The Best Sound Machine
Sound machines are popular because they mask disruptive noises and give babies a reliable source of sound to get a good night’s sleep. What parent doesn’t want that? If I were buying a sound machine for my baby today, I’d buy the Marpac Dohm-DS, because it has the best build quality and the most consistent high-quality sound, all while having a tiny footprint. Don’t let the boring name fool you, the Dohm-DS is a great sound machine that won’t disappoint.
We researched and tested over four dozen products over the course of 25 hours, and the Marpac Dohm-DS came out on top. (We didn’t consider the greatest sound machine of all time, Miami Sound Machine, because they are not currently touring.) While many people believe that multiple sound options (waves, wind, white noise, storm, etc) are the most important thing to look for in a sound machine, our testing revealed it’s actually the quality of the sound that makes or breaks a good sound machine.
We tested sound machines from four different manufacturers. In addition to our own real-world testing, we enlisted the help of experts from parenting guides and pediatricians. After all that, Marpac Dohm-DS came out on top.
The Best Bib
Happy Healthy Parent Silicone Bib
Your baby will eat thousands of meals and snacks before becoming a dexterous, accurate and (mostly) clean eater. A good bib will keep your baby’s clothes stain-free, your floors clean-ish and your food spared a trip to the compost heap or trashcan.
For new parents, the spectrum of bibs are far and wide: drool bibs, decorative bibs, burping bibs and more, but we’re seeking out the most useful bib you’ll ever own–a food bib. After researching and putting bibs through thorough daily usage at a childcare center, the Happy Healthy Parent Silicone Bib came out on top as the best option.
The Best Full-Size Stroller
Buying a stroller is a lot like buying a car. From the wheels to the suspension, the seat to the canopy, researching strollers can slowly begin to sap all of your free time. Fret not—we’ve researched, test-driven and folded over 30 models to choose our favorite stroller. Our original pick has been discontinued by the manufacturer—a poor decision in our opinion!—but it presented the opportunity to reassess the constantly shifting stroller landscape, and provide some new perspective on the category.
The Best Convertible Car Seat
Chicco Nextfit 65
A convertible car seat will help protect your child when facing forward or backward and will become a permanent fixture in your car. If I were buying one today, I’d get the Chicco Nextfit 65 due to its easy installation and extended rear-facing capability.
The Best Pacifier
Phillips Avent Soothie
Pacifiers can be a polarizing purchase for parents. While some parents choose to use a pacifier from day one, others avoid them altogether. We aren’t here to answer the question should you use a pacifier, but rather to find the best pacifier for those who want to use one.
We spent more than 20 hours of research on the topic—compiling a list of 20 popular candidates, interviewing four moms and a lactation counselor, reviewing the American Academy of Pediatrics opinion—before deciding on the Philips Avent Soothie Pacifier as our winner. We like that Avent Soothie pacifiers are made of a durable and easy-to-clean silicone, met all of the American Academy of Pediatrics guidelines for pacifier construction, and are both inexpensive and easy to find either in-store or online.
The Best Glider
Nursery Classics Landis Swivel Glider
We’ve updated our guide on Gliders, with new models, as well as additional testing and research. We’ve decided to stick with our original choice, the Nursery Classics Landis.
For nights stationed in the nursery calming your baby or getting the little one back to sleep, you’ll want a place to sit that’s not only comfortable but supportive—and easy to get up out of without waking up your baby. We researched 22 glider chairs and narrowed it down to nine before bringing in some expertise in the form of real-life parents. In the end, the Nursery Classics Landis Swivel Glider won out as the best glider around.
The Best Bottle Warmer
Dr. Brown’s Natural Flow Deluxe Bottle Warmer
It’s been more than a year since we first published our guide to bottle warmers. We re-tested our original pick, as well as some new models, and decided that our original choice is still the best.
The Best Bassinet
Halo Bassinest Swivel Sleeper
It’s been more than a year since we last looked at bassinets. To update this guide, we brought in three new models, and considered two updated designs from our last guide. In the end, we selected a new favorite.
The Best Double Stroller
Baby Jogger City Select with a 2nd Seat
It’s been more than a year since we first published our double stroller guide. With a fresh update for 2016 that added nine models to our test pack, we still think the City Select is the one to buy for most families.
The Best Fertility Tracking App
Using a fertility tracking app alone won’t get you pregnant. But it can help you feel more control over the process of trying to conceive, and can help identify important patterns in your body.
I tested over four apps daily over the course of three months, and Glow came out on top due to ease of use, accuracy, and the amount of data it allows users to track. If you are trying to get pregnant, it tells you the optimal times to have sex; and the more you use it, the smarter it gets.
The Best Baby Nasal Aspirator
For first-time parents, dealing with a baby with a stuffy nose can become a first-rate nightmare. Even the mildest-natured little one can become a crying monster when they can’t breathe and are dripping snot.
The Best Portable High Chair
Inglesina Fast Chair
Full-size high chairs tend to be bulky, which is great for stability and comfort, but cumbersome for on-the-go parents. A portable high chair that is safe, easy-to-attach, and lightweight makes feeding baby a breeze when you’re away from home. The easy-to-use-and-attach Inglesina Fast Table Chair came in as our top pick among a crowded portable high chair market.
