12 Things For Surviving The First 12 Months of Parenthood

Before I had Harper and even after she was born, I knew nothing at all about babies and baby stuff. I basically thought that most diapers were the same, that the only strollers that were out there were bulky ones that were part of a travel system, and that I pretty much needed everything that you could find in the baby section to get by.

Before Harper was born, I packed her diaper bag with about 15 diapers, 2 huge packs of wipes, about 10 burp cloths, 3-5 extra outfits, toys, 6 passies, 3 swaddles, extra clothes for me, and a lot more things that I thought I would need every time we left the house for an hour.

I was so paranoid about not having everything I needed and not being prepared. I am lucky that I had some experienced moms give me some good advice on baby gear and what is actually important throughout this transition into motherhood.

Over the course of this past year, I have learned for myself some of the things that were actually needs and some of the things that were complete wastes of money and wastes of those precious Target gift cards that I was given at my shower.  Hopefully my newfound mama wisdom can help other expecting or new mamas figure out what to skip and what to stock up on.

1. The “BBBBBs” Bottles, Blankies, Bibs, Burp cloths, & Binkies!

You can honestly never have too many of any of these. It seems like they were always going missing or like all of a sudden every single blanket and burp cloth and bib was in the washing machine.

I exclusively breastfed until 13 months, but when I pumped, the bottles I liked were Playtex with the drop in liners to help prevent gas. Harper was never been very picky about which binkies she liked, so I usually stocked up on the Walmart brand, (Parent’s Choice) because they 2 for under $1.50.

My favorite blankies were Aden & Anais swaddle blankets because they are breathable and super cute. I also used these as nursing covers by tucking the corners into my bra straps. I found this much easier than a nursing cover and it made it so I had one less thing to carry around.


I preferred to use flannel receiving blankets as burp cloths. They are larger than a normal burp cloth, super absorbent, and cheap. I usually purchased a 6 pack of them from Marshall’s or TJ Maxx in fun modern prints.

My all time favorite bibs are from Cotton On Kids. They are large and cover your baby’s shoulders, so they actually protect their entire outfit. They come is super fun prints, and even have band bibs. We have the cutest Rolling Stones bib that I found on clearance, and they normally sell for 2 for $15.


2. A Sturdy but Lightweight Stroller. 

When I purchased my first stroller I bought the Baby Trend ELX Jogger with carseat. It was a great stroller, but it was huge and heavy, and not needed. I drive a Scion XB, and I had to fold down the seat the fit it in my car.

I didn’t know that simpler options were out there until I saw my friend at church with a snap n’ go cart stroller. I immediately got on Amazon and ordered one.

The cart we chose was the Baby Trend Snap N’ Go cart because we were able to use our Baby Trend carseat in it. It actually will support many other brand carseats too unlike some of the other brand specific options. It weighed about 14 pounds, collapsed easily, had two cup holders and a compartment for your phone, had a very large basket for storage, and fit easily in our car without folding down the seat. We used this stroller until Harper was about 10 months old and we were no longer removing her carseat carrier out of the car.

This stroller was perfect for our busy on the go lifestyle, and handled all terrains well.

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When it was time to look into an actual stroller that didn’t use a carseat as it’s seat, I did tons and tons and tons of research. After going back and forth between expensive strollers like the Uppababy and cheaper strollers like Chicco for almost two months, I finally decided on the Inglesina Trip Stroller.

The Inglesina Trip is an Italian lightweight stroller (14 pounds) that folds with ease, has a large cargo basket for a stroller of it’s size, a cup holder, and a large sun canopy. It fully reclines which is rare on strollers of its class. It comes with a rain canopy which I may never get to use since I live in Southern California, but it is nice to not have to purchase it separately like other brands for $60-$80 if you need it. The Trip comes in an assortment of colors, but I chose the black on black since it is gender neutral and looked so sleek.

The Trip retails for $200, but I scored mine for $150 because Albeebaby.com was having a 25% off of strollers with free shipping sale.

It has been the perfect stroller for us. We take it to the beach, the park, church, airport, and all over crappy LA streets and it has never let us down. It has even crossed the country multiple times without any issues during traveling. I would purchase the Inglesina Trip over and over again for the full price of $200. The good news is that it will hold up, so I won’t need to replace it anytime soon!

