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

Amazon

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

Patagonia

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 5 best backpacks for students in 2021

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  • A good school backpack serves as an all-in-one carrier for essentials, including a tablet and books.
  • Backpacks come in many styles, sizes, and materials and should be durable enough to last for years.
  • The best backpack for students of all ages is the long-lasting JanSport Big Student Backpack.

As a high school teacher, I’ve seen backpacks in all states of disrepair, so I know how important it is to find a bag that is durable enough to be used day in and day out.

For kids and teenagers, it’s much more about how the backpack looks than how functional it is, so the tough job as a parent is to find one that is durable and big enough for all your child’s school supplies and lunch box, but that also looks cool. In elementary school, I was jealous of my best friend who had her initials monogrammed on her backpack, and in high school, I was dying for a messenger bag. Functionality clearly wasn’t on the top of my priority list as a child.

If you find the right backpack, it can last your child quite a few years, but finding the right one is key. We’ve made the process a little bit easier for you with a few tips and some of our favorite backpacks.

To help you find the best backpacks for your kids, I combined my experience as a teacher and student with expert and buyer reviews. From backpacks for preschoolers to college kids, these bags will help your child start the school year on the right foot. Below, find tips for selecting a quality backpack in our “what to look” for explainer.

Here are the best backpacks for students in 2021

The best overall

jansport big backpack

The JanSport Big Student Backpack has many pockets, comes in an array of colors, and is durable for every student.

Pros: Spacious, durable, two main pockets, multiple side and front pockets, comes in many colors and prints

Cons: May be too big for very young kids, not machine washable

This backpack comes in fun colors and designs like galaxy or floral prints, as well as solid black, so whether your child wants to stand out with a fun print or just wants a plain backpack, this one will do the trick.

It includes a water bottle pocket on the side, two different main pockets, and three front pockets to hold smaller items. The ergonomic padded shoulder straps will help kids stay comfortable even while carrying their books, binders, and notebooks to and from class. It also includes a padded back and padded laptop compartment.

This backpack is great for younger kids and older adults alike, which is one of the reasons it’s our top overall pick. JanSport does not recommend machine washing their backpacks, but they do explain exactly how to clean them to maintain the shape and finish of the bag. It also offers a lifetime warranty on its backpacks, so you can send yours in for repairs. And if JanSport can’t repair your broken backpack, it will replace it, ensuring you get true value out of your purchase.

The best for preschool

L.L.Bean Junior Original Book Pack

L.L.Bean’s Junior Original Book Pack is just the perfect size for young kids for easy wear to prevent back injury.

Pros: Perfect size for young kids, reflective material for safety, machine washable

Cons: Only features one additional pocket and a water bottle compartment aside from the main zipper

The Junior Original Book Pack combines durability, affordability, and the cuteness factor for the perfect backpack for your young scholar. It’s available in a variety of prints or solid colors if you want to keep it simple. You don’t have to worry about these beautiful prints being ruined by messes and spills because this backpack is machine washable when inside a mesh laundry bag. 

This is a small backpack designed for kids ages 4 and up, so the shoulder straps and back panel are padded and comfortable. Your little little one won’t be overpowered by a massive backpack.

Although it’s small enough for little backs, it’s still big enough to fit standard-sized folders and notebooks — something that can’t be said for all preschool-size backpacks. It also has waterproof and reflective materials to help keep kids and their belongings safe at the bus stop. 

There’s also something so adorable about a little kid wearing a backpack, and this is the perfect choice whether your child is actually starting school or just wants a backpack to be like their big sibling. 

The best for middle school

jansport superbreak backpack

The JanSport Superbreak backpack holds just the right amount of supplies for elementary and middle schoolers, coming in diverse colors.

Pros: Tons of colors and patterns, good size, sturdy material

Cons: No laptop compartment, not machine washable

The JanSport Superbreak Backpack is sturdy, just the right size for elementary and middle school kids, and comes in tons of colors and patterns, so your child is guaranteed to find something your they like.

