Essential Baby Products Months 6-12

A list of what we considered were the essential baby products for months 6-12. The perfect reference to start your baby registry or Christmas list!

A list of what we considered the essential baby products for our little one's months 6-12.
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I hope you’re ready for Part II of my roundup – what we consider to be the essential baby products for months 6-12!

I’m sure I accidentally left out something, but this list is comprised of the things I considered “must-haves” during those second six months of our little babe’s life, and now is the perfect time to make your purchases with so many great sales going on at the end of the week.

So, without further ado…

Items are listed clockwise from top left.

Raia is still getting comfortable using the walker part of this VTech Sit-to-Stand Learning Walker, but she loves the little activity panel. We feel safe with her on this one since our house is all one level with absolutely no stairs, but do use caution if you live somewhere that is multilevel!

These bibs are seriously the only bibs you’ll need once your little one moves on to solids. I love that they cover so much of them, can be wiped dry but are also machine-washable. Plus, can we talk about how cute all the designs are?

This swim seat was the hit of the summer. We don’t have a pool and didn’t want to run up our water bill with a kiddie pool, so I found this simple seat that takes hardly any water but is still a blast for the babes, even if they’re not completely sitting upright on their own yet. I highly recommend it!

Hands down the best decision we ever made in purchasing baby products was this $25 Ikea Antilop highchair. It’s not too big and clunky and so easy to clean. Nothing fancier needed.

Long story short, these Ezpz Mini Mats are the only plates you’ll need for your little once they start eating solid food. They’re dishwasher and microwave safe and – extra bonus – quite difficult for the littles to toss on the ground!

We were lucky to borrow a couple of friends’ bouncers to try with Raia, and she loved this one! It was a great step up from the bouncer chair and rock-and-play once she got too big for those, and is great for starting to build up those leg muscles.

Once Raia started rolling over, we transitioned her to these armless sleep sacks which we still use to this day. They’re not too restricting but still make them feel like they’ve got a little extra comfort.

I know there is a lot of controversy on the safety of walkers like this Joovy one, but again, we live in a one-story home with absolutely zero stairs and lots of open space, so we felt safe getting this for Raia to run around in. She loves it! I liked the Joovy one in particular because it was much simpler and had a lot less stuff going on than many of the other walkers out there. We couldn’t be happier with this choice.

In the same vein as not wanting a walker with too much “stuff” going on, I also didn’t want a play mat that was loud and obnoxious looking. I had been eyeing the Little Nomad mats but, honestly, they were a bit out of our price range. I was so excited to find this Emma + Ollie one for practically half the price and we love it! I’ve actually been thinking about investing in another one soon as Raia’s toys continue to take over our living room.

This Play & Kick Car Seat Toy was a lifesaver for long car rides with the babe once she stopped sleeping most of the way. She loved kicking it to make music and playing with the little toys hanging down. I’m so sad that she’s outgrown it a bit now because it was endless entertainment!

This VTech activity cube is just the type of toy I love – one that will entertain the babe for many, many months! It has a lot of fun stuff for the younger babes, but will also continue to challenge them as they get older. Very multi-purpose if you ask me.

And that’s all I have for you today! Be sure to check in tomorrow because I’ll be sharing what we considered to be the essential baby books to get us through the first year. 

Also, be sure to let me know if there are other products that you consider “baby essentials” in the comments below!


Essential Baby Products for the First 6 Months

A roundup of the most essential baby products for those first six months. The world of new parenthood can be pretty overwhelming, and this list will guide you through all you really need to navigate it with ease.

A list of what we considered to be essential baby products during the first 6 months. The perfect gifts to add to your baby registry or Christmas list!
This post contains affiliate links.

With the holiday season quickly approaching and all of the pregnancy announcements filling up my news feed, I thought it might be the perfect time to do a quick little roundup of what we considered to be the essential baby products over the first year. And, if you keep an eye on some of these items over the coming weekend, I’m sure you’ll find some great Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals!

Also, have no fear my food-loving friends, I’ll be back with regular recipe posts next week!

I’ve broken the list down into three sections: 0-6 months, 6-12 months and books that have been lifesavers for us. I’m going to separate these essentials into three posts, since it would be awfully long to keep it all in one!

