Some things are just signature dad. There are dad jokes, of course, dad bods, cargo shorts and those classic dad shoes that have somehow become trendy again. These habits grow over time, typically as a dad grows through fatherhood and becomes cooler and cooler by the second. However, what about the first moment a man becomes a father? Are there any surefire signals of this transition? It could be the moment your partner first tells you they’re pregnant or perhaps it’s the moment you first lay eyes on your tiny offspring in the delivery room. It also could easily be the moment you realize you’ve ordered way too many baby gadgets.
It’s a classic dad move. You’ve got a child now so it’s time to implement every possible tech hack you can to make parenting easier. Whether it’s the high-end baby monitor that sends alerts about your baby’s every thought, the cry analyzer that tells you exactly what they need based on pitch, or the bottle warmer that’s your only trusty ally during midnight feeding sessions — you can find a baby gadget for pretty much any need. They’re all the rage in the technologically-advanced world we live in, but which ones do you actually need? That’s become the million dollar question.
How many gadgets is too many? Are there any that are unnecessary? Given that I’m a childless woman myself, I needed some expert advice when it came to whittling down the list of must-have child-rearing gadgets, and who better to ask than a bunch of dads? We polled a bunch of fathers, pediatricians and parenting experts and compiled a pretty solid list of helpful tech gadgets for raising your child that are useful without packing a ton of unnecessary features, and worth the investment without costing an actual fortune. Some are products our experts explicitly recommended from a certain brand, and others are top-rated products in categories that folks recommended, like a sleep machine. We also got a small list of unnecessary products, so you can narrow down your selection even further. Some quotes have been edited for grammar or clarity.
Every parent wants what’s best for their child and to make sure they’re well-fed, clean, happy and taken care of. In today’s world, sometimes that goal can be accomplished through the help of a device or two, and using the genius of tech to be there when you can’t be. Iven Neo, father of two and Co-Founder and CEO of KeaBabies said it best: “For me, it’s incredible the technologies they have today to ensure your child lives and has an optimized learning opportunity from birth. We live in the digital age so why not take advantage of what’s out there and give your child the head start?”
1. Nanit Plus Smart Baby Monitor
Out of all the products that came through my inbox, this one got the most recommendations by far. It’s on the pricier end, but everyone said it’s worth the investment. It’s a smart baby monitor that gives you a crystal clear, HD view of your baby sleeping from above on your iOS, Android, Kindle Fire or Echo Show device. You can stream the audio to your phone as well and listen to it even while using other apps or while your screen is off. It gives you real-time sound and motion notifications, and tracks your baby’s sleep stats so you can rewatch their entire night in a few seconds.
Here are a few dads, giving their thoughts.
Mo Mulla from Parental Questions, a lifestyle and advice site for parents, said “The Nanit Plus has three distinct functions; sleep monitor, breathing sensor and a sleep coach. It provides a live HD video stream of your baby while they sleep, on all of your devices. As it does so, it also recognizes your baby’s sleep patterns and gives insights to help improve their sleep. The most useful feature is that it lets you hear your child’s breathing even when your phone screen is switched off. The Nanit Plus is really useful for dads who work late into the night. It’s available on Amazon for just $249.”
Brandon Walsh is a father of two and a regular on Dads Agree, a parenting blog, and he said “I use Nanit Nanit baby monitor and would love to recommend it to all other dads as it comes with amazing features that makes it very convenient to monitor motion, breathing and other vitals. It has a pro camera and a Smart Sheet that measures height and growth of the baby. Isn’t it amazing? Last but not the least, It also provides sleep guidance from experts to new parents. So with so many advanced features it is definitely worth an investment.”
2. Babaste Baby Bottle Holder
This is another gadget that a few parents recommended both for its design and its enablement of parents to multitask, which, it seems, is crucial for successful parenthood. It’s a suction cup bottle holder that attaches to a high chair and is great for hands-free feeding and improving your baby’s hand-eye coordination and motor skills as well. It’s also great for keeping them from throwing the bottle across the room when they’ve decided they’re finished. The no-spill design automatically repositions the bottle tilting upright when your baby lets go so no milk spills out and it’s got a radical pivot range, so your baby can grab the bottle from nearly every angle.
“Feeding time can be a great bonding moment between you and your child, but it can also crop up at times when you need to send some emails or prepare the family meal. I put my son into his bouncer chair (steady set) or and arrange the bottle holder to be perfectly in reach of the baby. This has really helped me not be stressed about having to send some work emails and look after my son at the same time. It allowed my wife to go and leave me in charge. I don’t think she has ever used it, but as a CEO I do have to prioritize at times,” Neo said.
Elizabeth Hicks, Co-Founder of Parenting Nerd and mother of two preschoolers said “I would also like to recommend the Babaste Baby Bottle Holder. It’s a bottle holder with a cradle that assists the baby in holding the bottle, so the parents don’t have to! It ensures that the baby is fed without the constant disruption of bottles being dropped or thrown, so it is a very useful gadget indeed.”