The backpack has a roomy main compartment that’s perfect for notebooks, folders, and lunch boxes, while the small front pocket is handy for pencils and other small items. It’s a lightweight bag, but it’s sturdy enough to handle anything your kid can throw at it — which they will.

While a great basic, this backpack does have its flaws. There’s no laptop compartment, and it only includes 2/3 padding on the back panel.

Since younger kids may not be carrying as many items to and from school, the Superbreak is a good option for this crowd. If your child is approaching their later middle school years though, it would be a good idea to take a look at our high school backpack pick instead. Like other JanSport bags, this one is not machine washable.

The best for high school

northface recon backpack

The iconic North Face Recon Backpack is comfortable, long-lasting, and comes with a lifetime warranty.

Pros: Highly durable, ergonomically designed for comfort, many pockets and other organizing features, lifetime warranty

Cons: Not machine washable

Today’s high school students are notoriously busy. When I was a teacher, some of my students got to school at 6 a.m. for sports practice, then went to class, volunteer activities, or even part-time jobs, and didn’t get home until after dark. They need a backpack that can keep up with them, and the legendary The North Race Recon comes highly recommended.

High school students also need backpacks that are extremely durable to support textbooks while also protecting expensive devices. This durable pack features a 15-inch laptop sleeve in the back, tablet sleeve in the front, cord container, mesh stash pocket for sports equipment like helmets, two mesh water bottle pockets, and a padded back with extra support along the spine. We love that this backpack comes with a hip and chest clip. Occupational therapist Karen Jacobs explained that this can help take weight off the shoulders, particularly for older kids.

The North Face Recon Backpack is available in several different colors and comes in men’s and women’s designs. The women’s bag is a little bit smaller than the men’s, and features custom injection-molded shoulder straps with flexible attachment points that are contoured for a smaller frame. The backpacks are covered by the North Face’s lifetime warranty, so returns are simple and always free.

The backpack also features reflective surfaces on the exterior and is made of breathable material. The North Face does not recommend machine washing their backpacks, so you’ll need to spot clean this one.

The best for college

the north face jester backpack

The North Face Jester Backpack features a heavy-duty padded laptop compartment aside from it holding other essential supplies.

Pros: Perfect for carrying laptops around campus, large main compartment, two mesh water bottle pockets, secure-zip pockets, reflective bike light loop for evening campus walking

Cons: Not machine washable

College students typically have a mountain of textbooks on their desks, so having a backpack to carry some of the pile, as well as a laptop, notebook, and other supplies make The North Face Jester Backpack the gold standard for strolls on campus.

In addition to its large main compartment, this sleek backpack has a durable, padded laptop compartment that can fit up to 15-inch laptops. Aside from ensuring this college essential is safely stored within the backpack, the Jester has two external mesh pockets to store your water bottle, as well as a front compartment to store pencils, a pack of tissues, and other on-the-go items.

And it even comes with safety features for evening walks on campus. Its reflective bike light loop, water bottle tabs, and shoulder webbing are designed for 360-degree reflectivity for nighttime visibility.

The Jester is made of breathable material, but the backpack is not machine washable. The bag also includes a sternum strap to shift some weight off the shoulders.

What we’re looking forward to

For an update to this guide, all backpacks will be put through a series of durability tests. In addition to our current recommendations, we are also testing the following backpacks:

