Some things are just signature dad — dad jokes, dad bods, cargo shorts, dad shoes. These habits grow over time, typically as a dad grows through fatherhood and becomes 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. 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. 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 baby gadgets are too many? Are there any that are unnecessary? We polled a bunch of fathers, pediatricians and parenting experts and compiled a list of our picks for the best baby gadgets. These helpful tech gadgets for babies are useful without packing a ton of unnecessary features and worth the investment without costing an actual fortune. Our experts explicitly recommended some products, and others are top-rated products we have personally tried ourselves. Some quotes are edited for grammar or clarity.
Every parent wants what’s best for their child and make sure they’re well-fed, clean, happy and healthy. 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. Ivan Neo, a 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
BEST BABY GADGET
Out of all the products that came through our inbox, this was one of the most highly recommended. 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 and listen to it even while using other apps or off your screen. 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.
“I use Nanit Plus baby monitor and would love to recommend it to all other dads. It comes with amazing features that make it very convenient to monitor motion, breathing and other vitals,” Brandon Walsh, father of two and a regular on the parenting blog Dads Agree, tells us. “It has a pro camera and a Smart Sheet that measures the height and growth of the baby. It also provides sleep guidance from experts to new parents. So with so many advanced features, it is definitely worth an investment.”
“The Nanit Plus has three distinct functions; sleep monitor, breathing sensor and a sleep coach,” Mo Mulla from parent lifestyle and advice site Parental Questions adds. “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 lets you hear your child’s breathing even when your phone screen is off. The Nanit Plus is really useful for dads who work late into the night.”
2. Talli Baby Tracker
The Talli is a handheld device with several customizable buttons that make it easy for parents and caregivers to record and track everything a baby does, including how long and when they eat, sleep, poop, repeat. SPY contributor and mother of two Allison Bowsher used the Talli with her second child. She loved how easy it was to track her son’s progress without manually recording things like timing, duration, measurements, and other important information in a notebook.
Talli co-founder and CEO Lauren Longo was inspired by her struggles as a new mom to track her baby’s info and used her tech background to create the Talli. “It’s one less thing to worry about. Suppose you’re tracking feedings, diapers, sleep, or medications. In that case, Talli gives you the gift of freeing up a little precious mental space,” Longo tells SPY, who used the benefits of tracking her daughter’s information to figure out how to get her to sleep longer. “I found that taking the work out of tracking throughout the day meant that we got the data we needed to feel more confident and in control and shape her sleep and feeding routines healthily.”
3. NozeBot Electric Baby Aspirator
BEST NOSE CLEANER
Typically new parents are ready for the messiness that comes with diapers, but few realize how much the tiny nose on their bundle of joy will impact their lives. There are several gadgets for babies on the market to help clear a stuffy nose, and though many are effective, they can also be gross — really gross. That’s why we were excited to try the NozeBot, an easy-to-use and effective tool developed by pediatric ENT Dr. Steven Goudy.
“Upper Respiratory Infections are miserable for babies and terrifying for parents. Most nasal aspirators on the market are meant to help but are hard to use and can be gross and ineffective,” Goudy tells SPY. “This is what drove me to develop the NozeBot, a baby nasal aspirator that provides immediate relief to babies (and parents) with three levels of hospital-grade suction.”
The dishwasher-safe NozeBot is portable and rechargeable and only requires two fingers to use, which allows caregivers to support their baby’s head with their other hand. The SPY team liked how quickly the NozeBot worked, which is essential when clearing the nose of a crying baby. Teaching a child how to use the toilet is tough, but we would argue that teaching them to blow their nose might be tougher.
4. Miku Pro Smart Baby Monitor
BEST MONITOR VIEW
There are many great baby monitors on the market at just about every price, and finding one that works best for your needs comes down mainly to budget and what features you are willing to spend extra to get. The Miku Pro Smart Baby Monitor stands out for its ability to track a baby’s breathing, sleep patterns, and nursery conditions without accessories connected to the baby. A detailed report on a baby’s current sleep stats can be accessed on the user’s phone, as can a high-resolution stream of your sleeping babe.
