I have gotten a lot of request in the last few weeks to do a post about Amalia’s favorite toys, but then I started writing it and realized I should share all of her favorite items that have helped us over the last year. For a list of everything we had on our registry (updated with notes after the fact on what we used and didn’t), read this post, but looking back, I didn’t think far out enough when registering and certain things for later in her life (like a high chair) would have been helpful to add to the list.
Everything listed below stands out the most as some of the most consistently used or helpful products in terms of sleeping, eating, playing, and travel. If I remember, I’ll try to do this every year because I would have loved to have this list ahead of time myself and I hope it helps some of you when choosing what you need and what you don’t for your babies.
Side note: Look at how cute and tiny her little feet were at three weeks old! Her newborn shoot was impossible because she wanted to see everything so we got no cute sleepy infant pics. We had to fake it with this one because you can’t see her face. For my most helpful post on baby sleep read about how I got Amalia to sleep through the night here.
The SNOO: Listen, no one should have to pay such an exorbitant amount of money for a bassinet, and I wish that The Happiest Baby people could somehow reduce the price but for now it is what it is. If you can afford it on your own or get friends and family to chip in for it as a gift, The SNOO is a game changer in terms of those early naps and sleeps. Read my full review of The SNOO here.
Rock ‘n Play: Everyone told me to register for a Rock ‘n Play when I was pregnant and I had no idea what they were talking about. I added it to my list and figured that I’d figure it out later. We set it up and put it in a closet and forgot about it. Then we brought Amalia home and realized something no one had told me yet which is that newborns hate sleeping on their backs for the first few days at home because it makes them feel like their falling! So we dragged that Rock ‘n Play right out of the closet and had her sleep in it for the first week until she was ready for the SNOO. It was clutch. We also used it for naps when she had bad gas a few weeks later. Being more upright helped her tummy.
SummerInfant SwaddleMe Swaddles: When my mom showed up at our house on day five or six of Amalia’s life and we were all a hot mess, one of the first things she did was to go on Amazon and buy a few SwaddleMe swaddles which took all of the stress out of swaddling a very squirmy little Amalia. We preferred the original swaddles (in size small to start) and not the pods but I know some people love the pods. Moms are pretty brand loyal when it comes to swaddles but I swore by these!
Magic Merlin: When we transitioned out of the swaddle, we put her in a Magic Merlin and I swear that month or two when she was in it made up her bet month or two of sleep in her whole life. She loved that thing. I know a lot of people are against it because it’s one more thing to transition out of but I’m all about getting sleep where you can! The transition out took about two and a half days total, so it was worth it for us. For anyone who doesn’t know what a Merlin is, it’s basically a big puffy Michelin Man looking suit that is a good next step from a swaddle because babies can move their arms but not a lot.
Travel White Noise Machine: My friend Arielle told me about this gem of a noise machine for our trip to LA in January. We bought it as a travel item but ended up ditching our other noise machine and home and using this one instead. It gets super loud (if you need it during a thunderstorm or whatever) and is tiny so it doesn’t take up a lot of room. I promise you, you don’t need the cute sheep shusher, this is so much better!
SummerInfant Bath Seat: She’s now such a big girl (wah!) that she takes a bath without any sort of insert, but this tub was a great transition for that in between phase when she was too big for the infant bath and too little to be without any support. She loved it for whatever reason and would laugh hysterically during most of her baths in that thing. Example here. That might be my favorite video of anything ever of all time. I realize that the bath seat isn’t a sleeping device, but we give her a bath before bed and it didn’t fit into any other category so here we are 🙂
OXO Tot Sprout High Chair: Read my full review of our high chair here. My grandma bought it for her as a Christmas gift, just as we were introducing solids. I know people have strong opinions about high chairs but I just wanted one that was safe, functional, and looked good in our kitchen. This one checked all of the boxes and we’ve been happy with it so far. The cushion and leg colors are customizable so it works in most spaces too!
Beaba Babycook: The Beaba team sent over this contraption when I was pregnant and I had no idea what it was for or if I’d ever use it. When we started feeding Amalia back in December, I tried to make most of her purées, and the Babycook came in handy because it steamed and blended everything in one fell swoop and didn’t take up too much space on our kitchen counter. Check out some of her favorite purée recipes here.
Dr. Brown’s Bottles: We switched to Dr. Brown’s bottles when our baby nurse recommended them after Amalia had pretty bad gas at four weeks old. Once we made the switch, her gas was so much better. We use the wide neck ones and changed up the nipples at three months, six months, and nine months. She currently uses a four. I had no idea you had to change the nipples until someone told me, by the way!
