So, now that William is one, I thought I'd update this list to include essentials for 6-12 month old's. Again, this is just my opinion...everybody has their favorites, but these are the things that we love and that make life easier.
1. On Becoming Pre-Toddler Wise picks up where Babywise left off, but offers a lot of knowledge and tips for parenting your pre-toddler. Everything from highchair manners, to "parenting within in the funnel", to baby sign language are covered in this book! It also guides you through the changes in your pre-toddlers sleep routine (dropping naps, increasing wake times, etc) and feeding routine (weaning, sippy cup introduction, starting table foods, etc). It has been a great follow-up book for us!
2. Blackout Curtains are a must in order for William to get a good nap or good night time sleep. Some babies aren't particular about this, but his track record has proven he likes it dark! ;) At our old house, I just hung a dark brown sheet over the existing curtains and clothes pinned it to the curtain rod (classy!). But now that we're settled in here, and I know he'll be in his room for a while I actually broke down and bought blackout liner and new curtains.
3. White Noise - I mentioned this in my last essentials post, and our cheap white noise machine from Target is still getting the job done! William still sleeps with white noise for naps/nights, and it's great for Nathan and I. Whenever we're doing house projects at night after William has gone to bed, I never have to worry about waking William because the white noise blocks out the rest of the noise in the house. I especially love the White Noise machine when Nathan's alarm blares at 5 AM and it doesn't wake William up! Now if I could just get my OWN white noise machine to block out that sound. ;)
4. Blankets - We use the Halo Sleep Sack cotton blanket in a Large size, and it gives William plenty of room to wiggle his toes. He doesn't really know what to "do" with a regular blanket yet...it mostly just gets wrapped around him or thrown off, so this eases my mind knowing he's not chilly at night.
5. (Extra) Lovey's - William sleeps with his bear lovey each night, and occasionally it needs to be washed. It takes a while to dry because it's hand-wash only, so I'm very thankful we have some "backup" lovey's to keep him company while his regular lovey is "taking a bath". ;) It's always good to have a spare of whatever they are attached to (especially when it's sleep related!).
6. Cotton shirts and shorts - Many flame retardant pajamas are made with harsh chemicals, so we sleep William in regular ole' cotton shorts and shirts. The ones pictured above are just an example. It's a cost-saver for us because "pajamas" are expensive for babies, so oftentimes I just use regular cotton pants, shorts, or shirts that aren't necessarily pj's. It's not the cutest option, but it's safer and less expensive.
1. Straw Sippy Cups - sippy cups are a personal thing, I've learned, particular to each baby and their specific needs/wants, and William is no exception. We went through several rounds of sippy cups before we learned that he prefers water from a straw sippy, and his milk from a soft spout sippy (picky, much?). So instead of forcing him to drink from one, we just bought both and rotate them throughout the day. These straw sippy's are our favorite so far, and they're really easy for him to drink from.
2. Portable High Chair - If I could give one piece of advice to new mom's it would be to forgo the fancy high chairs, or the antique painted wooden ones you see on Pinterest, and just get the practical portable ones. Nope, they're not attractive, but they are oh so convenient! We initially bought this as a space saver because our old house was tiny, but now that we've had it for a year I don't think I'll ever get anything different. First of all, it's super cheap ($30), it straps right on to your dining room chair, is easy to clean (all the parts go in the dishwasher), and it's adjustable as your baby grows. We have taken this thing everywhere, and it's great for when your baby is going to be dining at a friend or relatives house where they may not be a high chair. You can also raise the bottom up, and sit it on the floor if you're out and about and there's no chair to strap the seat to. Basically, I love it. Can you tell? ;)
3. Silicone Bibs - we still LOVE our Baby B'jorn bibs, and they look as good as they did the day we got them. They are holding up great!
4. Bowls - Pretty basic, but these have held up great so I'm recommending them. I throw them in the dishwasher, put them in the microwave, fridge, freezer, and they've held up great under all those conditions. And they're cheap! :)
5. Forks - Most baby forks are more like "sporks", but these are actually little baby sized forks that can actually pick up food ;) William hasn't quite mastered how to use a fork yet, but we're working towards it, and these are just his size!
6. Spoons- again, a basic set of spoons but these have been our favorite. I love the long handles and the dip in the spoon is a perfect size. (we actually got an entire feeding set - plates, bowls, cups, storage dishes, spoons, etc. at a yard sale for $2 I think? It was a steal! So I highly recommend checking out places like that before paying full price at the store)
7. Soft Spout Sippy Cups - If your baby prefers a soft spout, this one is really nice. The handles are easy for little hands to grab and the bottle has the ounces written on the outside (I love this because a lot of sippy cups don't have the ounces, and I'm OCD and like to know how much William is drinking). It's also a 10 ounce cup which is on the larger side and that's a nice feature too if you have a baby that drinks more.
At this age, it's so fun to go outside for strolls, walks, play in the grass, go to the park, pool, or host/go to a play date. Most of the time from 6-12 months has been a lot about helping William explore the world around him - that can be as simple as running an errand to the library or post office, or having some structured sensory play. We don't spend a ton of time playing with "toys" but he does have his favorites that he chooses to play with each day.
1. Vtech Penguin Count and Dive Bath Toy - This was a gift for William's first birthday, and he loves it! It makes bath time so much more fun (he already loved baths anyway, but this just really interests him a lot). It suctions to the tub, plays music, teaches baby to count (he's still a bit young for that part), and there's a little net included so that baby can "fish" for penguins in the tub.
2. Melissa and Doug Jumbo Puzzles- These are a lot of fun, and the knobs are easy to grab. William mostly likes banging them and making noise or throwing them (ouch!), but he does play with this a lot.
3. Hardback Books- Lately he's been LOVING books. Like can't get enough of them. It's the cutest thing ever. To prevent page ripping, we have a big bin of hardback books in the living room that he can play with and he loves pulling them out and turning the pages. He can seriously sit for 30 minutes and "read" his books.
4. Fisher Price Puppy - This toy is really popular among babies, and William loves his. Whenever the puppy says "Can I have a hug?" William open-mouth kisses it on the nose. :) My boy! So sweet.
Well that wraps up this mile-long post! I hope this is helpful for you if your babe is approaching this age range or if you have a baby shower coming up...any of these would be great gifts!