SPY tried out the Miku Pro Smart Baby Monitor. We liked the detailed reading on our little one’s sleep patterns and video library of the baby’s movement, which helped piece together nightly feedings. We also liked the added features, including a vast library of lullabies and white noise options and the ability to take and save pictures. Miku stands out from other baby monitors because of its accessories, including a travel case and floor stand. Like most monitors, the Miku comes with the hardware needed to wall mount the unit, but the floor stand makes it easy to get the same bird’s eye view without drilling. The floor stand also means parents can quickly move the monitor from room to room and get the same overhead view.
Miku founder and CEO Eric White tells SPY that the Pro Smart Baby Monitor was created by parents, for parents. “We know firsthand the new responsibilities and countless new to-do’s that come with being a parent,” says White. “With the Miku Pro Smart Baby Monitor, we make it easy. There are no wearables, nothing to wash, and never having to charge a thing, so all you have to worry about is getting your child to sleep at night. Over time you will get to know their breathing and sleep patterns, build the ideal sleep schedule, and help establish healthy sleep hygiene as they grow, for ages 0-7+ years.”
5. Munchkin UV Diaper Pail
BEST DIAPER PAIL
As far as must-have items for newborns, a diaper pail is high on our list. A specially designed garbage pail that traps and holds many smelly things is ideal for diapers, which is why we were excited to hear about Munchkin’s brand new UV Diaper Pail. Keeping the baby healthy is a top priority for parents, and the Munchkin UV Diaper Pail kills up to 99% of germs each time the lid is closed, including odor-causing bacteria like Staph and E. Coli.
The pail uses power outlets, which means no batteries and no recharging. It doesn’t use chemicals, detergents, water or heat to kill germs, making it safe for use around kids. Germs and odors are removed using four gold LED UV lights, the same technology used to disinfect operating rooms in hospitals. SPY received a sample of the latest invention from Munchkin, and we liked that the new cleaning technology really did reduce odors while still boasting all the user-friendly qualities we’ve come to expect from the brand, including ample room for diaper collection, a sizable foot pedal and a silent auto-close lid.
6. Ayla Vacuum
BEST BABY GADGET FOR CLEAN PARENTS
Saying that kids are messy feels like an understatement. They are Tasmanian devils who wreak havoc on your once tidy home. A lot of parenting is simply being too tired to clean and learning to embrace the chaos, but if you’re a parent who can’t stand the mess, the Ayla Vacuum is about to become your favorite child.
The vacuum was designed by Nikki and Brody Day, who were inspired by their four kids to create a small vacuum that could fit in a diaper bag and be powerful enough to clean big messes in seconds. The Days describe the 1-pound vacuum as “Perfect for car seats, road trips, strollers, or quick clean-ups around the house; it will surely add convenience to your life. With its dual speed, ergonomic handle, and aesthetically pleasing patented design, your Ayla Vac will soon become your most used accessory.”
7. Babaste Baby Bottle Holder
BEST FEEDING AID
The Babaste Baby Bottle Holder is another great baby gadget that parents recommended for its design and enables parents to multitask, which is crucial for successful parenthood. It’s a suction cup bottle holder that attaches to a high chair and is excellent 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 and arrange the bottle holder to be perfectly in reach of the baby. This has helped lessen my stress about having to send some work emails and look after my son at the same time,” Neo says.
Elizabeth Hicks, Co-Founder of Parenting Nerd and mother of two preschoolers, tells us, “I would 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 handy baby gadget indeed.”
8. Papalook BM1 1080P Video Baby Monitor
BEST OFFLINE MONITOR
Several affordable options still include helpful features for parents who don’t want to use their phones as a baby monitor. One of our favorite monitors is the Papalook BM1 Baby Monitor. SPY received a sample of the Papalook. We found that its picture resolution was the best among all traditional monitors we tested (non-traditional meaning models like the Miku, Nanit, or Owl that use phones as the monitor).
