We've tested gear from Chicco, UPPAbaby, Tommee Tippee, BabyBjorn, and more to find the best baby gear on the planet
By Wendy Schmitz, Juliet Spurrer, MD, and the BabyGearLab Review Team
Thursday September 29, 2022
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While babies might be small, their needs are bigger and grow as they do. In the first few days coming home, you might be able to get by with a handful of items, but as the days progress, you'll need the top baby gear to take care of your little one with ease.
That's where BabyGearLab steps in.
We've comprehensively tested more baby products than anyone. Our baby experts have created a list of all the baby gear you need to make it through the first year of babyhood. We've included quality vetted baby gear through our extensive testing process in our in-house lab and in the real world. We regularly update this gear list to include the latest and greatest once they've passed our tests for award-winning status.
Here is our baby gear list, including all the favorites we'd recommend to a friend getting ready to launch into the wonderful world of parenthood.
Editor's Note: We updated this article on September 29, 2022, to incorporate our latest picks for Baby Backpacks.
The Basic Diaper Goods
There is a lot of baby gear in the world. Some of it is useful must-have basics, others are nice to have items that could make life easier or more fun. This collection is the necessities of infant diapering care, because no matter what kind of parent you plan to be or what gear you hope to buy, every baby will need diaper goods.
Disposable diapers include green and traditional options. From biodegradable choices to super absorbers, there is likely a diaper that can meet your needs, even if you only need disposable options for travel or daycare.
Disposable baby wipes are convenient and allow you to avoid carrying around soiled items in your diaper bag. We've tested various options, including those with the fewest chemicals and additives we could find.
A great diaper bag can pull together all your supplies for adventures away from home. Keeping a well-stocked and well-organized diaper bag means always being prepared. Think of it as a bug-out bag for your baby's bottom.
Once your little one is ready to ditch the diapers, you'll want a great potty chair to start potty training. A suitable chair can encourage and help little ones on their journey to great toilet training.
Breast pumps are important for working moms, moms who need a break, and those who head out on errands. Whether you want to increase your milk supply by placing more demand on your production or just want to engage dad with feedings, an effective breast pump is a must-have for every mom.
If you plan to travel with your pump for work or fun, a bag for your breast pump can help you transport everything you need from A to B in style. Many bags look stylish and not like a carry-all for your pump parts, and some are large enough for other personal supplies like a laptop or wallet, supplanting your need for a second bag or purse.
If you choose to nurse or want to pump away from home, a nursing bra can help you with both while offering support and some privacy for your milk-producing parts when your little one feeds, or you use your pump.
Nursing tops can be stylish and useful clothing for nursing little ones without raising your entire shirt and giving a show you may not want to give. With hidden pockets and openings, good nursing tops offer privacy and a simple way to feed little ones without a lot of fuss or muss.
Some milk producers struggle with unplanned leaking between feedings or pumping. It's common and not a sign of trouble, but it could be embarrassing or apparent if it happens away from home. Absorbent nursing pads can help absorb leaking liquid and prevent it from reaching and staining your shirt.
Even if breastfeeding goes off without a hitch and your little one has a stellar latch, you might experience sensitive or cracked nipples. If your nipples are uncomfortable or seem damaged, nipple cream can help head off pain and further issues by offering relief and protection.
If you plan to stockpile your breastmilk or use premade formula, you'll likely need to warm your baby's food at some point. A quick and easy solution is a useful bottle warmer that swiftly and easily warms baby bottle contents, making surprise nighttime feedings easier.
Cleaning bottles is nearly impossible without a special bottle brush. Given the size and shape of baby bottles, your hand is not going to fit inside. A handy bottle brush is the key to getting bottles clean and ready for use.
Save leftover food for another meal with useful food storage containers. Whether you keep them in the fridge or pack them in a cooler, storage containers can help you feed your little one when they need it.
As babies learn to eat real foods, messes can and will happen. Baby bibs can help keep clothes clean and make clean-up after meals and snacks easier. Some bibs absorb liquids while others deflect and catch food; we've tested various bibs, so you don't have to.
Even the calmest baby will have moments of fussiness or discontent. Whether your little one has colic or is simply overtired, it can be helpful to have soothing baby gear on hand to supply them with the tools to relax and self-soothe.
