My six to twelve month old babies are still using most of the gear from my newborn to six month old recommendations, but I’ve also found that at that point a few more things prove useful.
But first . . . a story about baby gear: When we first moved to LA from Chicago we lived in a huge apartment complex in Burbank. It was mostly great, but the apartment had a really tiny kitchen and the complex had a bee problem. To help with the first issue I found a clip-on high chair which was a great space-saver. To help with the second issue, they were fogging the bees and removing a giant hive from inside a wall somewhere. This meant that the sidewalks were covered with dead and dying bees and the air was full of drunkenly-flying bees, soon to join their comrades on the sidewalks.
On this particular day, I did NOT follow the manufacturer’s advice printed all over the back of the chair. So six month old Bobby was sitting in the chair, but was not buckled in. I heard him squawk and ran back around the corner to find that he had slid down the chair and disappeared under the table. I dove under there to pick him up, but found that he hadn’t fallen all the way through, and was instead stuck BY THE HEAD in the chair, under the table. He was pretty mad about it too.
It was a lot like when Winnie-the-Pooh got stuck in Rabbit’s hole. I couldn’t budge him either way. The husband wasn’t answering his phone, and he wouldn’t have been much help from the 405 anyway. So, what to do?
I sat under the table, supporting Bobby’s body. Two year old Betty stood on a chair and fed him cheerios, which settled him down. And I sent three year old Jack out through the bees into the complex to find someone to help us. After a very long few minutes, he came back triumphantly with the maintenance guy, who unhooked the high chair and freed Bobby, who by that time didn’t seem the least bit bothered by the situation.
I told Jack he had been very heroic, so he colored himself a medal of bravery to wear.
I still have the high chair. I still use it. I still sometimes forget to buckle babies into it. So I decided to recommend a slightly different version below.
1. A Crib We move our babies to a crib sometime around 6 months old, once they don’t need to eat as frequently and we stop sleeping well together.
2. A Pack ‘N Play Once my babies learn to sleep in a crib, they usually don’t sleep all that well other places (like car seats or shoulders). So, a portable crib is great for travelling. As long as I put a crib sheet in there (the mattress is very noisy), my babies sleep as well in the pack ‘n play as in the regular crib. It’s also great for when cousins are visiting.
3. Lambskin Perhaps not properly labeled “essential” but my babies really like these and sleep well on them, summer and winter.
4.A Really Noisy Fan You could also go with a noise machine or even an iPhone app. The point is that as long as I have some background noise going between me and the baby I don’t feel like I have to tiptoe around shushing everyone all day. We have a big old noisy fan in the hallway and anytime anyone is sleeping, it’s going.
5.An Umbrella Stroller Whether or not you get a bigger stroller as part of a stroller/car seat system, it’s nice to have a small, lightweight stroller. And with the newer ones (Frankie just got this for Christmas after our original umbrella stroller finally bit the dust) you really don’t sacrifice much in convenience. This stroller has a sun shade plus a little basket underneath. But, you don’t get a snack tray for baby, you can’t put a car seat in it (for younger babies), and there’s no footrest on the front to balance your toddler on.
6. Bath Ring My babies this age really love baths, but can’t necessarily sit up well in the tub, so this is a huge help. I often put it in the kitchen sink and let the baby splash and play while I cook or do dishes. Hopefully they have improved the suction cups on this version of it, but mine does tip over on occasion, so I stay within arm’s reach.
7. Hook On High Chair Hooray for this high chair! It takes up no floor space (regular high chairs have a really big footprint) and allows baby to sit up at the counter where I’m cooking or doing schoolwork with big kids. This is a newer version than I have and they’ve put in a middle strap to keep baby from sliding out the bottom. Which is great, because babies hate that. Just ask mine.
8. Exersaucer or Jumperoo They take up a ton of floor space, but both have been enjoyed by all of my babies. Especially with subsequent babies, these put them right at eye level with a toddler, which they love. And toddlers love to spin the exersaucer or bounce the jumperoo (don’t let them do it).
9. SleepSack My babies are thrashy sleepers (that’s why they get kicked out of my bed), but they can’t kick off this wearable blanket. We have a cotton one for summer and a fleece one for winter and, hey, you can always customize it!
10. LeapFrog My Pal Scout We have been given this toy as a gift in both the boy and girl versions (thanks Aunt Brie & Uncle Pat, & the Whalen family!) and it is really cute. My babies and toddlers love it.
11. Sippy Cup Doesn’t leak, even in a purse. Easy to hold, easy to clean, and no valves to lose or forget or put in wrong. This is NOT true of all (or even most) sippy cups. We just go straight from nursing to sippy cups, with no bottle step.
12. A Baby Monitor We’re still using a Fisher-Price set that is apparently commanding antique prices on Amazon, but this one seems similar. We don’t use any of the fancy video or motion monitors. I just need to know when the baby wakes up from his nap. And since I can’t hear him over the industrial fan, I need a baby monitor. I don’t use it at night, but it’s nice to have the two receivers so I can have one in the living area and one in the bathroom in case I am trying to sneak in a little personal hygiene.
Things for this age group that are not my favorite include: doorway jumpers, walkers, and crib mobiles. And I have a double baby jogger which I do sometimes use, but I hate it.
* Full disclosure on the Amazon links: clicking on a title from any of my posts will take you to Amazon, if you buy that title (or anything else) after clicking through my blog I get a (very small) percentage. So far I have made . . . two dollars and eighty-three cents. Awesome.
Frankie got another letter from his little Canadian pal Adam! Head on over to Equipping Catholic Families to see Adam’s follow-up to Frankie’s letter about our Mass survival techniques. Adam’s Boppa is chiming in with a more ‘seasoned’ perspective on where to sit. And check back here next week for Frankie’s letter about how our family keeps Lent.