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3. Swaddle Me & Sleep Sacks

The Swaddle Me is amazing for newborns. You can quickly swaddle them and there is velcro to keep them swaddled through the night so that you can go to sleep not worrying about if your little one busted loose.


When your baby is old enough for a little more freedom, but still needs some of the same security from the Swaddle Me, HALO Sleep Sacks are the way to go. They come in light breathable muslin for summer, and fleece for winter, or cotton for any season. There are arm holes, so you can easily layer these over normal pjs for extra warmth without the stress of blankets.

We loved these so much, and used them until Harper was about 8-9 months old and was too tall for hers. They do come in toddler size, but her footie pjs were too cute to resist any longer.



4. Little Bed (Summer Infant by Your Side)

We were completely obsessed with this. We splurged a little bit more to buy the one that came with the soothing vibrations and soothing noise maker. It was worth it in my opinion.

When Harper was first born, I didn’t sleep a wink. Even when she was sleeping, I was constantly getting up to check on her in her pack n’ play across our room. This little bed was our solution to my sleeplessness.

We bought it when she was a few weeks old and it went in between us in bed. It has a steel frame for protection in case someone rolls over, and the sides are breathable mesh. Having her close put my mind at ease enough to relax and sleep.

Eventually we put her little bed inside of her play yard, so that we could have our bed back. She slept in her little bed for almost 8 months until she she was sitting herself up in bed. This bed made it easy for us to travel since she would sleep in it on any bed anywhere. $75 was a small price to pay for my sleep and sanity.

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5. Target Brand Wipes

Unfortunately, since Harper has been born, Target has changed their wipes to be thicker, so you get less of them in a pack, but they are still the best quality for the best price. We like the scented and sensitive ones. Other sensitive wipes I have tried do not clean as well as the Target brand. I always stock up when they have their buy 2 packs get a free Target gift card sale.

6. A Really Good Swing

The Fisher-Price My Little Snugabunny Cradle N’ Swing has literally been my best friend for Harper’s entire life so far. This swing is worth every single penny and has actually come down $30 in price since I became a mama. Do yourself a favor and put this swing on your registry.

It has lots of different soothing noise options, Harper’s favorite is the nature sounds with the music. It has several different speed settings, and is super soft. The only con is that this swing is very large, so it does take up a lot of room in your house.

Harper is 14 months old, and this is still her “safe place.” She loves to sleep in her swing or just chill by herself in it for a while when she needs a break from too much stimulation. With its incline, it has come in handy many times when she has been too congested to sleep on her back.

Because of how large this swing is, I am dying to pack it up and store it away, but she still uses it every single day, so I guess we will still have to keep waiting to get some square footage back in our house. (Disclosure, Harper is only about 16 pounds, so she is still far from the weight limit.)


7. Soothing Sound Machine

This is so helpful! Personally, Jordan and I have always been parents that do not quiet down due to our baby sleeping. We wanted her to be able to fall asleep and stay asleep anywhere and everywhere. Due to the fact that we are a ministry family, we are out at loud church events often and needed this to not be a problem for Harper’s sleeping.

She had a sound machine on her little bed, has one on her swing, and also had a stand alone one with a nightlight. Sound has has been something that would help comfort her to sleep. When she would wake up in the middle of the night, we would simply hit her music back on, and she would usually slip back into a peaceful sleep.

8. Hardwood Floor Look Foam Play Mat

The Tadpoles Wood Print Play Mat set was a great invention. I really enjoy interior design and having a house that doesn’t look like a daycare, so this wood look foam mat was a great solution for me.

We needed a mat to cover our tile floors once she was crawling around, but I could not stomach getting the cliche primary color puzzle pieces abc mat. I searched and searched and finally found a cute alternative on amazon. This mat is thick and cushiony and has stopped a lot of falls that could have resulted in tears.


9. Sturdy Cheap Stylish Highchair

The Ikea ANTILOP highchair in white and the Evenflo Convertible highchair in dottie lime are my favorites. They are both super cheap, Ikea=$25 and Evenflo=$35 and are both simple and modern. Both are made of plastic which is easy to thoroughly clean. I personally took the cover off of my Evenflo chair because I liked the plain lime color better, and also Harper had a blowout all over it and it was too nasty to save.

