From newborns to toddlers and beyond, we've rated the top products of the year.
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The Parenting team has been busy this year putting dozens and dozens of products through their paces in the labs and in our homes. Some lessons we learned: most sippy cups aren't spill-proof, "smart" baby monitors aren't always the best option, and baby-proofing your house doesn't have to cost a fortune.
Of the hundreds of products we've tested over the years, here are the Parenting products that made our Reviewed 100 list.
The Baby Jogger City Mini GT2 takes our overall top spot because it's the stroller that's easiest to use for city and suburban dwellers alike. Most strollers require two hands to fold and, once collapsed, they're often too heavy to lift (especially with one hand...while also holding a baby). The Baby Jogger City Mini GT2 weighs just over 21 pounds and can be folded in seconds with a single pull of its innovative Quick-Fold handle. The City Mini GT2 felt incredibly sturdy, it was easy to push one-handed, and it easily managed rough terrain and curbs.
I tested the City Mini GT2 against the newer model of our previous winner, the City Mini 2, and found the GT2 to be far more capable of handling broken sidewalks, grassy lawns, and unpaved pathways; a credit to the all-terrain wheels and front wheel suspension. Plus the City Mini GT2 felt a bit more sturdy and like it would last through more than one kid. It costs more than the City Mini 2, but it felt like a worthwhile investment considering the overall quality of the stroller. However, if the GT2 is out of stock, the City Mini 2 is an excellent second choice.
The UPPAbaby Vista is an investment, but if you're dead set on purchasing a luxury stroller, you won't be disappointed. I had the Vista when my son was a baby way back in 2013, and while it was wonderful for long walks and off-road adventures, it was almost impossible to fold and simply too heavy to lift into (and out of) my car. Not so, the newer model. This version of the Vista still feels sturdy, but it's far easier to fold and weighs much, much less.
The Vista is also a tank, able to handle rough terrain and bumpy sidewalks with minimal discomfort to the rider, and it's easy to steer. Considering the giant storage basket, the deep seat for longer legs, high weight capacity (50 lbs), and bassinet attachment, you can get a lot more mileage out of it than a lot of cheaper strollers.
This effective, reliable monitor is our top pick for parents. Tilt/pan controls plus noise and motion alerts will have you sleeping soundly (until the crying starts). It's not "smart" and doesn't connect to the internet, but its intelligent features won't leave you wishing that you'd chosen something more expensive. Audio and motion detection sensitivity can be adjusted, the buttons on the front of the parent unit are easy to use, and the notifications have a dedicated button on the front so that they can be adjusted on the fly. Both the camera and the monitor feel solid and durable. We’ve been using it for months, have dropped it many times, and it looks just like new.
Amazon’s Fire HD 8 tablet is easy to set up, simple to use, and comes with so many pre-installed apps and videos it would take some time for your child to grow tired of it. Each Fire tablet comes with one year of Amazon FreeTime Unlimited. Basically, it provides access to more than 13,000 apps, games, videos, books and other content from PBS Kids, Disney and more (don't worry, it's not all downloaded on the tablet when you first get it). My daughter was entertained continuously and never asked me for help to find other things to play or watch. After a year, users pay a monthly fee for FreeTime. At present, pricing begins at $2.99 per month.
In contrast, the Apple iPad comes with no pre-installed apps or games and most free apps contain ads that children inadvertently tap on, leading them to the app store. Free apps also only contain a few aspects of the game at the free rate before asking to be purchased. This is frustrating for kids and annoying for parents.
The OXO Transitions Straw Cup with Removable Handles aced our drop test, beating out 13 other sippy cups and proving itself practically spill-proof. 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 dishwasher safe vessel. Too often, sippy cups have lots of nooks and crannies where moisture can accumulate and mold can grow. And after washing, it can be difficult to fish a straw back up through a cup’s lid. But this cup came out of the dishwasher completely clean and the straw popped into place easily. What more could you ask for?
Truly a chair that can survive a thousand rounds at the dinner table, the Tripp Trapp is beautiful and sturdy. It can accommodate babies all the way up to a 300-pound adult. It's an investment, but a good one that will last through generations. It was the only chair we tested that allowed our junior editor (a 9-month-old) to sit at the table in an ergonomic position—back straight, knees bent at 90 degrees, feet on the footrest—other than the BabyBjorn High Chair. The Tripp Trapp’s major strengths are its aesthetics and its versatility. It takes up less room at our dining table than one of our regular chairs, and it comes in finishes to blend with any decor. That’s super important because you won’t ever put this chair in storage. It looks too nice.
The B.F.F. feels like it was designed to be a mom’s everything-bag. The bag sits upright like a piece of luggage, the hardware is all metal, the main compartment opens wide for great access, and the outer fabric repels stains with a Teflon coating. It's heavier than most of the bags we tested, but it's well-padded and can be carried like a backpack, messenger-style, or by the handle on top. 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.
While amazing for parents, don’t worry, baby is covered too. The B.F.F. includes a changing pad lined with easy-to-wipe memory foam. Side pockets are insulated to keep bottles cool, and inside the cavernous main compartment are several pockets, with and without zippers. We felt like it was just enough organization to keep track of the little stuff and enough open space to fit the bigger stuff.
The Diaper Genie has been around for decades, but The Complete is the best current Diaper Genie, replacing the Diaper Genie Elite. Though the redesign has been maligned in customer reviews online, we don’t feel it’s that much of a step down from the previous edition. It has the best disposal mechanism of any that we tested—clean and odor-trapping. Though the Complete doesn’t hold as many diapers as the old Elite, the upside to that is fewer dirty diapers hanging around. Yes, it’s annoying having to change the pail every 2-3 days, but personally, we prefer anything that cuts down on the smell. The Complete also includes a carbon filter to absorb odors, and you can buy replacements if it becomes ineffective.
The BabyBjörn toilet trainer is, like all BabyBjörn products, aesthetically sleek and well designed. The seat is adjustable, for example; which is rare in the world of training seats. You place the BabyBjörn onto your seat and there’s a little knob at the back that tightens it so that it’s more secure. This makes the seat especially stable and comfortable. With minimal design and a fairly small profile, it can easily be taken off and stored beside the toilet or in a drawer or hung from the handle at the top of the seat.
The Lillebaby Complete impressed me from the start. Not only is it beautiful and soft, it's an extremely comfortable carrier. The straps are nicely padded and the waistband is supportive. There is a generously-sized lumbar support pad in the back which I loved (but don't worry, it can be removed if giant lumbar pads aren't your style). With that pad in place and the waistband tightened around my hips, there was no spot at which I felt the waist strap digging in.
The fabric of the soft-sided Lillebaby Complete is almost buttery. It is incredibly soft and smooth without feeling cheap. That it's machine washable is the icing on the cake. My baby had no trouble falling asleep in this carrier. One of our testers is tall and has a narrow frame. She had sworn off baby carriers because she could never find a comfortable fit. I asked her to try out the Lillebaby, and she said it was comfortable enough that she was reconsidering her stance on carriers.
Everyone who tried on this carrier 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: it's a great way to wear your baby.
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