It’s easy for parents to get a clear view of their little one on the large 5-inch HD display, even in a dark room. The Papalook has a two-way talk feature, can play eight lullabies to help soothe little ones, and can be wall-mounted or used as a desktop camera. The Papalook is an excellent option for travel because it doesn’t require WiFi and has a 900-foot range, which makes it easy to keep an eye on your little one from anywhere in the home. Parents can also record videos with the Papalook using a TF card and get just about any angle necessary, thanks to the 160-degree tilt and 355-degree rotation.
9. Hatch Baby Rest
BEST NOISE MACHINE
A good noise or sound machine was another recommendation by some parents we spoke with, and the Hatch Baby Rest got a special shout-out for the sleep environment it creates for the 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 grows with your child thanks to features like soft light and white noise for infants, night light and lullabies for toddlers, and more. Parents love this device for its ability to keep the 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 can control the light and sound to help my sons sleep, and, get this, to help them wake up gently,” says Neo. “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 baby gadget.”
10. Baby’s Brew Bottle Warmer
BEST TRAVEL BOTTLE WARMER
Leaving the house with a baby can feel like a logistical nightmare. Packing for a three-hour trip requires approximately the same luggage as a three-week pre-baby trip. Feeding a baby on the go can be difficult when there is nowhere to warm up a bottle, which is why we are impressed by the Baby’s Brew Bottle Warmer. Most bottle warmers only work for formula, but Baby’s Brew is specially designed to warm up breastmilk safely without sacrificing nutrients. Baby’s Brew can hold a charge for up to 12 hours, heats milk in under 10 minutes, has a stainless steel, leak-proof design that fits most cup holders, and works with most bottles.
Alaina Moulton, Founder and CEO of Baby’s Brew, created the bottle warmer to give parents with young children more freedom. “Getting out and about with a new baby is challenging for so many reasons, but we didn’t want parents to have to worry about mealtimes,” Moulton tells SPY. “Baby’s Brew was designed to allow parents to cut the cord and get out of the house without having to worry about finding an outlet or asking someone for hot water every time baby needs a bottle.”
11. Philips Avent Bottle Warmer
BEST AT-HOME BOTTLE WARMER
The slightly bulkier and more affordable Philips Avent Bottle Warmer is fast and easy to use when warming a bottle at home. This recommendation came from a pediatrician, and almost 15,000 positive reviews on Amazon back it up. When you feed milk to a baby, it’s better for them if it’s warmer, similar to how it would be while 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. It’s easy to clean, compatible with most bottles and baby food jar brands, and has smart temperature control to adjust the heat pattern automatically.
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 help caregivers.”
12. Philips Avent Microwave Steam Baby Bottle Sterilizer
BEST MICROWAVE STERILIZER
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. “An electric sterilizer can save you some precious time. You can clean all of your baby bottles with a simple press of a button!”
The Philips Avent Microwave Steam Baby Bottle Sterilizer can be placed inside a microwave to sterilize baby bottles in two minutes. Rather than harsh chemicals, it uses natural steam 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 use when traveling and can hold up to four Philips Avent bottles simultaneously.
13. Dr. Brown’s Deluxe Bottle Sterilizer
BEST STANDALONE STERILIZER
This electronic bottle sterilizer is a little pricier but doesn’t require microwaving to work. It can sterilize up to six bottles at once and 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.
14. Owlet Monitor Duo With Sock
BEST WEARABLE MONITOR
Owlet relaunched their hugely successful wearable baby monitor in January 2022 with the same high-quality audio and video quality as the original, as well as the sleep tracking statistics parents wanted. The Owlet Dream Duo includes the Dream Sock, camera, and dream app, which all work together to help parents create a healthy sleep schedule for their little ones. Parents can access a 1080HD feed of their baby from anywhere using their phone as the monitor, and the dream app includes helpful tips to guide parents on understanding their child’s stats, including wake times and sleep patterns.
Willie Greer, founder of the Product Analyst and father of two, recommended this product explicitly. “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,” Greer tells SPY. “It also has a sock that the baby wears at night to monitor his heart rate and temperature. I remember when 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.”
