When you’re pregnant and anticipating a baby shower, you usually create a baby registry (or two). It’s a good way to figure out ALL the baby gear and other assorted crap you will need for your baby’s first 6 months of life. I wrote a post on this a couple years back. Unfortunately, most of it will only be useful for about that long – 6 months – before your baby outgrows it and you pack it away until the next baby comes along (or you sell it if you’re done with babies).
But then what? Now you have an older infant or a soon-to-be-new-toddler and what kind of gear/crap do they need? Thankfully, much less than newborns need but there are still quite a few things that are nice to have. Here is my run down of what we used and found useful for our kids. (Disclaimer: These are just the products that WE used and what we thought of them.)
All photos link back to their source.
Convertible Car Seat
Your infant will likely outgrow his/her infant seat in height long before they exceed the weight limit. More importantly, while you *technically* can put a 30 lb. baby in an infant seat, good luck lugging that thing around when they’re that big! It’s hard enough when they’re tiny!
So the next step is the Convertible Car Seat. We made this switch with our kids when they were around 7-8 months old. The AAP recommends that children ride rear-facing until at least age 2 so you will want to look for a seat that can be used rear-facing and then can later be turned forward-facing. Unlike infant seats with buckets that snap into bases, convertible seats are just one piece installed directly so you will need one for each car that the child will be riding in.
There are plenty of seats at all price points and they all meet the safety requirements by law, so it’s really a matter of budget and preference (and size as some seats fit better in some cars than others). We have 2 Britax Marathon 70’s – one for each of our cars. Our smaller car is a Toyota Corolla and this seat fits fine.
If you were using a Snap-N-Go type stroller with the infant seat, you will certainly need a new stroller. I must admit that I am not very knowledgeable on strollers. We have The First Years Jet umbrella stroller and it’s a decent stroller. We use the stroller very infrequently so it would not be worth it to us to invest in a more expensive stroller. We also have our Chicco Cortina travel system stroller. That’s a great stroller with a nice big basket but it’s big and heavy. A friend is giving me a hand-me-down Sit and Stand double stroller which I am very excited about even though, again, we will use it so rarely. There are TONS of strollers out there and the price range is huge ($20-$2000+). Chicco has a lightweight stroller (Liteway) that gets good reviews and is not as heavy as the Cortina.
This is a fun one. (not really) Teeth can start coming in as early as 3-4 months of age and continue to poke through for the next 2 years or so. Unfortunately, there isn’t a whole lot you can do to ease their pain during this time which, honestly, just sucks all the way around. But there are lots of things you can try and maybe you’ll get lucky!
There are teething toys that can be put into the freezer and then gnawed on by baby to soothe their gums. We also tried frozen wash cloths and frozen purees.
My kids used pacifiers a lot when they were teething.
We used Baby Orajel Naturals and Hyland’s Teething Tablets. Both of these products have been somewhat controversial recently due to their ingredients and a little bit of hysteria. Do your research and decide for yourself if you want to try these products. The teething tablets did seem to help Leah some.
When all else fails, and especially at night, we turned to acetaminophen or ibuprofen. Ibuprofen is for babies 6 months or older. Check with your pediatrician for the correct dosage.
There are lots of different approaches you can take to introducing your child to foods. We started out somewhat traditionally with cereals (rice and oatmeal) around 4-6 months. We then started trying purees. We started with vegetables, and then moved to fruits, trying each new food for 4 days to allow for any food allergies to show up. I didn’t make my own purees so I can’t comment on that process, but we fed our kids mostly Gerber foods.
Once my kids were a tiny bit older, we gave them these baby food pouches. They are perfect for throwing in the diaper bag, but honestly, Leah gets one for breakfast everyday. They are so easy and also a perfect way to make sure she is getting fruits and veggies. We use all different brands including Sprout, Gerber Organics, Beech Nut, Goya, and Plum Organics. Babies R Us sometimes has great sales on their store brand pouches so I try to stock up then.
Once your baby starts eating food, it’s going to be messy. These feeder bibs are a must have! The pocket is great to catch dropped food and they are easy to wipe down or wash in the sink.
The First Years Color Change Insulated Sippy Cups are hands-down my favorite sippy cups. We also have the trainer cup version. They have just TWO PARTS (cup and lid), they’re EASY TO CLEAN, and they DON’T LEAK. They are also insulated and change color so you can tell if the drink is cold or not.
