Bringing home a new baby usually means months of researching baby gear, cribs, monitors, carriers, the list goes on. Because hey, your little one deserves the very best, right?
Our writers and editors did hands-on testing with hundreds of baby items for over two years. In our labs and in real nurseries with real kids and parents, these are the products that out-performed the rest. Trust us... this is the good stuff.
Baby Jogger City Mini
Most strollers are big, bulky, and take multiple hands (and maybe a foot) to fold. Not the Baby Jogger City Mini, which weighs 18 lbs and can be folded in seconds with a single pull of its innovative Quick-Fold handle. In our testing, we also loved the City Mini's excellent maneuverability, including its tight turning radius and the ease with which the three-wheel stroller can mount curbs and other tricky obstacles.
After a year of using this stroller, we love it. It's easy to push, has just enough space to hold all our gear for a full day, and it can easily be collapsed and stowed away with one hand. User reviews are exceptionally strong, with over 80 percent (!!) five-star reviews on Amazon.
Philips Avent Digital Video Baby Monitor
The Philips Avent Digital Video Baby Monitor (SCD630) also did extremely well in our video tests, it has fantastic range, and it has all the features we are after: a temperature sensor, remote control of the camera, and helpful extras like the ability to play music or talk to your baby.
Another thing the Philips has going for it is price. Though the MSRP is $220, it typically sells online for around $150. That makes it one of the cheapest monitors we’ve tested, below even the ever-popular Infant Optics DXR-8. Though the DXR-8 is constantly one of the top-selling monitors online, we prefer the Philips. It’s got better range, better image quality, and nearly all the same features for less money on sale.
Editor’s Note: We’re in the process of re-testing video baby monitors and will update this article soon.
Read more: The Best Video Baby Monitors of 2018
Playtex Diaper Genie Complete
The Diaper Genie Complete has arguably the best diaper disposal mechanism of any that we tested—at least in terms of cleanliness and odor control. Inside the bin there are two spring-loaded arms that pin the bag shut and create a little chamber at the top. Just drop the diaper in, close the lid, and the dirty diaper gets released into the bag—without you having to force it with your hand.
The refill system is basically one gigantic, long trash bag that is condensed into the familiar ring shape. You pull the bag through and tie it off at the bottom. When the pail is full you just pull it out, cut the bag using the attached blade, and tie off the loose ends. This lets you fill up the pail several times before having to replace the refill ring, and you can empty it right away if there’s a particularly smelly diaper.
Read more: The Best Diaper Pails of 2018
Ju-Ju-Be Legacy Collection B.F.F. Convertible Diaper Bag
The B.F.F. diaper bag by Ju-Ju-Be is impressive. It sits upright like a piece of luggage, the hardware is all metal, the main compartment opens wide for great access, the outer fabric repels stains with a Teflon coating, and it has detachable backpack and messenger straps as well as the top carrying handle. There’s a “Mommy Pocket” on the front that has ample space for a phone and credit cards, and it even has a key leash and lens-cleaning sunglasses pocket.
This bag is amazing for parents, but don’t worry, baby is covered too. The B.F.F. includes an easy-to-wipe, super comfy memory foam changing pad that folds up thin and slips into a dedicated pocket on the back of the bag so that there are three layers of foam against your body when you carry it. Brilliant! Side pockets are insulated to keep bottles cool, and inside the cavernous main compartment are several pockets, with and without zippers.
Read more: The Best Diaper Bags of 2018
Colgate Eco Classica III Eco-Friendlier Crib Mattress
The Colgate Eco Classica III is both CertiPUR-US and Greenguard Gold certified, which means it comes out of the package with very little smell, and the smell it does have is somewhat earthy and not unpleasant. These certifications also mean, of course, that the mattress is considered to emit very low levels (if any) of volatile organic compounds (VOCs). That’s a plus because nobody wants their baby breathing in that business all night.
The Eco Classica III is also a dual-sided mattress, so it's a good combination of safety and comfort from birth through toddlerhood. The infant side is firm without feeling too hard for comfort, while the toddler side has just enough give without being too soft. The edges are squared instead of rounded, which makes for a secure crib fit.
Read more: The Best Crib Mattresses of 2018
Lillebaby Complete All Seasons 6-in-1
Where To BuyClick for price Amazon Buy $129.00 Walmart Buy $139.99 Target Buy $140.00 Nordstrom Buy
The Lillebaby Complete is an extremely comfortable carrier. The straps are nicely padded and the waistband is supportive, thanks to a (removable) generously-sized lumbar pad in the back.
