11 honest reviews of popular baby products from real parents
Don't be fooled by the 5-star ratings.
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If you're anything like most parents-to-be, you selected the items on your baby registry based on what your friends who already had kids swore they could not live without. But as one quickly learns once the baby arrives, what one parent loves, another one loathes. I found, personally, that I hated many of the products that consistently received four and five-star rave reviews. I was curious to find out if other parents felt the same way, so I asked the parents on our staff, as well as all of my mom friends, to share their honest reviews of popular products.
The answers were informative—and hilarious.
Munchkin Click Lock Weighted Straw Cup
If you've got kids, you've also probably got a house full of colorful Munchkin products. The Munchkin Click Lock straw cup makes it possible for your toddler to drink from any angle, thanks to the weighted straw, and it consistently gets rated "best in class". According to Munchkin, these cups have a no leak guarantee, but TJ Donegan, executive editor, core content—and dad of two—strongly disagrees: "The lid sucks, the handles suck, it constantly is misaligned so it becomes impossible to close and then even more impossible to open, it's all slick plastic so if your hands are wet forget about even trying to use it, and then it freaking leaks everywhere."
Avoid leaky sippy cups full of milk (gross) and opt for our top-rated straw cup instead, the OXO Tot Transitions Straw Cup.
Boon Grass Countertop Drying Rack
This nature-inspired drying rack makes an appearance on almost every baby registry, but despite it's popularity—and 4.5 star rating—staff writer Rachel Murphy gives it two thumbs down. The Boon Grass drying rack may look cute on the counter, but Rachel says, "it takes up too much space, it was a pain to clean and I ended up scrubbing it every day because a slimy film would build up under the grass-looking part."
Save yourself from mildewy faux-grass, and go with the OXO Tot Space Saving Drying Rack that Rachel now swears by: It takes up less counter space, has different sections to hold a variety of different bottles and parts, and doesn't require frequent cleaning.
Munchkin Step Diaper Pail
A diaper pail is at the top of every new parent's must-have list of baby gear, but no matter which model you select, not a single one of them is ever going to truly be odor free. The Munchkin Step Diaper Pail has a 4-star rating, and it claims to seal in odors as the lid closes, but Mike Roorda, senior video producer, strongly disagrees. He says, "Any diaper pail that claims to cut down on stink is a lie. There's baby poop in there. It's gonna stink. It might stink for less time than if you have it sitting in the open but you're not going to avoid it altogether unless you're emptying it after every dirty diaper, and honestly no one has time for that nonsense."
Register for a diaper pail if you must, or save yourself the hassle of buying bags and whatever other accoutrements are required, and just take the dirty diapers directly outside to your trash cans. You will not regret this decision when your house smells like baby powder instead of baby poop.
The delightfully marketed NoseFrida Snotsucker has loads of fans—and 4.5-star reviews—but Kate, a mom of four, can't stand it. "I’ve never had a young child take kindly to anything being shoved up their nose. It’s pretty much a traumatic scream fest," she reports. Kate suggests using a good, old fashioned bulb syringe, which the hospital sends home with you anyway. She says it's faster and easier to use, and doesn't have the "ick factor" that goes hand-in-hand with the NoseFrida
Editors note: there's a piece of foam that keeps you from actually inhaling your child's snot, but it's still gross.
Dr. Brown's Bottles
I cannot, for the life of me, figure out why Dr. Brown's bottles are so popular. Upon a recommendation from a friend, I registered for one of the starter packs when I was pregnant with my son. After just a few uses, I ended up sending back a box of used bottles because they never worked and were so impossible to clean that they actually made me cry (I was sleep deprived and hormonal, but still).
Well, it appears that I am not alone in my hatred for Dr. Brown's. As one friend so eloquently put it, "Dr. Browns bottles leak constantly and have seventeen parts and if you throw them in your bag with its cap on it is guaranteed to soak everything inside. Shouldn’t someone sucking be the only way of getting milk out of there?" Don't run the risk of ending up with a designer bag full of formula: Skip Dr. Brown's and go with Philips Avent instead.
Did you have visions of yourself being the picture of attachment parenting maternal bliss while carrying your infant around in the Moby Wrap? I did, too! The Moby is essentially one giant piece of stretchy fabric that a parent can fashion into an infant carrier. The videos and instruction manual make it look so simple, but it took me over an hour to figure out how to tie the thing, and by the end of it I was a sweaty mess and my newborn was screaming bloody murder.
