The 5 best kids winter coats in 2021

Table of Contents: Masthead Sticky

  • Kids lose body heat rapidly in cold temperatures.
  • A well-designed kids winter coat can preserve a child’s core warmth.
  • The best winter coats for kids keep them warm and are comfortable for outdoor play.
  • This article was medically reviewed by Dr. Benjamin Hoffman, MD, CPST-I, FAAP, professor of pediatrics, Oregon Health and Science University.

The human body loses heat rapidly in cold temperatures, a process that begins when the ambient temperature falls below 68 degrees. This type of heat reduction accounts for about 65% of total warmth lost, and because children are smaller than adults, they are even more susceptible to over-cooling. The right winter coat can maintain a core temperature. For kids, the best winter coat also needs to be versatile enough to wear from recess to snowball fights.

To narrow down our selections for the best winter coats for kids, we consulted with two outdoor experts – Linda McGurk, the author of “No Such Thing As Bad Weather” and 1000 Hours Outside founder Ginny Yurich – and pediatrician Alisa Baer. Then we researched coats to see which ranked highest according to our selection criteria at the end of this guide. The kids winter coats featured here will help your child maintain core warmth and are available in many sizes and colors to accommodate plenty of age groups and kids’ preferences.

Here are the best kids’ winter coats in 2021

The best kids winter coat overall

columbia whirlibird ii coat for kids

With a detachable shell and liner, the Columbia Whirlibird II Interchange Jacket is a three-in-one coat so your child will be ready for both the coldest and mildest of winter days.

Pros:3-in-1 design accommodates varying temperatures, breathable waterproof exterior, multiple pockets and adjustment points, extendable sleeves

Cons: Pricey

Columbia’s children’s apparel offers the same high level of quality as the brand’s gear designed for adults. The Whirlibird II Interchange Jacket is made of a waterproof, wind-breaking shell and an insulated inner jacket. The two pieces are attached with zippers and be worn together or alone. Together, they provide enough warmth for playing in the snow, going on long walks, and for making the trip to and from school on cold wintry days.

On its own, the coast’s shell is great for milder, wet days. The insulated inner jacket looks and functions just like a puffer coat and is warm enough on its own for days when the temperatures are cool but not frigid.

The inner jacket’s warmth is provided by a synthetic fill and also through Columbia’s patented Omni-Heat Reflective system, which consists of a pattern of metallic dots that reflect radiated heat back toward the body. The outer jacket is waterproof but still breathable and releases excess heat and moisture that builds up from sweat.

With Columbia’s Outgrown system, parents can snip a few seams to extend the length of the sleeves. This can help the coat last through growth spurts and even multiple seasons.

Shop all kids winter coats and gear from Columbia and Amazon

The best kids winter coat on a budget


The Amazon Essentials Lightweight Packable Puffer is a basic winter coat that keeps kids warm but an extra shell is needed for waterproofing.

Pros: Packs down small, comes in multiple colors

Cons: Occasional sizing issues, outer shell for waterproofing not included

Most kids grow so fast that they will only get a single season out of a piece of clothing. But when it comes to winter coats, you still need a jacket that will keep your child warm regardless of price. Enter the super affordable Amazon Essentials Lightweight Packable Puffer.

The coat has a polyester down-alternative fill insulation and a smooth nylon lining to provide warmth and comfort. But, while this puffer jacket will keep your child warm on milder days when layered over a T-shirt or sweater, it’s necessary to add a waterproof shell to keep a child warm and dry in cold, wet weather. The coat’s elasticized cuffs and hood also add to the jacket’s warmth preservation.

When not in use, the coat packs down into an included stuff sack. The Amazon Essentials Lightweight Packable Puffer comes in multiple colors, too.

Shop all kids’ winter coats from Amazon Essentials

The best fleece-lined coat

north face mossbud reversible swirl jacket

The North Face Mossbud Swirl Reversible Jacket has an extra soft lining to keep kids warm and comfortable.

Pros: Reversible design, soft and warm fleece lining, exterior repels water

Cons: Sizing sometimes runs small

Parents will love the super-soft lining of The North Face Mossbud Swirl Reversible Jacket as much as their kids inevitably do because this soft, cuddly coat is one that kids will love to wear. The high pile fleece and insulated fill provide plenty of warmth, while the exterior repels light rain and snow and reduces wind chill.

Even the exterior of the coat is soft and comfortable, since it’s designed to be worn in reverse, too. That reversible design gives kids more flexibility fashion-wise, while both materials — the fleece and the water-resistant taffeta — play a role in performance.

And like any good kids garment should be, the Mossbud Swirl Reversible Jacket is machine washable. Just be sure to note the sizing with care to ensure a proper fit.

Shop all The North Face kids winter coats at Amazon and The North Face

The best ski jacket


While Patagonia Snowshot Jacket was designed for use on the slopes, it’s a versatile jacket for outdoor play, family outings, and walks to school.

Pros: Excellent insulation, water-resistant shell, removable hood, ski pass pockets

Cons: Expensive

The ski pass pocket built into the sleeve of the Patagonia Snowshot Jacket is a tipoff as to the design of this winter coat. It was made for use by kids carving their way down snowy slopes. As such, it can handle the cold that comes with everyday winter wear extremely well, and without that bulky puffy parka fit that so many ski coats have.

The Snowshot has a durable water-repellent shell that features taped seams for excellent wind-resistance. The inner layer is soft thanks to a polyester plain-weave lining and warm 150 gram down alternative fill. A drop tail hem offers extra protection against wind and precipitation, while the hood can be cinched down tight around the face when the weather is frigid or it can be removed entirely for milder days.

While the Patagonia Snowshot is a pricey jacket, it might last for more than one season. The sleeves have a “grow-fit” feature that allows them to be extended (or retracted) by as much as 2 inches.

Shop all kids snow gear from Patagonia

The best winter coat for babies

columbia tiny bear bunting

Columbia’s Tiny Bear II Bunting covers infants head to toe and, in most cases, is safe for the car seat.

Pros: Warm, soft materials; perfect for layering; cute animal-themed hood; car seat-safe when sized appropriately

Cons: No water resistance, not heavy enough for extended snow play

While infants won’t start a snowball fight, they do need to stay warm when heading out the door. The Columbia Tiny Bear II Bunting is more than just a coat — its built-in gloves, hat, and boots make it quick and simple to get baby dressed to go outdoors. I used a previous version of this bunting on my youngest before he began to walk and I loved that I could keep him warm without needing to put snow boots on him.

Most bulky winter coats are not safe in a car seat, but Columbia’s fleece jackets and buntings are thin and snug enough that most parents will find they pass the car seat fit test. The Tiny Bear is made from a thin fleece that, when sized appropriately, is car-seat-friendly. Parents should ensure the bunting fits snugly and perform the chalk test, which is explained at the end of this guide. 

The attached pants, hood, and fold-over booties, and gloves make the bunting warmer than just a thin fleece jacket alone. While the Tiny Bear will keep the baby warm while traveling and running errands, parents in colder climates will want to pair it with a heavier jacket if spending extended time in the cold. It’s warm enough for walking from the car into the grocery store, for example, but not for spending an hour hunting for the perfect Christmas tree in the snow. The thin material, however, makes it great for layering — you don’t need to remove the bunting before adding a bulky winter coat. The bunting was the coat my toddler wore most often last winter. I simply added a puffy jacket for winter walks and outdoor activities.

Shop all kids winter coats and gear from Columbia

How to choose a winter coat for kids

GettyImages 88748722

A child’s smaller body loses heat faster than adults. But, on the flip side, a child that’s actively playing in the snow may generate more body heat and be warmer than an adult who’s simply supervising the fun. So, how do parents determine how many layers a child needs to stay warm? What should parents look for when choosing a coat for kids? When shopping for a child’s winter coat, consider the materials, design, warmth, waterproofing, layers, and fit.

Materials: A coat’s materials play a big role in how much heat is retained. The ideal material is warm, yet makes a coat that isn’t too bulky to play in. McGurk prefers synthetic down alternatives that hold heat well, even when wet. Although down holds heat well, it loses the ability to hold heat when it’s wet. What a coat is not made from is also important. McGurk recommends coats with water-repellant coatings that do not contain perfluorochemicals (PFCs). PFCs do not break down in the environment, and lab animals exposed to large doses experienced adverse effects, according to a CDC fact sheet.

Design: The design of the coat is also essential to consider. Winter coats for children tend to fall in one of these categories:

  • A puffy coat is light and easy to play in, but it needs to be paired with an outer shell, such as a rain jacket, in order to be waterproof. An outer shell will also protect the coat from tearing, which is common with puffy coats.
  • Three-in-one coats use a warm inner layer, often made of fleece or polyester, and a waterproof outer layer. Both layers can be worn at once for winter play, while the inner jacket works well for cool fall days and the outer jacket can be worn without the inner layer as a raincoat or windbreaker.
  • Other winter coats are designed as a single garment consisting of both a waterproof outer layer and insulation for warmth. These coats are less versatile than the three-in-ones but may be easier to zip since the multiple zippers of three-in-ones can confuse younger children.

Warmth and waterproofing: Always consider the climate the coat will be worn in. For wet, cold winters, McGurk says a waterproof, windproof coat is a must. The colder the climate is, the more insulation parents will want to look for. For all climates, a coat that’s breathable will help keep active kids from overheating.

Layers: Coats for outdoor play should have enough room for layers underneath. In the coldest temperatures, winter coats work best with layers. For babies and younger children who are unable or unlikely to tell you if they are too warm or hot, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends using one more layer than an adult would be comfortable in. Yurich recommends using merino wool as a base layer. This material is warm, but wicks away sweat, she says.

Fit: Parents should also consider how a coat fits. A well-fitting coat will allow a child to move around and play. If the sleeves are creep up on the wrists, the coat is too small, McGurk says. If the sleeves are cover the hands, the coat is too big. Some coats have a clever extend-to-size feature, which allows you to snip some stitching to make the sleeves longer. Both McGurk and Yurich said they tend to go up one size to get two or more seasons out of a coat as well as to allow enough room for layers underneath. Sizing up can also help make the cost of a coat more reasonable.

Winter Coats and car seat safety

Parents should never size up when looking for a coat that’s safe to wear in a car seat. A large, thick coat can create as many as 3 to 4 inches of extra slack in the car seat straps. This increases the chances of injury in a car crash, explains Alisa Baer, cofounder of car seat safety advocacy organization The Car Seat Lady and a nationally certified child passenger safety instructor. The force of a car crash takes all the extra puff out of a coat. When that happens, the car seat straps or seat belt that once looked snug no longer fit properly and the child may move more in an accident or even slip out of the restraints.

To determine if a coat is safe for a car seat harness, use Baer’s Chalk Test (you can follow along with this video). With the child wearing the coat, buckle them into the seat and properly tighten the straps. Use a piece of chalk and mark where the tail strap — the strap that you pull to tighten the harness — comes out of the seat. Then remove the coat and buckle the child, tightening only to the chalk line. If you can pinch the straps or fit more than one finger underneath, then the coat is too bulky and should not be worn in the car seat.

Older children and even adults are also safest without buckling a seat belt over a bulky coat, Baer says. In the front seat, a belt tensioner locks in a crash, pulling the belt tight against the body. That removes the tension from the strap. However, most back seats do not have a belt tensioner, so coats will introduce extra slack. Even with a belt tensioner, all seat belts will work better without an overly large coat, Baer says.

Of course, cold is dangerous to a child as well, but the American Academy of Pediatrics says that a thin, snug-fitting coat such as a fleece jacket can be both safe in a crash and in the cold. A thin jacket along with a hat and gloves can keep a child warm when walking from the car to a building. Layering with a long-sleeve onesie and fleece leggings also helps, Baer says. Bring a warm winter coat to slip on over the fleece jacket for outdoor play or in the event the car breaks down.

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The 6 best playpens and play yards in 2021 for indoors, outdoors, and travel

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  • Playpens can be a safe play or sleep space at home or while traveling, as long as parents are nearby.
  • The best playpen, the 4Moms Breeze Go Play Yard, is durable, easy to set up, and offers ample space.
  • This article was medically reviewed by Dr. Benjamin Hoffman, MD, CPST-I, FAAP, professor of pediatrics, Oregon Health and Science University.

