Solids, Walking, and Talking
The next six months include lots of new experiences with your baby moving more and starting to talk and eat with enthusiasm. These changes include the need for new gear and some of our favorites items are listed in our must-have and like to have lists below.
6 to 12 Month Must-haves
- High Chair — Once your baby starts eating solid food it is easiest to manage with a highchair. We looked at top-rated chairs in our Best High Chair Review, and the winners are the Peg Perego Siesta and Baby Bjorn.
- Spoon — It is challenging to feed without a spoon. The Munchkin Silicone Spoons are easy to use and budget-friendly.
- Dish Set — If you have concerns about using plastic (as we do), consider Kiddobloom Dinnerware Set. It is inert stainless steel and doesn't impart flavor to the contents. It is easy to wash and comes with a 3-section plate, bowl, and cup.
- Bib — Bumkins Waterproof SuperBib can help keep your little one cleaner or at least limit the number of outfit changes.
- Transition Sippy Cup — The Pura Kiki Vacuum Insulated Toddler with Sleeve is an excellent option for transitioning from bottles to cups. This sippy has a stainless steel body and silicone spout. It is easy to clean and use, and it won our top award in The Best Sippy Cup Review. It comes in both 5 and 11-ounce sizes. However, the 5-ounce is only available with a nipple, so you'll need to purchase the Pura Kiki XL Sipper Spout separately. The Kiki now comes standard with a silicone sleeve that makes the cup more comfortable to hold and provides a bit of insulation to protect tiny hands from cold chills.
This time includes first foods, scooting, crawling, and for many babies, walking! As they gain milestones and become mobile, it is time to beef up your first-aid game. Along with a trusted thermometer, like the Exergen Temporal Thermometer, and other early infant first-aid items we refer to in our In the Bubble Section, you should also have:
- Acetaminophen Liquid — Infants' Tylenol Liquid
- Ibuprofen Liquid — Infants' Motrin
- Children's Benadryl Liquid — Children's Benadryl Dye-Free Allergy Liquid
- Ice Pack
- Antibiotic Ointment — Polysporin
- 1% Hydrocortisone Cream
- 5mL Syringe
- Poison Control Number Posted
It can feel like the need for baby proofing is miles off, but little ones grow quickly and become mobile before you know it. If you start childproofing now, you'll be ready when the exploration happens and can sit back and enjoy the fun of discovery.
- Safety Gate — A safety gate means the difference between peace of mind and utter chaos, not to mention preserving your baby's health and safety. For stair access, the Evenflo Easy Walk Thru Top of Stairs Gate is user-friendly with a wall-mounted mechanism that provides extra security.
- Outlet Covers — Electrical outlets are intriguing to toddlers but are a danger zone. It is best to cover ALL outlets before scooting or crawling begins. This way, the covers are old hat and uninteresting once babies start to explore. Simple outlet covers with a tight fit are good choices. A few to try include Safety 1st Plug Protectors and the Mommy's Helper Outlet Plugs. It's a good idea to avoid buying in bulk until you are sure that they fit like a glove and are difficult to remove.
- Crib Rail Covers — Once your baby can pull themselves up in the crib, they might start sucking/chewing on the crib rails. Rail guards can prevent them from ingesting any stain or paint and will also keep the crib damage free. We like the TrendLab Fleece CribWrap Long Narrow Rail Cover for the front and back of the crib (depending upon crib design) and TrendLab Fleece CribWrap Short Narrow Rail Cover in a 2-pack for the crib's sides.
- Cabinet and Drawer Locks — Munchkin XTRAGUARD Dual Locking Multi Use Latch can keep harmful things safely tucked away from prying hands.
- Toilet Seat Locks — The toilet is a crucial spot to childproof as curious top-heavy toddlers can easily fall in headfirst. However, finding the best solution for your particular toilet(s) is going to take some MacGyver-esque trial and error. A few considerations are the Safety 1st Swing Shut Toilet Lock and the Mommy's Helper Toilet Seat Lid-Lok.
