Picking out all of the gear you need for a baby can be tough. There are just so many baby brands and options today and it can be a challenge to figure out what the best choice is for your family. I've been there, and in many cases, I've done the legwork for you. My team and I have reviewed hundreds of the best baby products and with 8 kids between us, we feel pretty seasoned and comfortable making recommendations at this point.
Now, the tough part is deciding what you REALLY need for your baby. Truthfully, the only things you really need are a car seat and a safe place for him or her to sleep. However, there are so many cool products out there that can make your life so much easier.
We've rounded up some of the best baby products for 2018. If you're expecting or just looking to upgrade your gear, here is the best of the bunch.
Best Baby Products for 2018
We are SO passionate about car seat safety. There is nothing more important than the safety and well-being of your child, so that's why we list car seats first. Not only will you want a safe car seat, you'll want to make sure it's installed properly because that's really the most important part of the equation. Did you know that the majority of car seats are installed incorrectly? Don't be one of those people! Check out our list of 8 common car seat mistakes so you don't risk the safety of your child.
There are some things to consider before buying a car seat. The size of your car, your future plans, and other things will play into your decision. Be sure to check out our tips for buying a car seat to figure out which things are important for you.
You'll want to decide if you want an infant car seat, or if you want to invest in a convertible car seat from the start. An infant car seat is easier when you have a newborn because you can easily take the car seat off the base to transport the baby when he's sleeping, but investing in a quality convertible car seat right off the bat might make more financial sense for your family. We go over all of these things in our post about things to consider when buying a car seat.
One thing to note, if you've ever been in a car accident with your car seats in the car (even if your kids weren't with you), you might need to replace them. Check out our post about replacing a car seat after an accident to see if these rules apply to you.
We've got a comprehensive car seat guide with many car seat reviews for you to read before making your decisions. Seriously, check that post out because it's got TONS of great car seat safety information.
Here are the top car seats for 2018:
While not absolutely necessary, a stroller can make things a whole lot easier when out and about with baby. My daughter suffered from terrible colic and one of the only ways we could soothe her was to walk her in the stroller. I can't even count how many miles we must have put on her buggy. One of the problems (and I use that term loosely because this is such a first world problem) I've had is having too many strollers. Between umbrella strollers, jogging strollers, all-purpose strollers, convertible strollers, double strollers, and things like all-terrain strollers, there are just so many options.
One good all-purpose stroller is really all you need, especially if you have a good travel system to start off with. I really like the Britax B-Agile travel system and Britax B-Ready for it's ability to convert from travel system to full-on double stroller. As your baby gets older, it's a great idea to have an inexpensive umbrella stroller for short trips.
There are truly too many brands to list, but here is a sampling of some of the top brands that we've reviewed:
- Baby Jogger Summit X3
- Baby Roues Le Tour II
- Britax Affinity
- Britax B-Agile
- Britax B-Ready single to double stroller (older model from 2013 Britax B-Ready also reviewed) (Best all-around stroller)
- gB Pockit Stroller (BEST travel stroller)
- Joovy Caboose VaryLight
- Joovy Cocoon X2
- Joovy Qool
- Joovy Scooter
- Joovy Zoom 360
- Mamas and Papas Urbo2 (also check out the Urbo2 in Atticus print)
- Quinny Buzz Xtra
- Stokke Scoot
- Summer Infant 3L Lite
- Thule Urban Glide 2 Double Stroller
Here are the top strollers for 2018:
I love babywearing! There are so many benefits of babywearing and I even babywear my toddlers if they'll let me. You can choose wraps, ring slings, pouch slings or soft structured carriers to lovingly snuggle your baby. I've had almost every option but preferred soft structured carriers for long-term wear.
Here are a few great options:
- Baby Bjorn Baby Carrier ONE
- Boba Baby Carrier
- LILLEbaby All Seasons carrier
- LILLEbaby CarryOn Toddler carrier
- For newborns, I'd HIGHLY recommend the Nesting Days carrier.
- I also like the Moby Wrap, but it can be a bit intimidating.
- Moby Go soft structured carrier
Bassinet or Crib.
You need a safe place for your baby to sleep. I know co-sleeping might seem like a good idea, but it's not recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics. Instead, they recommend room sharing for the first 6 months. You can do this by having a crib (with a quality crib mattress) or bassinet in your bedroom.
With our daughter, we tried the Baby Bjorn bassinet and then switched to the Fisher-Price Rock N' Play once her colic was so bad that she couldn't tolerate lying flat. The Rock N Play was a dream since it was so easy to move around the house and it folds up for travel. It's also a bargain when compared with other options that you'll only use for a short period of time.
