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 Convertible Car Seat
Chicco Nextfit 65
A convertible car seat will help protect your child when rear-facing or forward-facing, 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 Baby Wash and Shampoo
Aveeno Baby Wash and Shampoo
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 Aveeno Baby Wash & Shampoo (lightly scented), because it is safe, smells good, is priced reasonably, and isn’t hard to find.
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 $150 has everything you need and saves you time when it comes to cleaning.
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 Dropcam Pro 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 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 ($38 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
Your baby will burn through an average of 2,500 diapers per year. That’s at least six per day. A diaper pail is a specialized trash can that serves as a place to stow those dirty diapers. A good one is easy to use, contains odors, and doesn’t cost too much to maintain. After looking at six diaper pails, I’m convinced that the Ubbi Steel Diaper Pail is the one to buy, having the lowest three-year cost of ownership, and being the easiest to use. A big reason that we chose the Ubbi Steel Diaper Pail was that it did not require any special bags.
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 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 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 $25, it’s pricier than the rest, but the few-dollar difference is worth the versatility, ease of use and longevity.
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 different models, I’m confident that the Oeuf Rhea crib at $670, is the best all-around crib when considering price, sturdiness, materials, and attractive design.
The Best Full-Size/Lightweight Stroller
Buying a stroller is just as complicated as buying a car. All you want to do is take your baby for a walk, but we’re talking about hundreds of different ways that you can push your kid around the block. Most parents will own at least one stroller—most likely a full-size or lightweight stroller—and we think the Britax B-Agile is the best choice in that category.
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 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 19 hours of research, I recommend the Moonlight Slumber All Foam Little Dreamer. It’s a great value at $187 and has a dual-firmness design that will keep your baby comfortable all night.
The Best Soft-Structured Baby Carrier
BabyBjörn Baby Carrier One
After four months of researching babywearing options and demoing more than a dozen different soft-structured options, we found the best of the bunch to be the BabyBjörn Baby Carrier One($150) because it’s comfortable (for baby and you) and supportive for infants as well as toddlers.
The Best Baby Thermometer
Safety 1st Advanced Solutions High Speed 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 Advanced Solutions High Speed 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 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.
The Best Baby Bottles
Tommee Tippee Closer to Nature Bottle
If I were in the market for a no-fuss baby bottle, I’d go with the Tommee Tippee Closer to Nature Bottle ($24 for three). It has minimal parts to wash (or lose!), the contoured shape makes it easy for older babies to hold, and—because it’s plastic—there’s no risk of shattering (as with glass versions). The bottle’s wide nipple also makes it an easier sell for breastfed babies.