What to look for in a backpack

What to look for in a backpack
  • Safety: While monogrammed backpacks are fun and unique, we strongly advise against putting your child’s initials or name on their backpack, a sentiment that Dr. Jacobs and teacher Whitney Rancourt shared. It provides a perfect avenue for child predators to appear friendly and familiar by knowing your child’s name. Jacobs also recommended backpacks that have reflective material to keep kids safe at the bus stop or while walking to and from school. 
  • Size: The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends that a backpack shouldn’t “weigh more than 10 to 20 percent of the student’s total body weight.” The size of the backpack should correspond accordingly. Additionally, Jacobs recommends looking at your child’s back as if it is a rectangle and making sure the backpack fits nicely within that rectangle. For this reason, she also recommends buying a backpack your child can try on, whether that means buying in store or from a retailer that offers free returns.
  • Comfort and support: Look for a backpack with a padded back and wide padded shoulder straps. The AAP advises against narrow straps that tend to dig into shoulders, as they can restrict circulation and cause pain. Jacobs also advises buying a backpack made with breathable material and recommends that older kids make use of a chest or shoulder strap, which can help take weight off the shoulders. 
  • Features and organization: Besides the main compartment, a good backpack should have multiple interior and exterior pockets for organizing items. Popular features include water bottle holders, laptop pockets, charger pockets, key chains, and pencil pockets. With many students carrying devices in their backpacks, a water bottle pocket is very important to prevent water spilling on the device. Additionally, “organization systems (compartments that fit folders, pens, erasers, and every school supply in between) are important, especially for children that might have executive functioning issues,” learning specialist Jessica Prohias Gardiner explained.
  • Appearance: We all know that kids want backpacks that look cool, but it’s important to strike a balance between cool and practical. “Avoid backpacks with detailing like sequins or glitter that won’t hold up well to regular machine washing. The most eye-catching backpacks in the first week of school usually look the worst by the end of the year,” Rancourt said, adding that backpacks should be washable, as students tend to place them in less-than-clean places.

How to pack a backpack

Jacobs provided some excellent tips to help students pack a backpack that isn’t too heavy and that feels comfortable:

  • Put the heaviest item closest to the back.
  • Check backpacks daily to make sure your child isn’t lugging around unnecessary items.
  • Pack backpacks the night before.
  • Use compartments to help stabilize items.
  • Pack backpacks on a table or raised surface. This makes it easier to pack and easier to slip on your child’s back.
  • If your child complains about their backpack being too heavy, investigate why and see what can be taken out. Most schools can provide digital textbooks and/or an extra copy of books to keep at home.

Jacobs also emphasized the importance of connecting with your school’s occupational therapy practitioner if your child encounters an issue with backpacks.

Our sources

  • Karen Jacobs, EdD, OTR/L, CPE, FAOTA, is a clinical professor of occupational therapy and the program director of the distance education post-professional occupational therapy programs at Boston University. In addition to being an occupational therapist, Jacobs is also a certified professional ergonomist (CPE). Jacobs founded National School Backpack Safety Awareness Day a decade ago to raise awareness of the harm heavy loads worn incorrectly can cause children and even adults.
  • Jessica Prohias Gardiner is a learning specialist at LREI (Little Red Elisabeth Irwin) High School in New York City.
  • Whitney Rancourt teaches third- and fourth-grade reading and writing at a Title 1 school in Texas. She’s also the owner of Mama Manages, a blog dedicated to helping parents and teachers raise confident and happy kids. 

Check out our other school supply guides

staples back to school
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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 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 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 sleep sacks and wearable blankets for babies in 2020

Table of Contents: Masthead Sticky

  • To ensure babies stay safe and warm without a blanket or swaddle, many parents buy sleep sacks, which are essentially wearable blankets.
  • After much research and testing, we found the Halo Sleep Sack Wearable Blanket to be the best sleep sack for most babies.

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that parents keep blankets, toys, and other objects out of the crib for the first 12 months to limit the risk of suffocation and of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). Many parents decide to buy sleep sacks in lieu of blankets to keep their newborns warm.

Sleep sacks are basically zippered cloth sacks with armholes. You don’t have to worry about extra material interfering with a baby’s breathing or a baby becoming uncovered at night. 

Sleep sacks come in a variety of materials and sizes. When I first started using them, I felt overwhelmed by the choices. Plus, depending on the season and where you live, you have to choose from different weights or thermal overall grades (TOG), which tells you how much insulation is in the material. 

When I looked at the best sleep sacks for babies, I evaluated each one based on material, design, and cost. I also relied on my own personal experience to select the best sleep sacks.

Here are the best sleep sacks you can buy:

Prices and links are current as of 12/18/2020. We are currently testing sleep sacks for an update to this guide.