3. HelloBaby Store Baby Monitor With Remote Pan-Tilt-Zoom Camera
A baby monitor was a highly recommended product, almost across the board, by even the most skeptical of baby gadgets as a category. Having a device that looks after your baby as it sleeps and alerts you to crying, stirring, noises and other night happenings seems to be very helpful. None of the respondents recommended this product in particular, but based on the reviews it seems like a winner.
It comes with a large LCD display and safe wireless technology built in that ensures a secure connection 24/7. You can control the camera via the remote control, and rotate it 355° horizontally, and 120° vertically, so your eyes are always on your little one. It comes with smart features like two-way audio and a room temperature monitor and alert system, as well as a sound level LED indicator, audio only mode and night vision. It’s super easy to set up and operate, and The Parental Unit comes with a rechargeable battery that gives you full mobility throughout the house.
“As a mom who often works long hours, this has been the best baby gadget for me by a mile. I put the monitor near my child when he is sleeping, and configure it with my cell phone through its application. This allows me to keep a check on my little one from my phone at all times, and that too in HD quality. I can even get notifications in case of sounds and movements, so I can ensure the baby is safe at all times,” Hicks said.
4. Hatch Baby Rest
A noise or sound machine was another recommendation by a few of the parents we spoke with, and this one got a special shout out for its features and the sleep environment it creates for baby. It’s a multi-functional device that’s a nightlight, sound machine and rise alert all in one. You can control the timing and levels of everything from your phone, and it’s super easy to use and program. It’s also designed to grow, change and use different features based on your child’s needs as they get older — with soft light and white noise for infants, a night light for toddlers, etc. Parents love this device for its ability to keep baby on a schedule, and make nap times as smooth as possible.
“If it can connect to my smartphone then it’s a winner! I am able to control the light and sound to help my sons sleep, and, get this, to help them wake up gently. The latter is great because when the baby sleeps all afternoon they are usually awake all night. Scheduling their wake-up times allows the whole family to run on the same pattern. And it works. Routine is super important for babies and families, and we have a perfect one that suits all our needs thanks to this smart gadget,” Neo said.
5. Philips Avent Bottle Warmer
This recommendation came from a pediatrician and it’s backed up by over a hundred 5-star reviews on their site. When you feed milk to a baby, it’s better for them if it’s warmer, similar to how it would be whilst breastfeeding. This bottle warmer can warm a whole bottle of milk to an ideal temperature in as little as three minutes, and can keep that milk warm for up to 60 minutes if need be. It’s easy to clean, compatible with most bottle and baby food jar brands and a smart temperature control automatically adjusts the heat pattern.
Dr. Natasha Burgert, a Philips Avent partner pediatrician, says ““Philips Avent Fast bottle warmer is a lifesaver for babies that prefer to have their milk or baby food warmed. This product allows for temperature refinement and will maintain the perfect temperature for up to 60 minutes. It’s a practical tool that can really help caregivers.”
Mike Miller, Editor-in-Chief at Wilderness Times and father of two said that most of the baby gadgets he accumulated at the beginning of fatherhood were unnecessary, except for a few.
“Well, I guess the white noise machine is an exception, as I believe it really makes them sleep better. The floor seat is also a good one, as it helps babies learn to sit upright. Finally, an electric sterilizer can save you some precious time. You can clean all of your baby bottles with a simple press of a button!”
6. Yogasleep Dohm Classic White Noise Machine
Miller didn’t officially recommend this product, but it’s a highly-rated sleep machine that would do quite well in a baby’s nursery. It’s not a smart one with extra bells and whistles, but it’ll get the job done. It’s got two different speed options as well as adjustable tone and volume. It’s very simple to use, plugs into the wall and only requires the flip of a switch, making it great for busy parents trying to get the little one down for a nap.
7. Philips Avent Microwave Steam Baby Bottle Sterilizer
This bottle sterilizer is made for placing inside a microwave and sterilizing baby bottles in two minutes. It uses natural steam, rather than harsh chemicals, to kill 99.9% of germs. It’s got safety clips on it to keep the lid closed and side grips designed to stay cool for safe handling. It’s lightweight and compact enough to travel with, and can hold up to four Philips Avent bottles at the same time.
8. Dr. Brown’s Deluxe Bottle Sterilizer
This is an electronic bottle sterilizer that’s a little pricier but doesn’t require microwaving to work. It can sterilize up to six bottles at once, and is designed to fit all Dr. Brown’s bottles and most other bottle brands as well. The removable tray directs steam into each bottle and there’s a built-in accessory tray that holds bottle parts, nipples, pacifiers, etc. It also comes with tongs for removing bottles safely and a measuring cup for measuring out just the right amount of water.
9. Owlet Monitor Duo With Sock
This device is actually what sparked my interest in writing this article in the first place, as it seems like a very high-tech baby gadget that actually helps parents take care of their children. It’s got a camera that gives you a complete view of baby, and streams it to the Owlet app on your phone. It also comes with a smart sock that’s designed to track things like your baby’s heart rate and oxygen levels with high-def audio and video. It alerts you when your baby leaves certain “safe” zones and measures sleep trends like hours awake, sleep quality, total hours slept and more.