If you're looking for a self-soother that studies indicate can help prevent SIDs, look no further than a simple pacifier. We recommend trying a few types to see what type suits your baby best, then buy a bunch because they are hard to keep clean and often disappear.
A baby bassinet is a great way to keep your baby nearby at night or sleeping in the same room as you. Studies show that room-sharing in early babyhood can help prevent SIDs and make it easier for nighttime feeding. Bedside bassinets are our favorite, and many are also great stand-alone options.
An excellent travel crib can keep your baby on their sleep schedule and ensure your travels go off without a hitch when it comes to a sleeping baby. Finding a lightweight and easy to set up travel crib are the keys.
Sound machines help create a calming environment for sleep and relaxation. They also help mask the sounds of unfamiliar places that could prevent your little one from falling asleep. These handy and small devices can make the difference between peaceful rest and fitful sleep disruptions.
Your newborn's first bath can be a daunting task, but with the right bath gear, you'll both be enjoying bath time in no time. We've collected our favorite bathtime products to help you on your journey.
Baby shampoo is typically a more sensitive shampoo safer for the eyes and with fewer chemicals than adult shampoo. It can often also be used as a body wash, making bath time an easy affair with little fussing about products.
Many babies thrive on a routine, and often a before-bed, after-bath massage is just the ticket to creating a calm and sleepy baby who is ready to drift off into slumber town. Choosing a high-quality, low-fragrance baby oil can help you in this effort.
When you bring your newborn home, you'll notice immediately that an infant-specific bathtub is the easiest and often the safest way to bathe a small baby. With the proper support and assistance, bathing your baby is easier with an infant tub.
Your new little creation will require certain baby gear to keep them happy and healthy. Baby care goes beyond changing diapers and cleaning bottles. You'll need some other supplies to help create a kit for health and care necessities for happy, healthy living.
Your baby is likely to catch a cold or something else as they venture out into the world and away from the bubble of their home. A thermometer is a staple in every home should have so you can monitor your baby's symptoms and relay useful information to your pediatrician.
Not all homes will need a baby scale, but if your little one was born early or has a medical condition related to weight gain and thriving, a baby scale can be critical in keeping track of your little one's progress.
Humidifiers can provide some relief to swollen and clogged nasal passages for little ones. Keeping a useful and easy to use humidifier in your cabinet can be a game-changer for middle-of-the-night discomfort.
Babies don't have the best coordination, and a baby's sharp tiny fingernails can accidentally scratch their face. Many parents are intimidated by clipping tiny nails, but this process is easier than ever with new nail clippers.
Even before your baby's first teeth pop through their gums and teething starts in earnest, you should be practicing oral care by brushing their gums. Finding a soft and gentle but effective brush is key.
Your little one will swiftly increase their desire for stimulation and sensory input as they get older day by day. There are several kinds of products to help keep them entertained and to encourage skill-building.
A baby bouncer offers a safe location to park your baby and keep them entertained for short periods of time. While not a babysitter or a safe sleeping space, baby bouncers can be indispensable for soothing little ones or getting a short break to pee.
Most little ones love the practice and feeling of swinging. Somewhat mimicking the feeling in the womb, many parents find a baby swing to be a great place for little ones to relax and prepare for sleep in their crib or to be entertained while a meal is prepared.
Tummy time is essential to the development of a great head shape. With plagiocephaly (misshapen heads) on the rise, your little one should have ample time to safely explore the world with supervision while on their tummy. A baby gym provides a fun and entertaining space for baby's tummy time and practice of hand-eye coordination.
There are a bunch of different baby jumper styles, from doorway hangers to stand-alone units with attached toys. We've tested them all and find them super helpful for little ones with head, neck, and trunk control to entertain themselves.
Most new parents have a vision of their nursery, either in how it looks or how it functions. While decorations are adorable, the necessities of outfitting a functional nursery with the right baby gear should be job one. Finding a great decor can come later.
Babies and dirty diapers go hand in hand, so you'll need somewhere to put them. Whether you choose cloth or disposable diapers, a designated relatively stink-free diaper pail repository is a must-have for wherever you put your changing station.
A simple sound monitor is all many parents need to keep tabs on their baby's nursery happenings. If you want to hear crying, but aren't worried about spying, then the sound monitor is just what you want.
