The best toys and books for a 1 year old

Baby basics shopping list

I was lucky to have had a baby shopping list passed to me by a friend. It saved me a lot of time as I was pretty clueless about what I needed to buy before the baby arrived. I modified that list a bit and included links to actual items I purchased. This list lives as a new page on my blog and you can easily find it in the header and share with your pregnant girlfriends. Also, I’d love to hear your suggestions on how the list can be improved. Check it out here!

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Shopping list: feeding the baby

List of items I bought related to feeding (my baby’s exclusively breastfed):


Things I packed in my hospital bag

I gave birth at the California Pacific Medical Center (CPMC) in San Francisco. I talked to several moms, from both the US and abroad, about the contents of their hospital bags.  I’ve gotten an array of items, such that, had I decided to pack them all I would have needed a giant suitcase 🙂 Looking back, I definitely brought some things I didn’t need, but also skipped some I wish I hadn’t. So next time my hospital bag will contain:

  • a nursing bra (or two). Breastfeeding for the first time resulted in major nipple soreness. PJ’s or any clothing rubbing against sensitive skin was just not bearable.
  • nipple cream (Lanolin) to apply before showering or after breastfeeding if colostrum alone isn’t helping with the soreness
  • plastic flip flops
  • lagest pads I can find (like purple Always)
  • lip balm
  • toothbrush, toothpaste, facial cleanser and moisturizer, deodorant, hairbrush and hair elastics/clips.
  • shampoo is optional. They had baby shampoo at the hospital and that was fine for the short period I was there.
  • an outfit to go home in (leggings and a tunic)
  • an outfit to bring baby home in (onesie, footer PJs, warm blanket). He got to keep his hospital hat, so no need to bring one.
  • cell phone charger, camera

Things I brought but didn’t need:

  • underwear. I purchased the cheapest granny panties from Walgreens that I was going to toss out after use. Didn’t end up needing them as my hospital provided me with disposable undies.
  • PJ’s. I ended up wearing two hospital gowns (one backwards over the other) at all times during my stay. It was really the easiest thing to throw on and off. With all the breastfeeding and doctor checkups, having to fiddle around with regular clothing would have been too much trouble.
I was told that some women like to bring a book or DVD’s to pass time. Time was flying pretty fast for me, so there wasn’t any need for those. Plus there was no way I could have concentrated on a book, there was just so much going on.
I was also told to bring snacks as hospital only provided main meals. I didn’t have much of an apetite or need to snack with all the excitement going on, and hospital meals came in generous portions that kept me full and happy.

Clothes for a newborn

Having never been around small babies, I honestly had no clue what clothing I needed to buy for my newborn. I sure asked fellow moms and googled this a lot and, as always, there wasn’t a single answer. I ended up purchasing the following items, and those worked out pretty well for San Francisco climate (spring-like year round). I do wash baby’s laundry every other day, so I might have needed more if I washed less frequently.

  • 5 kimono shirts that he wore until the belly button healed. Then we switched to onesies. 0-3M
  • 10 onesies 0-3M. I bought green and white
  • 5 footed overalls in 0-3M
  • swaddling blankets
  • 2 hats

I skipped the newborn size. Lazar was born weighing 8lbs 11.5oz. We upgraded to 3-6M size at 7 weeks.

I’ve also gotten a lot of clothing gifts that I sadly never used. Things like pants, shirts, socks, etc. It’s really hard to put those on a newborn, and makes changing diapers tricky.

Basically my newborn always has a onesie under his footed overalls. He stopped wearing a hat when he was 6 days old. During naptime and at night I swaddle him and put a blanket over the swaddle, if it’s cold.

He has a pair or fleece pants and a hoodie that he wears when we go outside (if it feels chilly). He started wearing those at 6 weeks old. Prior to that, I just wrapped him up in a warm blanket and put him in a stroller like that.

Cute baby things I bought on Etsy

Etsy is my go-to place for one-of-a-kind furniture, home decor, jewelry… anything. So surely when the nesting phase hit, few baby Etsy transactions were made.