With Caelan, we had better luck with straw cups at the beginning and these Munchkin ones were pretty good. But they had a lot of parts and they leaked some (as most straw cups do) so as soon as he could use a regular sippy, we switched.
These snack cups are great for Cheerios, Goldfish, puffs, or any other small snack. They don’t 100% prevent a mess but it’s certainly far better than handing them an open bowl of snacks!
We have one of these for each kid at each set of grandparents house. They are small, inexpensive (and frequently available second-hand), and perfect for travel or grandma’s house. We also had one at home and we started using that for Caelan instead of the high chair around 18 months or so.
We use a lot of The First Years Take & Toss stuff. We use the sippy cups with lids (Caelan, at age 3, uses them without lids), we used the utensils, and I use the bowls with lids. We also use sectioned plates (any brand).
We have a few of these suction bowls. They sort of work. The kids can pull them off the table/tray so it won’t help you there, but it does give the bowl a little bit of stability.
For restaurant trips, we use these adhesive placemats. They are awesome. Babies will eat off the table for awhile until they are ready to use plates/bowls (without throwing them) so these placemats are perfect.
High Chair/Shopping Cart Cover
I’m including this because we used it and it worked well. However, we used it with Caelan and not with Leah, so what does that tell you? Kind of a first-time-Mom thing, in my opinion :) Ours was this same brand but slightly different. The one I’m linking here is better than the one we used.
What you need in the baby gate department really depends on your home. We have 5 gates – 4 different types – and they are all useful in different situations. We have also moved them around a fair amount as our needs changed.
This gate has been the most versatile. It’s a pressure mounted gate but it has the option of installing it with brackets so that it can swing open like a door. We have used the gate both ways and I like it a lot.
We also have this gate which we use at the top of the stairs that lead to our basement. We need to let our cats have access to the basement and this is a great solution. This is a pressure mounted gate, but it has brackets that can be installed so that the gate can’t be pushed out of place. My daughter will grab the bars and shake the gate vigorously and it doesn’t budge! The only thing is, our kids could probably squeeze through that cat door if they really wanted to. They have not tried, but it’s technically possible so I wanted to mention it. We also have another gate very similar to this, but minus the cat door.
The last type of gate we have is a super yard style gate. It basically creates a space in which you can corral your child or it allows you to block off a large space. It has 6 panels that can be bent different ways (or removed) so that you can create whatever shape you need. We have used this to block off a fireplace, a TV cabinet, and currently we use it to block our wide staircase.
Like gates, your need for locks is going to vary depending on your home (and your comfort level). In our old house, we put locks on our “dangerous” kitchen cabinets (those containing cleaning products, knives, etc) but not on others.
We used the Safety 1st Magnetic Locking System locks in our kitchen. They open with a magnetic key so that they are not visible from the outside of the cabinet.
When it came to baby-proofing, we sort of waited to see what our kids were getting into before we decided what we should try to lock up. In addition to the magnetic locks, we’ve also used a variety of other types of locks including the following:
We have used furniture straps to secure heavy furniture to the wall, including bookshelves and dressers. It’s hard to believe a toddler could topple a heavy piece of furniture, but they could. We used these for our furniture and they seem very sturdy.
An exersaucer or a jumperoo is a great thing to have for an older infant (age 4-10 months). It allows them to be upright so they can see their surroundings better and of course it lets them jump! It gives them a little bit of mobility before they really are mobile. We had the Fisher-Price Rainforest Jumperoo and it was wildly popular with both of my kids (and now with my nephew). 2,400+ positive reviews on Amazon can’t be wrong ;)
An activity table was also a hit with my kids. We didn’t have this exact one, but a similar one. It’s great for the sitting and assisted-standing phase.
Toys that can be pushed around are also great for pre-walkers. We have this ride-on/push toy and both kids enjoy it.
Other toys in the 6-12 month age range that were popular with my kids were things that could be put into and taken out of a container, anything with buttons, toy cell phones, toy remotes, etc.
My kids were around 7-8 months old when we first started putting shoes on them. Part of that was due to the season (it was winter). They had Robeez. Robeez are soft-soled shoes that are perfect for crawlers and cruisers (and even before then). I found that they run big so my kids wore the 0-6 month size perfectly at 7-10 months.