Seeing your little one in their crib or nursery gives an added layer of monitoring some parents desire. While not a necessity, we get the appeal of spying on your baby and all the cute things they do. Luckily, there are dedicated and WiFi monitors video monitors in every budget to keep you watching non-stop.
If you have a crib mattress, you'll want a baby crib to put it in. Given the changes in safety standards, you'll want to find a crib that works with your chosen mattress and style that meets safety standards.
Your baby might seem like just a non-moving blob right now, but before you know it, they will be on the move and out for exploration and adventure. With dangers behind every cabinet and beyond every doorway, you'll want some supplies to help keep them safe and healthy.
Baby gates can be an instrumental tool in keeping little ones out of unsafe or unsupervised areas of your home. Finding a strong and stylish baby gate that is easy to use is simple if you follow our suggestions.
Cabinet locks can prevent unwanted exploration of cabinets with dangerous items or clutter behind their doors. Your little one will start investigating everything in their world as soon as they start crawling, so cabinet locks can literally be a life-saver.
As your little one stands and cruises, it is amazing how often they also fall. Edge guards offer a buffer between their heads and eyes and sharp corners and edges that could cause injuries. While they can be bothersome and unsightly, you'll be glad you bothered if your toddler tumbles eye first into the edge of the coffee table.
Babyproofing kits often include a little of everything you need, like cabinet locks, edge guards, and locks for toilets and stoves. One might be all you need, but most homes will need additional babyproofing kits or products to create a safe exploration area.
No matter what your lifestyle or plans entail, you'll need some kind of baby gear to get your little one from one place to another. Whether that is from the bedroom to the kitchen in a carrier or running errands hands-free, we've got award winners for you.
A useful baby carrier lets you carry your little one hands-free so you can keep them close, increase bonding, and get things done with your baby on board. Some parents use a carrier instead of a stroller (hey, money savings!), and others find it decreases the occurrence of crying and emotional upsets.
As your little one grows or your adventures get longer or more challenging, you might want to invest in a baby backpack carrier. The stiff frame and added features for baby and parent comfort can be a game-changer in spending time with your little one on board.
If your little one is ever going to be in a car, they need a great car seat for safety. We've purchased the seats and had them professionally crash-tested to give you all the information to find a great car seat that fits your budget and meets your goals.
Infant Car Seats
Infant car seats are our go-to for safely transporting little ones in moving vehicles. We like that they are designed specifically with little bodies in mind, instead of trying to meet the needs of babies from birth to 2-3 years old when so much growth and change occurs.
Convertible car seats are best when your baby outgrows their infant seat around 9 months old (see your manual). They are called convertible because they sit backward at first and convert forwards after a certain age or size is reached by your child.
Moving around town and getting out and about with your little one is significantly easier with a transportation device. If you want something with wheels, we've got what you need. From jogging strollers to great strollers for running errands, we've tested them all and recommend our favorite award winners here.
Full-size strollers are the everyday choice that you are probably familiar with. While useful, they aren't 100% necessary, depending on your lifestyle or goals. A jogger or a lightweight stroller might be a better fit, so looking at all the award winners could help you find the best fit for your needs.
Umbrella strollers are so much more than the flimsy folding products you might remember from your youth. Depending on y our needs, some lightweight options are the superior choice that can get the stroller job done without the weight and expense of a bigger stroller.
Choosing baby gear and stocking up on the best gear for your new little one isn't as simple as creating a registry and crossing your fingers. We've bought and tested each item in our list against the top competitors in their category. This means you can rest assured that every recommendation performed better than the competition, earning its spot in our list of best baby gear of the year. While this list incorporates what we think you must have or could make life with your baby easier, it might have missed the product types you were hoping to find. No worries! Whether you want a baby rocker, toothpaste for little ones, or something else, we've tested those too!
Wendy Schmitz, Juliet Spurrer, MD, and the BabyGearLab Review Team
We purchased top infant car seats for crash tests and...
Honest, objective reviews. Led by a Pediatrician.
BabyGearLab was founded by a Pediatrician Mom with a mission to provide a reliable, independent, source of information to new parents. Our experts have tested thousands of baby and kids products to share key performance, health, and safety findings. We spend tens of thousands of dollars crash testing car seats to inform our ratings. And, we combine our review work with gobs of expert parenting advice. To assure complete independence, we buy all the products we test ourselves. No sponsored content. No ads. Just real, honest, side-by-side testing by people who care.