Playpens serve as the ultimate babyproofing solution, keeping babies and toddlers away from household hazards as well as messy mischief. But besides keeping toddlers from splashing in toilets or drumming on all the pots and pans, the playpen can serve as a safe place for sleep anywhere, from grandparents’ house to family vacations. Despite their versatility, playpens can easily spark parent frustration over difficult folds, bulky bags, and hard-to-clean surfaces.

For this guide, I tried out 11 playpens and travel cribs with my now 1-year-old son to see which options were simple to use, portable, and safe for sleep. Because playpens come in a few different variations, I looked at traditional options, playpens with bassinets, and outdoor play spaces. I tested each editorial review sample for at least two weeks, setting it up and tearing it down multiple times. Along with letting my 1-year-old play and occasionally sleep in the playpens, I torture-tested the top picks – a process you can read more about at the end of this guide.

Safety, however, is the primary consideration when considering any sleep surface for infants. I spoke with Justin Smith, MD, a pediatrician at Cook Children’s in Trophy Club, Texas, to understand what makes a sleep surface safe and what to look for when choosing a playpen. No matter which playpen you choose, be sure to follow the pediatrician-recommended safe sleep practices at the end of this guide and never leave your child unsupervised in a playpen.

Here are the best playpens and play yards in 2021

The best playpen overall

4moms breeze go play yard in corner of room

The 4Moms Breeze Go Play Yard is sturdy and durable with plenty of space for play and sleep, and it sets up and tears down in seconds.

Pros: Easy setup and teardown, versatile design, sturdy, good play space size, one-year warranty on manufacturing defects

Cons: Heavy, bulky

When I put my son in smaller playpens, he wants out right away, but this is not so with the 4Moms Breeze Go, which gives him plenty of room to play. It is also compact enough that I can fit it in my master bathroom.

The play yard has an incredibly sturdy steel frame that holds the mattress a few inches off the ground. The mattress is firm and stable, while offering a little more padding than budget options. Baby food splatter wiped up easily from the nylon sides and mattress and left no stains. 

The 4Moms Breeze Go looks and feels like a traditional playpen, but the only motion required for setup and teardown is pulling up or pressing down on the center, no locking and unlocking top railings. I could easily set it up with one hand and tear it down in less than 5 minutes. Two hands are needed for teardown and packing it into the included travel bag. Even the bag is well-thought-out — the zipper runs diagonally down one side, which makes it easier to fit the play yard inside.

At nearly 3-feet long when stored in the travel bag, the Breeze Go isn’t exactly a breeze to carry around, but it’s a trade-off for its excellent build. For parents who prefer a durably constructed playpen over a light and small one more suitable for frequent travel, the Breeze Go is an excellent choice.

The best playpen with bassinet

Tiny Love 6-in-1 Here I Grow Play Yard in corner of room

The Tiny Love 6-in-1 Here I Grow Play Yard packs nearly everything you need to travel with a baby into one bag, while offering more than one way to play at home too.

Pros: Bassinet, changing table, and activity gym all in one; well-built; large play space; one-year warranty on manufacturing defects

Cons: Changing table difficult to disassemble, heavy

Out of all the play pens I tested, the Tiny Love 6-in-1 Here I Grow Play Yard offered the best all-in-one solution for sleep, play, and diapering. It has a bassinet, changing area, diaper caddy, and infant activity gym. The changing station was larger and more durable than others I evaluated and they play yard gives infants plenty of space. 

While a playpen with a diaper changing station isn’t hard to find, Tiny Love adds one more perk: an activity gym to use entirely separate from the play yard. The gym consists of a mat and a detachable toy arch that is nearly identical to Tiny Love’s Gymini activity gym, one of the top picks in our guide to the best infant activity gyms. Even more, the gym comes with a developmental guide offering ideas on how to play with your baby. The arch can also clip into the top of the play yard’s frame to double as a mobile.

Made with a metal and plastic frame and polyester fabric, the materials feel sturdier and more comfortable than those found in less expensive options. While the mattress is white, it cleaned up well for being spot-clean only, even when I left a splatter of squash puree to sit for a few days.

The Tiny Love Here I Grow assembles like a traditional play yard, with a center pull under the mattress and locking side rails, but it’s not overly stiff or difficult to set up or take down. The changing table attachment is tough to take apart, which you’ll need to do to pack it into the bag. Fitting so many pieces into the bag is also a bit tricky.

With all the added features, the play yard is on the heavy side. However, having sleep, play, and diapering from one play yard — including more ways to play than most — may be worth the added bulk for many parents.

Best playpen for travel

Guava Lotus Travel Crib in corner of room

The Guava Lotus Travel Crib fits in a backpack to easily take it on the go, yet still offers enough room to play, a comfortable mattress, and easy setup.

Pros: Backpack-style carrying bag, lightweight, comfortable mattress, easy setup, machine-washable mattress cover and sides, two-year warranty on manufacturing defects

Cons: Folding isn’t as intuitive as other models

The best playpen for travel isn’t a playpen at all, but a similar option called a travel crib. Travel cribs have a thicker sleeping mattress that rests on the floor instead of a frame for a more portable design. The Guava Lotus travel crib’s portability, simple setup, washable sides, and comfortable mattress quickly earned it a spot as my favorite out of several travel cribs I tested.

The Lotus offers a generous space for sleep and play. The legs stick out a few inches so the crib takes up roughly 10 square feet of floor space. Because the mattress sits on the floor, there’s no weight limit and the Lotus can be used until baby is attempting to climb out. The mattress itself feels more comfortable than the other playpen mattresses I tested, but still firm enough to use with a newborn.

The sides also have a zippered opening as an alternative way to get baby in and out. Made with an aluminum frame, polyester mesh sides, and a foam mattress with a base plate, the Lotus is Greenguard certified to be free from heavy metals, formaldehyde, and PVC. Both the mattress cover and the mesh sides are machine-washable (air-dry only), a major plus for diaper blowouts. Baby food easily wiped off the mattress, and the mesh sides came out of the wash unstained. 

The Lotus’s frame unfurls in a unique design: Unfold each leg, expand the top frame by pulling in one quick motion, then place the mattress inside. Folding is slightly more complex. The first few times I needed to use the instructions, but the process was still quick.

The backpack is a rather compact 24 inches on the longest side. I could carry the Lotus, the baby, and one other item simultaneously, something I couldn’t do with the other playpens.

Best outdoor playpen

Regalo My Play Deluxe play yard set up outdoors

As easy to set up as a folding camp chair, the Regalo My Play Deluxe creates a safe, large play space for baby.

Pros: Easy setup, generous play space, portable, sunshade, lightweight

Cons: Not for sleep, empty playpen will tip in heavy winds, only a 90-day warranty on manufacturer defects

*This play yard is temporarily out of stock. You can purchase the extra-large version at Amazon for $113.19.

The Regalo My Play Deluxe play yard provides a safe place to play in the backyard, at parks, while camping, and at outdoor events. Any playpen will help keep baby from getting into trouble outside — and a crib sheet can double as a sunshade in a pinch — but the Regalo My Play Deluxe is as easy to bring along and set up as a folding camp chair. 

The hexagon-shaped play yard measures a roomy 4-feet across, making it the largest playpen we recommend in this guide. The larger size helps my son to play a little longer before wanting out and can accommodate bigger toys. The canopy provides shade and keeps out most flying insects, though there is a small gap between the top of the play yard and the topper where bugs could potentially crawl through.

Setup is simple. I could stretch out the metal frame, then lock each of the two levers with my foot while holding the baby. The optional umbrella-style topper pops open with a quick pull on a string. The longest part of the process is latching the topper to the play yard using several bungee cords, which takes just a few minutes. When collapsed in the carry bag, it is about 40 inches long.

The My Play Deluxe doesn’t include a mattress and is made for play, not sleep. It is less versatile and shorter-lived than playpens for sleep and play that go up to age 3. It’s also not one you’ll want to leave set up in the yard indefinitely. Big wind gusts weren’t an issue while my son was playing in it, but a good wind can catch the topper and tip the play yard if nothing is inside. Mud also has a tendency to stain the bottom.

Best playpen for toddlers

Evenflo Versatile Play Space set up outdoors

The Evenflo Versatile Play Space is an affordable gate system that gives toddlers plenty of room to play.

Pros: Roomy, affordable, sturdy, indoor and outdoor use

Cons: No floor or mattress, difficult for travel, only a 90-day warranty on manufacturer defects

The amount of time my 1-year-old spends happily playing in a playpen seems to correlate with how large the play space is, and flexible gate systems offer the most space for active toddlers. The Evenflo Versatile Play Space is a six-piece gate system that offers more than 18 square feet of space and additional panels are available in sets of two.

While I preferred the Regalo’s built-in floor for keeping outdoor choking hazards away, the Evenflo offers a more affordable price and plenty of space. There’s no door, but at 5-foot-2, I can easily reach over the 28-inch side. If my son is playing in the center, however, I have to climb over the side to get to him.

Indoors, the gate system uses flat “feet.” Outdoors, those feet can be reversed to stakes, similar to tent stakes, to keep the gate in place. To switch to the stakes, you need to push a button on the bottom, pull out the flat foot, and reinsert it with the stake side out. Switching the feet was a little tricky at first, but once I found how to get a good grip on the foot to pull it out, it was much easier. The stakes aren’t necessary for outdoor use, but could be handy for older toddlers who tend to pull and wiggle the sides.

The Evenflo Versatile Play Space has a carrying handle for use when folded up, though it is a bit tougher to carry and travel with than traditional playpens that collapse.  The plastic panels are durable enough to take outdoors and easily wipe clean with a damp cloth. I used the play space while camping and even forgot it outside in the rain with no issues. 

Best budget playpen

Evenflo Baby Suite Playard in corner of room

The Evenflo Baby Suite Playard is large enough for both sleep and play, and the sturdy construction feels like it should cost more.

Pros: Lightweight, good size play space, easy setup

Cons: Mattress can be noisy and may slide, only a 90-day warranty on manufacturer defects

The Evenflo Baby Suite Playard is a simple budget option that offers a large space for sleep and play, fabrics that easily wipe clean, and uncomplicated setup.

The mattress is covered with a vinyl material, a design choice that is both good and bad. The good: The mattress and the sides of the Baby Suite wipe down easily. Even dried-up baby food didn’t leave a stain or require much scrubbing. However, that material makes the mattress a little noisy as the baby moves around. My son didn’t seem to mind the noise, but some babies and caregivers might. The mattress also needs to be strapped down because the vinyl is slippery and it could slide out of place. 

With its traditional playpen design, setup involves locking the four top rails, pressing down the center, and securing the mattress. A button in the center of the rail depresses for teardown. The button is large enough to easily locate, and it didn’t stick like other budget models I’ve used in the past. 

The play yard weighs less than 17 pounds and comes with a carrying bag, making it lighter and more portable than options like the 4Moms Breeze Go. While not as easy to set up or as high quality as our other top picks, the Baby Suite is lightweight, roomy, and easy to clean at an excellent price point.

What else we considered

Baby Bjorn Travel Crib Light set up in corner of room

I tested 11 playpens and travel cribs over six months to find the best options. Along with our top picks, I also tried the following:

  • Graco Pack ‘n Play Travel Dome LX Playard: I loved the Travel Dome that is included with this Pack ‘n Play, which would be ideal for newborn naps without packing the entire thing. The Pack ‘n Play wasn’t as easy to set up — I couldn’t get the changing station fully assembled — or as large as our pick for the best playpen with a bassinet, the Tiny Love Here I Grow Play Yard.
  • Skip Hop Play to Night Expanding Travel Crib: This Skip Hop travel crib has a unique design that converts from a sleep space to a larger play area, but it can be a bit tricky to convert. The mattress isn’t quite as soft as our top pick, the Guava Lotus, and it’s not quite as stable, but it’s a good alternative if you’re looking for a more budget-friendly option.
  • Baby Jogger City Suite: If you want a bassinet for travel, this is a good option. The play and sleep space is smaller than others I tried, however.
  • Joovy Gloo: The Joovy Gloo is more akin to a portable toddler bed than a playpen. The tent-like bed is excellent for infants older than 6 months, toddlers, and preschoolers — even for outdoor naps. I love using the Gloo for naps on the go, but it isn’t tall enough for play.
  • Baby Bjorn Travel Crib Light: An excellent travel crib, the Baby Bjorn is easy to set up and clean. It was one of my favorites, but the Guava Lotus offered the same perks in a backpack for less money.

