Solids, Walking, and Talking
6 to 12 Month Must-haves
- Spoon — Hard to feed little ones without a spoon. The Munchkin Silicone Spoons are easy to use, budget-friendly spoons for baby.
- Dish Set — If you have concerns about using plastic as we do, take a look at Untangled Living ANYware Collection Stainless Steel Dish Set. It is made from inert stainless steel that doesn't impart flavor to the contents and it is easy to wash and comes with a cute pattern on the bottom of the bowl and plate.
- Bib — Bumkins Waterproof SuperBib can help keep your little one cleaner, or at least limit the number of outfit changes they go through in one day.
- Transition Sippy Cup — The Pura Kiki Vacuum Insulated Toddler with Sleeve is a great option for little ones transitioning from bottles to cups. This sippy has a stainless steel body and a medical grade silicone spout. It is easy to clean and use, and it won our top award in our The Best Sippy Cup Review. It comes in both 5 and 11 ounce sizes. However, the appropriately-sized 5 ounce is only available with a nipple, so you will need to purchase the Pura Kiki XL Sipper Spout separately. We highly recommend this combo and their Pura Kiki Short Silicone Sleeve makes the cup tacky and easier to hold as well as serves a bit as insulation to protect tiny hands from the chill cold beverages.
First Aid Kit
This is a time of first foods, scooting, crawling, and for many babies, walking! As they gain milestones and become more mobile world explorers, it is time to beef up your first aid kit so that you can be ready for the eventual need. Along with a trusted thermometer such as the Exergen Temporal Artery Thermometer and other important early infant first aid items which we made reference to in our In the Bubble Section, you should also have the following handy.
- Acetaminophen Liquid — Infants' Tylenol Liquid
- Ibuprofen Liquid — Infants' Motrin
- Children's Benadryl Liquid — Children's Benadryl Dye-Free Allergy Liquid
- Ice Pack --
- Bandaids --
- Antibiotic Ointment — Polysporin
- Arnica --
- 1% Hydrocortisone Cream --
- 5mL Syringe
- Poison Control Number Posted —
It may feel like the need for baby proofing is miles off, but it is amazing how fast baby will grow and become mobile when you are sleep deprived. Start the childproofing process now so you'll be all set when the crawling happens.
- Safety Gate — A great baby safety gate can mean the difference between piece of mind and total chaos within the home, not to mention your baby's good health and safety. For the top or bottom of stairs, the Evenflo Easy Walk Thru Top of Stairs Gate is user-friendly with a wall-mounted mechanism that provides extra security.
- Outlet Covers — Electrical outlets while intriguing to toddlers are a downright danger zone. It is best to cover up ALL outlets on the early side before scooting or crawling begins. This way, the covers quickly become uninteresting before they can even attempt to pry them off. Basic outlet covers with best, tight fit are the ones to get. A few to try are the Safety 1st Plug Protectors and the Mommy's Helper Outlet Plugs. Best to avoid buying in bulk until you are sure that you have ones that fit like a glove and are difficult to remove.
To greatly reduce risk of burn injuries from hot water, set your home's hot water heater to 120F or below.
- Crib Rail Covers — Once baby can pull themselves up in the crib, they will probably start sucking on the crib rails. Good guards can prevent them from ingesting any staining or paint and will also keep baby's crib looking nicer for the longterm. TrendLab Fleece CribWrap Long Narrow Rail Cover for the front and possibly the back of the crib (depending upon crib design) and TrendLab Fleece CribWrap Short Narrow Rail Cover in a 2-pack for the crib's sides.
- Cabinet and Drawer Locks — Munchkin XTRAGUARD Dual Locking Multi Use Latch
- Toilet Seat Locks — The toilet is a very important spot in the home to childproof as curious, top-heavy toddlers are at risk of falling in head first easily. However, finding the best solution that fits your particular toilet(s) and lifestyle is going to take some MacGyver-esque trial and error. A few options are the Safety 1st Swing Shut Toilet Lock and the Mommy's Helper Toilet Seat Lid-Lok.
- Safety Bumpers — Any sharp edge is fair game for injury. Coffee tables and fireplaces are prime real estate for falls and lacerations. However, get down on your hands and knees and look from baby's perspective when childproofing. Here, you will appreciate sharp edges and corners that need bumpers. Roving Cove Safe Edge and Corner Cushions
- Cord Shorteners or Wall Brackets — Dangling shade or drapery cords need to be placed out of a toddler's reach as risk for strangulation is high. Safety 1st Window Blind Cord Wind Ups
- Anchor for Furniture and Television — Safety 1st Furniture Wall Straps, Safety Innovations Anti-Tip TV Safety Strap
Babies are curious! Make sure to place all cleaning products and medications UP and out of baby's reach. Be vigilant when guests stay that their toiletries and medications are on a shelf well above baby' grasp.
Outdoors with Baby
Getting baby outside and enjoying the sights and sounds of the world is good for everyone. But you are going to need some gear before you go. First and foremost, it is important to keep baby covered from the sun as much as possible as their skin is delicate, sensitive, and prone to burning. This means a hat, sunglasses, and clothing covering arms, legs, and feet. Secondly, for those exposed body parts like face, hands, arms, and legs, sunblock is important to have at the ready.