The Best Baby Carrier
Lillebaby Essentials Baby Carrier
When used properly, a baby carrier can give you the ability to do things that you never thought possible while watching your child. After 34 hours of research and testing, the Lillebaby Essentials Baby Carrier is our pick for the best soft structured carrier, with a universally good fit, proper support for baby, and an easy on/off design.
The Best Baby Bottles
Philips AVENT Natural
If you’re selecting a bottle for feeding, I’d go with the Philips AVENT Natural ($26 for four). It has a minimalist design, a slight contoured shape and a wide and sturdy nipple that breastfed babies can transition to easily.
The Best Baby Nail Trimmers
Safety 1st Sleepy Baby Nail Clipper
Many first-time parents are terrified of cutting their infant’s tiny nails. What if I draw blood? Luckily, a good nail cutter can take all the fear away. If I were buying a nail trimmer for my baby today, I’d buy Safety 1st Sleepy Baby Nail Clipper because it cuts tiny nails safely at a reasonable price, and has just that something extra to make it stand out.
The Best Jogging Stroller(s)
Baby Jogger Summit X3
Running with your baby is a good bonding experience and is convenient for everyone involved; your baby gets to see the sights while you get in a some exercise. For this guide, we’re offering two best picks, based on how much you run and what else you plan on doing with your new jogging stroller. After 30 hours of researching and testing 15 jogging strollers, the Baby Jogger Summit X3 and the Thule Glide are the ones that we’d buy, but for different reasons.
The Best Video Baby Monitor
No new parent can stand laying their baby down in a crib and just walking away. Having a good video monitor can offer an addictive sense of security—a robo eye that can see your baby in the dark—leaving your conscience free to binge on Netflix in the next room. After weeks of testing, we found the Withings Home to be the best video monitor around, especially for tech-minded, app-friendly parents. (If you want a more traditional single-purpose monitor, we’ve got a great recommendation for that, as well.)
The Best Crib
Oeuf Rhea Crib
A well-made crib should last long enough to be used by multiple children, and will become the focal point of your baby’s nursery. Having considered and tested twenty-four different models, I’m confident that the Oeuf Rhea crib is the best all-around crib when considering price, sturdiness, materials, and design.
The Best Infant Car Seat
Chicco Keyfit 30
After testing fourteen different models, the Chicco Keyfit 30 is our top pick; it's one of the longest-lasting, most versatile seats on the market.
The Best Crib Mattress
Moonlight Slumber All Foam Little Dreamer
Infants will spend a huge portion of their early lives in their cribs. Choosing the right mattress will help you and your baby rest easy at night. After a couple dozen hours of research, we recommend the Moonlight Slumber All Foam Little Dreamer. It’s a great value at $197 and has a dual-firmness design that will keep your baby comfortable all night.
The Best First Aid Kit for Young Children
Me4Kidz Medibag Family First Aid Kit
Having the perfect first aid kit on hand means your family can worry more about fun activities and less about any small emergencies that may occur. After researching hundreds of pre-made first aid kits, I would choose the Me4Kidz Medibag Family First Aid Kit.
The Best Umbrella Stroller
We considered 22 different umbrella strollers, eventually narrowing it down to five for real world testing. After our 27 hours of research and testing, the Maclaren Triumph came out on top. It’s lightweight, easy to fold, has a supportive seat and comes with an industry-leading lifetime warranty on the frame.
The Best Bubble Bath
Dolphin Organics Fragrance Free Bubble Bath
Having a good bubble bath product makes bathtime extra fun for babies and kids. If I were buying bubble bath for my baby today, I’d buy Dolphin Organics fragrance free bubble bath, because it ranks well for safety—there are no harsh chemicals—produces rich, playful bubbles, and is available at a reasonable price.
The Best Baby Thermometer
Safety 1st Gentle Read Rectal Thermometer
Having a good, trustworthy thermometer makes taking a baby’s temperature easier and less traumatic for both baby and parents. If I were buying one thermometer for my baby today, I’d buy the Safety 1st Gentle Read Rectal Thermometer. Yes, we are indeed recommending a rectal thermometer–more on that in a bit–because it offers accuracy, reliability and speed at a reasonable price.
The Best Bottle Sterilizer
Munchkin Steam Guard Electric Sterilizer
A bottle sterilizer isn’t a mandatory purchase. In fact, we feel comfortable saying you don’t need one! Our research showed even experts disagree—some say bottles should be sterilized before the first use, others say they should be sterilized in the baby’s first six months and others say not to bother at all. If your doctor recommends your baby’s bottles be sterilized or you have your heart set on sterilized bottles, we found the best all-around electric bottle sterilizer is Munchkin Steam Guard Electric Sterilizer. This sterilizer is easy to use, reliable, inexpensive, lightweight, durable and handles bottles of all shapes and sizes.