The seat width is easy to adjust as the baby grows, and the fabric is incredibly soft and smooth without feeling cheap. Everyone who tried this carrier on liked it. There is support where there should be, a head rest and hood for the baby, a nice storage pocket, and an adjustable seat for babies of just about any size -- no infant insert necessary. The Lillebaby Complete just feels like quality.
The Best Baby Carriers of 2018
Dr. Brown's Deluxe Bottle Warmer
Where To BuyClick for price Amazon Buy
The best overall baby bottle warmer we tested was the Dr. Brown’s Deluxe Bottle Warmer. In our tests it was quick, safe, and effective, requiring a 4-minute steam process and a 1-minute cooldown to heat up a 4oz bottle to right around 85°F—comfortably under the max recommended temp of 104°F, but close enough to body temp that your baby is unlikely to complain.
The Deluxe was also one of the easiest to use since it has a reservoir you can pre-fill before you go to bed and a digital display that portions out water based on how much milk you’re heating up. It makes the process much easier at 4 AM when you’re a zombie who can’t think straight, let alone measure water in a tiny cup.
Read more: The Best Baby Bottle Warmers of 2018
Adaptive Sound Sound + Sleep
While some may shudder at the thought of spending around $100 for a sound machine, there's simply no better option than the Sound + Sleep by Adaptive Sound.
First and foremost, this machine did its main job better than the rest—it completely blocked out the sound it was put up against. If you need sheer volume, no other white noise machine in our testing reached the decibel level that the Sound + Sleep did. At every volume level, the speaker produced clear highs and soothing bass, without distortions. The Sound + Sleep also has a useful "adaptive" mode, in which the internal microphone monitors your room's ambient noise level and adjusts volume accordingly. Neat.
This noise maker offers 10 distinct sound categories, with three different "richness" settings for each. That gives you a total of 30 sounds to choose from. The richness setting allows you to tweak the variables that get layered into the sound. The result is a vibrant soundscape that's less monotonous than what you get from other machines.
Read more: The Best Sound Machines of 2018
Though it's only slightly more expensive than the cheapest monitors we tested, the VTech DM221 had by far the best combination of design, build quality, features, and range. It excels as a traditional monitor, and easily covered a 4-story home in our range tests, with no drop-offs anywhere.
For extra features the parent unit has a rechargeable battery, a helpful LCD display, and a belt clip, while the baby unit has a night light. But our favorite feature was the vibrate function; with this setting the parent unit will vibrate when the baby starts crying, rather than broadcast the audio. This way one parent can handle the 4AM feeding while the other (hopefully) gets some much-needed shuteye.
Read more: The Best Baby Audio Monitors of 2018
Cuisinart BFM-1000 Baby Food Maker and Bottle Warmer
The Cuisinart Baby Food Maker and Bottle Warmer falls into the impressive all-in-one category of baby food makers, meaning it both steams and purees the food (plus in this case, it also warms bottles). After the steam shuts off, it’s a near-seamless transition to puree as you turn the dial to “chop” and hold for as long as needed -- only a few seconds in the case of apples.
It has a large four-cup bowl--a positive if you’re making food in bulk, or a negative if you don’t have room to spare. A small amount of the steam condensed onto the base around the bowl while steaming chicken, though this may have been a lid-placement issue. It also didn’t do a great job of pureeing spinach, but the Cuisinart Baby scored perfectly on the consistency of the other five test foods. This machine takes a tough-to-blend vegetable like broccoli and purees it to perfection. What can we say? Cuisinart knows food processing.
Read more: The Best Baby Food Makers of 2018
Fisher-Price 4-in-1 Total Clean High Chair
If you’re not into scrubbing high chair straps and crevices, the Fisher-Price 4-in-1 Total Clean is probably right up your alley. Not only does this chair boast smooth, wipeable straps and a stain-resistant, machine-washable seat pad—the entire seat can be taken apart and cleaned in the dishwasher along with the tray.
The tray is easy to remove with one hand, and the chair’s height quickly adjusts by squeezing handles on either side of the footrest. The seat pad stays in place well after multiple uses and removes easily when it needs to be thrown in the wash. There’s also a place to store a package of wet wipes inside the footrest, which is a thoughtful touch. Keeping this chair clean was as easy as it gets, and it held up perfectly even when a 4-year-old tested it with the gusto of, well, a 4-year-old.