- Hat — Sunday Afternoons Play Hat is made of 100% Nylon, with 100% Polyester mesh. It has a floatable foam core, is moisture wicking, and has Supplex® fabric consisting of certified UPF 50 sun protection. It is overly large and protects face, ears, and the back of the neck.
- Julbo Looping I Sunglasses with Spectron 4 Lenses are round and wrap around to protect baby even when they are looking up. They include the Spectron 4 polycarbonate lens, which are light but shock resistance. Lenses are category 4 with 95% visible light reduction to protect little peepers.
- UPF Swimsuit — Too much sun is a bad thing so it is a good idea to protect as much of baby's delicate skin as possible. Coolibar UPF 50+ Baby Beach One Piece Swimsuit is made with sun protective aqua SUNTECT polyester that is rated UPF 50+. Snap closure bottom and neck line are great for diaper access and getting the suit on and off. It sports 4 way stretch capabilities and is machine washable with line drying.
- Sunscreen — For every inch not covered in clothes you'll want to use a quality sunscreen. thinkbaby Sunscreen SPF 50+ is the 1st sunscreen to pass Whole Foods Premium Care Requirements. It has the highest level of SPF protection at 50+, is highly water resistant (up to 80 min), and is free of harmful chemicals.
- Pre-Walking — Robeez Soft Soles are perfect from infancy to early walking. Made of soft leather with an elastic ankle cuff, they stay in place and keep feet warm, covered, and well-protected for beginning exploration. For girls the Robeez Owlivia Soft Sole and for boys the Robeez Friends Wrap Around Soft Sole are just the ticket for getting started.
- Walking — Once baby takes their first step, get ready for non-stop action. We are big fans of Pediped as they are designed to promote healthy foot development and have been awarded the American Podiatric Medical Association Seal of Acceptance. Their Original series are geared toward early walkers with a soft yet supportive sole and velcro closures. The Pediped Originals Jake Sneaker for boys and the Pediped Originals Jazzie for girls are adorable, but there are loads of designs and styles to choose from.
6 to 12 Month Nice-to-haves
- Blender — While there are loads of pre-made baby foods on the market, you might be interested in blending up a little good food yourself. Sage Spoonfuls Puree and Blend and Baby Bullet both give you the ability to mix up food for baby yourself. The upside is knowing everything that goes into your baby's body to ensure great stuff inside.
- Recipe Book — The Wholesome Baby Food Guide Recipe Book can give you a good jumping off point for making your own baby food. While it might seem time or labor intensive, you'll be cooking for baby soon enough, so you might as well start now. The process is probably easier than you think, and possibly even fun to boot.
- Freezer Containers — Freezing food for baby can make the food last longer and give a cold edge to small quantities great for using in a teether product. Green Sprouts Silicone Freezer Tray and Wean Green Wean Cubes both have nice individual size portion sections so you only thaw what you need.
Out With Baby
- Inglesina Fast Table Chair won our Editors' Choice award in our review for Best Portable High Chair.
- Dining Surface — Keeping messes to a minimum is what the Summer Infant Tiny Diner does best. This placemat sticks to most tables with suction cups and is easy to clean with a catch tray that hangs off the side. It is easy to clean and pack in a diaper bag and perfect for keeping your baby's lunch where it belongs.
- Snack Cup — Eco Vessel Gobble N Go Snack Cup can be a great way to take snacks on the road with you. This snack cup has a stainless steel body and a nice silicone lid that has an easy to access opening for little ones to get their own snacks but still avoid spilling. It also has handy handles for easy holding.
- Shopping Cart Cover — The Itzy Ritzy Shopping Cart and High Chair Cover can be taken on the go with you and used for all the scuzzy shopping carts you might encounter when running errands. its one size fits most approach means you will be set no matter what store you go to. If you are worried about baby putting their mouths and fingers on everything, this is the item for you.
Exercise with Baby
- Jogging Stroller — Owning a jogging stroller is a great way to get out of the house, exercise with baby, and get some much needed fresh air. We recently reviewed 13 of the top jogging strollers on the market in our Race for the Best Jogging Stroller. The Thule Urban Glide earned Editors' Choice with the BOB Revolution Flex not far behind, both excelling in runability, maneuverability, and quality.
Look for a jogging stroller that is infant car seat compatible. That way you can use it for taking baby on long walks on smooth terrain for exercise before they have good head and neck control. If your jogging stroller has great suspension, jogging on smooth terrain around 8 months, well after baby can sit up on their own with good core strength. Jogging on rough terrain we feel should begin around 12 months. Some jogging strollers don't have any other suspension than their pneumatic tires, and in this case, our opinion is that jogging on smooth terrain should be be postponed until 12 months with rough terrain to follow around 15-18 months.