Bella Tunno Bibs: Someone sent us a few of these bibs in a press package but they quickly became our favorite because they’re adorable and adjustable so they fit all sizes. But the best part is that for every product you buy from the company, they donate a meal to a child in need.
Finally we get to the toy section which is what you all wanted from the beginning! She has a lot of toys but these stand out as ones that held her interest for the longest time. I’m not kidding when I say she prefers books over toys, and she spends most of her play time “reading” but she has some toys that she loves. Here are some of her favorites for different stages.
VTech Cube: A friend of mine told me that her kid would sit in front of this toy for hours at a time so I immediately Prime’d it and ripped the box open the next day. She wasn’t into it for the first few days (I think she was scared of it?) but then it became a Godsend. Just be careful when your kiddos start to pull themselves up to standing because it tips easily which we found out the hard way.
The Very Hungry Caterpillar Stacking Cups: This is a random one but a friend gave her these as a gift about six months ago and they’re still a favorite. She will take two of the cups and bang them together for quite a while. She’s just starting to actually stack them, but I don’t care how she uses them because they make her happy and keep her occupied!
Baby Einstein Jumper: My dad and his wife gave her this jumper for Christmas and she lived in it for the next few months. I found out a while later that it’s actually not great for their hips so I tried to limit her time in it after that. But let me tell you, Amalia was obsessed and would sit in it for up to 40 minutes at a time playing with each section or with a toy that I’d hand her. Those were the days! I could get so much done like folding laundry or even working while she “worked in her office” as we used to call it.
Jonathan Adler Play Mat: If you buy your infant one toy, buy this. Amalia used to lie on it for literally an hour at a time. I could leave the room and she wouldn’t even notice. That only lasted for about four months but it was clutch. She puked and pooped all over it but it was washable so we didn’t even care!
VTech Walker: When she started showing an interest in walking, I knew I wanted to get her a walker but many of them are huge and our house is pretty small. I asked around on my Lemon Stripes Mamas Facebook page and you guys recommended this one. We love it! Amalia walks up and down the hall with it and when she gets sick of that, she’ll sit in front of it and just play with the buttons and “dance” to the little songs it plays.
VTech Cow Toy: Apparently VTech products are the best, and I hadn’t even heard of the brand before I had a baby. Someone gave us this as a gift (I feel like an a-hole because now I can’t even remember who it was), and it plays super annoying songs, but it was her ride or die favorite toy for upwards of four months. It could keep her occupied for 20-30 minutes at a time, I kid you not! If any moms out there have this, I’m guessing “I’m a soft and spotted cow” haunts your dreams too LOL!
Hand Puppets: I don’t know what brand they are (I linked to a set that looks pretty close) but my aunt bought her hand puppets as a gift and she loves them. She’ll cuddle up with them or bring them to me to have me sing a song or tickle her with them. They’re great for car rides too.
Pottery Barn Kids My First Anywhere Chair: My mom just bought this for her first birthday and even though we’ve only had it for a week, it has quickly become a favorite. She likes to pull a book over to it and sit to “read” in the chair. It is so cute I can hardly stand it!
Pottery Barn Kids Beanbag Chair: I know this is technically a product for me but it’s been amazing to have in Amalia’s playroom over the last few months. I like to be down on her level so we can read and play together and having this comfy seat makes that easier. She climbs all over it and me and I have some of my favorite memories together sitting in it reading books and giggling.
ToteSavvy Diaper Bag Insert: I feel like I never shut up about this diaper bag insert but for anyone who’s organized-obsessed like me, you will love it. You can keep all of your diaper bag stuff organized in this and then just move it between bags.
Folding Booster Seat: This chair is awesome for travel so you don’t have to hold your baby on your lap to feed her. It just makes things so much easier for road trips! It also has legs so you can use it at the beach or on a picnic and put your baby in it right on a towel or the ground which is nice.
Baby Bjorn Travel Crib: We’ve travelled a ton both on road trips and on planes (you can check cribs for free because it’s baby-related btw) and this travel crib has been so clutch. We bring a sheet from her crib so it smells like home and she sleeps really well in it. The first few times were rough but once she got used to it, she was a little champ. I know it’s on the pricier side and pack and plays are also a great option!
Skiphop Changing Pad: This was on my original registry because a few friends of mine had recommended that we get one. I thought it was just another thing on the list but it has saved us on numerous occasions and for multiple blow outs. It has pockets for diapers, wipes, and diaper cream and we always keep a zip lock in it in case of a major situation. When you go into a public restroom or airplane bathroom, you can just carry this in without a huge diaper bag.