I know I was personally overwhelmed when searching for what to put on our baby registry and I relied heavily on what other mamas recommended on their own blogs. I hope this list of what we thought were essential baby products for the first year helps you narrow down your selection and that you find some of these gifts under the tree come Christmas morning.

Items are listed clockwise from the top right of the image.

The UppaBaby Vista was our stroller of choice due to good reviews and the fact that it can seat two whenever our second little one comes around. It’s a nice and sturdy stroller, with tons of seating options and has held up well for the entire first year. We actually used the bassinet that it comes with for Raia to sleep in for the first few months, and they even sell a stand to go with it that folds up and stores easily when it’s not in use. We also bought the UppaBaby Mesa car seat that clicks into the Vista and used that as our car seat for the first 8 months or so. The only downfall I can see to the UppaBaby products is that most accessories come at an additional cost – but to me, you pay for the quality you get!

If there’s anything you don’t want to have to battle with when you’re a new parent and extremely sleep-deprived, it’s using a regular old blanket to swaddle your baby! These Velcro SwaddleMe swaddles were a LIFESAVER and were much harder for Raia to break out of than just your average blankie swaddle. She slept in these until about 4 months.

Full disclaimer here, I don’t recommend committing yourself to just one type of bottle before baby is born, but these Joovy Boob bottles were the clear winner with Raia. If you can, invest in a few different kinds of bottles when you’re first starting out, and see which your little one takes to. We also tried Como Tomo and Dr. Brown’s.

A warm, glowy salt lamp was another thing I never thought we’d need but I’m so glad my husband picked it up at Home Depot one day shortly after we got home from the hospital! First off, it’s dimmable, so you can adjust the brightness yet never have to be completely in the dark, especially during that first month or two of endless middle-of-the-night wake-ups. It also casts a warm amber glow, so it’s very comforting. And supposedly it helps clean the air too? I mean, I’ve not tested this theory but there doesn’t seem to be too much of a downside here.

A pack-and-play is an absolute MUST if you plan on doing any sort of traveling with your little one in the first year (and beyond.) The one thing I would recommend is to get one that has a sleeping shelf a little higher up for when the babe is young, before he/she starts crawling or pulling him- or herself up. This is also a great option to keep at the grandparent’s house for whenever you visit!

We didn’t want to invest in a clunky infant bathtub seat while we were still living in our tiny rental, so this foldable, easy-to-store Puj sink bathtub was just perfect. That is, until Raia grew out of it. After a few months, we simply transitioned her to the regular tub and made a little cushion and headrest out of towels for her to lie on.

An activity play mat is a great way to give your little one some tummy time or entertain them before they are too mobile.

The ErgoBaby 360 was another lifesaver when Raia was little – and still is! In fact, I just recently had to look up the weight limit on it so we could still use it for her. Now I mostly use it when she is fed up with being in the stroller, but when she was little (and before we did sleep training) this was literally the ONLY way I could get her to nap for a solid amount of time and still be able to get things done around the house.

Another baby essential we couldn’t live without is a portable white noise machine. Raia has always been a pretty good sleeper, but I think we may have white noise to thank at least partially for that. We love that this one has different noise options (we’re big fans of the Ocean setting!) and is easily transportable. We take it with us on every trip we go on!

Once Raia started becoming a little more alert and wanting to see what was going on, we started using this bouncer chair (at about 3-4 months.) I loved putting her in it while I was cooking dinner, doing chores, etc. and she loved all of the fun accessories like the mobile, the music and the vibrations.

Any breastfeeding mamas out there who are also a fan of my cocktail recipes (or wine, or beer for that matter) this one’s for you! You can dip these MilkScreen test strips in your breastmilk and it will tell you if any alcohol is detected. Clearly whoever thought of making these is a genius.

I’ve had a lot of people ask me if I used a Dock-a-Tot (the answer is no) but what we did use that I couldn’t recommend more is the Fisher-Price Rock n’ Play. We’d heard mixed reviews on letting your child actually sleep in one, but we ended up mostly using it for naps and those moments you just needed a free hand. They have fancier ones, but we found that all really needed was the vibrating feature to really calm the babe down.

Mamas, this one’s for you. I’m sure I’m not the only first-time mom who didn’t even think about needing nursing pads before she went into the hospital. Although I confess I did use the disposable nursing pads when I first started nursing and at night, I hate making so much waste so I used these washable, reusable Bamboobie pads whenever I could.

