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Babylist Gear Editor Favorites for Babies and Toddlers
Updated on
July 3, 2023

Babylist Gear Editor Favorites for Babies and Toddlers

Babylist editors love baby gear and independently curate their favorite products to share with you. If you buy something through links on our site, Babylist may earn a commission.
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Babylist Gear Editor Favorites for Babies and Toddlers.
Babylist Gear Editor Favorites for Babies and Toddlers

Jen LaBracio is Babylist’s Gear Editor, a role that perfectly combines her love of (obsessive) research with her love of all things baby gear. When she’s not testing out a new high chair or pushing the latest stroller model around her neighborhood, she likes to run, read and spend time at the beach. She lives in New Jersey with her husband Peter and her son Will.

As Babylist’s Gear Editor, it’s my job to be an expert on all things baby gear and registry-building. From strollers and sound machines to bottles and bassinets, I’ve tested out hundreds of baby products over the years and have read and written more product reviews than I can count. Building a baby registry can be super overwhelming—I’m on a daily mission to help you find the best gear to make your life as a new parent a bit better.

I’m often asked what my favorite, must-have registry items are. And while it’s tough for me to pick only a handful (true story: a friend once asked me for some registry recommendations and I replied with a three-page spreadsheet), there are a group of products that I come back to again and again.

My 18 favorites are all items loved not just by me but by lots of other parents I’ve spoken to; they’re a good fit for almost every type of family and every sort of baby registry; and they either all solve for a specific problem or make new-parent life a heck of a lot easier. I think they deserve a spot on every baby registry—and I’m pretty sure that you will too.

Is it weird to get excited over a drying rack? Welcome to parenthood, I guess. And if there were ever a drying rack worth getting excited over, it’s this one.

The conversation-starter of countertop drying racks, the Boon is modern and unique and cool. The wide surface area and raised, flexible “grass” blades do a stellar job of keeping everything from bottles and nipples to pacifiers and toys upright and circulated with air so they’ll dry quickly and completely. There are insanely cute (and insanely functional) add-on accessories available like twigs and flower stems. And it holds a ton. Mine earned a spot on our kitchen counter long past those baby and toddler years…and I’m not afraid to admit it.

I know, I know, you’re probably thinking, “Do I really need to spend nearly $140 on a changing pad?” I get it. But hear me out. You’re going to be changing a LOT of diapers over the next few years. (Or more, if you’re planning on more than one kiddo.) And diaper changing? It’s a dirty business, to say the least. You need a changing pad that can stand up to the job and is easy to keep clean. And the Peanut is exactly that.

This “why didn’t I think of that” changing pad is made from an innovative padded material that’s non-toxic, puncture-proof and waterproof—and it wipes completely clean. No changing pad covers needed here, ever. Genius.

I’d heard about this breathable crib mattress when I had my first son but didn’t take the plunge until my second little one was born a few years ago. And wow, am I glad I did. The Newton mattress hands down has provided me with the most peace of mind out of any of the baby products I own. (And considering how many baby products I own, that’s saying something.) The Wovenaire core is made from 90% free air and 10% food-grade polymer, so if your baby—or even you—presses their face on it, they’ll be able to breathe right through it.

Other things I love: it’s 100% washable from cover to core (I’m talking rinse-it-off-in-the-shower washable, which I still can’t get over), it’s lightweight so changing the sheet is quick and easy and it’s GREENGUARD Gold Certified.

Baby gear that heavily utilizes tech is oftentimes either brilliant (oh hello, Nanit monitor, how I love you so) or just…more trouble than it’s worth. The Hatch Rest falls squarely into the brilliant category for me.

I often recommend a sound machine, a night light and a toddler alarm clock when I’m trying to help parents figure out how to set up their nursery to encourage a healthy sleep environment. The Hatch Rest seamlessly combines all three into one beautiful, minimalist product. It’s all controlled via an app on your phone, eliminating the need to sneak into your little one’s room at 2 am like a stealth ninja. And it can be used from the newborn days all the way through to the big kid years. What’s not to love?