- Safety Bumpers — Any sharp or hard edge is fair game for injury. Coffee tables and fireplaces are magnets for falls and lacerations. Getting down on your hands and knees to view the world from a baby's perspective will go a long way in helping you find the dangers in your home that need childproofing. Crawling on the floor can give you a new appreciation for sharp edges and corners that need bumpers like the Roving Cove Safe Edge and Corner Cushions.
- Cord Shorteners or Wall Brackets — Dangling shade or drapery cords need to be out of a toddler's reach because the risk of strangulation is high. Safety 1st Window Blind Cord Wind Ups are a simple, budget-friendly tool to keep cords out of reach.
- Anchor for Furniture and Television — because tall and top-heavy items can tip over and potentially injure little ones (or worse) it is essential that you secure items to the wall. Safety 1st Furniture Wall Straps and Safety Innovations Anti-Tip TV Safety Strap are cost-effective solutions to try depending on your needs.
Outdoors with Baby
Getting baby outside and enjoying the world is good for everyone. But you are going to need some gear before you go. First, it is crucial to keep baby covered from the sun as much as possible because their skin is delicate, sensitive, and prone to burning. Keeping covered means a hat, sunglasses, and clothing covering arms, legs, and feet. Second, for exposed body parts like face, hands, arms, and legs, sunblock is essential.
- Hat — The Sunday Afternoons Play Hat is 100% Nylon, with 100% Polyester mesh. It has a floatable foam core, is moisture-wicking, and the Supplex® fabric has certified UPF 50 sun protection. It is overly large and protects the face, ears, and the back of the neck.
- Sunglasses — Julbo Loop S Sunglasses with Spectron 4 Lenses are round and wrap around to protect a baby even when they look up. They include the Spectron 4 polycarbonate lens, which is light but shock resistance. Lenses are category 4 with 95% visible light reduction to protect little peepers.
- UPF Swimsuit — Too much sun is a bad thing, so it is a good idea to protect as much of baby's delicate skin as possible. The Coolibar UPF 50+ Baby Beach One Piece Swimsuit is made with sun protective aqua SUNTECT polyester that is rated UPF 50+. The snap closure bottom and neckline are great for diaper access and getting the suit on and off. It sports 4-way stretch capabilities and is machine washable with line drying.
- Sunscreen — For areas not covered by clothing, you'll want to use quality sunscreen. Thinkbaby SPF 50 is the 1st sunscreen to pass Whole Foods Premium Care Requirements. It has the highest level of SPF protection at 50+, is water-resistant (up to 80 min), and is free of harmful chemicals.
- Pre-Walking — Robeez Soft Soles are perfect from infancy to early walking. Made of soft leather with an elastic ankle cuff, they stay in place and keep feet warm, covered, and well-protected. For girls, we like the Robeez Bird Buddies Soft Sole, and for boys, the Robeez Friends Wrap Around Soft Sole is the ticket for getting started.
- Walking — Once your baby takes their first step, prepare for non-stop action. We are big fans of Pediped as they promote healthy foot development and have the American Podiatric Medical Association Seal of Acceptance award. Their Original series is for early walkers with a soft yet supportive sole and Velcro closures. The Pediped Originals Jake Sneaker for boys and the Pediped Originals Jazzie for girls are adorable, but there are loads of designs and styles.
6 to 12 Month Nice-to-haves
- Baby Food Maker — There are loads of pre-made baby foods, but you may be interested in blending up the food yourself with the best baby food maker. The Sage Spoonfuls Puree and Blend provides the ability to mix food for your baby at home. The upside is knowing everything that goes into your baby's body to ensure great stuff inside.
- Recipe Book — The Wholesome Baby Food Guide Recipe Book can give you a good jumping-off point for making baby food. While it seems time and labor-intensive, you'll be cooking for our child soon enough, so you might as well start now. The process is more straightforward than you think and potentially fun to boot.
- Freezer Containers — Freezing baby food makes the food last longer and gives a cold edge to small quantities for use in a teether product. Green Sprouts Silicone Freezer Tray and Wean Green Wean Cubes both have individual portion sections, so you only thaw what you need.