15. Cybex Sirona S SensorSafe Convertible Car Seat
BEST CAR SEAT
If you’re in the market for a smart, parent-vetted car seat, this one has an innovative 360-degree rotatable seat that makes switching between rear-facing and forward-facing super easy. The load leg stabilizes the seat in a crash, and it has an EasyLock bar for 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 or the car temperature gets too hot, plus a one-pull LATCH removal system.
Dan Morris, a father of two and writer for Fire and Saw, says he’s seen firsthand the benefits of the Cybex Sirona’s safety features. “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. I think all 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 save lives in the future.”
16. SNOO Smart Sleeper Baby Bassinet
The SNOO Smart Sleeper Baby Bassinet is a major splurge that parents can only use for the first six months of a baby’s life, but many customers have found success with the smart bassinet, which can help lay the groundwork for healthy sleep habits. The SNOO 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 to 2 hours per night. If you’re a parent, you know what a game-changer even an hour can make. It’s super easy to customize the bassinet’s motions, sounds, and cry sensitivity using the SNOO app, and it comes with three sleep sack swaddles as well.
After using the SNOO with her two babies, Bowsher likes that the built-in swaddle keeps the baby in place while sleeping (no rolling) and is easy to zip in and out. The bassinet’s increased volume and rocking when her babies cried sometimes helped put them back to sleep, but she noted that it couldn’t always calm them when factors other than fatigue were at play, i.e., a burp that needed mom or dad’s help getting out. She also noted that parents would likely want to buy extra swaddles to have on hand for middle-of-the-night blowouts (the SNOO won’t turn on if a swaddle is not correctly in place).
17. Graco Simple Sway Swing
This mechanical swing provides a side-to-side swaying motion that comforts babies 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 the baby and gives them a soft, comfortable place to nap, and the swing has a relatively small frame designed not to take up too much space in your home. It also comes with two different vibration speeds if you or your baby wants to kick it up a notch and elevate the snooze factor.
18. Blink Mini Compact Indoor Camera
BEST CHILDCARE CAMERA
A few of the dads mentioned that a nanny cam or indoor camera is a good baby gadget for keeping tabs on your child and caregiver while you’re out and about. This one from Blink comes with 1080p HD capabilities, 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.
19. Hatch Baby Grow Smart Changing Pad and Scale
BEST CHANGING PAD
This smart changing pad has built-in features like a scale for tracking your baby’s weight between doctor’s visits and making sure they’re hitting their growth milestones. You can also easily measure how much your baby is drinking at each feeding in either ounces or grams, and the pad is soft, comfy, and very easy to clean.
20. Canopy Humidifier
A humidifier is a good baby gadget to buy when your little one is born rather than waiting for their first cold to hit (panic buying at 3 a.m. is fun for no one). Not only can it help little ones when they inevitably get their first stuffy nose, but it can also be beneficial for babies who suffer from dry skin. Unfortunately, humidifiers are a breeding ground for mold when not cleaned regularly. You can either buy the cheapest humidifier possible and replace it each month or spend a bit more and get the Canopy. This anti-mold humidifier is perfect for nurseries. The Canopy is dishwasher safe, has a sizeable 2.5-liter tank that can hydrate a 500 square foot room for up to 36 hours, and has sensors that keep moisture levels at an optimal level.
21. Kahlmi Baby Massager
We’re keeping our eye on the Kahlmi Baby Massager, which starts shipping in May 2022. Massage has several benefits, including the ability to help relax babies before bed and calm digestive issues, including gas and colic, but knowing how to give your little bundle of joy a massage may feel foreign. Baby massage expert Elina Furman developed this Kahlmi baby gadget.
Furman says she was inspired to design a baby massager to remove the learning curve associated with the technique. “Kahlmi combines safely-distributed low-level vibrations with parental interaction to create the seamless and soothing experience of baby massage,” she tells SPY. “The effects of Kahlmi are cumulative, meaning that the more you use it, the more benefits it will have for baby as well as parents.”