Our testing methodology

Best playpens and play yards in 2021

I used each of the top picks in this guide for at least two weeks with my son, age 8 months to 1 year old during testing. Because playpens tend to take more abuse during play than sleep, we spent most of that time using each one for play. I evaluated them for durability, portability, ease of use, and safe sleep.

Durability: To test durability, I shook the frame, then folded up the playpen and dropped it from arm’s length a few times, not unlike what a playpen could experience while getting manhandled as checked airline baggage. Because my son was too old for a bassinet, I tossed some books into the toppers and checked for a sturdy, level sleep surface. For outdoor playpens, I left each one outside overnight, including in the rain and on camping trips.

Ease of cleaning: To see how well each option would handle diaper blowouts and spit-up, I splattered baby food on the mattress and sides.

Portability: I evaluated each playpen while in the bag, if one was included. I carried the playpens from room to room to see how easy they were to lug around. This test was prioritized for the travel category.

Ease of use: I set up and tore down each option several times, considering both simplicity and the length of time needed.

Safe sleep: I also evaluated mattresses. I pressed on each one to check for firmness and ensure there was no gap between the mattress and playpen sides.

Safe sleep

No matter which type of playpen you choose, considering safe sleep is a must. Last year, inclined sleepers like the Rock ‘n Play Sleeper were recalled after infant deaths, a reminder that some products on store shelves do not follow the safe sleep guidelines from the American Academy of Pediatrics. According to those guidelines, infants should sleep on their backs on a flat, firm surface without any loose bedding or other objects. The playpen you choose should also meet the safety standards of the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC).

When it comes to playpens, Justin Smith, MD, a pediatrician at Cook Children’s in Trophy Club, Texas, said parents should look for firm sleep surfaces.

“All sleep options should be a flat surface with a firm mattress in order to be safe,” he said. “Parents should also be careful to make sure that the surface doesn’t have built-in bumpers or soft surfaces which could cause suffocation.”

If you plan to cover the mattress with a sheet, make sure that it fits tightly. Loose-fitting sheets and soft items like blankets and stuffed toys should never be placed in a portable crib with a child under 1 year old.

With any playpen or travel crib, it’s important read the entire user’s manual, which will also include weight, height, and age restrictions. For example, most bassinet add-ons are only rated to 15 pounds, with changing tables often having similar restrictions.

To protect children against injuries, caregivers should also provide constant supervision while they are in the play yard, whether they are awake or asleep. It’s also important to note that, like with cribs, once a child can climb out of a play yard, it is no longer a safe space for them to spend time.

Whenever traveling, Smith recommends making sure that the baby’s caregivers are also aware of safe sleep guidelines.

“Parents should keep in mind that travel is a particularly risky time for babies regarding safe sleep environments,” Smith said. “Make sure each caregiver, including grandparents, is aware that children should be placed on their back on a flat surface for every sleep.”

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The 4 best video baby monitors in 2021

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I grew up believing my parents had eyes in the back of their heads, but, sadly, I didn’t immediately sprout an extra pair of eyes after donning the title of mother. Video baby monitors are the next best thing. While there’s no substitute for being in the room with the baby, these monitors allow parents and guardians to to keep eyes and ears on the baby from another room.

A good video baby monitor answers questions that a simple audio monitor cannot, like, When did the baby fall asleep? Just 10 years ago, these monitors were clunky gadgets that played constant audio and offered a pixelated picture of the crib. Now they can send a detailed sleep analysis to your smartphone, play white noise, and even track breathing.

Keep in mind: Some of those features of smart monitors may not be as great as they seem. The AAP and pediatricians we spoke to emphasized there is no evidence that smart monitors prevent incidences of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). Read more about smart monitors, sleep safety, and what our experts had to say at the end of our guide.

While features vary by model, video monitors typically come equipped with a night mode to see the room in the dark, a thermometer to measure the temperature in the room, and two-way audio to talk to the baby (or tell the toddler to get back in bed). Some baby monitors are fixed in place, while others have cameras that can be controlled remotely to pan around the room. With smart baby monitors, the list of potential features is even longer.

I tested nine of the top-ranked video baby monitors with my now 1-year-old. Each monitor that made the top of our list was tested for at least one month, including naps and nighttime snoozes.

Here are the best video baby monitors in 2021

The best video baby monitor overall

Vava video baby monitor camera and parent unit positioned on a dresser
The Vava is a standalone video baby monitor that offers clear audio and video

With excellent picture and sound, the Vava is an affordable video baby monitor that has everything you need. 

Pros: Clear video and audio, easy setup, remote panning and tilt, affordable

Cons: No VOX

Although the Vava lacks the fancy features of a smart monitor, it’s easy to use and offers clear audio and video, with a few extras including two-way audio.

Most standalone video baby monitors use a low-resolution fixed camera that doesn’t show the finer details, but the Vava’s video quality is so good that I could often see my son’s chest rise and fall as he slept. The handheld unit’s 5-inch screen is what really allows you to see the detail picked up by the Vava’s 720p resolution camera. The monitor’s night vision is also better quality than other units I tested.

With the controls on the parent unit, the Vava can be turned 270 degrees and tilt up or down 108 degrees, offering a view of almost the entire nursery except. The remote pan and tilt are preferable to using a wider lens because you can get a closer look at the baby while still being able to see if, say, a pet is accidentally locked in the nursery.

The Vava’s solid video quality is also paired with excellent audio. There’s no voice-activated alert (VOX) option, but the volume settings are varied enough that the fan in my baby’s nursery, while slightly audible, wasn’t annoying.

The 900-feet range didn’t once drop a connection in my house or even when I went out to the porch. Because the Vava doesn’t use Wi-Fi, hacking risk is low. The parent unit battery lasted for two daytime naps before needing a charge.

There are a few features that I would have liked to see, such as VOX, but the Vava had better video and audio quality than similarly priced monitors. Smart monitors like the Nanit and Miku offer more features and budget monitors like the VTech, a better price. But, ultimately, the Vava checks all the must-haves without a high price tag, making it our top pick.

The best smart video baby monitor

The Nanit Plus video baby monitor mounted on a wall
The Nanit Plus is a smart video baby monitor that offers sleep tracking and insights

The Nanit Plus video baby monitor offers excellent video and audio, along with extras like sleep tips.

Pros: Sleep tracking and tips, contactless breathing monitor, quick alerts, reliable app, good video and audio quality, two-factor authentication

Cons: Pricey, sleep insights require subscription after first year

Many smart monitors deliver late alerts or poor audio, but the Nanit Plus doesn’t skimp on the basics in order to deliver the smart features. 

The monitor’s audio was free of white noise, and I could turn the volume down enough not to hear the fan in my son’s room but still hear his cries. Picture quality is excellent, even for the night camera. 

The Nanit was the most reliable smart monitor that I tested. It never crashed while livestreaming, though it can run few seconds behind depending on internet speeds. The one time the app stopped working (while using push notifications, not the livestream), it alerted me. For added security, it offers two-factor authentication, which Nanit says is continually audited for security compliance.

Unlike many breathing monitors, the Nanit Plus also doesn’t require extra devices. With a patterned fabric band, swaddle, or sleep sack, the camera detects pixel-level changes in that pattern to monitor the rise and fall of the baby’s chest. Even without the wearable, the monitor can still recognize movement to track sleep. False alarms can cause unnecessary worry, but I didn’t experience any.

The app’s interface is easy to navigate. It charts sleep times, duration, and time it takes to fall asleep. Using that data, Nanit Insights offers personalized sleep tips developed by a certified infant sleep coach. I shared these tips with Dr. Fern Hauck, professor of Family Medicine and Public Health Sciences at the University of Virginia, who said they provided reasonable advice about establishing sleep patterns. However, these tips can also be found in inexpensive parenting books and are not the solution to every sleep problem.

Outside of the downsides of app-based monitors, like quickly depleting the smartphone battery, I have very few complaints. One minor inconvenience is that you need to go into the app and start a session in order to monitor breathing.

The Nanit Plus is one of the pricier smart baby monitors, although the wall mount option is less expensive than the floor stand. Insights also requires a paid subscription after the first year. Still, it’s $100 less than options like the Owlet and Miku.

Smart monitors are not for every family. Solid-performing, less expensive audio and video monitors are available, and breathing tracking isn’t studied for SIDs prevention (read more about this at the end of the guide). But, out of all the Wi-Fi connected monitors that I tried, the Nanit Plus delivered the best experience with the most reliability.

The best wearable-free smart baby monitor

miku smart baby monitor mounted on a wall
The Miku smart monitor can track a baby’s sleep and breathing without a wearable

The Miku accurately tracks breathing and sleep patterns without any wearables.

Pros: Sleep tracking, contactless breathing sensor, simple to use, plays lullabies or white noise, reliable app

Cons: Slow push notifications, white noise during livestreaming

With a radio-wave sensor built into the camera, the Miku tracks sleep and creates a color-coded chart that illustrates how well the baby slept. The well-designed app tracks data such as how long it took for the baby to fall asleep, sleep quality, and average bedtime, which may be helpful for new parents establishing a routine.

This monitor narrowly missed beating out the Nanit, largely because the audio had constant white noise detectable even at the lowest volume. (Audio performance could possibly differ based on the smartphone you are using — I tested using an iPhone 7.) The notifications were too slow to be a suitable substitute. However, if you’re looking for easy sleep tracking without any form of wearables, the Miku is a great option.

The app never crashed during testing and it can send push notifications that the baby has woken up. In order to avoid false alarms simply because the baby rolled over, there’s an intentional delay on those alerts. Unfortunately, the alerts are also delayed for cries. For that reason, I preferred streaming the audio. 

Video is also easy to review with an option to watch the feed from any time the app detected motion or noise. The Miku also has a built-in sound machine — you can play white noise or lullabies and control them from the app. 

Simple setup requires pressing a physical button to start a new connection, which feels a bit more secure. The Miku also has a built-in crypto security chip and includes features like two-way authentication. 

Like with the Nanit, smart monitors are not a necessity. For some families, tracking breathing  can lead to more worry and distraction. The AAP cautions parents that breathing monitors have not been studied for reducing SIDs. But, for families that want that extra tracking, the Miku offers those added features without the need to attach anything to the baby. 

The best budget video baby monitor

VTech RM5754 video baby monitor camera and parent unit positioned on a dresser
VTech’s RM5754 video baby monitor includes a parent unit and Wi-Fi tracking

The VTech RM5754 video monitor proves you don’t need to spend a lot to keep an eye on the baby, from anywhere.

Pros: Parent unit and Wi-Fi app, affordable, movement alerts

Cons: Lower night-camera quality, buggy app

The VTech RM5754 is a good monitor for those on a budget. It is unique because it’s a standalone monitor that also offers app access via Wi-Fi and VOX so you don’t have to listen to annoying background noise. The parent unit is the most convenient way to monitor, but the app allows you to watch the baby from anywhere.

The camera has a higher 1080p resolution and the parent unit a large 5-inch screen. The 100-degree wide-angle lens means you can see much of the nursery, but it doesn’t provide the close-up detail of some of the other monitors. While the night vision camera is low quality, it’s enough to see.

Audio isn’t the greatest. There were some audible static noises from both the parent unit and the app, but turning on VOX — my favorite feature — meant I only heard the static when there were loud noises in the room. The feature wasn’t explained in the user manual and is hiding in the menu, so it takes some tinkering to set up.

The VTech monitor also provides movement alerts, something uncommon with standalone monitors. From the parent unit, you can play white noise or lullabies through the monitor and turn on the night-light.

The app performance is inconsistent — it kept crashing on my iPhone 7, but ran much smoother after I updated my phone. The static is worse on the app and VOX isn’t available on a mobile device.

