First Year Baby Basics: Essentials for New & Seasoned Parents

As we reflect on what we already have for baby No. 1 and plan (this time just barely) for baby no. 2, due to arrive a few months from now, we put this list together to help guide new and seasoned parents. What worked for us, what didn’t, and what we plan to get this time:

For mom & dad:

A luxurious robe / feel good pajamas: This is something mom overlooked the first time and definitely plans on treating herself to this time. A tie-in-front, non-transparent robe is even more essential if you plan to breastfeed. For baby No. 1 mom wore large tee-shirts and tanks and basically had to rip them off frantically when the crying began. This often coincided with an unassuming nurse, relative or administrator’s entry into the room. A tie in front silky robe would have been so much more classy, and anything that helps mom feel good is a plus. At the same time, there is a high risk that this silky number of yours is going to get soiled, to keep in mind that it should be relatively easy to wash and not excessively ‘precious’. Mom’s plan is to combine it with soft gray pajamas. Our wish list below.



Nipple cream: An essential right from the start. Breastfeeding gets less and less painful with time, so hang in there, but this will make it a lot easier.


Atelier Choux carres: We are big believers in the benefits of swaddling and wrapped our little one up tightly for the first 9 months (post coming soon). But even for those who do not plan to swaddle (noting that in France, swaddling is not at all as popular as in the US), a super soft linen square will be essential from the start. Treat yourself to a couple of Atelier Choux carres and discover their many uses here. And especially have one on hand to protect that that silky shoulder of yours (see essential 1) from the threat of spit-up when holding or burping a young petit choux.

With baby No. 1 now nearly 2 years old our carres are still part of our daily routine: at naptime and at night as a light blanket, several times a day as a changing pad cover (easy to throw in wash if it gets soiled), in the car to block out sun, and for all those increasingly drooly moments in between. And we’ll be sure to have many on hand for baby No. 2, for all of the above, and bien sur, for another good 9 months of swaddling!

Atelier Choux

Good camera: While high quality photos are convenient and possible on your phone, nothing beats a proper camera’s abilities during the first few days. We were happy to have an SLR on hand at the hospital to capture baby’s key moments, and took photos with both the SLR and our phones so we could send images quickly.

Later on…

Gourmet, organic pouches: when baby gets on solids there are a dazzling array of truly deliscious and affordable brands to choose from, from Good Gout in France to Plum Organics and in the US. We cook fresh purees about once a week and prefer to use these brands in between, rather than freezing food.

Plum Organics

Mason jars: See below

For baby:

Puj Flyte Tub: We discovered and ordered Puj’s iconic Flyte tub when baby No. 1 was about a month old, and used it daily for another few months until he no longer fit in the sink. Now that we are expected baby No. 2 we are really looking forward to using our Flyte from day 1 in the hospital. Even for us ‘seasoned parents’, handling a slippery, potentially screaming newborn in a tub of water is still nerve-wracking. The flyte will go in our hospital bag, not a second thought. Treat yourself to one, use it across several children and then give it to a friend!

Puj Flyte


Diaper rash cream: A sore, red bum isn’t going to go down well with your little one. We’ve had Weleda Calendula cream on hand since baby No. 1’s birth, and will have a tube in our hospital bag for baby No 2. While California Baby is not easily available in France, we have heard amazing things from our friends in the US. Find their range here:


California baby


Nasal Aspirator: There is nothing more satisfying than unblocking a stuffy baby’s nose. We like the Nose Frida or the Physiomer Mouche Bébé. For the first days in hospital (if necessary, check with a nurse) and for baby’s first several years.


Things we found less useful:

A baby monitor: This is highly personal choice and it depends on how large your ‘hotel particulier’ is. For us Parisians and urban city dwellers it wasn’t an essential, in all honesty we never used it.

Blender – Cooker – All in 1 Device: Once baby No. 1 started solids we experimented with all sorts of gourmet concoctions (blog post coming soon). Steaming vegetables (pot and steamer) or boiling a bit of water with vegetables and some chicken has been quick and easy, followed by throwing the contents in a blender. We’ve read that many of all-in-one devices need special cleaning or can develop mold, so we let this one pass. We store a couple days worth of food in glass mason jars and use them quickly. Glass is easy to clean in the dishwasher and don’t develop smells the way plastic might.

Freezing containers: Another one related to eating solids. We started with an innovative, plasticy pod system for freezing babyfood. It worked well, but once, and just once, it retained smell of the food frozen inside, food that perhaps stayed in a freezer a bit too long. We had no choice to throw away the promising space-age- like multi-pod. After this we stopped freezing food alltogether and now keep a whole range of amazing organic, unique baby food brands on hand (above), for days when we don’t have something fresh on hand. Many friends swear by freezing and it’s certainly a personal choice that you will encounter, soon enough!

Diaper bag: It is our opinion that any large bag will do, minus the inserts.