Not really in the sleep category, but another product I would recommend is the Boppy Newborn Lounger. It is perfectly sized for those first few months and is a great place for baby to rest when you need to be hands-free.
Can you ever have enough diapers? Well, that depends. I know that disposable diapers are quick and easy, but they certainly are expensive. Have you considered cloth diapers? I've got a lot of great information about why you should cloth diaper and the different types of cloth diapers. I've also got great information about how many diapers you need and how to wash cloth diapers. Check out our cloth diapers resource page for all of that info.
If you are going the disposable route, I'd recommend becoming an Amazon Prime member to take advantage of their free 2-day shipping and subscribe and save options. You can also use coupons there! Another pro tip: Luvs diapers work great and are a fraction of the cost.
Ah, the diaper bag! This is one of my very favorite topics. I like to be on trend and to me, the diaper bag represents more than just a bag to hold my baby's stuff. It also represents my personal style.
I've reviewed quite a few diaper bags over the years and I've got quite a few to recommend. Off the top of my head, Ju Ju Be, Babymel, Lily Jade. I've found all of these to be high-quality, stylish and functional.
Best Diaper Bags for 2018
I have a love-hate relationship with high chairs. I don't really love the aesthetics or the bulk of most high chairs, but thankfully they've come a long way over the years. Depending on your kitchen and chairs, you could get away with a simple feeding seat that straps to your chair, or you could opt for a full-size high chair.
Our Boon Flair has served us well for over 5 years now. Living in Florida, our house is mainly tile, so having wheels was a must for me so I could easily move the chair around as needed. Whichever chair you choose, make sure it's easy to clean (without a lot of fabric if possible). A few good options that we like are the Joovy Nook, Joovy FooDoo, Graco Table2Table, and the 4moms High Chair.
Travel Crib or Playard.
While there are well-known playards that pack up for convenience, I've never found one that I truly loved until I got the Baby Bjorn Travel Crib Light. This travel crib is life! It's hands down the best one I've ever used, and I even got an extra one to leave at my parents because I love it that much.
This might not be a must-have for everyone, but it certainly was for me. My first child used his swing until he burnt the motor out. He was full of joy while using his Fisher Price swing. I was sure to get another motor before my daughter arrived and that was a good move on my part since she was so fussy and I found myself having to move her to different "stations" frequently to keep her happy. As I mentioned in my post about second baby must-haves, the mamaRoo is another great option.
I don't know how anyone gets by without a bouncer. I used to place my son in his bouncer chair right outside the shower door so I could get cleaned up during the day and he loved it. Once I had my daughter, I got the Baby Bjorn Bouncer Balance Soft and was THRILLED with it. While it's a bit pricier than models from brands like Fisher-Price, the compact fold make it perfect for travel and storing. It's also easy to wash.
Activity Center or Exersaucer.
I can go either way with this one. If you have the room, I'd say go for it, but if you're tight on space you can probably skip having a bulky activity center. My son adored this one. He liked being more upright so he could see the world and the various toys and musical element stimulated him and kept him engaged. One of my best girlfriends said she couldn't do without the Skip Hop Explore and More Activity Center for her twins.
Swaddling your baby can make them instantly feel more secure and help them sleep. I've found that the best swaddles are from aden and anais. Not only do they have generously size swaddles (you'll want the boutique size of 47" by 47" and not the aden by aden and anais smaller sized swaddles).
We used these swaddles for everything. Sleeping, snuggling, tummy time, car seat covers, burp cloths, and everything in between. My daughter is 2.5 years old and still sleeps with a few of her lightweight muslin swaddles at night and her bamboo aden and anais dream blanket.
Of course, your baby is going to need soft, snuggly clothing to keep her warm. You'll likely get tons of baby clothing from well-wishers at your baby shower so you probably won't need to register for clothing. Our favorite brands include Gymboree for their style and durability and Carter's for their cute clothing and value.
Thermometer and health and wellness items.
Unfortunately, there will likely come a time when your sweet baby will get sick. You'll want to be prepared when that happens. Having a good thermometer on hand is a must.
You'll also want to have a humidifier, a Nose Frida (trust me, it's the grossest thing you'll ever love), and baby nail clippers.
This is another item that isn't essential but it's sure nice to have. If you can swing, I'd recommend a video monitor. We talked about this pretty extensively in our article "Video monitor: buy it or skip it," in case you want to weigh the pros and cons. I've had a Motorola video monitor for over 5 years and it's still going strong. There is newer technology out there now that can integrate with your smartphone. Just be careful and be sure you're on a closed circuit to protect your privacy.
Amber recently reviewed a Motorola baby monitor and gave it a high rating for use in infancy and beyond. It's become a must-have for her to keep an eye on her two curious toddlers.