There are countless pieces of parenting advice out there. All the nursing advice, diapering advice, sleep training advice, and shopping advice can seem overwhelming. With all those mom mandates coming from every direction, it can be really hard to figure out what to buy, and even tougher to determine what to skip. There are, however, some baby and toddler products that parents swear by that are actually worth putting on your registry (or forking over the money yourself to buy.)
At the end of the day, it's about incorporating products into your life that are tried and true. (And if they look nice in addition to being practical, that's even better.) But how do you find those products? No worries. I dug through the world of baby and toddler products, emerging with a list of no-frills — OK, well, maybe some frills, but only smart ones — parent-approved products that will make the first years with your baby and toddler much easier. And the verdicts come straight from mom, dads, and grandparents who have been there, done that, and survived and thrived long enough to post their smart, practical, and informative reviews.
Rather than roaming the stores of your local mall in search of the best of the best, all you need to do is consult this tried-and-true guide.
1. Halo SleepSlack Cotton Swaddler
Newborns tend to have a thing for cuddling, and that’s why swaddling at bedtime is a must. Halo SleepSacks have long been trusted by moms to get the job done, and this 100 percent cotton version (available in 22 styles) is definitely one to stock up on.
An Amazon reviewer wrote that, "unlike some other swaddle wraps, it's easy and intuitive to get the baby into this blanket. It's also harder for the baby to break out of it, thanks to the wide velcro area." They also said the front zipper makes late-night diaper changes a breeze, and the SleepSacks held up well after numerous washes.
2. Carter’s Long-Sleeve Onesies
Classic, cozy and comfortable, Carter’s unisex long-sleeved onesies have been a newborn staple since your grandma was in diapers. And with good reason; they’re soft cotton with easy-to-use, secure snaps in all the right places, which makes changing baby stress-free for both of you.
One Amazon reviewer swore by them. “You can't really go wrong with Carter's body suits,” she wrote in her five-star review, adding that she's bought other brands because they were cheaper, but ripped snaps and seams always seemed to follow. “Also, I'll put one one my baby and then put a sleep sack over top for bed," she said.
3. Boppy Luxe Nursing Pillow And Positioner
Every mom knows the Boppy is a major must-have. The breastfeeding comfort classic is updated in a soft velvet-like fabric for superior coziness, and it offers extra support when you’re nursing, plus a safe, secure cushion to cradle your baby when you need a break.
It’s an excellent feeding companion whether you’re doing breast or bottle; just ask one Amazon shopper who says she went from breast to bottle and gave it five stars. She wrote, “This makes even bottle feeding so nice. I can't imagine the last four months without it." She added that she laid her newborn across the top, and as the baby got bigger, she used the Boppy to prop her little one at the perfect angle.
4. Como Tomo Baby Bottle Starter Set
New moms have so many options for baby bottles, it’s astounding — and confusing. Como Tomo is new on the block, but the line has quickly established itself as a go-to, especially for breastfeeding moms because its soft, rounded silicone design mimics the coziness of the breastfeeding experience.
“We used this while I nursed my son," said one Amazon shopper who gave this set five stars. In fact, she still uses them for her 10-month-old. "The slow flow is probably the slowest flow we found out of all the bottles we tried," she added, pointing out that the three pieces make cleanup a breeze. "I also love that it's mostly silicone, only the rings are plastic, gives me slight peace of mind as I do sanitize the bottles by boiling quite often.”
5. Innovo Twister Nasal Aspirator
This ain’t your grandma’s bulb syringe, but it does the job quite nicely. New parents learn quickly that a stuffy baby is a fussy baby, and having one of these around is a must. But skip the hideous blue bulb in favor of Innovo’s twister naval aspirator, made of 100 percent hypoallergenic medical grade silicone, so it’s completely safe for the baby.
“What sets this product apart from other nasal aspirators that I have used is, the quick and easy cleaning capability," said one five-star Amazon reviewer, who is a grandfather. “This aspect is super important, as a traditional nasal aspirator does not come apart, and as a result, the user is unable to see or know what kinds of mold/germs have built up inside the syringe.”
6. Cloud B Sleep Sheep
Another mom favorite, the Cloud B Sleep Sheep has eight soothing sounds to lull your little one to sleep, and two timer settings, so you won’t have to get up to turn it off when the baby's finally out.
