As we quickly approach Noelle’s 1st birthday, my heart is full of gratitude for the unsurpassable amount of joy the past year has brought us. Noelle’s our 1st born, our little miracle, our rainbow baby after pregnancy loss, and the reason I’m a strong mama today. I remember 1 year ago– almost 9 months pregnant, a big ball of nervous anxiety, scared and excited for the unknown. And now I’m confidently giving advice to pregnant and new mamas! The first year. It’s magical, beautiful, challenging, and certainly transformative.
In addition to the joy, I’m also thankful for the items that’ve made the past 340 days a little easier on us!! So today, I’m sharing 10 baby essentials that we love as well as a baby-friendly recipe. Whether you’re a seasoned parent, new parent, parent-to-be, or are looking for useful baby gifts, I hope you find today’s post helpful.
We had a difficult time introducing chunkier solids to Noelle. She loved her pureed fruits and vegetables, but it took a long month of trial-and-error with “real” food. Once she began enjoying soft foods like scrambled eggs and small pieces of fruit, I made her homemade muffins. She loved them! I felt so proud! To this day, these muffins are her favorite. Doesn’t eat anything quicker. This recipe is a goldmine.
These apple banana oat muffins:
- naturally sweetened
- made with real food, no preservatives
- fruit and oats
- no flour
- gluten free if using certified GF oats
- taste delicious for adults too!!
- adaptable with plenty of substitution suggestions
- freeze wonderfully
And, as a busy parent, you’ll be happy to know that the muffins are SO EASY! You put all the ingredients in a blender or food processor, which breaks down the banana and oats, pour into muffin liners, and bake. That’s it.
I made 2 batches before we left for vacation and keep them in the freezer. Heat up/thaw 1 or 2 whenever you need them!
By popular request, here are 10 baby items that we love. This list doesn’t include basics like crib, bottles, stroller, car seat, etc. They’re just some extras that (1) made life easier and (2) Noelle enjoys too!
- Rock ‘n Play – Noelle snuggled up in her rock ‘n play for the first several months of her life. We didn’t have a swing or anything, so most of her time was either in our arms or in her rock n play. Babies rest on an incline, so we found that it’s great for digestion. Once I went back to work, we ended up purchasing a 2nd for my office– the one that auto rocks and plays soothing sounds. She often napped in it and loved it!
- Wubbanub pacifier – LOVES IT! The soft giraffe sits flat on her chest, so it wasn’t prone to toppling over when she was really young.
- Flappy the Elephant – Such a sweet toy that swings and flaps its ears. Our friends had it and Noelle enjoyed playing with it while we visited, so I bought her one. It’s still her favorite toy, after her stacking cups of course…
- Stacking Cups – Her favorite and so inexpensive! Brightly colored, numbered, and easy for babies to grip. I stack them up and she loves knocking them down. She’s playing with them as I type this! Clapping them together because she loves the sound.
- Portable Playpen – Before she began crawling all over, Noelle spent most of her time rolling around and playing in here. It’s pretty roomy and fits lots of toys– and parents, too! Even though it’s big, it folds up easily and is convenient to bring anywhere. We even brought it on vacation. Now that she can pull herself up, she holds on and takes sideway steps around the interior. She loves it!
- Kick ‘n Play play mat – Before Noelle could roll over, this was her whole world! It’s a little activity “gym.” Babies reach for the toys above them and kick the piano. And the piano is detachable, so now that she sits and stands, she plays with it separately. Warning: you’ll quickly memorize the tunes the keys play and hymn them in your sleep.
- Baby Einstein Musical Toy – Such a cute toy with bright lights, a fun button to push, and lots of soothing (not silly!) music. Keeps babies busy and smiling! One thing: I didn’t give it to Noelle until she could sit up because it’s rather heavy for smaller hands and, while laying down, it could slip out of hands and bump their heads.
- Books! Some of our favorites are Pout-Pout Fish, Giraffes Can’t Dance, Goodnight Goodnight Construction Site, Snuggle Puppy (and anything by Sandra Boynton. Silly, cute, fun books! Get them all!), On The Night You Where Born, and If Animals Kissed Goodnight.
- Baby Girl Knitted Hat – With the little pom poms and bow, this is the cutest chilly weather hat! I bought the size small and when she grew out, I bought the medium. It’s soft, stretchy, and warm.
- Favorite Teether – I bought a lot of teething toys and Noelle LOVES this one. Bonus that it’s a cupcake. Also fabulous: the banana teether.
None of this is sponsored– just truly items we’ve all enjoyed!
Let me know if your babe enjoys the muffins too. And steal a taste– they’re good!
Baby Apple Banana Oat Muffins
- 1 and 1/4 cups (100g) old-fashioned whole rolled oats, plus extra for topping
- 1 large ripe banana
- 1/3 cup (60g) unsweetened applesauce, plain yogurt, or fruit/veggie puree
- 1 large egg
- 2 or 3 Tablespoons coconut sugar, maple syrup, or other desired sugar*
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1 and 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
- 3/4 cup add-ins such as peeled diced apple, pear, or berries*
- Preheat oven to 350°F (177°C). Spray a 24-count mini muffin pan with nonstick spray or use mini muffin liners. If using liners, grease the liners.
- Place all of the ingredients in a blender or food processor, in the order listed, except for the 3/4 cup of add-ins. Blend or process until combined. Stir in the add-ins. Divide evenly between muffin liners. Top with a few oats, if desired.
- Bake for 13-15 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center of a muffin comes out clean. Allow to cool for 10 minutes in the pan. Remove and cool completely before serving.
- Muffins stay fresh covered at room temperature for up to 2 days or in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.
Make ahead tip: For longer storage, freeze muffins for up to 3 months. Allow to thaw on the counter or defrost in the microwave.
- Consult with pediatrician about any possible allergies your baby may have before trying. The only substitutions I've tried are listed in the ingredients, but feel free to play around with the recipe using your best judgement!
- I usually prepare the muffins with 2 and 1/2 Tablespoons of coconut sugar.
- I made the pictured muffins with finely diced apple and blueberries. Apples get nice and soft, but the blueberries can be a little messy with little self-feeding hands. Noelle also enjoys them with diced strawberries.
- If using muffin liners, grease the liners or spray with nonstick spray. Warm muffins will stick otherwise. With the first batch I made, I didn't grease the liners and they stuck. However, the muffins peeled out easily after refrigerating.
- For standard size muffins: Spoon the batter into liners, filling them all the way to the top. Top with a few oats, if desired. Bake for 5 minutes at 425°F (218°C) then, keeping the muffins in the oven, reduce the oven temperature to 350°F (177°C). Bake for an additional 16-17 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. The total time the standard size muffins take in the oven is about 22-23 minutes, give or take.
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