Willie Greer, founder at the Product Analyst and father of two, recommended this product explicitly. He said “My wife and I are very paranoid when it comes to a sleeping baby as there are already many accidents involving children whose parents are sleeping. That is why we love this product. It has a camera which provides us with a good view while our baby is sleeping.”
“It also has a sock that the baby wears at night to monitor his heart rate and temperature. I remember one time we suddenly woke up because of an alarm saying that the baby had a fever. And true enough, he was running a high fever. So thanks to this app, we were able to catch that.”
10. Cybex Sirona S SensorSafe Convertible Car Seat
If you’re in the market for a smart, parent-vetted car seat, this one comes highly recommended by a dad we spoke to. It’s got an innovative 360° rotatable seat that makes switching between rear-facing and forward-facing super easy. The load leg is designed to stabilize the seat in the event of a crash, and it’s got an EasyLock bar for a quick installation and advanced safety protection. It’s got a Smart-tech harness chest clip with SensorSafe technology built in that’ll alert parents if the child has unbuckled their seatbelt, and a one-pull LATCH removal system.
Dan Morris, father of two from Fire and Saw explained, about this product in particular, that he “has been helped by the unbuckle alert. While our daughter who uses this car seat can’t actually unbuckle herself, our older daughter can and has! Besides the tech features, these car seats are awesome because they swivel so that you can more easily put your baby into the car seat. This feature alone makes them worthwhile to get!”
“I think all of the tech features are helpful, especially for busy families. It does seem to happen too often that a child is left in a hot car. This technology could definitely save lives in the future.”
There were a few other products that were mentioned here and there during the interviews, that we didn’t get specific quotes about but definitely seem worthwhile to put on your list.
11. Graco Simple Sway Swing
This mechanical swing provides a side-to-side swaying motion that comforts baby gently as they fall asleep, wake up or chill throughout the day. It comes with six different built-in swing speeds that allow you to find just the right place for baby. The deep, plush seat cushions baby and gives them a soft, comfortable place to nap, and the swing has a relatively small frame designed to not take up too much space in your home. It also comes with two different speeds of vibration, if you or your baby wants to kick it up a notch and elevate the snooze factor.
12. Blink Mini Compact Indoor Camera
A few of the dads mentioned that a nanny cam, or some type of indoor camera is a good idea for keeping tabs on your childcare while you ‘re out and about. This one from Amazon comes with 1080p HD capabilities as well as motion detection and two-way audio. It’ll send frequent alerts to your smartphone whenever it detects something, and the setup takes just minutes. It can easily stream clear video at night, and you can check in whenever you want on the Blink app.
13. Hatch Baby Grow Smart Changing Pad and Scale
This smart changing pad has built-in smart features like a scale for tracking your baby’s weight between doctor’s visits and making sure they’re hitting their health milestones! You can also easily measure how much your baby is drinking at each feeding (in ounces or grams depending on your preference), and the pad is soft, comfy and very easy to clean.
14. SNOO Smart Sleeper Baby Bassinet
This is a splurge for sure, but a few of the parents mentioned it so I figured I’d add it to this list as well, since I’ve heard personal anecdotes in my own life about how great it is. It’s a smart crib that automatically responds to cries and self-rocks to soothe your child back to sleep. It’s got a constant rumbling sound and gentle rocking motion that mimics the noises that helped them sleep in the womb, and it’s designed to boost sleep by 1-2 hours per night. If you’re a parent, you know what a game changer that is. It’s super easy to customize the bassinet’s motions, sounds and cry sensitivity, and it comes with three sleep sack swaddles as well.
A Few You Can Skip…
- Baby sleep timers, a few of the dads noted that these were ultimately unnecessary, even though they could help keep your baby on a schedule when it comes to feedings, naps, etc. Most felt it was easier to just use your smartphone.
- A wipe warmer, this device is good in theory, because diaper wipes can be cold depending on the temperature of the room. However, if you introduce heat to an already moist environment it could become a breeding ground for bacteria, and many dads didn’t think the risk of infection was worth it.
- A baby butt fan. Yes, these exist in order to dry off your baby’s bottom after being wiped. Most dads felt this was an unnecessary gadget that doesn’t help all that much.
WhyCry Baby Crying Analyzer
This item is out of stock anyways, but since a dad called it out specifically I wanted to include it. It’s designed to analyze your baby’s cries and identify what they need. It’s supposed to teach parents to distinguish between different types of cries, and comes with an LCD screen with easy-to-understand indicators.
However, here’s what one dad had to say about the product.
“Communication is hard when you have a baby because they can not really say what they want. So this product promises to translate your baby’s cry when you hold it up while the baby is crying.. It can tell you if the baby is crying because it is annoyed, hungry, bored, sleepy, or stressed,” Greer said.
“But hey, as a father, all cries are the same when they are very young so this product is just a waste of money. Instead, carry your baby and just dance the cry away.”