A stroller is a pretty personal decision that’s often influenced by your lifestyle and if you live in an urban or suburban environment. But if you’re looking for an option that works with virtually any way of life, won’t break the bank and is packed with practical features—the City Mini GT2 gets my vote every day of the week and twice on Sunday.

This stroller has all-wheel suspension, great maneuverability over lots of different types of terrain, roomy basket storage and an adjustable handlebar. It folds quickly and easily with one hand (truly) and can be turned into a travel system with almost any brand of infant car seat using adaptors. And at less than $400, it’s a total steal compared to other similar strollers on the market.

There are a few big features I look for in an infant car seat. Is the seat safe? Is it easy (enough) to install, so you’re more likely to get a secure fit? And is it light enough to carry comfortably? The Nuna Pipa Rx checks those boxes and many more.

This infant seat exceeds safety standards and features a color-coded indicator to guide you to a safe installation. It can be used either with its base or a seatbelt and is packed with thoughtful extra features like a stability leg, an extended canopy and soft, high-end fabrics. And it weighs in at under eight pounds, making it one of the lightest seats on the market. (And the easiest on your back.)

Sure, I’m a bit biased, but I promise that even when I wasn’t part of the Babylist team, I’d recommend this awesome box. Because here’s the thing with babies—what you think will be best for them doesn’t always line up with what they think is best. (An important lesson to keep top of mind during those toddler years, too!) So although you may have your heart set on a particular bottle brand before your little one arrives, the reality is that your baby may want nothing to do with once it’s time to actually start eating, leaving you with a whole bunch of unused bottles and one very hungry child.

The Babylist Bottle Box solves for this common problem. It’s filled with five of our most popular bottles so you can test out each one before committing to a full set. It’s a great way to save money in the long run and end up with a bottle that your baby will actually drink from.

Yup, I’m hawking not one but TWO Babylist boxes here. But trust me, this one is another must-have. That’s because trying to get your baby to fall asleep and stay asleep is going to be something you’re about to do quite a lot of in the very near future, and literally any product that can help with that is worth its weight in gold.

Like the Bottle Box, the Swaddle Box solves that pesky problem of your tiny baby’s very big opinions. It comes with four bestselling (and completely different) swaddle brands and styles so you can see what your baby prefers and then stock up from there. (And just in case you were wondering, we’re team Love to Dream SwaddleUP and Happiest Baby Sleepea over here.) Try before you buy FTW!

It may be tough to think beyond the swaddling stage, but it will be here before you know it. (You’ll need to ditch the swaddle as soon as baby shows any sign of learning to roll over, which can happen pretty quickly for some babies.) Adding a sleep sack or two to your registry means you won’t get caught off guard if this happens to you before you’ve had the chance to start shopping.

Kyte Baby Sleep Bags were another product I discovered after my second son was born, and they’ve now become one of my go-to recommendations for parents-to-be. They’re made from sustainable bamboo and are the softest, most comfortable sleep bags around. They’re easy to get on and off, generously sized and hold up well in the wash—just skip the dryer.

When it comes to baby carriers, it seems like everyone has an opinion. Inward-facing or forward, structured or soft, to ring-sling or not to ring-sling… What works for some parents definitely doesn’t work for others, and oftentimes the only way to figure it out is after you’ve already shelled out the money for one.

But here’s what I know for sure: The Embrace is one of the best, easiest baby carriers out there, and even the “I’m not so sure about this babywearing thing” parents will likely get a ton of use out of it, especially during the first few months of their little one’s life. It’s a hybrid carrier—think the softness of a wrap but the support of a more structured carrier—with a super quick learning curve. It will likely take you less than a minute to master getting it on and popping your baby in, a huge perk, especially during those newborn days when babies need seemingly constant soothing. And it has three carry positions: newborn, front-facing out and front-facing in.

