Mumma's Top 15 First Year Gear Picks

Last week B turned ONE. Ask a new mumma how she feels when her babe turns O-N-E and she will likely stare off into space, mouth gapped, unsure of how to describe the thousands of emotions that go along with that first year. What a year. What a year of learning. I have learnt more in this past year than any other. From birth and breastfeeding, to basic baby care and baby gear. From solids and sleep training (or attempts at this), to bodily changes and hormone fluctuations (mine of course, not Bs). Today, we're keeping things light though, and talking baby gear for the first year.

Oh, the gear! I have spent more hours researching baby gear over the last year than I care to think of. Pretty sure it's compulsive at this point. I don't buy unless it is has a solid backing in reviews (or if I get overwhelmed at a massive second hand baby gear sale and buy under pressure - avoid these at all cost!). And since I hyperventilate at too much stuff, trying to keep things minimal and organized around our house fuels my research compulsion - to only buy what is really needed (or makes life with a baby a little easier) and is THE BEST. I should note, that my best also includes price. Money don't grow on tress around here, so staying within our budget is also factored into my gear purchasing. And of course, what we love and use daily, is not necessarily what you and your family will love or use at all. So do your homework. But here are my top 15, loved and made-life easier, gear picks for our first year with B:

first year favourites
first year favourites

1. Aden and Anais Muslin Swaddles  If these are good enough for the royal baby George, they must be good stuff. I have a few other muslin blankets, but these just feel better. They actually get softer and softer as they age. And the prints! Oh, the prints. My favourite are the classic stars. We swaddled B in these for the first few weeks, and continued to use them all over the place. We also have a dream blanket (so dreamy soft!), and the security blankets, which brilliantly come in a 2-pack so there is always one available when one is being laundered. If only they made bedsheets for grown-up beds.

2.  Timi and Leslie Hannah Diaper Bag With my husband in mind, we I initially started with a man-friendly diaper bag (how considerate of me), but since I was the one on parental leave, it was me toting it around every day. And when we were all together, I got the bag, while my husband carried B. So when the inner fabric ripped away from the shell, I took it as a sign and found a prettier sack. And one that didn't scream DIAPER BAG. There are lots of pockets in the Hannah, stroller straps, a change pad (although I use our Skip Hop Pronto! instead), and an insulated bottle bag. I love it.

3. Medela In Style Pump Hate to love this one - it's been months, but I still feel like a cow every time I hook up to this thing. Pumping is my nemesis, but I wouldn't be able to escape for some much needed me time (or go to work) if it wasn't for my pump. I was generously given this pump second-hand from my sister-in-law, so this was one gear item that I didn't do any research on. After replacing the filters and hose, and giving it a good clean, it was good to go. I've never tried anything else, so I can't compare, but it has worked great for me. Despite my angst.

4. Pippalily Toy Strap A toy strap is crucial unless you don't mind buying multiple Sophies and sippies. I like Pippalily for their fun fabrics, and velcro on either end for easy on/off and sizing.

5.  Ingenuity Sleep Easy Play yard Oh the research I did on "play yards". We wanted a bassinet for the the first few months of room sharing with B, and we knew we'd need a portable bed for cottages and grandparent's houses down the road. After a ton of hunting, I decided on this one. The selling point, in addition to good reviews, was the washability of it. The whole fabric part just zips off and can be thrown in the wash. Ask me if I've ever had to wash it? No, but it is a nice feature that will likely come in handy as it ages.

6. Skip Hop Pronto! changing pad Having wipes and diapers all in one handy changing pad is essential for changes on the go. You do not want to be lugging a baby plus a full diaper bag, that you'll have to dig through to find wipes, into a washroom for a changing. You can easily lay out the Pronto!, and fold it back up again, with one hand. This thing has been invaluable in restaurants, cottages, grandparents houses, airplanes, hotels, car trunks, parks, etc.

7. MEC Ride Warm Stroller Bag  Our winters can be bloody cold (as we are experiencing this winter). We love this stroller bunting. It totally looks like a sleeping bag (and is actually sold in MEC's sleeping bag dept if you're looking for it), but it has slits in the back for a stroller harness. It is down filled and huge - lasting us two winters so far. Last winter when B was tiny, I would just tuck the end where his legs didn't reach under to keep the size of it smaller and warmer for him. This year, it fits great, and there is still room to grow.

8. Nose Frida Snot Sucker & Boogie Wipes. I've lost count of how many colds B has had this past year. This little sucker is crucial to helping him breath better. He tolerates it pretty well too considering. The wipes also make snot wiping easy (no head thrashing!) since they are soft and moist and smell nice.

9. Summer Infant SwaddleMe We swaddled B for almost 4 months. We tried many different swaddlers, and these were our favourites. They were the fastest and easiest to wrap, and the velcro kept things tight, keeping little hoodinis in.

10. Nellie's Laundry Soda & Buncha Farmers Stain Remover Both of these were recommended to us by the cloth diapering people. I initially thought I'd only use Nellie's for B's clothes and diapers, but the stuff is so amazing that it is all we use now. I will never go back to liquid detergent.

11. iPhone  Phone, camera, video, baby monitor, white noise machine, diaper/sleep/nursing tracker, baby guider, friend connector, 2AM baby question answerer, nursing entertainer, linktotheoutsideworldsanitysaver.

12. My Brest Friend Nursing pillows are one thing I didn't shop around for. I'd seen this one in use though and loved it's ergonomic shape and little back pillow, and strap-on ability. I only wish that it came in a higher pillow height to accommodate tall mummas.

13. Coconut Oil  This was initially recommended to us as a bum cream by the cloth diapering gurus, but I have also used it on my nipples (to prevent chapping), as a moisturizer for dry skin, as make-up remover, and of course, to cook with. I am addicted to this stuff.

14. Primo Euro Bath This was not our first tub. We started with a folding one for easy storage, but B quickly outgrew it. Being a big baby, I am always looking for "tall" baby gear. The Primo is the biggest tub I could find on the market, and I love how it can accommodate an infant in the lying position, or a sitting baby. B is an off the charts tall baby, but we just stopped using it last week.

15. Ergo Baby Carrier  Considering how important it is to find a good carrier that fits well, and the huge variety to choose from, it is a bit of a surprise that I also didn't really research this one. We were given a Bjorn (never used), and the infant insert for the Ergo. I'd heard great things about the Ergo, so I bought one when they came on sale without much thought. Both my husband and I have used it for walks, travel and for the few months when B wouldn't nap anywhere else late in the afternoon. It is comfortable and fits all of us well.

What were your first year favourites? Anything that made life with a newborn just a little bit easier?