While I preferred the Vava’s better picture quality and sound, the VTech costs less and includes app access and VOX. This makes it a decent option for caregivers on a limited budget or families who can’t decide between a standalone camera and a Wi-Fi enabled one.

Our testing methodology

I tested nine video baby monitors over the course of several months with my now 1-year-old. The top picks were tested for at least one month. During that time, I evaluated the following features.

  • Audio quality: Parents will listen for a baby’s cries more often than watching the video screen, which means audio quality is still a major consideration. I listened for annoyances like static and white noise, as well as how sensitive the microphone was to both soft sounds and loud noises.
  • Video quality: Baby monitors don’t need cinematic 4K, but I looked for footage that was detailed enough to tell if the baby’s eyes were open or closed. Ultimately, I wanted a monitor that would cover the entire crib while still showing enough detail to see if the baby is awake or simply rolling over in their sleep.
  • Smart monitoring: For smart monitors, I also used the breathing tracking and sleep tracking. Thankfully, I never experienced what happens when a baby stops breathing. I did, however, research what I could into how the alarms work (including this Nanit and Miku comparison from Dad Verb using a robotic baby). I also noted any false alarms and eliminated options that caused more worry than it prevented. As noted throughout this guide, APA does not endorse breathing monitors for infants. Studies have not shown whether or not the devices have any effect on reducing SIDs.
  • Connectivity, battery life, and overall usability: Throughout my testing, I noted any app crashes and difficult setups. For Wi-Fi based monitors, I noted the battery life and range of the parent unit, including taking the unit outside. For smart monitors, I considered how simple the app was to use and whether or not the extra smart features were actually helpful.

What else we considered

Cubo A.I. Baby Monitor positioned over a baby in a crib
The Cubo A.I. uses facial recognition to monitor waking babies and rollovers

  • Levana Mila: The Mila would be one of my top picks, except it’s not available yet. Originally expected out in June 2020, its release is now delayed indefinitely. I was impressed by its mode that turns the screen and audio off when no noise is detected in the room, which preserves battery life. The same mode also works with two cameras to display footage from the room when noise is detected.
  • Pampers Lumi: In addition to monitoring sleep, the Lumi uses a sensor on the baby’s diaper to track wet diapers, though it’s not recommended to wake a baby just to change a diaper. It simply wasn’t the best because anytime the sensor stops moving, the Lumi labels it a nap. The camera’s wide-angle fish-eye lens makes it difficult to see details, and audio is inconsistent across devices — on my iPhone, it generated constant white noise, but the iPad app didn’t have that issue.
  • Angel Care 3-in-1 AC337: This unique standalone monitor uses a sensor placed under the mattress to monitor breathing. To make sure an alarm is heard even if the parent unit has a dead battery, the alarm also sounds in the nursery so false alarms could wake the baby. I got a few false alarms and stopped using the breathing pad because I was worried about waking the baby up with those false alarms. The camera lens also isn’t a wide enough angle.
  • Cubo A.I. Baby Monitor: The Cubo uses facial recognition to alert you if the baby’s face is covered by a blanket or if the baby rolled over, while “detection zones” alert you if the baby enters a preset area. While this feature worked great, when I followed safe sleep tips, I just got notifications for rolling over and placing a hand over his face. The Cubo did have one feature I wish the other smart monitors had — push notifications are a chirping sound instead of the default, which means you know it’s a baby monitor alert and not an alert from any other app.
  • Owlet Smart Baby Monitor Duo: Unlike the Miku and Nanit, the Owlet Smart Sock tracks oxygen levels and heart rate — neither of which are recommended by the AAP. It doesn’t, however, track sleep data or send push notifications when noise or movement is detected. The smart sock is difficult to put on, and I don’t like placing electronics directly on my baby’s skin. I also had to try three different socks before getting one to work properly, suggesting some quality control issues. But, for what it’s worth, excellent customer service.

Standalone vs. smart baby monitors

Video baby monitors used to be simply a camera that allowed you to see and hear your baby, but the tech now falls into two major categories.

Stand-alone baby monitors are the traditional monitors that come with everything you need in the box. These monitors have both a camera and a parent unit with a screen that displays video.

Smart baby monitors come with only a camera; the rest is done via an app on a smartphone or tablet, connected via Wi-Fi. Because these app-based baby monitors are essentially running on a mini-computer (the smartphone), this type can include a lot of features that standalone monitors lack. Smart monitors can track sleep patterns, send push notifications for sound and movement, and some even track breathing. 

With the Wi-Fi connection, smart monitors are never “out of range” like a traditional monitor. That means you can check in on the baby while you are out and the baby is with another caregiver, or you can work outside in a big yard and still use the monitor. 

The downside is that these monitors rely on an internet connection. If your home internet is slow, the video will lag behind and occasionally freeze up, and when the internet is out, so is the baby monitor. App-based monitors can also fail if the app freezes. If that happens overnight, parents could potentially miss baby’s cries. Smart monitors will also drain your smartphone battery faster and granting access to the app to a babysitter can be a hassle.

Safety considerations for smart baby monitors

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) does not endorse breathing monitors for infants because studies have not shown whether or not the devices have any effect on reducing SIDs. “There are no data that other commercial devices that are designed to monitor infant vital signs reduce the risk of SIDs,” the AAP states. Every smart monitor that I tested came with a legal disclaimer that the monitor is not a medical device for preventing Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). While we like features like sleep tracking, we don’t recommend buying a smart monitor exclusively for the sleep tracking. It’s unproven and often adds another item to the already too long to-do list.

Dr. Justin Smith, a pediatrician and the medical advisor for digital health at Cook Children’s in Trophy Club, Texas, told Insider Reviews: “There is no evidence that wearing a monitor will prevent or allow a parent to act in order to prevent SIDS. Parents should assess whether using a monitor would give them peace of mind or cause them stress and anxiety. False alarms are common and can lead parents to seek medical care for normal babies.” He emphasized that parents should adhere to safe sleep practices above all.

Dr. Fern Hauck, a family medicine doctor and University of Virginia professor that focuses much of her research on SIDS, echoed similar thoughts. “Some parents may feel more comforted by the home monitor and, at other times, monitors cause distress because of false alarms,” she said. “As a safe sleep expert, the bottom line is that we don’t have evidence that these monitor’s prevent infant death. There may be more evidence in the future.”

While our medical experts stressed that there is no evidence that monitoring breathing at home reduces the risk of SIDs, both pediatricians noted that parents that find more peace of mind from a smart monitor can choose to do so with a few safety guidelines in place. A smart monitor should never be an excuse not to follow safe sleep practices — for example, just because a monitor is watching the baby breathe doesn’t mean it’s okay to load the crib up with loose blankets, bumpers, and stuffed animals. Infants should be placed on their backs on a flat, firm sleep surface with no loose bedding. Hauck also cautions against moving the baby to their own room before the AAP recommended 6 to 12 months, even with a smart monitor.

Parents should also ensure the monitor itself doesn’t pose a hazard. Wearable sensors can also pose a choking hazard if a sensor becomes loose or comes off, according to Smith. “In addition, any sensor with a cord could cause strangulation. Battery-powered devices could cause skin sensitivity or a burn injury if it malfunctions,” he said. Monitors placed over the crib could be safer if the device isn’t able to be pulled into the crib or can’t fall off. 

Because the last thing new parents need is to spend money on a device that will make them more anxious, we quickly eliminated the options that sent a lot of false alarms during testing. The Nanit Plus ended up being my favorite smart monitor because I still loved it even after discontinuing use of the breathing band. It has excellent features worth paying a little more for, like sleep tracking and clear audio and video. Parents, however, shouldn’t feel like they have to spend so much on a monitor to keep the baby safe because there’s no evidence that smart monitors are actually safer.

How does AI Sleep Monitoring work, and is it worth it?

Smart Baby Monitor App

Both the Nanit and Miku monitor the baby’s sleep, offering stats like how long the baby slept and when. The Nanit goes a little bit further and adds sleep tips, delivered once a week based on the infant’s sleep data.

Those tips are developed from a certified infant sleep coach, according to Nanit. The AI determines which tips to send based on the sleep data and the baby’s age, but the tips themselves were written by actual baby sleep experts. Essentially, using Nanit is like having someone tell you which chapters of the baby sleep book to read first for your particular baby.

The tips that Nanit Insights sent during my testing were similar to what I’ve read about establishing healthy sleep habits, such as a consistent bedtime. I shared Nanit’s tips with  Dr. Fern Hauck, professor of Family Medicine and Public Health Sciences at the University of Virginia, they provided reasonable advice about establishing sleep patterns. 

You can find similar tips in a $15 baby book without spending $300 on a baby monitor. But, if you need to buy a monitor and prefer one that is Wi-Fi-based, having sleep tips tailored to your baby’s age and sleep habits is a nice extra. Don’t impulse buy the Nanit Plus at 2 a.m. while holding a wide-awake baby out of desperation, though. 

Baby monitor security

Wi-Fi enabled monitors have another downfall: As with any Internet of Things (IoT) device, they are susceptible to hacking.

According to Deral Heiland, the IoT research lead for cybersecurity management company Rapid7, there’s no actual internet connection to hack into with a stand-alone monitor, and any hacker would have to be within range of the camera. Radio monitors don’t have the same encryption measures, but a hacker would still need to be within a few hundred feet of the monitor.

Wi-Fi based monitors have more risks, but they can be mitigated through a few best security practices, Heiland told Insider Reviews.

“Just like any camera-based technology, there’s some risk, but there are ways to mitigate that risk,” he said. “Most of the risk on camera-based technology is password reuse. Don’t reuse passwords. Don’t use the baby’s name, a phone number, or a home address, or anything that people can easily guess. Create a complex password that is not used on other accounts.”

If you choose a smart monitor, Heiland recommends looking for one that offers two-factor authentication, which requires a code to be sent to your phone anytime a new device tries to log in. The home Wi-Fi network should also have a hard-to-guess password that’s a series of random letters and numbers rather than a known phrase.

Brand matters, too. A well-known brand will quickly patch up any vulnerabilities to maintain its brand reputation. Off-label brands sometimes have known vulnerabilities that are never patched. 

But a total lack of vulnerabilities isn’t necessarily a good sign. All technology has vulnerabilities, Heiland said, so with any IoT device, choose a company that has patched security issues before and provides a place to report them.

Unlike hacking into credit card data, there’s no monetary gain to hacking a baby monitor (unless your monitor has a paid subscription) — the outcome is just shock and fear. While you can find stories dotting the internet about baby monitors being hacked, Heiland said that in almost every case, it was a simple target of opportunity with a weak or default password.

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The 5 best baby bibs in 2021

Table of Contents: Masthead Sticky

  • Baby bibs often aren’t given much thought, but a quality one will make feeding your baby easier.
  • We surveyed parents and spoke to a pediatrician and a feeding expert to narrow down baby bibs to test.
  • These are the best baby bibs we tried with a 1-year-old, including silicone, cotton, and bandana bibs.

Let’s state the obvious – feeding babies can get real messy. If ensuring they eat a well-balanced meal isn’t enough, you also have to make sure fruit and yogurt don’t spill all over your kitchen floor. Luckily, a quality baby bib will make life much easier.

For this guide, I put 11 baby bibs to the test with my 1-year-old niece, Julianna Grace. Between breakfast, lunch, and dinner, I tried a variety of bib styles with her, from bandana and cotton designs to silicone and apron-style bibs.

I also surveyed 20 parents and caregivers, all of whom said they look for a bib that’s easy to clean. More than 40% said the biggest issues they run into are bibs not staying in place, irritating the baby’s neck, and not catching foods and liquids well. I kept this in mind while testing and choosing the top picks for this guide.

While testing, I took notes on how comfortable each bib was, how effective the design was at picking up food, and how it held up in the wash. You’d be surprised at how many bibs didn’t make the cut – and how impressive the top five were during feeding time in the high chair.

I also also spoke with Judy Delaware – an occupational therapist, feeding specialist, and certified lactation counselor – for more information on bibs and best feeding practices. Dr. Sarah Fleet, attending physician at Boston’s Children’s Hospital and instructor of pediatrics at Harvard Medical School, also provided her expertise in our FAQs section.

