If you have not yet read my Frugal Guide to Baby’s First 6 Months, I suggest you do that beforehand. Even if you no longer have a newborn, I will reference many things I purchased earlier.
This list is way less intimidating than the 0-6 month checklist, mostly because as a new parent we have finally gotten in the groove and I am out of the newborn fog. We officially survived the first 12 months of being a parent and somehow kept our little creature alive. Here is a list of all the things that we really could not live without:
Convertible Car Seat: My daughter is currently in the 100 percentile for length, so I have found she outgrows things a little faster than some other babies. We transitioned to a convertible car seat when she was almost 10 months old. She technically still fit in her infant seat still, but she started looking cramped and it was getting hot, and our pediatrician gave us the OK. I know some babies who are just now getting their convertible car seat at 13 months, so really is varies based on baby and seat restrictions. I was VERY lucky to get a brand new Britax Marathon from a friend who bought it for her daughter but never used it. It has some of the best safety ratings and we have zero problems with it, so I recommend it. The only downfall is it does not have cup holders that some people swear by (however we have currently survived by just having a spill proof cup resting on her lap), and it does not turn into a booster seat like some convertibles do. Neither of those things are worth it for me to buy a different seat.
Stroller: We are still loving our Click Connect Travel System set up now with the toddler attachment. It is great for walks to the park, store, fair, etc. I know this stroller is not made for running, but I have been trying to run with it anyway. It works if I jog slowly on the sidewalk, but I am definitely jealous of my friends with jogging strollers. I personally don’t think it is worth it to buy a second stroller just for jogging, but I will definitely be getting a double jogger when baby #2 comes!
Soft Carrier: We are still using our Infantino Flip Carrier for short walks. I still prefer carrying her in the front with it, on my back I feel she is too low and it hurts. We use it daily when we take the dogs for their potty walks. I still highly recommend it for short walks.
Hard Carrier: I recently joined our local chapter of Hike it Baby and go on at least one or two hikes per week with these fine people. The soft carrier was just not cutting it anymore and was seriously hurting my shoulders when we would go out for 3+ miles. In came my Ofsprey Poco Premium. I spent hours researching, and this carrier is the mother of all hiking carriers. Everything is adjustable to fit you and your little one, it has very large pockets and can hold a water bladder, it comes with a built in shade canopy for your little, and it has a removable backpack for when you need to carry even more stuff. It can hold up to 50 pounds so I anticipate using it for years. I am not going to lie, this thing is not cheap. I definitely do not recommend it if you are going to go on less than a hike per month. I got it on REI.com for 45% off and free shipping, but I also saw some cheap used ones in great condition on Craigslist. If you see one of these used and in good condition or on sale, I definitely recommend buying one! Your back and shoulders will thank you!
Sleeping: Everything I wrote on our first list is still true now. The only thing I will add is:
Blackout Curtains: Newborns can usually sleep through literally anything. Sadly, they eventually lose this ability and are able to be woken up more easily. Like I mentioned on the first list, we finally had to buy a white noise machine a few months in and that helped a lot. Then my child started turning into a rooster and waking up when the sun came up, which is no fun when the sun peaks through her window before 6am. In came the blackout curtains. We got ours at Target and literally nailed the curtain to her wall since we don’t have pretty curtain rods. I cannot recommend blackout curtains enough to create a dark environment for your sleepy baby. I always forget how amazing these curtains work until I try to make her sleep in places that do not have these curtains. They are a lifesaver!
Feeding: We still used the same bottles and formula for feeding as described on the first list.
Cups: Somewhere between 6-12 months pediatricians recommend getting your baby used to cups. Some people transition to sippy cups and then regular cups, but after reading up on it I decided to skip the sippy all together. After trying many different straw and spill-proof cups, my favorites are the Avent Straw Cup and the Munchkin Miracle 360 Cup. I generally use the straw cup for water and take that thing everywhere. It is great because the cap can twist closed for traveling, and the straw itself is pretty leak-proof. I use the 360 cup for formula, and now milk. It looks and feels like a real cup, however it has a nifty top so it is pretty leak-proof. I say both of them are “pretty leak-proof” because if she bangs them around enough drops will come out, but if the cup simply falls over we don’t have a big mess.
Seat: Since I have a love for baby items with multiple uses, I am still very happy with our Bumbo Multi Seat. She eats all her meals in it, and I love how I can take it with us when we go to restaurants. Definitely one of my most used baby purchases.
Toys and Activities: I say this with confidence, if you never buy one toy for your kid they will be just fine. The blessing and the curse of 6-12 monthers is they are curious. They want to explore everything and play with everything. Baby toys? Pass! Her favorite things to play with are: my keys, the remote, our keyboard, my chapstick, the dog bowls, and my box of tic tacks. She has been entertained for countless hours with those not-toy toys. Why play with a fake cellphone when she can play with mom’s real one? Do adults think they are stupid?! They know the difference and demand the real thing! Seriously. Don’t bother with baby toys. Another great thing (I use “great” sarcastically) is that even if you tell your friends and family that your child does not need any more toys, they will still buy you some, and by some, I mean the entire store. I am guilty of it too. Why buy a kid something boring like clothes when you can be the cool aunt that bought that super awesome (and annoying to the parents) toy!! Seriously, save your money. I mean it.