The Best Breast Pump
Limerick PJ's Bliss Standard
Having a reliable and effective breast pump makes pumping less miserable and helps maintain a mother’s milk supply, if she needs to be separated from her baby or if the baby has difficulty latching or sucking properly. If I were buying one breast pump today, I’d buy—or even better, request my health insurance cover—the Limerick PJ’s Bliss Standard, because it’s effective, comfortable, and quiet.
The Best Diaper Bag
Ju Ju Be BFF
Diaper bags, admittedly, can be a subjective purchase. Some moms may prefer to just use a large purse, and some parents may want something dad and grandparents can also carry. Finally, other parents may be focused on a designer name tag. Still, after looking at around two dozen bags, we’d ultimately buy the Ju Ju Be BFF ($125, amazon.com) because it packs a lot of features into a compact, easy to carry bag.
The Best Night Light
KinderGlo Portable Night Light
Multiple nighttime feedings and check-ins are a reality for parents of newborns. The use of a softly-lit night light will keep you from tripping in the nursery, or unnecessarily waking your sleeping baby by having to turn on the overhead light.
The Best Baby Swing
Graco DuetSoothe Swing & Rocker
Having a good swing can be a life saver for parents with a fussy newborn. But not all babies like the swing, so purchasing one can be a bit risky. That said, if I decided to make the plunge today, Graco’s DuetSoothe Swing & Rocker is the swing I’d choose. It offers a great variety of motions and settings that in some combination will likely soothe your baby.
The Best Playmat
Tiny Love Gymini Activity Gym
If I were buying a playmat for my baby today, I’d choose the Tiny Love Gymini Sunny Day Activity Gym. This playmat offers great features for both parents and babies and comes at a very reasonable—dare I say cheap—price, averaging $30 on Amazon.
The Best Baby Wash and Shampoo
Earth Mama Angel Baby Non-Scents
Until they’re old enough for Axe and Bath & Body Works, it’s up to us parents to keep our kids clean. With seemingly endless baby-wash offerings on the market, choosing one can give any conscientious parent a headache. If I were buying one baby wash for my baby today, I’d buy Earth Mama Angel Baby Non-Scents Shampoo and Body Wash because it is one of the safest shampoos out there, and it’s affordable.
The Best Full-Size High Chair
OXO Tot Seedling
Between bites of pureed peas and finger foods, you’ll scrub down your baby’s high chair hundreds of times. Rather than tear your hair out, buy a chair that makes cleaning simple, while offering a safe and comfy seat for your little one. I’d pick the OXO Tot Seedling, which at $120 has everything you need and saves you time when it comes to cleaning.
The Best Nursing Pillow
My Brest Friend Deluxe
Nursing pillows can make breastfeeding easier for both mom and baby by providing extra support and comfort, particularly during the first few weeks while mom is recovering from giving birth. After considering the 10 nursing pillows on the market, I’m confident that My Brest Friend Deluxe ($49 with slipcover included; Amazon.com—pictured above is the newly released “green paisley” version) does the job the best, plus gives moms a few extras to support the early days with an infant.
The Best Diaper Pail
Ubbi Steel Diaper Pail
It’s been more than a year since we first published this guide. We added four new diaper pails to our testing, but found that our original pick is still the best choice for parents. The Ubbi Steel Diaper Pail remains the easiest to use, the most-attractive, and yes, it still holds a lot of diapers without stinking up your nursery.
The Best Play Yard (or Playard or Play Pen or Baby Jail)
Graco Pack 'n Play On The Go
Of the dozens of play yards on the market today, we think Graco’s Pack ‘n Play On The Go($70; Amazon.com) is the best one out there. It’s a simple play yard with practical features and a reasonable price from company known for inventing the packable portable crib. Even though it’s not adorned with flashy lights or fancy nap stations, it’s a sensible and useful choice for most families.
The Best Bottle Drying Rack
Boon Lawn Countertop Drying Rack
A bottle drying rack may not be on your must-buy list if you have a tight budget for your baby gear. But if the idea of a dedicated spot to dry your baby’s bottles, rings, nipples, and, later, sippy cup parts, is appealing, it’s worth considering the Boon Lawn. At $23, it’s pricier than the rest, but the few-dollar difference is worth the versatility, ease of use and longevity.
The Best Co-Sleeper
Arm’s Reach Clear-Vue Co-Sleeper
With research indicating that more than half of all parents bring their babies to bed with them at some point, purchasing a product that makes co-sleeping safe and more comfortable should be a no-brainer. After consulting with the nation’s top infant product safety and sleep experts, we concluded that the Arm’s Reach Clear-Vue Co-Sleeper, with its exceptional ventilation and adjustable legs, is the product that does the best job at the most reasonable price.
The Best Wrap Baby Carrier
Midweight Moby Wrap
While some parents go for a soft-structured carrier or sling for hands-free “babywearing,” others prefer the almost infinite versatility of a “wrap,” and we think the one most parents will like the best is the new Midweight Modern wrap from Moby Wrap($45) because it’s a safe, sturdy, not-too-hot wrap suitable for babies up to 35 pounds from a maker that’s been adored parents for a decade.