Here are the best baby bibs in 2021

The best baby bib overall

Toddler wearing pink babybjorn bib

The Babybjorn Baby Bib has a convenient bottom pouch to catch food and spills and only requires a wipe to clean.

Pros: Keeps food from falling to the floor, adjustable neckband, easy to clean, BPA-free, made of food-safe plastic, quick to dry

Cons: Hand-wash only

Before I tested these bibs on my niece, my sister mentioned she swears by bibs with a catch pocket at the bottom to prevent messes. Though convenient, I didn’t think it was a necessity — until I tried out the Babybjorn Baby Bib.

It really does catch everything and also makes it easy to assess how much the baby is eating per meal. It was also one of the most comfortable bibs, thanks to the lightweight, thin beaded neckline that’s adjustable and prevents irritation to the baby’s neck.

The Babybjorn bib is made of durable, nonflexible silicone that doesn’t stick to the baby’s clothes like less-structured bibs. Julianna ate a chicken meatball, grilled zucchini, and roasted sweet potatoes for dinner while wearing the Babybjorn, and after removing some leftover food in the pouch, all it took was a wipe to clean. 

The best cotton bib

Toddler wearing nuby teething bib

The Nuby Reversible 100% Natural Cotton Teething Bib is perfect for all stages, particularly for its comfort, ease of cleaning, and unique teething tip for the baby to chew on before or after feeding.

Pros: Textured tip is great for teething, super soft, BPA-free, reversible, made of natural fibers

Cons: Doesn’t capture all food and spills

Julianna is in the notoriously brutal teething stage, which means she chews on just about anything to soothe her gums as baby teeth are erupting. When I discovered that Nuby makes a teething bib, I was intrigued.

The textured tip at the bib’s end is what sets it apart from other bibs, but it’s not the only feature that makes Nuby a standout. The material is extremely comfortable and the bib is the ideal size for feeding time. The reversible designs are also a nice touch.

Julianna ate her favorite chicken meatball again, with sauteed mushrooms, and though the bib didn’t catch every bit of leftover food, there wasn’t an unbearable mess. The best part: After feeding, I could toss it in the washing machine and dryer for a quick tumble.

The best bandana bib

Toddler wearing Copper Pearl Baby Bandana Bib

The Copper Pearl Baby Bandana Bib is the most effective bandana style we tested, thanks to its wide, catch-all design.

Pros: Didn’t bunch up around the neck, comes in many unique patterns, wide design protects from spills, soft and comfortable, adjustable snaps at the neckline, easy to clean

Cons: None

After testing a few bandana bibs, the Copper Pearl Baby Bandana Bib proved the most practical because it laid flat on the baby to prevent spills, instead of bunching up around the neckline.

The designs are beyond cute (and though style is subjective, there’s a pattern for every taste). Copper Pearl is made of 100% absorbent cotton on the front and 100% polyester fleece on the back, so it’s plush and comfortable to wear. 

Julianna ate French toast, bananas, and strawberries for breakfast, and the bib was impressive at absorbing drool and preventing spills. After feeding, a quick tumble in the washing machine and dryer made it ready for the baby’s next meal.

The best apron-style bib

Toddler wearing panda ear short sleeve bib

The Panda Ear Short Sleeve Bib has an adjustable tie back, covers the baby’s shoulders to prevent spills, and the repel-tex material absorbs any small residue.

Pros: Short-sleeve design provides more coverage, great at absorbing drool, BPA-free, easy to clean, comfortable

Cons: May be too large for babies younger than 12 months, though the tie-back is adjustable; didn’t capture all food and spills

Apron-style bibs are great because they’re more like a smock rather than a chest covering. The Panda Ear Bib made the cut because of its short-sleeve design, which effectively covered the baby’s shoulders during mealtime.

Though the repel-tex material is super absorbent and easy to clean in the washing machine after meals, some of Julianna’s peanut butter and jelly sandwich slid off into the high chair seat. This wasn’t a dealbreaker, however, given the bib provides more coverage than others we tested. 

Panda Ear makes fun patterns, too, and the tie-back feature was comfortable, caused no irritation, and enabled Julianna to enjoy her meal with a more precise fit. The bib runs a bit large, so I wouldn’t recommend ordering if your baby is less than 12 months old.

The best value bib

Toddler wearing green sprouts bib

For less than $20, you can purchase 10 comfy Green Sprouts Stay-Dry Infant Bibs with an oval design, perfect for preventing food from sliding off. 

Pros: Food and spills remained on the bib, oval design covers some of the baby’s shoulders, easy to clean, 10-pack is great for multiple uses per day

Cons: Material isn’t as soft as others, but is still effective for feeding

The Green Sprouts Stay-Dry Infant Bibs are smaller than most, but have a unique oval design that acts as a shield on the baby’s shoulders to prevent spills. After Julianna ate a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, strawberries, and formula, most of the food bits remained on the bib’s surface, so the post-feeding cleanup was a breeze.

In our survey of parents and caregivers, nearly 40% of respondents said they use three bibs per day, with just over 10% using double that amount. That said, this 10-pack of quality bibs is an excellent value for those who just want something that will easily slip on.

Though I found the material not as soft as others, the bibs got the feeding job done without irritating my niece’s neck. When finished, the Green Sprouts bibs can be tossed in the washing machine and dryer.

Our methodology

Collection of baby bibs

In order to narrow down what types of bibs to test for this guide, we surveyed 20 parents and caregivers to better understand their baby bib preferences. Here’s an overview of the results:

  • 85% of respondents care for babies between 4 and 11 months of age.
  • 100% of respondents look for a baby bib that’s easy to clean, with durability being a close second.
  • Most parents and caregivers use three baby bibs per day and wash them daily.

What’s more, silicone baby bibs are the most popular type. Multipacks were overwhelmingly preferred, with 90% of respondents purchasing baby bibs in a two-pack or more, rather than a single bib.

When asked what issues parents and caregivers run into with baby bibs, the three most common problems include the bib not staying in place, irritation to the baby’s neck, and the bib not catching foods and liquids well.

With our survey results in mind, we tested each bib according to the following criteria:

  • How it held up while feeding: This includes how much of a mess was left over after feeding, how effective the bib was at absorbing drool and catching food, and the overall design of the bib.
  • How comfortable it was: This includes if the bib caused any irritation and the softness and durability of the material.
  • How simple it was to clean: While most bibs were washing-machine safe, we paid special attention to those that weren’t and how simple they were to clean when using a different method.

What else we considered

Toddler wearing loulou lollipop bib

Below are the bibs we tested that didn’t quite make the cut:

FAQs about baby bibs and best feeding practices

We spoke to Feeding Littles cofounder Judy Delaware, OTR/L, CLC — an occupational therapist, feeding specialist, and certified lactation counselor — and Dr. Sarah Fleet, attending physician at Boston’s Children’s Hospital and instructor of pediatrics at Harvard Medical School. Both provided their expertise to answer commonly asked questions about what to look for in a baby bib and what to know while feeding.

What should a caregiver look for in a baby bib?

“I would recommend something easy to clean, comfortable to wear, and long enough to protect the clothes underneath,” said Fleet.”Being dishwasher or machine washable would also be useful.”

It’s great for a baby bib to tie around the baby’s body and not the neck for both safety and comfort, added Delaware. She also appreciates quick-dry fabrics and waterproof designs. Keep in mind that choosing a baby bib remains entirely up to preference, however.

What should I know about cotton and bandana bibs?

“The bandana-style bib is typically made from cotton and, in my experience, these bibs are used for both feeding and drooling but don’t hold up to the wetness that can occur during these activities,” Delaware said. “This bib can feel soft to the touch, but many caregivers quickly find the bib and clothing may have to be changed.”

What should I know about silicone bibs?

 “The silicone bib is a caregiver favorite, but the front pocket may act as a place to pour or store things,” said Delaware. “The adjustable snaps may be irritating to tiny necks and many kids find silicone irritating to their skin.”

What should I know about repel-tex bibs?

“Repeltex is water-repellent and prevents the baby’s skin from feeling clammy or irritated,” said Delaware. “Look for a bib that secures around the body and not the neck.”

How often should I wash a baby bib?

Delaware recommends rinsing a bib after each use and running it through the washing machine one to three times a week. Fleet agrees, adding that food and saliva can become embedded on the bib’s surface and attract bacteria and pests.

What are safe feeding practices for babies?

“Each baby is unique in their skill development, and needs to be introduced to foods when they are developmentally ready,” said Fleet. “Solid foods should be introduced to an infant when they can sit unsupported in a high chair, with good head control, and are showing interest in solid foods.”

 How can I encourage mealtime if a baby is fussy?

 “Mealtime should ideally be free of distraction or screens and children should sit in a high chair or at the table,” said Fleet. “They should be allowed to feed themselves, and should not be fed against their will, as babies and toddlers generally eat when they are hungry and stop when they’re full.” Force-feeding may make them resistant to eat in the future, she added.

Fleet also recommends adding spices and flavors to infant and toddler foods. Toward the end of infancy, they may start refusing bland purees and prefer blended family meals, as they are more flavorful.

What should a baby’s diet contain for each life stage?

Below, Fleet provided a sample diet, unique to each month grouping. Be sure to speak to your pediatrician about any specific concerns.

  • 0 to 4 months: Only breastmilk or formula should be given.
  • 4 to 6 months: Single food purees can be given once daily along with breastmilk or formula.
  • 9 to 12 months: Beyond 6 months of age, breastmilk and formula don’t contain enough iron, so solid foods are recommended more than once daily. The baby can try dissolvable solids, like puffs and veggie straws.
  • 12 months and up: Three meals of solid foods and two snacks are encouraged, including puree, soft foods, or dissolvable solids. Bottles can be offered as snacks between meals.
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The 6 best diaper bags in 2021, including stylish totes, backpack styles, and travel options

Table of Contents: Masthead Sticky

  • Parents use diaper bags to organize and carry every essential their child needs.
  • These diaper bags in a variety of styles have plenty of insulated pockets, changing mats, and more.
  • Our top pick is the Skip Hop Forma because it’s comfortable and easy to organize.

For new parents and parents with toddlers, a great diaper bag is a must-have item. Plus, the best diaper bags can last well beyond the diaper years and continue to be a handy overnight or travel bag to hold all those extra kid essentials.

The ideal diaper bag holds all the general staples: diapers, wipes, toys, bottles, snacks, a change of clothes, a changing pad – plus, parents’ keys, cellphone, and wallet – with room to spare. It also needs to be easy to organize so parents don’t have to dig around to find something and it should be comfortable to wear while on the go.

We’ve included a variety of styles, from backpack options to standard totes to bags made just for traveling.

Keep in mind that though many diaper bags come with clips or straps to attach to the handle of your stroller, this feature isn’t safe and should never be used, as it can make your stroller tip over.

Here are the best diaper bags

The best diaper bag overall

Skip Hop Forma
Features two packings cubes for maximum storage.

The Skip Hop Diaper Bag Backpack is surprisingly lightweight, comfortable to carry, and has plenty of room to easily organize all the essentials.

What we like: Packing cubes, cushioned changing pad, lightweight, easy-to-clean, double zippers

Even when this multi-functional backpack is packed to the gills, the Skip Hop Forma won’t weigh you down. It features two handy storage cubes for bottles and snacks, which leaves the main compartment completely free for diapers, wipes, and more. With nine pockets of varying sizes, you won’t have to worry about losing any items into a bottomless abyss.

This bag also features a changing pad and is easy to wipe clean with a damp cloth. The padded straps add comfort and the thick material and double zippers ensure it’s durable. As an added bonus, this bag is chic enough to easily transition into a normal backpack for years of extra use.

The best diaper bag on a budget

 HaloVa Diaper Bag Multi Function Waterproof Travel Backpack
Holds up to 40 pounds.

You can’t beat the price of the HaloVa backpack diaper bag — plus it has insulated bottle pockets and two different ways to access the main compartment.