Books: She really started understanding “reading time” and loved it. Once we got to the end of the book she often would flip it to the front and look at me like, “again!” Like I mentioned on the first list, books are great to get second hand and honestly at least at this age she wouldn’t care if you read the same book to her every single day.
Jumper: Torey got a few solid months out of her Rainforest jumperoo before she started getting bored by it. Once she learned to crawl she would rather be on the floor getting into things. I threw her into it a few days ago just to see if she would still fit and not only does she still fit, but she was fascinated by it all again! I know some kids that are 12m that still use their jumper often. It was still worth the investment and the free time I got out of it and will definitely be throwing baby #2 in there as early as possible.
Walker: I guess “they” don’t recommend the walkers that look like jumpers with wheels because 1. the baby can fall down the stairs, and 2. the baby can get into trouble faster, two lame excuses that I feel with just proper adult supervision you can completely avoid. With that being said, we never got that type of walker just because we don’t have room in our house. I know some babies who have them though and absolutely love them. After much research, I decided to go with the Bright Starts Having a Ball 3 in 1 Lion. First, since we got it at 6 months she loves the songs the lion plays and she loves putting balls into its mouth. At 12 months she is finally steady enough to start walking behind the walker. You can flip the seat down and turn the lion into a ride on toy too. This toy has already gotten quite a bit of use and I can see her still using this for at least another year or two. I love how this walker transforms with your child, plus the center of gravity is lower and more even than a lot of walkers which means she is less likely to fall over.
Trips/Activities: If you didn’t leave your house the first 6 months, chances are your kid never really noticed. Now that my daughter can start to process what is around her, she loves leaving the house and going places. I try to leave our house at least once per day for both her and my sanity. In Southern California, it is hard to go to activities for your child without spending money. Between stores, children’s museums, aquariums, zoos, play gyms, swim lessons, music classes, and more, it is hard not to break the bank. We have decided to only do one ongoing activity that you pay for per week. When she was younger we did Mommy and Me classes, and now that she is older we do swim classes. Because she loves the water, she loves her swim classes and I feel good about them because they teach her water safety. Research what is around you and pick something that appeals to your kid’s interests as well as your own. The rest of the week we try to fill our schedule with free activities! Walks/hikes are great for both getting outdoors and getting some exercise for you. I have joined a few mom groups through Meetup.com which has really been great. They host different play dates and activities we can attend and most of them are free! Plus they are a great way for my daughter to hang out with other kids her age and I get to actually talk to real adults. Libraries also usually have various story times that are usually free and another great place to meet new friends. Research what your area has around you, you might be surprised! Also, don’t be afraid to coupon hunt for the big priced trips like zoos, aquariums, and science centers. They usually have deals going on if you are willing to do some digging.
Bath: Everything I wrote on my first list still applies. We still adore our bath seat and she honestly still fits in it, though she is big enough to sit up on her own. That seat is another one of my favorite most used items and everyone I know who has one swears by it too. The only thing we have added to bath time is a nonslip bath mat and more water toys. She LOVES water so she has a blast in her bath.
Diapers: We still use our Rumparooz and overall are very happy with them. She is on the largest setting and unfortunately they can’t last the 12+ hours she sleeps anymore so we have had to use disposables at night. I am a bit worried they won’t last through potty training, but so far they still fit. Her growing should slow down now so hopefully we can make them work.
Clothes and Shoes: Everything I said on the first list about clothes still applies. If your baby starts walking you will need to buy shoes. My recommendation is buying one or two semi-nice pairs of shoes and only have them wear them when they are walking outside or in dirty places. They should still be walking barefoot as often as possible. Target and Payless has great supportive brands that won’t break the bank.
Medicine: The only medicine we have used from 6-12 months is Infant Motrin and Infant Tylenol for teething. My pediatrician recommends Motrin for teething because it helps with the pain caused by swelling, however if her teething is super bad, we rotate Motrin and Tylenol every 4 hours. I am not a doctor however, so go confirm everything with them.
First Birthday Party: First birthday parties are starting to look more and more like weddings, with thousands of dollars spent and a guest list in the hundreds! If you are frugal like us, you want to spend as little money as possible. The great thing about the first birthday is the child will NEVER remember, so in my opinion, save your money and don’t buy the bounce houses, face painters, character appearances, and other big ticket items. The first birthday is more about celebrating actually surviving the first year, for both you and your kid. So eat lots of food and cake and just celebrate being a family! I wrote about our Butterfly Themed First Birthday here. Easy ways to save money is to make your own decorations, make your own cake, make your own food, and host it somewhere that is free like your own backyard. Feel free to enlist family and friends to help too! Another easy way to save money is to not buy your kid a birthday gift (or only buy one meaningful gift instead of many). I know that sounds cold and heartless, but chances are your kid already has everything they need and your family and friends will already buy your child enough stuff! Another popular idea that we did on the birthday invitation was mention that instead of gifts they could donate to our child’s college fund. This saves you from sorting through the things you don’t really need, and it helps your child in the future!
There you have it, how we survived 6-12 months as frugally as possible! MUCH easier than the first 6 months if you ask me. Did I forget something? Do you have something you would recommend? Please share below!