Plus, it Velcros right onto the crib, so it can be a safe, secure bedtime bud for baby. “Awesome product," said one happy Amazon shopper, who gave it five stars. “My only regret is that I didn't find this guy sooner. It has helped our 9 month old sleep better very quickly. She loves the sound and music."
7. LilleBaby Complete Baby Carrier
The LilleBaby Complete is the best of the bunch in soft-structured ergonomic carriers, offering thick, secure padded straps and six safe comfortable positions for the baby.
“I find most soft structured carriers are all variants of a similar design," one Amazon shopper said of the LilleBaby. "However, Lillebaby seems to have taken the best of all of them — multiple carry positions, no infant insert, a flip up/down head support that makes this work from newborn to toddler, straps adjust on both sides, a pocket, and all in a similar price range to other carriers. This is definitely the way to go and the one I recommend to other new parents."
8. Skip Hop Alphabet Zoo Activity Center
Compact, portable, washable and hours of fun for your little one, this bustling and busy Skip Hop Alphabet Zoo activity center offers brain-boosting distraction for even the youngest babies. Its bright, colorful (and unisex) design has 17 developmental activities, including crinkles, tactile objects, a mirror for gazing and more.
“As a first-time mom, I've struggled with the overwhelming number of obnoxious themed baby items and the high price tag of anything that isn't," said an Amazon-shopping mom who gave it five stars. “This gym is bright and fun enough for my little girl to love it without being an eyesore for everyone else." The animals feature several textures and noises that keep the attention of little ones, and they're detachable, so other toys can be hung in their place when a change is needed.
9. Medela Freestyle Breast Pump
A step up from the classic Medela Pump In Style, the Medela Freestyle is the must-have pump for moms on the run: portable, practical and hands-free. What more could you ask for?
Not much, according to an Amazon reviewer who decided to splurge after trying a few other pumps. “After a few weeks of feeling like a pack mule dragging my Medela Pump in Style from my first child back and forth to the office and using the Avent hand pump when I traveled, I finally splurged and bought the Freestyle,” she said. “It is so light and easy to use it was worth every penny.”
10. Sophie The Giraffe
The comfort classic for moms for more than 50 years, Sophie the Giraffe has stood the test of time, and with good reason. BPA- and phthalate-free, it's made of 100 percent natural rubber and individually hand-painted food paint, so she’s safe, cozy, and familiar.
The giraffe is long-lasting, too, according to an Amazon shopper who happens to be a mom who's used Sophie the Giraffe for more than four years through for two kids. “I wanted to comment on what a long and useful life his Sophie had. She endured years of some very hard chewing and never cracked, tore, or got any holes," the reviewer raved. “Her long legs turned out to be perfect for those two-year molars as well, since they reached all the way back."
11. The Disappearing Potty Seat
No muss, no fuss, no picking up the little poop-filled pot and dumping it out. This streamlined Disappearing Potty Seat fastens right onto your big kid throne for easy everyday use and cleanup, and no messes.
“My children are one, two, and three years old, and we have been tripping over potty chairs in the bathroom for months. No more," said one Amazon user who rated it a “handy dandy” five stars. “The small ring folds right into the lid when not needed, and is easy for the little ones to pull down. This is one of those ‘Why didn't I think of that?’ products.”
12. Mountain Buggy Nano Stroller
This super lightweight Brit import Mountain Buggy Nano Stroller clocks in at an impressive 13 pounds, then folds up so small you can stash it in the overhead compartment when you’re flying. But it’s sturdy and stable enough to hold up to 44 pounds, offers a full, deep recline for your sleeping babe, and ample storage, too. Plus, it’s one of the few lightweight strollers compatible with pretty much any infant car seat, which means it’s newborn-ready, too.
“This is the stroller we keep in our car and use as needed," said one Amazon user who rated it five stars. "I love this stroller and wouldn't hesitate to buy one again. As a working mom, I love this stroller because I can steer this one handed and it turns on a dime. This is really handy when I'm transporting my daughter between my work's parking garage and her daycare, my other hand is full of work stuff, and I'm dodging tons of business people."
Romper may receive a portion of sales from products purchased from this article, which was created independently from Romper's editorial and sales departments.