The Best High Chairs of 2018
Kolcraft Cloud Plus
If you're in the market for a lightweight or umbrella stroller, we think the best is the Kolcraft Cloud Plus. In our testing we found it had the best all-around combination of size, build quality, maneuverability, cost, and features. It weighs less than 12 lbs, costs less than $70 on sale, and has features and storage space on par with larger, more expensive models.
Unlike the other models we looked at, the Cloud Plus can quickly fold up with a single hand using the folding mechanism on the handlebar. It takes some practice, but it is a snap once you get it down. It's not a true "umbrella" model in that it doesn't fold into a long, skinny shape, but it is very compact when folded. It can even free-stand, something none of the umbrella models we looked at could do.
OXO Tot Transitions Cup
The OXO Tot Transitions Straw Cup with Removable Handles was our favorite sippy cup of the 14 we tested. The OXO performed better than all the other cups when shaken and dropped (not a single leak or crack!), and on top of that, it’s a breeze to clean.
Fluid won’t flow through the straw unless it is compressed, which is a large part of why it wouldn’t leak for us until we tried squeezing the straw. Another thing we liked about it was that the cup can be used without the internal straw, so if your little one prefers to tip the cup back or is just beginning to get a feel for how a real cup works, the OXO can accommodate that.
But most of all, we loved the ease of assembly and cleaning. This cup came out of the dishwasher completely clean after laying on its side for two days with an ounce of orange juice inside, and the straw popped into place easily.
Fisher-Price Healthy Care Deluxe
The Fisher-Price Healthy Care Deluxe is an impressive little booster seat. Its smooth surface and lack of crevices mean it’s easy to get clean after even the messiest meal. The high back can be folded down for storage or removed completely with very little fuss, and it offers three height settings.
Perhaps the coolest feature is the tray. The base of the tray can be clipped on in three different positions to accommodate a growing child. The tray liner clips in and out easily and is dishwasher safe. It even has a cut out for a sippy cup. And once you have the liner cleaned up, it will stay that way because the entire tray has a clip-on cover to keep your baby’s eating surface clean in between meals.
Read more: The Best Booster Seats for Dining of 2018
Puro Sound Labs BT2200 Kids Headphones
Where To Buy$79.99 Amazon Buy
If you're looking for a high-quality pair of volume-limited headphones, the Puro BT2200 is the way to go. Though they're the priciest of the pairs we looked at, that's because they have the best combination of comfort, build quality, and sound quality. They are a bit too big for a toddler, but they should fit school-age children and up quite well.
In our tests, the BT2200s played at about 82-84.6dB(a) when used wirelessly at full volume, with about 12 hours of battery life. And because they run off their own internal power when in Bluetooth mode, there's no risk of them being overpowered. When used wired with our standard source (an iPhone 7 Plus with the Lightning-to-3.5mm adapter), they topped out right at the 85dB(a) threshold—as long as you plug the volume-limiting cable in the right way.
Read more: The Best Headphones for Kids of 2018
Amazon Fire Kids Edition 7" (16 GB)
The Amazon Fire Kids Edition has a kid-proof case to protect against drops and bumps and whatever else a kid might do. We tried tossing it around; it really works. The parental controls are robust and let you control your child's screen time. You can set daily limits, or even set educational goals that will block access to games and cartoons until your kid spends some time learning new things.
You'll get 1 year of Amazon FreeTime Unlimited when you buy the tablet. (After that it's $2.99 a month for a single child if you're a Prime member.) But far and away, the best feature that's unique to the Fire Tablet for Kids is the 2-year worry-free guarantee. Doesn't matter if your kids are destructive, messy, or both. If the tablet breaks, Amazon will replace it for free—no questions asked. Ideally, you'll never need the replacement, but let's be real—it's good to have.
Read more: The Best Tablets for Kids of 2018
L.L. Bean Quad Pack
Where To Buy$89.95 L.L. Bean Buy
This is the backpack for your kid. The reasonable price point and L. L. Bean’s 100% satisfaction guarantee makes this a great buy any way you look at it.
The squishy back pads made for a comfortable wearing experience, even after walking around for 45 minutes outside. The back of the backpack allows for enough airflow so that the backpack rested gently against our tester's back instead of sticking to it on a hot day. With so many pockets and pouches, it’s easy to safely store both flat electronics (a laptop, tablet, etc.) and bulkier items, like chargers, clothes, or lunch bags. There are two possible places to store a laptop: the discreet side pouch on the back can store most smaller laptops, and the laptop pouch on the interior of the backpack is padded without being bulky.
Read more: The Best School Backpacks of 2018