Okay, so there is one downside to the salt lamp, and that is that it’s HEAVY. So there was no way we were going to travel with it. Instead, we got a smaller, lighter, battery-powered night light to set up anywhere Raia happens to be sleeping while we’re on vacation. Just remember to bring along some extra batteries!

I’ll be sending out the 6-12 month and recommended books lists in the coming days. In the meantime, let me know if there are any 0-6 month essentials I missed in the comments below!

2018 Holiday Gift Guide for the Foodie in Your Life

The best holiday gift guide for the foodie in your life. There are gifts for every budget and men and women alike. Stay tuned for more gift guides in the coming week!

The ultimate holiday gift guide for any foodie in your life. There's something for every budget and so many Black Friday deals!
*This post contains affiliate links.

It’s that time of year again! Thanksgiving is upon us, which means Black Friday is right around the corner and, I don’t know about you, but holiday shopping is already on my mind. I have been getting a lot of questions about some of my favorite products (both in life and in the kitchen) so, in this ultimate shopping season, I thought I’d bring you some gift guides featuring many of my favorite products, many of which are on sale right now (or will be on sale by Friday.)

Today’s gift guide is geared toward the foodie in your life, but I’ve also got a few more gift guides up my sleeve for the coming weeks (heads up, mamas!) Sure, you could wait until Black Friday to scoop up some of these awesome presents, but there are also some great items that could be used as hostess gifts (or just be useful in the kitchen) over the Thanksgiving holiday.

So, without further ado, here is my gift guide for the foodie in your life!

(Gifts are listed as shown in photo clockwise from top left.)

I use this professional KitchenAid stand mixer almost on the daily, and now’s a great time to invest in one with all of the great sales going on!

Call me a coffee snob, but we wouldn’t be able to live without our fresh ground coffee beans every morning. An airtight coffee canister will make such a difference in keeping your beans as fresh as can be!

A cast iron skillet is such an inexpensive yet versatile addition to your kitchen. If you know someone who loves cooking but doesn’t have one of these, get one for them ASAP!

Isn’t this just the cutest little bread box you ever did see? I’d love one for my kitchen counter!

I finally jumped on the Instant Pot train a few months ago and I’m so glad I did! These things are game-changers, especially for busy families that love home-cooked meals.

I’ve been trying to be a lot more conscious about waste these days and I’ve found some great products that have helped me limit the number of plastic bags I’ve been using. These reusable muslin produce bags are the perfect gift for anyone that’s trying to do the same!

If mandolines scare you as much as they do me, this multi-purpose mandoline set is the perfect addition to your kitchen.

If I had any more room for another kitchen device, you can bet I’d be investing in an air fryer. Healthy frying? Right up my alley!

Isn’t this owl spoon rest just the cutest thing you ever did see? The perfect Secret Santa gift!

In keeping with my mission to reduce my usage of plastic bags, I recently invested in some of these Stasher bags and can’t wait to grow my collection! Plus, I love that they can go in the microwave, dishwasher, etc.

My bamboo cutting board is BASICALLY the only cutting board I use in the kitchen. I couldn’t live without it!

The Dutch oven is another kitchen item every foodie needs in his or her kitchen. And there are so many great colors, how can you resist?

My BBQ-loving hubby loves this vacuum sealer I got him a couple of years ago. We can buy all the great, big packs of meat at Costco and keep everything nice and sealed up in the freezer. It’s also great for marinating!

Finally, who can resist a good cheese board? I love that you can write on this AND that it comes with the appropriate knives. Holiday entertaining at its best!

So, what did I miss? Are there any holiday gifts you can’t wait to get for the foodie in your life? Let me know in the comments below!

2016 Holiday Gift Guide


2016 Holiday Gift Guide on

Happy Black Friday!

I hope everyone had a fantastic Thanksgiving filled with lots of love and delicious food. We spent yesterday with Chris’ family and are headed over to my parents’ this morning to do a second Thanksgiving with them.