What we like: Water-resistant material, multiple pockets, durable, double zippers

Don’t let the low price tag fool you — this diaper bag is the real deal. The HaloVa has 14 total pockets including three insulated bottle pockets; a discreet back pocket for phones, credit cards, or other valuables; and a small pocket specifically designed for wet clothes. You can also get to the main compartment via a second back zipper for extra easy access.

Its water-resistant material makes it extra durable and that coupled with a special interior liner make this bag easy to wipe down, though you can also throw it in the washing machine for bigger messes.  

The best travel diaper bag

Skip Hop Weekender Travel Diaper Bag Tote
Features a drawbridge compartment for quick, easy access.

The Skip Hop Weekender Travel Diaper Bag Tote makes traveling with the family a breeze thanks to its sleeve that easily slips over suitcase handles.

What we like: Roomy main compartment, wide drawbridge opening, packing cubes, handy luggage sleeve, changing pad, double zippers

Sized just right for family getaways, the Skip Hop Weekender Bag easily holds all of baby’s essentials, with room to spare for parents’ travel accessories too. The extra-large tote bag features a spacious main compartment framed by a wide “drawbridge” pocket that unzips two ways for easy access.

Like the Skip Hop Forma, the Weekender adds on two packing containers to help optimize space. The handy back sleeve easily slides over luggage handles making it easy to maneuver through airports. Plus, it has an adjustable, removable shoulder strap that can be worn as a crossbody.

The best oversized diaper bag

Bag Nation Diaper Bag Backpack
Vented padding on the back and shoulder straps add comfort.

The Bag Nation Diaper Bag offers hands-free comfort, fits all the essentials and then some, and comes with a removable changing pad, Sundry bag, and more.

What we like: Vented padding, changing pad, water-resistant material, storage capacity

If you’re looking for a bag that fits everything you need without taking a toll on your back, the Bag Nation Backpack is a great option. It features padded, ergonomically curved straps and a breathable mesh-padded back panel for extra comfort even on hot, sticky days.

Organization is a breeze with this bag too thanks to its 14 pockets, including insulated pockets for bottles. The special wipe pouch makes wet wipes easily accessible and it also includes a changing pad and a Sundry bag. Water-resistant material, reinforced stitching, and sturdy zippers ensure this bag will last, and Bag Nation backs this up with a lifetime warranty.

The best diaper bag for easy organization

 Diaper Bag Backpack, RUVALINO Multifunction Travel
Features an easy access “parent” pocket for keys, phones, and wallets.

The RUVALINO diaper bag backpack features two big compartments and a whopping 16 pockets so every item can have its own specific space. 

What we like: Large storage capacity, tons of pockets, changing pad, dual zippers, water-resistant material

For the parents who like everything neat and tidy and in its place, the RUVALINO diaper bag is for you. Its two big zipper-closure compartments and 16 pockets ensure easy organizing without the bag ever feeling overly stuffed. Even so, its strong twill polyester and non-fray stitching ensure that no amount of bulk will break this sturdy bag.

Its thick, padded shoulder straps give comfortable all-day wear and the easy-access “parent” pocket keeps items like keys and phones safe and easily accessible. Insulated bottle pockets hold a variety of bottle sizes, while a separate mesh diaper organizer allows means you have more room in the main compartment. This bag also comes with a waterproof changing pad that’s easy to wipe down.

The best diaper bag with a changing station

Happy Luoka 3 in 1 Diaper Bag Backpack
Charge your phone anytime with the backpack’s convenient charging port.

Change diapers on the go is a breeze with the Happy Luoka 3-in-1 Diaper Bag‘s expandable changing station that fits babies and toddlers. 

What we like: Expandable diaper changing station, charging port, multiple pockets, mesh backpack straps, double zippers

Based on how lightweight this bag is, you’d never know the back expands into a huge, portable changing station. The privacy cover on top is held up by magnetic bars, which quickly fold up. When closed up, the back privacy pocket stores personal items from keys to credit cards.

The bag’s back ventilation design and the wide shoulder straps make it extra comfortable. As an extra perk, it also features a strategically placed USB charging port to keep your electronics fully charged even when out and about. 

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The 5 best tables for kids in 2021

Table of Contents: Masthead Sticky

  • Tables give kids their own spot where they can comfortably create, eat, do homework, and just be.
  • We tested 11 kids tables to find the best ones for activities indoors and outside.
  • The Ikea Dundra is the best table for kids because it is sturdy, competitively priced, and has storage.

Kids deserve their own space where they can sit or stand comfortably to create art, do homework, eat, and play. Plus, when they have their own table for these activities, it reduces the mess on the dining room table or kitchen counters.

The market is saturated with kids tables, with many different sizes, styles, and types. We tested 11 different tables for kids, from picnic tables to basic-use tables, considering their durability, stability, ergonomic positioning, and ease of cleaning. We put these tables through the ringer, using them daily for at least a month each and purposely getting them messy just to see how well they clean up.

To inform our product selections and testing, we also spoke to two occupational therapists who specialize in pediatrics: Chaye Lamm Warburg and Ashley Stoffel. Jump to the end of this guide to read more about our full testing methodology and FAQs about kids tables.

Here are the best kids tables in 2021

The best kids table overall

Ikea dundra kids table

The Ikea Dundra activity table is big, sturdy, cleans well, and has a large storage drawer, all for under $100. 

Pros: Affordable, easy to clean, raised edges, added storage, very sturdy   

Cons: Doesn’t come with chairs, liquid spills drip into drawer 

 The Ikea Dundra activity table checks all of our testing boxes, and it does so as one of the more affordable tables we tested. The table has raised edges to stop crayons, markers, and other supplies from rolling off, and it has a large storage drawer with two compartments. The table surface is gray while every other surface is white. 

Although it doesn’t come with chairs, it’s the right height for younger kids to stand at the table and for older kids to kneel or sit. The table is 19.5 inches from the ground, which is about belly button height on my 3-year-old.

In our cleaning test, everything came off easily with a basic household cleaner with the exception of the colored pencil, which came off with a Magic Eraser. The storage drawers in the front have pros and cons when it comes to cleaning. The pro: If you’re in a rush, pull out the drawer and push everything in with one arm swipe. The con: If you don’t clean up a liquid spill on the table quickly, it will drip into the drawer. 

From the second I picked up the box, I could tell the table would be very sturdy. It does not budge unless you have one or two adults trying to move it. It has also proven to be durable, with no dents, chips, or other signs of wear. 

The best activity table for kids

Pottery Barn Kids Carolina Grow With You Activity Table

The Pottery Barn Kids Carolina Grow-With-You Activity Table has the look and feel of being high quality plus it’s durable and easy to clean — two musts for kids tables.

Pros: Two leg-length options, very sturdy, raised edges, three color options  

Cons: Pricey, crumbs get stuck in corners 

With a high-end design and three color options, the Pottery Barn Kids Carolina Grow-With-You Activity Table will not be an eyesore in your home. Ideal for crafts and activities, it has raised edges to keep everything on the surface. 

It has proved to be very durable and stable in our tests. The table doesn’t wobble or tip, and we haven’t seen any chips, cracks, dents, or other signs of wear. In addition to our clean test, this table also saw a lot of daily use throughout our testing as the main craft table for my toddler. 

In our cleaning test, everything came off very easily with a basic household cleaner. However, cleaning crumbs and other small scraps was a bit more difficult. Because it has raised edges, small detritus tends to get stuck in the corners.  

Like other activity tables, it does not come with chairs. However, there are two leg-length options, fulfilling the “grow-with-you” moniker. We tested the 15-inch legs; 24 inches is the other option. When kids are old enough for the 24-inch legs, the table becomes tall enough to add on chairs. This table is so beautifully crafted and low to the ground that my husband attempted to overtake our testing and convert it into a coffee table. 

The best basic kids table

Kidkraft farmhouse activity table for kids

The Kidkraft Farmhouse Table and Four Chairs was the easiest to clean out of everything we tested. 

Pros: Very easy to clean, comes with four chairs, durable and sturdy 

 Cons: Messes can get stuck in screw holes  

A basic kids table and chair set should be a staple in every child’s home. The Kidkraft Farmhouse Table and Four Chairs stood out as a high-quality kids’ furniture set that looks just like a miniature version of a dining set. It comes in four colors: espresso, white, natural, and pecan. 

Easy cleaning is a parent’s dream and this table passed our cleaning test with flying colors. Everything wiped clean using a regular household cleaner. The only downside when it comes to cleaning is that the chairs have quite a few uncovered screw holes. Cleaning can become a bit tricky when messes get into those indentations.  

Like our other top picks, this set is very durable and looks new after months of use. It doesn’t have any dents or chips. The table and chairs are also sturdy and have never wobbled or tipped over. 

As a basic set, this table doesn’t come with any bells and whistles. It’s simply a flat surface for kids to eat, play, and create without distractions. 

The best picnic table for kids

Little tikes easy store picnic table

The Little Tikes Easy Store Jr. Picnic Table is built to withstand outdoor conditions, and it even has a built-in multipurpose tray with cup holders. 

Pros: Very sturdy, multipurpose tray and cup holders, folds up for storage, can withstand harsh weather conditions 

Cons: Umbrella is flimsy, max seating capacity would be a tight squeeze  

The Little Tikes Easy Store Jr. Picnic Table was a clear winner between the two picnic tables we tested. It’s sturdy, cleans easily, and can seat up to six kids, though four is more comfortable. It’s available with or without an umbrella. We found the umbrella a bit flimsy, but it does the trick if you want some shade. 

During our testing period, we left the table in a backyard surrounded by other large toys. When high winds sent a small slide playset and a playhouse flying, this table stayed put. It also never wobbled or tipped, even when we sat one adult on one side, within the 200-pound weight limit.

In our cleaning test, most messes came out easily. This table has some texture, which trapped the crayon and colored pencil marks. With a bit of scrubbing using regular household cleaner for the crayons and a Magic Eraser for the colored pencils, everything cleaned off. 

After over one month of testing, the table does not have any dents, cracks, or other obvious signs of wear. As an outdoor table, it does get a bit dirty, but dirt, pollen, and other outside messes clean quickly with a hose. 

The table can seat up to six kids with a maximum weight of 200 pounds per bench. Based on experience, I’d say it seats four comfortably; six kids would really need to squeeze to fit. 

One of our favorite features is the indentation in the middle of the table. It’s described as a multipurpose condiment/crayon tray, and it does not disappoint. It also includes two cup holders. 

When you’re ready to store the table, it folds nicely into one flat piece. It’s so easy that you could feasibly fold it to store after each use if you don’t want to leave it sitting out. 

The best budget kids table

Ikea Mammut picnic table

The Ikea Mammut is about as inexpensive as you can get, but it still received top marks in all of our tests, and it’s appropriate for indoor and outdoor use.  

Pros: Sturdy, easy to clean, affordable, appropriate for indoor or outdoor use, lightweight

Cons: Doesn’t come with chairs, slides slightly on hard surfaces 

You’d be hard-pressed to find a safe and sturdy kids table for less than the Ikea Mammut. The table doesn’t come with chairs, but you can add two on for $15 each, and it will still be the most inexpensive option in our guide. In testing, we often used it with this active balance chair, which we received as an editorial review sample from its manufacturer.

The Mammut is available in white or red. The nonporous material of the table even makes it ideal to use outside. It’s very lightweight and easy to move around outdoors and indoors. 

In our cleaning test, crayon marks came out with a Magic Eraser, and everything else cleaned off easily with basic household cleaner. This is another one that my toddler got a lot of use out of during our testing, and it still looks like it did when we took it out of the box. No dents, cracks, stains, or other signs of wear. You can purchase it in white or red.

As expected, the lightweight table slid a bit on hard surfaces, but never so much that it flew out from under our tester, and I never felt the need to remove it from our home due to safety concerns. 

All in all, this table gets the job done for a fraction of the price of others we tested. 

Our testing methodology

Testing kids tables

We used four main parameters to test each table: durability, stability, ease of cleaning, and ergonomic positioning. We tested each table with regular use for at least one month and some for more than six months. With the exception of the Pottery Barn Kids Carolina Grow-With-You Activity Table and B. Spaces by Battat set, we received editorial review samples of each table for testing purposes. 