Out With Baby
- Portable High Chair — Not all eateries have highchairs, including the homes of friends and relatives. Having a nice easy-to-carry travel highchair can be the difference between easy feeding time and some tricky maneuvering. The Inglesina Fast Table Chair won our Editors' Choice award in our review for Best Portable High Chair.
- Dining Surface — Keeping messes to a minimum is what the Summer Infant Tiny Diner does best. This placemat sticks to most tables with suction cups and is easy to clean with a catch tray that hangs off the side. It is easy to clean and pack in a diaper bag and perfect for keeping your baby's lunch off the floor.
- Snack Cup — The Eco Vessel Gobble N Go Snack Cup can be a great way to take snacks on the road. This snack cup has a stainless steel body and a silicone lid with an easy-access opening for little ones to get their snacks while avoiding spills. It also has handles for secure holding.
- Shopping Cart Cover — The Itzy Ritzy Shopping Cart and High Chair Cover can be taken on the go and used for all the scuzzy shopping carts you'll encounter. Its one-size-fits-most approach means it's ready no matter what shopping cart you use. If you are worried about baby putting their mouths and fingers on everything, this is the item for you.
Exercise with Baby
- Jogging Stroller — Owning a jogging stroller is a great way to get out of the house, exercise with your baby, and get some much-needed fresh air. We reviewed top jogging strollers in our review of The Best Jogging Stroller. The Thule Urban Glide 2 earned Editors' Choice, with the BOB Revolution Flex not far behind, both excelling in run-ability, maneuverability, and quality.
Look for a jogging stroller that is infant car seat compatible. This way you can use it for long walks on smooth terrain before the baby has good head and neck control. If your jogging stroller has great suspension, you can jog on smooth terrain when the baby reaches around eight months and can sit up on their own. We believe jogging on rough terrain shouldn't begin until around 12 months. Some jogging strollers don't have any other suspension than their pneumatic tires (especially less-expensive options), and in this case, our opinion is that jogging on smooth terrain should be postponed until 12 months, and rough terrain around 15-18 months.
Interactive toys with a cause and effect relationship and toys that utilize baby's senses are a big hit and essential for overall development. Between 6 to 12 months, babies are exploring everything they can get their hands on and become engaged and enthralled with activities like stacking and nesting, opening and closing, filling and emptying, shaking, pushing, squeezing, hugging, pouring, and sorting. Of course, if it is something that they can safely gum and chew on, even better.
Most toys come with labels recommending appropriate age ranges for development and safety. The CPSC is a resource of helpful information on how to keep infants, toddlers, and children safe during play and has the helpful PDF titled Which Toy For Which Child: A Consumer Guide for Selecting Suitable Toys. Page 10 has information on toys for older infants ages 7 to 12 months.
Items to avoid in infancy and early childhood: Smaller items that can be placed in the mouth and swallowed or aspirated, small magnets, button batteries, toy chests with lids, balloons, toys with strings and straps are everyday items that can be hazardous for little ones.
- Sensory Balls — Push, throw, feel, bounce, smell, and observe are why the Edushape 4" Multi-Sensory Balls are extra fun for babies exploring the world around them.
- Stacking and Nesting — The Green Toys My First Stacker is a baby-friendly stacker little ones love that works well for children around 6 months.
- Blocks — Soft, rubber, or wood blocks with rounded edges are perfect for hand-eye coordination and learning to stack and tumble objects. The B. One Two Squeeze Blocks is one of our favorite styles.
- Shape Sorter — Inserting items and making them disappear only to dump them out again and start over! The Fisher-Price Butterfly Shape Sorter is a toy your baby is sure to adore.
- Lift-the-Flap Book — Where is Baby's Belly Button?
- Simple Puzzle — Once your baby is picking up objects with one hand, putting them into containers, and manipulating them, they are ready for puzzles! Puzzles are great for fine motor skill development and should be simple at this stage with 3 to 4 pieces, big knobs, and large colorful pictures with visual pictures underneath. The Melissa & Doug Pets Jumbo Puzzle is a great example.