The cutest little wool booties! I bought several pairs as gifts for my mommy friends as well. They are adorable, I wanted one in every colour! Prices vary but she will give you a discount if you buy more. Etsy store here.

I wanted decals for the nursery, and after much research and pondering, I decided to stay away from themes such as “nautical” or “safari” as I figured baby would outgrow them soon and we’d all be tired of staring at the same giraffe every day 🙂 I opted for a more serious chevron pattern, but picked a fun bright yellow that goes well with the rest of the nursery. They sell for $38 each, I needed 3 pieces for my wall. Application was easy but took 2hrs (might take you less, I was dealing with wrist pain at the time).

Can’t get enough of yellow chevrons 🙂 We use this blanket in the stroller (on chilly days), and for tummy time at home. Minky side still looks good after it’s been washed a few times. $32 on Etsy here.

This wooden toy car set ($32) can also be used as a teether. Not to mention it looks really cute as a decoration up on a shelf. The cars give off that nostalgic vibe, and I’m sure we’ll keep them around for a long time.

And lastly, two rustic shelves ($95), one in pale yellow, one in blue. They are a bit on the heavy side, but compliment the rest of the nursery well.

I’m always on the lookout for more cute baby things, so let me know if you find any 🙂

What’s in my diaper bag?

my diaper bag
  1. I’m using my Coach Poppy tote that dates back to my student days. I actually purchased a proper diaper bag, but hated the look and returned it. This tote functions just fine for now.
  2. Hair elastic and clip, because nursing or changing diapers with my hair down can get messy, having such long hair.
  3. At least a dozen wet wipes in a travel size container. Also 4 diapers.
  4. Several disposable (and compostable!) diaper bags. I use Green N Pack.
  5. Skip Hop portable changing pad, $26
  6. Change of clothes: hat, onesie, footed PJ’s, washcloth.
  7. Soothie Pacifier, $4, and Pacifier Holder, $5. We don’t use a pacifier at home. However, a pacifier comes in handy when he starts crying at the doctor’s office, or while in line at the grocery store.
  8. Hand sanitizer and some Kleenex.

Swaddling a newborn

Lazar, 1 week old

I don’t know if I’m a huge swaddling fan. It supposedly makes the baby feel like they’re “back in the womb” and helps them sleep longer. I haven’t really noticed any differences with my baby, he seems to sleep just the same swaddled or not. Mind you, he sleeps on his side or tummy, so those jolts don’t startle him as much as they would if he were on his back. More on sleeping positions in another post.

Where swaddling does help is getting him to fall asleep. I can rock him to sleep without his arms flying all over the place in protest. I didn’t really time it, but I have an impression that he indeed does fall asleep faster when swaddled.

I tried 3 different swaddling blankets until I found one that worked well for me and my baby:

  • aden + anais 4 Pack Muslin Swaddle Wrap, $32. Could be that I never really mastered a perfect swaddling technique, but these just didn’t work for us. The material is a little stretchy so Lazar always wiggled his way out of it. It was a matter of seconds before his little hands were free (see pic above). I still use these wraps a lot though: as blankets during play and sleep, to cover the stroller and shield him from sunlight, to cover up while nursing in public…
  • I received Gagou Tagou PJ’s and a receiving blanket set from my parents (you can get these at The Bay in Canada). I wish I could buy this whole collection, it’s adorable and they use good quality cotton. Swaddling Lazar in this blanket kept him swaddled for long, but since the material is a bit thick, tucking in all the corners can be hard. This blanket is great for tummy time.
  • My husband found these Summer Infant SwaddleMe on Amazon, $20 for 3-pack – it’s like a bag with velcro flaps that keeps your baby swaddled for good. I use these on daily basis and I’m happy with them. Don’t think I’ll be purchasing one size up though… Lazar’s 7 weeks now and it might be time to slowly start letting him (and me) used to sleeping without being swaddled.

Newborn diapering needs

Lazar, 1 month old

I was so nervous because I’ve never changed a diaper. But then I became an expert in 2.5 days. Given that I changed about 12 diapers a day, I quickly got a hang of it.