  • Durability: After at least one month of regular and appropriate use, we checked for chips in paint or finishes, dents, splinters, cracks, or other obvious signs of wear.  
  • Stability: Stoffel emphasized the importance of finding a sturdy table and chair set. The table shouldn’t wobble when kids put their elbows on it, for example. To test stability, we observed daily and regular use and noted any instances of tipping or wobbling in both the chairs and the tables.
  • Ease of cleaning: It’s a fact of life: Kids make messes. On each table, we purposely made messes with: crayons, markers, colored pencils, paint, glue, and food.

    We first cleaned each mess with a regular household cleaner like Mrs. Meyers Multi-Surface Cleaner or Lysol Multi-Purpose Cleaner. For messes that persisted, we followed up with a Magic Eraser. Almost all messes were gone at that point. We noted any messes that persisted beyond the Magic Eraser. 

  • Ergonomic positioning: Both experts we spoke to emphasized the importance of ergonomic positioning. This is difficult to assess because children grow at rapid rates. We followed this sizing guide recommended by Stoffel. Although ideal chair and tabletop heights vary by a child’s age, ideal differences between chair seat height and table top height are consistent. All of the tables we recommend come within 1 inch of these guidelines. 

What else we considered

Kidkraft picnic table for kids

We tested 11 kids tables in total. Here are the ones that didn’t make our top picks:

Kidkraft Outdoor Table with Benches and Umbrella: This is a beautiful table, but it’s not the most practical option for kids. Crayons, colored pencils, and markers didn’t clean off in our tests, and the wood started to chip and splinter after less than a year of use. 

Lalo The Play Kit: This set is very solid, has rubber bottoms to prevent sliding, and the chairs come in four colors. Unfortunately, the table wobbled in our tests. For a $250 set — the most expensive we tested — a structural issue like wobbling is a deal breaker.

B. Spaces by Battat – Kids’ Furniture Set: This is a nice set that has a few minor flaws. Because the chairs curve up on the edges, we found that they tip and can fall over if kids sit on the very edge. Additionally, we couldn’t get both chairs to fully fit under the table, and this one needed some extra scrubbing in our cleaning test.

Delta Children Chelsea Chair Set With Table: I really, really wanted to love this set. It has storage under the table and it includes a reversible chalkboard/whiteboard. Unfortunately, it had a strong off-gassing smell that lasted over a month, and within a couple months of use, the chair legs became loose and almost fell off. 

Melissa and Doug Wooden Table and Chairs: We really liked this set and didn’t find any major flaws. There simply wasn’t anything that made it stand out, and it’s more expensive than some of the similar tables we tested. 

Humble Crew Tot Tutors Forever 2-in-1 LEGO Compatible Activity Table: We were unable to spend much time testing this table. It quickly became apparent that it was unsafe. The table and chairs repeatedly slid and flipped out from under my toddler during testing. This happened with appropriate use on both hard floors and carpeting. 

What we look forward to testing

Ikea Flisat kids table

We’re always looking for the best products to test and recommend to our readers. We’ll continue to test kids tables for a future update to this guide. 

Ikea Flisat Children’s Table: This table has a flat top, but it can also become a sensory table with two storage bins that fit inside. It was out of stock at the time of our testing, so we’re looking forward to trying it out for a future update. 

FAQs about tables for kids

What are the benefits of tables for kids? 

Both of our experts emphasized the importance of ergonomic positioning so kids can be comfortable and have support for their bodies. “We all benefit from having our feet supported either on the floor or a sturdy footrest so a child-size chair might support a child in being able to more comfortably place their feet on the floor,” Stoffel told Insider Reviews. 

Stoffel also explained that this position helps support the upper body and allows kids to have more coordination and control in their hands. Warburg emphasized this as well. “Dangling feet cause children to round their backs and lead to back pain and sloppy handwriting,” she said.

Warburg noted that having a good table and chair fit is critical when kids are expected to sit for long periods of time. Having proper positioning is helpful for eating, completing school work, completing artwork, and playing and kids might even sit for longer periods of time for meals or homework if they’re seated comfortably. 

“Another benefit of a chil- size table and chair is that it gives the child a specific and special place for daily activities,” Stoffel said. “Knowing the table and chair are their own, the child might be more motivated or invested in the activity.”

How can I tell if a table is the right size for my child? 

According to Warburg, a good table allows a child to sit with their feet flat on the floor. Tabletop height  should be 2 inches above the height of the elbow when the child is sitting. Hips, knees, and ankles should also be at 90-degree angles when the child is seated.

Stoffel added that kids should be able to gently rest their elbows on the table without reaching up or leaning down. She also gave us an example of what a child might look like if the chair and table are not a supportive size. “You might observe the child squirming, shifting around in the seat, getting up from the table frequently or demonstrating decreased success with fine motor tasks,” she said.

Our sources

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The 5 best pacifiers for your baby in 2021

Table of Contents: Masthead Sticky

  • Nothing soothes a fussy baby quite like a pacifier, and some can even soothe a baby’s teething stages.
  • We’ve tested dozens of pacifiers to find the best ones you can buy for every scenario, price, and age range.
  • The MAM Perfect Pacifier is our top pick because it’s an inexpensive and cute soother that won’t disrupt tooth alignment.

A pacifier will get you out of a lot of jams as a parent, especially when the breast or the bottle is not on the menu. As the mother of a former pacifier-obsessed baby, I know my way around the market.

There are a host of positive findings of pacifier use, including their strong analgesic effects and correlation with a lower instance of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). There are also many types of pacifiers available,  so you can choose the right size and shape for each stage of infant growth, greatly lessening any cause for orthodontic concerns

Since there are so many kinds of pacifiers available now, choosing the right one for each stage and circumstance of babyhood can be confusing, but we did the research, consulted the trusted sources, and tested over a dozen kinds on my daughter.

Here are the best pacifiers of 2021

The best pacifier overall

Best pacifiers for your baby in 2021

The MAM Perfect Pacifier helps to reduce the risk of tooth misalignment with its soothing shape designed from extra thin BPA/BPS-free silicone.

Pros: Orthodontist-recommended design, 60% smaller nipple size than the average, BPA/BPS-free silicone nipple, helps to prevent tooth misalignment with a symmetrical shape, air holes in shield allow baby’s skin to breathe, self-sterilizing case, 

Cons: The airflow design may leave a mark on extra chubby cheeks 

The MAM Perfect Pacifier comes in different sizes for babies: ages 0 to 6 months, 6 months and up, and 16-months plus. From the moment my daughter was 3 months old to the day she put her pacifier down for good, MAM pacifiers were her favorite.

I bought pacifiers in bulk as their small size were easily misplaced at home, daycare, or on the go., After trying well over a dozen brands throughout my daughter’s infancy and early toddlerhood, we returned to MAM.

The round, soft shape and subtly bumpy silicone texture closely mimics a breast and felt most familiar to my daughter. The texture also helped keep the point from falling out of her mouth while she wasn’t actively sucking. The pacifiers come inside a self-sterilizing storage case, too. My daughter used the MAM “original” pacifier. Recently, the company has come out with a brand-new “perfect” pacifier made from the same ultra-soft patented silicone (BPA- and BPS-free), which is now even thinner and softer. Though the new design’s air holes may leave a mark on chubbier cheeks, the breathable, realistically-detailed design is well apt for effective use.

The pacifier is also thinner and softer than regular silicone pacifiers meaning it stays comfortably nestled in your baby’s mouth without causing extra pressure. I picked one up to check out the new design for this article and will definitely be keeping it on hand for my next baby.

The best pacifier for newborns

pacifier for newborns

The Mary Meyer WubbaNub Pacifier is a two-in-one lifesaver: practical with its hospital-recommended design and playful with an affixed weighted plush animal, which keeps it from falling out.

Pros: Hospital-recommended design, added plush toy that prevents it from falling out, BPA- and PVC-free

Cons: Hard to disinfect, but machine washable

The Mary Meyer WubbaNub Pacifier pacifier is actually a two-for-one product. The inventor, momtrepreneur Carla Schneider, started with the hospital-recommended all-star newborn pacifier, the Philips Avent Soothie for newborns, and connected it with a wide variety of small bean-filled and adorable plush animals designed to rest on baby’s chest and keep the pacifier from falling out when babies fuss.

The struggle keeping a pacifier in my daughter’s mouth was real. Before my husband and I found the Wubbanub, we took turns popping the pacifier back in our sometimes-colicky tiny daughter’s mouth all night long. The Wubbanub isn’t a perfect solution for falling pacifiers, but the BPA- and PVC-free product is much better than the unweighted alternatives when you’re a desperate, sleep-deprived parent of a newborn.

One of the only drawbacks many parents discover is that the combination of a fabric plush with a silicone pacifier tip is rather hard to disinfect. Like WubbaNub recommends, I occasionally threw the whole thing in the washing machine and held just the silicone tip in boiling water as needed.

The best pacifier for toddlers

pacifier two pack

The Tommee Tippee Closer to Nature Pacifier has an orthodontic design that’s safe for toddlers who don’t want to give up their soother.

Pros: BPA-free symmetrical silicone shape

Cons: The design sometimes allows water to get trapped inside, may not stay put for babies younger than toddler age

The Tommee Tippee brand is a well-known maker of baby bottles that are built to resemble a breast, and their pacifiers follow the same design.

Instead of the round bulbous tip on the end like many pacifiers have, the Tommee Tippee “closer to nature” design is relatively larger at the tip, yet is symmetrical and narrows into the base This means that the shape and feel of the silicone are more like a real nipple. It won’t stay put in the baby’s mouth as well as brands that have a bulbous tip, but by the time your little one is a toddler, they can handle that part all on their own.

The best pacifier for teethers

pacifer for teething

The RaZbaby RaZ-Berry Silicone Teether is a hands-free, dual pacifier and a teething toy, thanks to its great texture.

Pros: Hands-free, safe design for sucking or teething, texture stimulates active sucking to help relieve teething pain

Cons: None to speak of

The RaZbaby RaZ-Berry Silicone Teether has a nipple shape similar to that of your average pacifier, but with a nubbier, bumpier texture that feels like a large silicone raspberry. Teething infants love the varied texture, which also stimulates their gums and helps them massage the areas where their teeth are beginning to poke through. None of the other options I tried, like the Molar Muncher Hands-Free Teether, were hands-free or interesting enough texturally to encourage active sucking to ease her teething woes.  

Naturally, the design of the Razbaby really shines. Because the shape and sucking function are very similar to a normal pacifier, my daughter could keep this in her mouth on her own and had plenty of opportunities to stimulate and soothe her gums. You can also stick it in the freezer for some cooling action on inflamed spots.

The double-duty capacity is great if you’re frequently on the go with the kids in tow, or if your child goes to daycare. Instead of packing or attaching both a pacifier and a teething toy to your teething baby’s shirt, you can make it all day with just one soothing object.

The best pacifier for late-night criers

pacifier glows in the dark

The MAM Glow-in-the-Dark Night Orthodontic Pacifier has an illuminated handle to help sleep-deprived parents (and babies) find the sucking piece without turning on the lights.

Pros: High-quality form and functionality that glows-in-the-dark for nighttime wakeups

Cons: Needs a very bright charge in order to glow all night

The Glow-in-the-Dark Night Orthodontic Pacifier is MAM’s popular orthodontic pacifier shape and design with a twist — all by adding a practical, glow-in-the-dark handle to help with those midnight wakeups. 

At first, I was worried that the glow so close to the baby’s face would keep her awake, but I never noticed any problems of that nature in actual usage. Other pacifier brands offer a glow-in-the-dark option, too. There’s the Philips Avent BPA Free Night Time Pacifier, which is affordable, but parents say that the glow-in-the-dark functionality barely works and runs out of charge very quickly. So, because of the good quality of the materials, the popular nature of the design, the widespread availability, and the good price, MAM is still the all-around best.

Though some have found it takes a very bright light to charge the MAM enough for it to really glow well all night, we still found that this brand glows better than other options. It comes in blue, pink, or green styles, and two different sizes for older or younger babies.