Interactive toys that have some kind of cause and effect relationship and ones that utilize baby's senses are a great hit and important for overall development. Between 6 to 12 months, babies are exploring everything they can get their hands on and become engaged and entralled with activities such as stacking and nesting, opening and closing, filling and emptying, shaking, pushing, squeezing, hugging, pouring, and sorting. Of course, if it is something that they can safely gum and chew on, even better.
Most toys have attached labeling on packaging recommending appropriate age range for development and importantly safety purposes. The CPSC is a resource of helpful information on how to keep infants, toddlers, and children safe during play and has the following helpful PDF titled Which Toy For Which Child: A Consumer Guide for Selecting Suitable Toys. Page 10 has information on toys for older infants ages 7 to 12 months.
Items to avoid in infancy and early childhood: Smaller items that can be placed in mouth and swallowed or aspirated, small magnets, button batteries, toy chests with lids, balloons, toys with strings and straps.
- Sensory Balls — Edushape 4" Multi-Sensory Balls Push, throw, feel, bounce, smell, observe
- Blocks — Soft, rubber, or wood with rounded edges. B. One Two Squeeze Blocks
- Shape Sorter — Inserting items and making them disappear only to dump them out again and start all over! Fisher-Price Butterfly Shape Sorter
- Lift-the-Flap Book — Where is Baby's Belly Button?
- Simple Puzzle — Once baby is picking up objects with one hand, putting them into containers, and manipulating them, he is they is ready for a first puzzle! Great for development of fine motor skills. Simple and easy with 3 to 4 pieces, big knobs, and large colorful pictures with visual references underneath. Melissa & Doug Pets Jumbo Puzzle
- Music — Nothing better to demonstrate cause and effect like musical instruments for babies. Drum to bang on. Rattle or Moracca to shake and notice cause and effect; if baby can teeth on it, even better! Hohner Kids 4-Piece Mini Orchestra, Rainforest shaker to shake, turn over, listen, and observe. Hohner Kids 8" Mini Rainmaker Shaker
- Plush Toys — Kids Preferred Healthy Baby Buttercup Doll, LeapFrog My Pal Scout as well as a girl's version named Violet.
- Bath Toys — Bathtime is a great time for exploration and discovery. From pouring water out of containers, to floating and sinking objects, and attaching items to the walls of the tub, there is so much to be excited about at this age! Green Toys Submarine, Boon Water Bugs Floating Bath Toys with Net, Munchkin Float and Play Bubbles, iplay Tub Boats Set
- Sturdy Push Cart — When baby is getting ready to start walking, a sturdy push cart or wagon like the Haba Moover Baby Walker will become a huge hit. It is important to find a sturdy push cart or wagon though that will stand baby pulling him/herself up by the handle and also have adjustable resistance in the wheels so that the cart doesn't roll ahead away from baby. Another to consider is the newer Janod Crazy Doggy Walking Cart produced in France. Cart to push with cargo area to fill and empty.
Do not use a walker for your baby; there is too much risk of injury. In addition, ride on toys are not recommended at this age.
- Interactive Electronics — VTech Busy Learners Activity Cube, Once baby starts pulling themselves up, the LeapFrog Learn and Groove Musical Table which is great because it can be used without legs early on then with legs later when baby is ready to pull up to play. Turning pages, open and shut, press keys, turn on sound and lights, listen and sing.
Toddlerhood: 1+ Year
1+ Year Must-haves
On the Go
- Full-Size Stroller — UPPAbaby Vista is a great option for those that truly desire a stroller that can carry a baby from newborn through early childhood. For a lighter umbrella option, the UPPAbaby G-Luxe is much lighter, but is full-featured with a well-padded, nicely reclining seat ideal for naps , and a large sunshade and adjustable leg rest for coziness. It folds down easily and fits in most trunks easily.
- Convertible Car Seat — A convertible car seat is a seat that can work for various ages and stages, not a seat with a top that comes off. The Britax Boulevard ClickTight is our favorite convertible car seat and will work for children from newborn to booster age.
Potty training is best done slowly and when baby is ready. Starting too soon or putting on the pressure can lead to potty problems down the road including constipation or hemorrhoids from trying to hard to please parents. If it isn't coming easy, it might not be the right time.
- Potty Chair — The BabyBjorn Potty Chair is a simple easy to use portable potty we think you'll love. Great for boys and girls this potty is super easy to clean and kids really like it. It comes in a variety of colors, is light weight and budget friendly.
- Training Pants — Once you are on the road to potty training you'll want to move baby out of diapers and into training pants. Blueberry Trainers are a nice option that can help baby feel like they are getting bigger and doing a good job. The pants themselves can be a great inspiration for little ones on the fence about taking the plunge into potty time.
1+ Year Nice-to-haves
- Lovie — Some toddlers will still be lugging around their lovies from infancy, and that's ok. Whatever they need to keep or develop good sleep hygiene is a good thing in our book. Little Giraffe Chenille Baby Blanket
- Color-Changing Clock — My Tot Clock is a great color changing clock that can help children learn when it is time to sleep, and when it is okay to wake up. This can potentially increase the amount of time children stay asleep and how often they bug parents in the morning. For a review of the most popular toddler clocks on the market, take a look at our article about The Best Toddler Clocks.