I have never understood why people pay tons of money $150-$400 for highchairs. They get covered in disgusting food, and it’s not like they feed your baby for you…

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10. Travel Boppy

This thing is the bomb! It was awesome to keep in the car for nursing on the go, but I would imagine it would be nice for bottle feeding mamas too.

It basically zips in half and has a carrying strap and a pocket. This boppy was great for traveling.


11. Boon Spoons

These are incredible! I discovered these while stressing over teaching Harper how to east baby food out of the go pouches for when we fly. My friend introduced me to Boon Spoons at Target. They simply screw on the top of the baby food pouch and make it easy and clean to feed your little one anywhere. They come in a set of 2 in a carrying case for $4. Walmart now has their own version for 2 for $2!



12. Moccs!

I could never get Harper to keep socks on, and she has always had teeny tiny feet, so shoes were always too big or too small on her. She is 14 months old and still wearing a 6-12 months size shoe.

I decided to give Freshly Picked Moccasins a try when they had their semi-annual sale. I fell in love. The elastic around the ankle actually keeps the shoe on. The soft sole is great for babies learning how to walk, they come in amazing colors, are handmade in the USA, and are 100% leather.

Unfortunately, FP Moccs are really pricey! $60 a pop or $45 when they go on sale. They do however hold their resale value, so you can expect to be able to resell them for at least $30 if they are in play condition, or up to $50 if they are very well kept. Harper has a few pairs in a variety of sizes that have been purchased second hand or on clearance, and they are the only shoes she will keep on.

Freshly Picked is the original and best quality mocc, but some other similar mocc brands are Jaxhoo, Moccs with Attitude, Sail East Couture, and Mommy Makes Moccs.

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Runner Ups-

1. A Lifeproof Case for your iphone- These cases are super protective from all of those clumsy mama moments and even waterproof, so you won’t have to freak out if your phone gets drooled on.

2. Keurig– I use mine every single day because I would not survive motherhood or life without my coffee. They are also great when you need hot water for sterilizing or making oatmeal in a snap!

3. Backpack Diaper Bag- I was gifted an amazing Petunia Pickle Bottom backpack diaper bag, but now I use a smaller, simpler backpack from Forever 21. They are way easier and more comfy than messenger or shoulder strap bags.

4. Separate Instagram for your baby- Yes, I still post A LOT of photos of Harper on my personal Instagram, but most of my followers on @saramaslyn are other moms or distant family members. I still post yummy food, selfies, and sunsets though, so I am still me, and it is my account! We created @harpermaslyn her own account right before she was born, so that we can post 5 photos in a row of her for people who actually want their newsfeed to be full of Harper!

For Nursing Mamas-

1. When at home, I preferred the Mombo pillow over the Boppy or Leachco. It was way more supportive.

2. The Madela Nipple Shield saved my nipples! I used it from Day 2 in the hospital throughout my entire 13 months of nursing. I swear it is the reason why Harper had no real trouble accepting any passie or bottle. Most hospitals will give them to you, and you can purchase them at Target.

3. Motherlove Nipple Cream is the best! It is all natural and a little pricey but lasts forever. You can use it on irritated skin and on your lips too.

4. Bravado Nursing Tanks– Expensive, but Target sells their Basics line in store for $26 each. I lived in these! I had 5 that lasted me my entire nursing career. I am not personally comfortable with nursing in public without a cover, so having a tank on which covered everything up when I needed to feed was great.

Things like expensive highchairs, wipe warmers, and fancy bathtubs are dumb. Before you buy something, think about if you want your baby to be dependent on it, like a wipe warmer. You won’t use a changing table very long. Opt for a dresser and changing pad instead. We hated our diaper genie. It’s easier and free to just walk the diapers out to the trash a couple times a day. Just because a crib, stroller, or carseat is more expensive, it doesn’t mean that it is better or safer. Don’t waste your money on trendy items that have cheaper options for a fraction of the price. 

What were some of your most needed and most used items? What could you have done without, and what do you wish you could have returned after opening it and using it once? I would love to hear your thoughts, so comment below! 





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