Although we won’t be partaking in the Black Friday madness this year, I’m sure some of you will be! But I also know you may be in a bit of a food coma and (a) not want to leave the house and (b) not want to look at any sort of food recipe right now (there are leftovers to eat, after all!) So, I decided to share some of my favorite kitchen products (plus a few other of my favorite things) today in lieu of a recipe. Friends, eat (or shop) your heart out and I’ll be back on Monday with a delicious recipe for you all! XO

For the Aspiring Chef | 2016 Holiday Gift Guide on

Clockwise from top right: Crockpot Slow Cooker // Cuisinart Immersion Blender // Lodge Cast Iron Skillet // KitchenAid Stand Mixer // VitaMix Blender // Inspiralizer // Calphalon Roasting Pan // Lodge Dutch Oven

For the Baker | 2016 Holiday Gift Guide on

Clockwise from top left: Silicone Baking Mats // Cuisinart Ice Cream Maker // Battery Operated Flour Sifter // Marble Pastry Slab

For the Mixologist | 2016 Holiday Gift Guide on

Clockwise from top left: Copper Mugs // Coravin // Cocktail Tool Kit // Riedel Coupes

For the Book Lover | 2016 Holiday Gift Guide on

Clockwise from top left: The Flavor Bible by Karen Page and Andrew Dornenburg // The Newlywed Cookbook by Sarah Copeland // Bouchon Bakery Cookbook by Thomas Keller and Sebastien Rouxel // Day Designer (not a book, but the best day planner ever!) // A Cozy Coloring Cookbook by Adrianna Adarme

For Their Stocking | 2016 Holiday Gift Guide on

Clockwise from top left: Kitchen Scale // Citrus Squeezer // Misto // Asian Strainer // Microplane

Happy shopping!! <3

This post contains affiliate links. As always, all thoughts and opinions are my own. Thank you for continuing to support the brands that make CaliGirl Cooking possible!

My Favorite Things – A Holiday Gift Guide

We all know what time it is! Tomorrow is Cyber Monday and I have the perfect list of My Favorite Things to kick off your holiday shopping.

CaliGirl Cooking | Holiday Gift Guide

I hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving and got to spend lots of time with their nearest and dearest. We trekked up to the Bay Area to celebrate with BOTH of our families (gotta love that they only live 45 minutes apart!) and had such a great time having more than just a day and a half to visit (like our typical trips.) We lounged in front of the TV in our PJ’s, went and cut down our Christmas tree, cooked A TON and ate even more.

What did everyone else do for the holiday? Did you brave the mall on Black Friday or did you #optoutside and take advantage of the free admission to all of our State Parks? (Which, BTW, I think is a great idea!) I personally don’t like to brave the crazy shoppers over Thanksgiving weekend so I usually either just stick to #smallbusinesssaturday or my trusty old friend the Inter-web!

I figured some of you may be in the same boat as me so, since we are all recovering from an intense day (week? month?) of slaving away in the kitchen making (and eating) all of the foods, I decided to forego a recipe today and give you this Holiday Gift Guide instead. Don’t worry, we’ll get back to the food and drink in my next post, because LESS THAN THREE WEEKS UNTIL CHRISTMAS!!

These are some of my favorite cooking and kitchen items that would all make fabulous gifts for any person in your life with just the slightest culinary interest. Whether your friend is a professional chef or your sister just needs to get dinner on the table every night for her family, there’s a Christmas gift here for them!

To help guide you along, I’ve broken my favorite gifts down into the following categories:

  • Appliances
  • Cookware & Bakeware
  • Food
  • Cookboks

And don’t worry, there’s something for every price point!

What are your favorite culinary items to gift people for the holidays? I haven’t done any of my Christmas shopping yet and I need some ideas!!


I use my VitaMix blender every. single. day. We use it for smoothies, sauces, batters, you name it! These things are so powerful and so worth the investment.

This Cuisinart food processor is another one of my favorite multi-use kitchen appliances. It’s just as versatile as the VitaMix. You can use it for pestos, chopping up nuts, shredding cheese, grating vegetables and kneading dough.

I was beyond elated when I got the KitchenAid stand mixer for my birthday one year. This is every baker’s (and cook’s!) dream. Not only does it take away the need to mix anything by hand, it also beats egg whites to a delicious meringue, whips up fresh whipping cream, kneads dough AND comes with so many attachments you won’t know what to do with yourself (see below.)

Pasta attachments for the KitchenAid! Making homemade pasta was never so easy. Lots of different options here, and so much less trouble than a traditional pasta dough roller!

And we can’t forget the food grinder/sausage stuffer variety pack for the KitchenAid either. I’ll have to admit I haven’t tried the stuffer yet (a little intimidated by sausage casings…eek) but I love the grinder attachment to make some delicious sausage patties!