The Moby doesn't get a lot of rave reviews from my mom friends, either. Kathleen, a mom of twins, says: "The last thing I wanted with my newborns (especially two of them at once) was to be trying to wrap several body lengths of folded fabric around my body, keeping it straight and trying to keep track of the open edges for sliding a precious little baby into." Skip the guessing game of the Moby wrap, and opt for the much-easier-to-use LÍLLÉbaby carrier instead.
The cute and colorful Bumbo seat helps your baby sit up in a comfortable position, and keeps your little one contained—and entertained—when you need to do other things. People rave about the Bumbo—it has lots of 5-star reviews—but two friends said it did not work for their chubby-legged babies. One reports that the leg holes were so small that she couldn't even wedge her kids into the Bumbo, and the other says "I would lift my kids up and the seat would come with them!"
The Bumbo isn't something that gets used for an extended amount of time, so it's definitely not worth shelling out for, considering the steep price. If you're dead set on trying it out—and your kid has skinny legs—borrow it from a friend and invest in our favorite high-quality high chair instead.
Fisher Price Snugabunny Swing
The Snugabunny Swing gets plenty of rave reviews and is a popular baby shower gift, but a number of parents I talked to found it completely useless. The swing itself takes up a lot of real estate—not ideal if you're a city dweller in a small apartment—and I constantly stubbed my toes on ours because the legs stuck out so far.
My friend, Devon, doesn't get the appeal either. She says, "you can't put a baby in a swing when they're teeny tiny, and by the time you can, they're too big for it! That got donated right away." Skip the swing, and go for a Babybjorn Bouncer instead, which is actually useful when they're infants.
Lest you think that the Mamaroo is a more practical option than the Snugabunny swing, my friend Stephanie and I urge you to not fall for the hype. The Mamaroo is a futuristic egg-shaped rocker that lots of parents swear is the answer to their child's ceaseless crying, but it had the opposite effect on my kids and just made them cry harder. As Stephanie says, "I legit hated my 4moms Mamaroo soother/swing. Whatever it was, it was an egg-shaped, all-the-rage baby swing alternative. But it felt like bait for people who wanted to spend too much to have their child lightly jiggled by an iPod dock that resembled a Mork from Ork set piece."
Invented by Dr. Harvey Karp of The Happiest Baby on the Block fame, the Snoo is supposed to be the secret ingredient for getting your newborn to sleep. The fancy bassinet is a major investment, but my friend, Angie, has passionate feelings about how useless this newfangled bassinet really is: "Getting an already asleep baby hooked into the Snoo was like playing the game Operation. It's bananas that a $1300 crib uses some cheap elastic and a literal hook to secure your baby in there. Sure, you're supposed to have a magical baby you put down awake who falls asleep on their own. But I didn't have that, so the Snoo was so frustrating. In the end it ended up being a very expensive place to throw my clean laundry before I folded it."
Don't fall for the hype! Babies don't sleep, and no amount of money will change that fact. If you really want a bassinet for your newborn, opt for the more affordable Halo instead.
Chicco KeyFit 30
My own personal vitriol is directed solely at the Chicco KeyFit 30 infant carseat. I haven't had an infant in four-and-a-half years, but just thinking about it makes me want to punch something. The Chicco is consistently showered with five-star reviews, but do not believe what you read (except when it's written by me, of course). Both of my babies hated the Chicco so much that they screamed at the top of their lungs for the entire length of every car ride—my daughter would actually make herself hoarse, she screamed so hard. Taking my kids out in the car became such a miserable experience that I stopped going anywhere that wasn't within walking distance and I essentially became a shut in.
As if the fact that my kids hated this seat wasn't enough, it's also incredibly heavy, far too bulky, and a total pain to buckle. The Chicco has a weight of 17 pounds without a baby in it! You're not even supposed to lift anything for a while after giving birth (especially if you've had a c-section), yet somehow a new mom is expected to lift and carry this plastic behemoth that weighs more than a ton of bricks? HARD PASS. Please, do yourself a favor and get the Nuna Pipa instead: It only weights eight pounds and it's so much easier to use.
Prices were accurate at the time this article was published but may change over time.