Confession: I am not a huge fan of adding a lot of clothing to a baby registry. That’s because I find most gift-givers love to gift clothing, and before you know it, you’re likely to end up with more than you can use, anyway.

Keeping that in mind, I am a fan of adding a go-to set of everyday clothing essentials to your baby registry. There are lots to choose from depending on your personal style, but this one from Tiny Kind is one of my favorites. It’s not only cute (I mean, really cute), but it’s also practical, which is a big win for me when it comes to baby clothes. These are pieces you can mix and match easily and that your little one can wear both day and night.

Storage is something I often see overlooked on baby registries, and I get it; it’s a lot more fun to think about all of the new things you want for your new little one, but less so to get your head around where you’re going to put it all.

These classic but modern bins from Pehr make a great addition to any registry and to any nursery or play space, too. They come in several different sizes and a ton of stylish colors and patterns that can be mixed and matched. They’re perfect for toys, diapers, books, extra clothes or anything else you want neatly stashed away.

There are lots of bouncer options to choose from on the market, but the BabyBjorn Balance always bubbles to the top of my list. It’s definitely an investment, but one that I think is well worth it. (I think it’s a great item to add to your registry if you’re looking for a few big-ticket products for larger gifts, group gifts, etc.)

The minimalist, ergonomic design of this bouncer is what makes it so great. It sits low to the ground and creates a comfortable but supportive spot for baby to play and relax, even from the earliest newborn days. It moves in response to your baby’s movements so there are no batteries or plugs needed, and it folds virtually flat for easy transport. And the best part? Most babies love it. It’s a great place for your little one to hang out when you’re trying to get other things done or simply need a break.

Parenting reality: babies get really, really messy. Whether it’s drool, spit-up or some other delightful bodily fluid, you’ll want a decent amount of bibs handy so you don’t need to do laundry every day. (And so your little one isn’t covered in, well…gross stuff all of the time.)

These bandana bibs from Copper Pearl are a personal favorite for a few reasons, but mainly because they’re so soft and comfy while also being ultra-absorbent. There are a ton of fun, modern patterns to choose from, and I like that they look like an outfit accessory rather than just a drool-catcher.

I know, I know, we already covered swaddles, right? But these classics deserve a spot on every baby registry because you’re about to find SO many uses for them. Made from a breathable muslin that gets softer after every wash, you’ll find yourself reaching for these blankets not just when it’s time to swaddle, but lots of other times, too. They make an ideal nursing or car seat cover, play mat, changing pad on the go and so much more.

I always recommend adding a few toys to your baby registry to kick off your collection. The Take Along Tunes may not be the most elaborate or the quietest, and it’s certainly not winning any points in the Montessori-inspired department but…BABIES LOVE IT. So, so much.

It sounds like I’m exaggerating, but I’m not, not even a little. I’ve yet to meet a kiddo who isn’t captivated, calmed and entertained by the lights, sounds and music of this toy. Will you have all the songs memorized and stuck in your head for the next six months? Yes. But will it be worth it when you need a quick way to calm your crying baby? You bet.

I love adding a few sentimental items to a baby registry. And since I think you can never have too many books, this is a great one to kick off your collection. This new classic is beautifully illustrated and filled with a heartwarming message of love from a parent to a child. It makes for a perfect read-aloud in the early days all the way through the bigger kid years. Just a fair warning that you’ll probably tear up before you make it to the end, though.

Jen LaBracio

Senior Gear Editor

Jen LaBracio is Babylist’s Senior Gear Editor, a role that perfectly combines her love of all things baby gear with her love of (obsessive) research. When she’s not testing out a new high chair or pushing the latest stroller model around her neighborhood, she likes to run, spin, listen to podcasts, read and spend time at the beach. In her past life, she worked for over a decade in children’s publishing. She lives outside of Chicago with her husband and their two boys, Will and Ben.

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