- Music — There is nothing better to demonstrate cause and effect like musical instruments. Drum to bang on. Rattle or Moracca to shake; if your baby can use it as a teether, even better! Hohner Kids 4-Piece Mini Orchestra and the Hohner Kids 8" Mini Rainmaker Shaker rainforest shaker to shake, turn over, listen, and observe.
- Plush Toys — Plush toys that interact with little ones can be a big hit! LeapFrog My Pal Scout, as well as a girl's version named Violet, are ones to consider.
- Bath Toys — Bathtime is a great time for exploration and discovery. From pouring water out of containers to floating and sinking objects, and attaching items to the walls of the tub, there is so much to be excited about at this age! We really like the following toys for bathtime fun: Green Toys Submarine, Boon Water Bugs Floating Bath Toys with Net, Munchkin Float and Play Bubbles, and iplay Tub Boats Set.
- Sturdy Push Cart — When your baby is getting ready to start walking, a sturdy pushcart or wagon. It is essential to find a sturdy option that will withstand a baby pulling themself up by the handle and have adjustable resistance in the wheels so that the car doesn't roll ahead from the baby. Check out our review of top-ranked baby walkers for recommendations.
Do not use a sit-in walker for your baby; the risk of injury is too high with these kinds of products. Also, ride-on toys are not recommended at this age.
- Interactive Electronics — Once your baby starts pulling themselves up, the LeapFrog Learn and Groove Musical Table is cool because it can be used without legs early on and then with legs later when little ones are ready to pull themselves up to play. This activity center includes pages to turn, open and shut, press keys, turn on sound and lights, listen and sing. Want more activity fun? Try the VTech Busy Learners Activity Cube.
Toddlerhood: 1+ Year
Toddlerhood comes with a baby on the move as many youngsters start to walk around a year old. Also, they have outgrown some of their baby items, and you'll be looking to purchase replacements like a convertible car seat and a full-size stroller.
1+ Year Must-haves
- Full-Size Stroller — The UPPAbaby Cruz v2 is an excellent option for those that desire a stroller that can carry a baby from newborn through early childhood. For a lighter umbrella option, the BabyZen Yoyo+ weighs less but remains full-featured. It folds down effortlessly and fits almost anywhere.
- Convertible Car Seat — A convertible car seat can work for various ages and stages and installs rear-facing and forward-facing based on baby's age and weight. It is not a seat with a top that comes off. The Graco Extend2Fit is our favorite convertible car seat and will work for children from newborn to booster age. The Britax Emblem is also great, with impressive crash test results and easy-to-use features you'll love.
Potty training should start slowly and only when your baby is ready. Starting too soon or putting on the pressure can lead to potty problems down the road including constipation or hemorrhoids from trying too hard to please parents. If it isn't coming easy, it might not be the right time.
- Potty Chair — The BabyBjorn Potty Chair is a simple easy to use portable potty we think you'll love. Great for boys and girls this potty is super easy to clean and kids like it. It comes in a variety of colors, is lightweight, and is budget-friendly.
- Training Pants — Once you are on the road to potty training you'll want to move your baby out of diapers and into training pants. Blueberry Trainers are a nice option that can help your baby feel like they are getting bigger and doing a good job. The pants themselves can be a great inspiration for little ones on the fence about taking the plunge into potty time.
1+ Year Nice-to-haves
Not everything is a must, but some things can make life a little easier if you have them.
- Lovey — Some toddlers will still be lugging around their lovey from infancy, and that's okay. Whatever they need to keep or develop good sleep hygiene is a good thing in our book. The Little Giraffe Chenille Baby Blanket is a popular lovely.
- Color-Changing Clock — A top-ranked toddler clock can help children learn when it is time to sleep and when it is okay to wake up. Our lineup includes products that can potentially increase the duration children stay asleep and how often they bug parents in the morning.
- Stacking and Nesting — The Melissa and Doug Rainbow Stacker is a great stacker with smaller parts than our previous recommendation, the Green Toys Stacker, which makes it a perfect option for little ones 18 months or older who are developing greater hand-eye coordination.