I never really considered using cloth diapers. It always seemed like a big chore, and I wasn’t sure how demanding being a mom would be. So disposable diapers it was from the start. I gave the following a try:

  • Pampers Swaddlers Sensitive Diapers– great absorbency, and I really liked the wetness indicator. Only after using diapers without one I actually realized it was a double edged sword: I ended up changing diapers way more often that I should have (like every hour, or as soon as I saw a smallest blue dot).
  • Honest lumberjack diapers – they feel a little rough, ok absorbency, no wetness indicator. They are non-toxic natural diapers. I bought a bunch on Gilt for a discount, so keep an eye there as they might be back. If you sign up for Gilt via this link, you should get $25 in your account.
  • Seventh Generation Free & Clear Diapers– similar to my review for Honest.
  • Huggies Little Snugglers Diapers– I had really bad experience with these. They leaked several times, flaps tore off as I was putting the diaper on, or they wouldn’t stick at all. It might have been a “bad batch” or else I’m not sure how this company’s still in business. I haven’t given them another chance just yet.

How many diapers do I need and what size? I purchased a single pack of about 80 in newborn size for starters. By the time we used those up, Lazar was ready to move on to size 1. (note, he was born weighing 8lbs 11.5oz.)

What about diaper rash? Yes, soon enough I was googling that :/ The good news is that diaper rash usually goes away in a day or two. I just wash the baby’s bottom with water and let him be diaper free for a few minutes to make sure the area’s completely dry. I apply a small amount of California Baby Diaper Rash Cream.I actually found it that it heals fast without the cream, too, if you give the bottom enough air-time.

Oh, right, I forgot about wipes! I used both Seventh Generation and Honest (I wanted natural wipes without any harsh chemicals). I liked both just the same. How many wipes? I use 2 for pee-pee diapers and 5-6 for poo-poo, so do the math.

And finally, to dispose of dirty diapers, I use Green N Pack compostable bags and toss them in household trash. My baby’s exclusively breastfed so his diapers don’t have a strong smell yet. I also didn’t like the look of diaper genies, and don’t know if I’ll ever be getting one in the future. I might change my mind once he starts eating solids 🙂



Newborn bath time essentials

As recommended by our doctor, we waited until the umbilical cord stump fell of and the belly button area completely healed before giving Lazar his first bath. Until then we gave him sponge baths twice a week, and washed his bottom, hands and face every evening (with cloths and water, no soap). He was about 3 weeks old when we gave him a full bath, and he LOVED it. He had this frozen look on this face, I don’t think he took more than two breaths the entire time :). He likes his baths the same now, he never fusses and seems really happy while bathing. Yay, hope that lasts!

To prepare for the first bath, I watched this video on youtube several times, and pretty much followed what I saw there. I only use a pea sized amount of baby shampoo to wash his hair. The rest of his body I wash with just water, for now. I don’t use any lotions.

I purchased the following bath time essentials for my newborn:

*Comments: wish the towels were a bit softer. Maybe it’s my fault for washing them on hottest setting the first time…

Newborn crib and bedding essentials

“The books” say newborns sleep a lot — 16 to 20 hrs a day, on average. So I figured if my baby was going to spend most of his day in the crib, I wanted that to be a comfortable and safe environment that didn’t cost me a fortune. I went crazy researching cribs and bedding that’s organic, non-toxic, natural, all that jazz… My initial list had an Oeuf Sparrow crib, that retails for $730. Plus an organic mattress, organic mattress protector, organic bed sheet… I was looking at well over 1K for baby’s crib and bedding at that point. Eek.

Further research paid off! Turned out the most unsuspecting place, IKEA, sells solid wood non toxic cribs for only $129 (Gulliver crib). Online reviews looked promising, but I was still skeptical, not being an IKEA fan myself. I went to check it out in person, which resulted in my firm approval of the crib. It was sturdy, and the minimalistic design was exactly what I had in mind. I purchased the crib and matching changing table that same day. I also purchased an IKEA crib mattress.

As for the rest of the bedding, I ended up purchasing bedding on Amazon. It was just the most convenient thing to do, especially as there are no big box stores in San Francisco and I was too lazy to rent a car and go to Babies R Us or Target in Oakland. Here’s the complete list:

Lazar’s crib