This Crockpot. It’s a lifesaver. We use it to make such things as pulled pork and clam chowder or anything we want to throw together before we go to work and have it be done by the time we get home. And it comes with the cutest little mini Crockpot! Fondue anyone?

Cookware & Bakeware

This Lodge Dutch oven is such a trooper. It has been through so much with me. I use it to make my Dad’s famous chili, tons of soups, mac ‘n’ cheese, or any larger piece of meat that needs to spend some time on the stove top before going into the oven.

I think Calphalon saucepans, frying pans, etc. are totally the way to go. They are so sturdy and clean well. They’re even dishwasher safe! The particular pan shown above is one of my absolute go-to’s. It’s got a wide base like a saute pan but also depth like a saucepan, the best of both worlds! Perfect for stir fries or anything that requires large amounts of food to be tossed in any kind of sauce.

If you don’t have some already, you may have to even gift yourself with these cookie sheets right now. There’s so much Christmas cookie baking ahead of us!

And while you’re buying those cookie sheets, you may as well invest in some silpats as well. They are the perfect tool to keep your cookies (or any other sort of baked item) from sticking to the pan.

A classic bundt cake pan is a great gift because bundt cakes are sooo fun to make, yet many people don’t have a proper pan in their bakeware arsenal. Make this an even better gift by throwing in your favorite bundt cake recipe and the (non-perishable) ingredients to make it!

I don’t know about you, but I have been really inspired by all of the doughnut recipes floating around the web. I’m so excited that baked doughnuts are now almost as common as fried ones! I love having this doughnut pan on hand for when the mood strikes. (Plus, they bake so quickly it’s almost instant gratification!)

These culinary rings will be the new best friend of whatever food-loving, aspiring home chef you get them for. They are super fun to use when plating food, but can also be repurposed as biscuit and dough cutters, cookie cutters, etc. I used the 2 1/2″ size to shape the dough for my Baked Whiskey-Soaked Apple Fritters.


I am so, so grateful that my chef friend introduced me to this vanilla bean paste. It’s basically a thick vanilla extract, more of a gel-like texture, that has real flecks of vanilla bean seeds. It can be used as a one-to-one substitute for regular vanilla extract in any recipe, and it is TOTALLY worth it. I find it gives a much richer vanilla flavor to whatever you’re making. It’s a big bottle, but it doesn’t spoil very quickly as long as you keep it in a cool, dry place. I always split the bottle with one of my baker friends!

A honey tasting set is a great idea for culinary-minded friends. Honey is so versatile and can be used for breakfast, tea, cocktails, cheese plates, dessert, you name it! It’s fun to try different types of honey side by side because you can really pick up on what sets them apart.

Truffle oil is one of those things that you want to receive as a gift because it’s just a little too extravagant to put in your grocery cart on your weekly shopping trip. A little bit goes a long way so it will last for a while!

We eat salads for dinner A LOT and so we are never without this delicious balsamic glaze from Trader Joe’s. I love that it’s creamier and sweeter than your average balsamic vinegar, and it truly adds another dimension to your salads.

This starter spice kit is the perfect gift for a teenager just starting to live on their own or that friend that keeps telling you how much they want to start cooking more. Now there won’t be any excuses!


I ordered The Year of Cozy by Adrianna Adarme of A Cozy Kitchen as soon as I heard about it. I just LOVE the concept of figuring out ways to incorporate “cozy” into your every day life. Recipes, art projects, and so much more. Such a great gift idea!

I’ve had the pleasure of corresponding with Samantha Seneviratne of the blog Love, Cake a few times so of course I had to get her cookbook, The New Sugar & Spice as soon as it came out. Such a great look into how different spices can liven up any sort of baked dessert!

When I lived in Yountville, I was so lucky to be within walking distance of this iconic bakery, and it wasn’t a surprise to see Thomas Keller working away in the kitchen on any given day. Needless to say, I became attached to quite a few of the baked goods so of course I had to be sure to get a copy of the Bouchon Bakery cookbook before I moved away.

I love that this cookbook (written by The Beekman Brothers who run a farm in upstate New York) is separated by season, and all of the recipes are completely approachable. A while back I set out to try all of the recipes featured. Although I haven’t quite gotten there yet, I’ve made a significant dent and hope to complete “cooking the book” soon!