definitely not a walk in the park, and every single baby is going to react differently. Remember that. There isn’t a one fits all description for teething but for us these toys helped Av when she wanted to chew on something. Once she was 10-11 months I started offering her all fruit popsicles when I knew she was having a rough day with her teeth. One of her main signs that she’s having pain from teething is that she will bite on her arms. Once she does that I usually will give her a popsicle for her snack or a treat during the day. She loves the cold on her teeth and I think of it as a fun treat/distraction for her.
Remember once your baby has teeth you should start brushing them. One way we made this fun instead of a chore was that we introduced the NUK toothbrush to Aveline early. We let her have it and showed her what it was for and then let her explore, play, try to use it herself for a few months. We also would brush her favorite stuffed animals’ teeth to show her how it’s done and to make her comfortable with letting us do it to her.
Once she had a few teeth we took to being adamant about brushing her teeth with it at least once a day. It’s supposed to be twice but we worked our way up to that. Once she let us brush her teeth consistently with the NUK brush we switched to the RADIUS ones. My biggest recommendation with most things parenting, but especially brushing their teeth, is to make it fun. We sing a song about brushing our teeth before we brush, as we brush, then as soon as we’re done we rinse off our toothbrush and clap. It might sound crazy but it is so easy to get her to brush her teeth when we do this! To this day we still sing our “we did the bath!” song as soon as we’re done with bath so she remains excited about baths. I honestly love it, it makes it so fun and she smiles so big, it makes the monotonous things special.
Burp Cloths, Bibs + Carseat Covers:
Hands down my favorite burp cloths, bibs and carseat covers are Copper Pearl. I love them. We bought and had so many different brands gifted to us before we had Av and the ones I loved the best were Copper Pearl. Honestly, I have donated all of the other burp cloths because I loved these so much!
Throughout her first few months I stocked up and stuck with them. The quality is par to none, they wash really well, and they are durable. I absolutely love this brand. We also exclusively used their bibs for the first few months Aveline was eating. Now it’s easiest to feed her naked and wipe her down afterwards. I’m all about avoiding laundry when possible- ha!
Slings & Carriers
I tried a few slings and carriers throughout the first few months of Aveline’s life. But honestly, if I had to recommend one that throughout the year was the most useful it would be the Ergo. It was the best for our lifestyle. From traveling, navigating through busy stadiums, and going on long hikes this carrier was the hands down winner. I felt the most secure with her in it and never felt like it would have to be readjusted or tightened like the Solly Baby or Wildbird. That being said though, the Solly Baby and Wildbird served their times well in our house and we are planning on using all three with baby 2.
Aveline was 5.2 pounds when we brought her home. After the first week or so I love putting her in the Sollybaby for a few of her naps during the day. I loved how comfortable it was and how soft their fabric was. As she gained weight the downsize was that I felt I couldn’t ever keep it tight enough to keep her from slipping. Also, I felt like I had to wash/dry it if I used it a few times so it would wrap tight enough.
The Wildbird became my best friend once my bump was too big to wear the Ergo comfortably to games. I absolutely love wearing the Wildbird while I am pregnant to carry Aveline if we’re at the Stadium. Now that she is crawling and starting to walk there is no need for me to strap her to me unless we’re at a game- if we’re out she’s in her Minu. I’ve never been one to strap her to me just to wear her around, again that’s just my preference… this mama likes her space ;)
Here me out on this one because most parents are going to think we’re crazy about this. Pat and I didn’t have a video monitor for Aveline until her 8 month regression. You read that right. We didn’t feel the need to have one until she was eight and a half months old. We had the Owlet on her at night that would alert us of an issue and we had her sound monitor in case she cried. Honestly, I loved it that way. We plan on doing the same for Baby 2! You have to remember people raised babies hundreds of years ago without anything we have nowadays… sometimes we worry too much and make things way too hard for no reason. I remember before I had Av I would tell Pat, “we’re having a baby- millions of people keep babies alive- they’re not handing us a baby panda and expecting us to figure out something no one has done before”… maybe I’m way too relaxed as a parent. Whatever. It works for us! Below are my favorite electronics we use!
Owlet | Vtech Sound Monitor | Vtech Video Monitor | Sound Machine | Travel Sound Machine- this was great for when we traveled!
Apparel & Shoes:
Pat and I have always wanted a big family, and kids close together, so we knew that when we were investing in clothes that we were looking for quality and clothes that weren’t gender specific. Yes, Aveline has pink and “girl” clothes but I am truly proud of myself for keeping focus on buying neutral items and then throwing a bow on her to ensure people know she’s a girl. Below are my top favorite companies where I’ve gotten almost all of Aveline’s clothes throughout the past year.
L’ovedBaby Onesies: These are by far my favorite onesies and ones that we have consistently used over and over throughout the months. Once we knew we wanted kids close we knew we’d be willing to spend a little more for quality of clothing to ensure it lasted for multiple children. I cannot say enough amazing things about the quality of Loved onesies. They are thick, easy to wash, and made so well. Everyone always told me that I would hate button up onesies but they are truly all we’ve used since the first few months. For an added bonus I love that all of their fabric is organic and contains “no harsh added chemicals, no dangerous flame retardants, and the use of safe and gentle dyes.”
Not only do these onesies work perfectly for pajamas, they are the cutest onesies for traveling! They are the perfect weight for being in airports and airplanes where it’s usually a little cold.
My favorite of their products are
You can buy their products on Amazon!
Nordstrom Pajamas: Nordstrom baby clothes run a size big, so remember that if you’re going to purchase any of their items. I fell in love with their pajamas right away- a cute print sold me and then the quality kept me around. Their pajamas are a little thinner than L’ovedbaby so they’re perfect for Texas summers.
Primary Clothing- I will be kicking myself for a while for not purchasing this brand until Aveline was almost 11 months old. The quality of their clothes is amazing and to be honest it’s hard to beat their prices. Plus I love their fun colors!
Zara has quickly become my go-to spot for Aveline’s clothing. Their prices are great and I honestly love how unique their style is. Their quality is not top-notch, but usually I grab really great deals so I can’t be upset if the clothing doesn’t last past Av or baby 2.
They have one of the best quality hats and gloves for kids I have found. Aveline wore their winter accessories for most of the football games we attended this year.
One of my neutral tricks is their sweaters and sweatshirts- they always have a lot of grey, navy, black options that make it easy to purchase for either gender.
My favorite shoes for Aveline were Freshly Picked and Uggs. Freshly picked were so easy to slip on her foot, yet hard for her to get off. I loved Uggs in the early winter/winter months because I knew if we were outside her feet would be warm.
We’re from the South, so we barely wear shoes around our house. I honestly didn’t worry about putting shoes on Aveline until she was over 6 months old. Whenever I took her out of the house I always had her it footed pajamas.
A lot of people have questioned me on how I can justify paying so much for the Freshly Picked moccasins. This is one of the things I am willing to spend a little bit of money on because usually the ones I buy are gender neutral colors and we will be able to get more than one kids’ use out of them. Right now I have all of the pairs saved and ready to go in their room for baby 2. The quality of their moccasins are really great and I believe in spending a little more on quality apparel and shoes so we can use them for more than one kid, especially since our kids are so close in age.
Other Apparel Favorites:
Hands down my favorite bow company is Little Poppy Co Bows. It’s a monthly subscription bow company and honestly we love getting them. Since I was so neutral on how I dressed Av I loved having new, in season, bows for her. Plus, they recently released a mommy and me matching bow set which I’m in love with. I’ve found their quality of bows is better than a lot of other companies.