Check out our other baby gear guides

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The best baby bottles in 2020

When it comes to choosing the right bottle for feeding your baby, it can be overwhelming. There are many different types of bottles, and the truth is, sometimes you may have to try more than one before you find the best baby bottle for your infant.

Different babies have different needs. For example, a strictly bottle-fed baby may prefer a specific nipple design, while a primarily breastfed baby may need a longer nipple or wider mouth. Or you may have a preemie baby, a baby with colic, or another situation that could warrant special features.

Even two babies with seemingly similar needs might have different preferences for a bottle. So if your breastfed baby doesn’t take to the bottle we’ve recommended here, consider our other picks. It can take some trial and error, and that’s completely normal.

As a parent, you may not have a problem with plastic bottles, or you may only want a glass or silicone nonplastic bottle. Some bottles are easier to wash and/or sanitize than others. Extra sanitizing precautions are recommended for babies younger than 3 months, those borne prematurely, or with a weakened immune system. The CDC provides guidance for washing bottles in the dishwasher or by hand, as well as instructions for sanitizing.

Ultimately, you have to find the baby bottle that works best for you and your family’s needs, so I have tested all different kinds of baby bottles to help you narrow down your search. 

What makes me an expert to choose the best baby bottles for caregivers to use for their own babies? Well, for one, I’ve used bottles in almost all different types of feeding scenarios with my own five children, including strictly breastfed babies who needed a bottle when I wasn’t present, a full-time bottle-fed baby, a baby who had a mixture of formula and breast milk through a bottle, and a premature baby who had very different needs for a bottle. I’m also a registered nurse who worked in obstetrics for several years, where I had the opportunity to bottle-feed many babies. 

To help you find the best baby bottle, I put together this guide by testing all of the bottles with my own baby, from the age of newborn through 8 months old. During that time, she was primarily bottle-fed, although we did attempt nursing at the breast as well. I tested everything from the leading and lesser-known brands of bottles and bottles for specific purposes, like for breastfed babies and formula-feeding. For more feeding-related guides, see the best bottle warmers and breast pumps.

Here are the best baby bottles you can buy:

Prices and links are current as of 12/21/20. 

The best bottle overall

dr browns options baby bottle

Dr. Brown’s Natural Flow Options+ Anti-Colic Glass Baby Bottle is affordable, durable, and versatile with interchangeable nipples and accessories.

Pros: Affordable, glass, versatile, removable vent system, anti-colic, durable, nipples interchangeable, easy to clean, easy to use, 4- and 8-ounce options, fits in standard diaper bag pouches, dishwasher safe

Cons: Vent system can leak if not used correctly, warming time is longer than plastic bottles 

I use the Dr. Brown’s Natural Flow Options+ Glass Bottle for everyday use because it can withstand full sanitizing without breaking down the way that polycarbonate bottles do. One of the great things about Dr. Brown’s bottles is that the pieces are all interchangeable. They have both a narrow and a wide neck bottle type, but the tops are the same no matter which size you pick, unlike most other bottles.

Along with being premature, my daughter also suffered from severe colic attributed to acid reflux for the first few months of her life, to the point where her pediatrician wanted to temporarily put her on reflux medication. However, after her medication was taken off the market, this bottle helped reduce her symptoms. Depending on the cause of your child’s colic symptoms, this bottle may offer some relief, but of course, there is no guarantee.

I even removed the colic vent a few times to test if it was actually making a difference — and it sure was. Without the vent, my baby basically gulped air, the milk filled with bubbles, and she spit up and had more discomfort. These bottles with the vent were like magic for her. They significantly reduced the amount she spit up and she was much less fussy after eating.

There were a few times when I didn’t make sure the vent was completely flat before I fastened the nipple on the bottle. If you do this, the bottle will leak, so be sure the vent is inserted correctly before you feed your baby. 

Dr. Brown’s bottles are quite affordable and sturdy. I have not had a single one of these bottles break, wear down, or show any signs of damage through multiple dishwashing cycles and microwave sanitizing. 

The bottles also have add-on accessories, like silicone sleeves and handles that make holding the bottles easier for you or your baby. Like the nipples, the accessories are also interchangeable, so it doesn’t matter what size you’re using. I also really appreciate that the wider-neck glass bottles easily fit in a diaper bag bottle pouch. 

The best silicone bottle

comotomo baby bottle

The Comotomo Natural Feel Baby Bottle is a well-priced, easy-to-clean silicone option for breast- and bottle-fed babies. 

Pros: 100% silicone, easy to use and clean, various nipple flow options, affordable, warms quickly, natural feel for breastfed babies, dishwasher safe

Cons: May not fit easily in standard diaper bag bottle pouches

Comotomo baby bottles are made of 100% silicone, so they’re a great option if you’re looking for something other than plastic for your baby. The bottles are offered in both 5- and 8-ounce sizes and the shape is wider at the top than the bottom, with squeezable silicone to mimic the feel of a breast.

The Comotomo Natural Feel Baby Bottle is designed with a wide neck, which makes cleaning very easy. With some other types of bottles, it can be easy for debris from the dishwasher to get trapped in the crevices of bottle tops, but the Comotomo’s wide mouth prevents that. The top of the bottle also has a really convenient “tab” that makes putting the bottle together or dissembling it for cleaning super easy.

The nipples have two anti-colic vents, and I did notice significantly less air being “gulped” by my baby when using this bottle. You can also change the nipple type and flow as your baby grows, from one hole for slow flow for newborns, up to variable flow for infants over 6 months old — all without buying a new bottle.

For a silicone bottle, these bottles are reasonably priced. They can withstand wear and tear and are incredibly durable, so you don’t have to worry about them breaking. They don’t crack, and you can toss them in the dishwasher or sterilizer without worry.

Lastly, while the shape is designed to be helpful for breastfed babies, this bottle worked well for my baby who has been bottle-fed from the start.

The best for formula mixing

pop yum baby bottle

The PopYum 9-Ounce Anti-Colic Formula Bottle is great for feedings on the go with separate compartments to hold formula and water until use.

Pros: High quality, affordable, fits in diaper bag bottle pouches, anti-colic, convenient for formula feeding, dishwasher safe

Cons: Many parts to clean, not user-friendly out of the box, all parts must be completely dry to use, slower to warm than standard plastic bottle

The PopYum 9-ounce Anti-Colic Formula Bottle is made of polypropylene while the nipple itself is composed of medical-grade silicone. It comes in 5- and 9-ounce sizes, but the for purpose of this review, I tested the larger bottle.

The bottle is designed so you can carry everything you need — both the water and the exact amount of formula — in just one bottle while on the go. You premeasure the formula in the top and fill the water in the bottom. A seal separates the two until you hit the button to allow the formula down into the water. It’s not your standard bottle, however, and I admit that it took me several “trial runs” before I felt confident in setting up the bottle properly. 

Made for on-the-go convenience, the bottle has thoughtful design elements, including a wider-neck mouth and a nipple shape that mimics the breast. The wide neck makes it easy to clean. This is especially important for a bottle that uses formula, which can clump and get stuck inside bottles.

PopYum offers three different nipple types: slow, medium, and fast flow. The Stage 1 bottle (5 ounces) comes with three slow flow nipples, and Stage 2 (9 ounces) comes with three medium flow nipples. You can also purchase a two-pack of the slow, medium, or fast flow nipples. Although every baby has different needs, mine was not ready for the medium flow nipple until she was over 6 months old. 

The price of approximately $12 per bottle is very reasonable, but the main draw of this bottle is that it’s convenient for use away from home. Because there are five components, it takes some time to clean. It also needs to be completely dry to avoid formula clumping, so it’s not ideal for use as an everyday bottle.

The best for breastfed babies

perry mackin baby bottle

Of all the baby bottles I tested, the Perry Mackin Natural Feel, Anti-Colic Silicone Baby Bottle has the nipple shape that most mimics the shape and feel of breastfeeding.

Pros: 100% silicone, easy to use and clean, natural feel for breastfed babies, anti-colic, fits in most diaper bag bottle pouches, warms quickly, dishwasher safe

 Cons: Pricey

The Perry Mackin Natural Feel, Anti-Colic Silicone Baby Bottle is made of 100% food-grade silicone, has a wide-mouth design with a slimmer silhouette, and comes in both 6- and 9-ounce versions. It provides a realistic “latch” for breastfed babies and is soft for them to grab onto.

The bottle is easy to clean and you can sterilize it with a dishwasher, microwave, boiling water, or any baby bottle sterilizer. Both the mouth and the bottle itself are slimmer than the Comotomo silicone bottle, so it has a smaller profile.

I attribute Perry Mackin’s wider top and longer nipple design to really mimicking what a breastfed experience is like for a baby. The nipple shape on this bottle is longer than some of the others I tested for breastfed babies. Because it mimics an actual nipple, I found that my bottle-fed baby had a harder time using it since she has never nursed at the breast. 

Perry Mackin offers four different nipple steps, starting with a one-hole nipple for newborns that has a slower flow and going up to a full-flow nipple at around 9 months. All the nipples feature a one-way colic vent to reduce air bubbles and fight colic.

I like the design of this bottle, especially because it has a special joint-locking system that makes it easier to secure the top and prevent leaks. Plus, it has several add-ons, including straws and handles for older babies.

But it’s also pricey, and for me, the biggest drawback was that my strictly bottle-fed baby had a hard time using it since it so closely mimics the breast. All things considered, it’s good for breastfed babies and may be a consideration for those who are strictly bottle-fed.

The best budget bottle

Best baby bottles in 2020

Dr. Brown’s Natural Flow Original Baby Bottle is a standard, affordable baby bottle that’s vented, durable, and works for babies of all ages.

Pros: Affordable, easy to use and assemble, dishwasher safe, removable vent system, three sizes, fits in diaper bag bottle pouch, warms quickly, interchangeable nipple flow sizes

Cons: Can discolor in dishwasher

Dr. Brown’s Natural Flow Original Baby Bottle is made of BPA-free plastic and comes in 2-, 4-, and 8-ounce sizes. It is a traditional design with a narrow neck and slim profile.

Depending on which size bottle you purchase, the three-pack comes with one of its many nipple flow options, from the specially designed preemie nipple for the 2-ounce bottle to the standard slow flow for the 4-ounce bottle. But as with all Dr. Brown bottles, all the nipple tops are interchangeable, so it’s easy to switch to the one your baby needs. All of the bottles come with a removable anti-colic vent (the insert part).

You definitely can’t beat the price of this bottle, and it is extremely durable, as well as dishwasher safe on the top rack. The only drawback I’ve found with these plastic bottles is if you wash them with them any tomato-based residue — such as pasta sauce — the bottles tend to take on an orangish hue that doesn’t fade after subsequent washings. 

I first used this bottle on the recommendation of the NICU when my daughter was born five weeks early for its preemie flow nipple. Now that my daughter is 8 months old, we are still using the bottle — it has stood the test of time and met all of our different bottle-feeding needs. Although I prefer the glass option for everyday use, I stick to the standard plastic Dr. Brown’s Original Bottle for stashing in the diaper bag because of its slim profile.

What else we considered


In our testing, we also considered a few other baby bottles that didn’t quite meet our standards for the best of the best. 

  • Nanobebe: This bottle designed to mimic the breast does have some admirable features like fast warming and breast pump adaptability, but I found it wasn’t as practical as the other bottles I tested. It doesn’t fit in diaper bag bottle pouches, transporting it in a cooler was cumbersome, and even holding it to feed my baby felt awkward.
  • Evenflo Feeding Premium Proflo Venting Balance Plus Wide Neck Baby, Newborn and Infant Bottles, 6-pack: I tested these as a budget option with a lot of the premium feature found in more expensive bottles, like venting technology and a wider latch. But I could not get over how cheap the plastic felt. It seemed like they could disintegrate in the dishwasher.
  • Lifefactory 4-ounce BPA-Free Glass Baby Bottle With Protective Silicone Sleeve: This bottle gets an honorable mention as a glass option, and I really liked the sleeve, which makes it easy to hold. It was sturdy to transport without the risk of it breaking. However, the nipple on this bottle was the deal-breaker for me — my daughter could not get the hang of it. It seemed to have a longer shape than she was used to in most other bottles, so it didn’t work for us.

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