The best overall

halo sleepsack wearable blanket

The Halo Sleep Sack Wearable Blanket is super soft, high quality, and well designed. 

Pros: Super soft, roomy and hip-friendly design, high-quality

Cons: Need different ones for each season

Halo Sleep Sack Wearable Blanket is super soft and available in a range of sizes and weights for any season. The bag has two-way zippers to make nighttime diaper changes easier. 

The roomy design allows babies plenty of room to move around and doesn’t constrict the hips. The sack comes with a seal of approval from the Hip Dysplasia Institute. I started using these sleep sacks with my baby around the 2-month mark after using swaddles. 

My absolute favorite was the Halo Sleep Sack Plush Dot Velboa Wearable Blanket. The sleep sack comes at a TOG 1.0, which is suitable for fall or early winter. If you want a warmer winter sleep sack, I also used the winter-weight Halo at a TOG 2.5 for cold winter nights. 

The Halo sleep sack is by far the best choice you can make when it comes to wearable blankets. My only criticism is that you need multiple sacks to cover different temperatures and seasons. You also need to have two sacks of the same weight in case of accidents. 

The best wool sleep sack

Merino Kids Sleep Bag

The Merino Kids Baby Sleep Bag for Babies offers excellent temperature regulation for any season.

Pros: Regulates temperature, grows with baby, good for all seasons, super soft and cozy

Cons: Expensive, handwash only

While I adore Halo sleep sacks, the Merino Kids Baby Sleep Bag is another great option, although it is pricey. However, the quality and longevity of the sleep sack really do justify the cost. With other sleep sacks, you’ll need to buy at least two for every season, but with Merino Kids, you only need one sack for the first two years. 

Wool regulates body temperature better than cotton or polyester. I never worried about either of my children being too hot or too cold when they wore the Merino.  Not only does the Merino regulate body temperature, but it’s also exceptionally well-made.

After almost three years of using the same sleep sack between two children, it’s held up well. Just be to use specially formulated wool shampoo when you wash the sleep sack. I used NikWax Wool Wash. You also have to line dry to avoid shrinkage or the moisture-wicking ability of the sleep sack. But the odor-resistant qualities of wool, require you to wash it less frequent washing.

The best for winter

baby deedee

The Baby Deedee Sleep Nest Sleeping Sack keeps hands, feet, and toes warm through cold winter months.

Pros: Breathable, soft material, ideal for winter

Cons: Pricier than other sacks, not for all seasons, large head opening

The winter weight 2.5 TOG Baby Deedee Sleep Nest Sleeping Sack keeps your baby warm at night. The quilted duvet material adds an extra layer of warmth to the 100% cotton exterior. It will be hard to find a winter-weight sleep sack better than the Baby Deedee.

Not only is the sleep sack super warm, but the fabric is also breathable, so you don’t have to worry about them sweating. Putting a baby in the cocoon-like design is more comfortable with its equally smart shoulder straps. The straps lay flat, making it easier for you to place your baby in the sack and then snap the shoulder straps together. You don’t have to lift up the arms and move them through the holes, possibly waking up your baby.

From the high-quality materials to the smart and warm design, you can’t go wrong with the Baby Deedee from the first winter storm to the smell of spring. The company also has a Sleep Nest Travel sack for camping or outside use. 

The best for summer

Nested Bean

The Nested Bean Zen Sack Classic mimics a parent’s touch with its lightly weighted center that can soothe fussy babies.

Pros: Light and soft material, mimics a loving touch, adjustable straps, reversible, two-way zippers

Cons: Expensive, need more than one as your baby grows

The Nested Bean Zen Sack Classic comes in soft, breathable cotton, making it perfect for hot summer nights. At a .05 TOG, you won’t find a sleep sack lighter than this weight. The bag can also be used year-round depending on clothing and temperature. 

The most unique design feature is a gently weighted pressure pad on the center of the chest to give the sensation of a parent’s touch. Before greeting the world, babies spend nine months snug in the womb, and once outside, they need constant contact. The Nested Bean mimics the soothing touch of a caregiver.

The smart design also has two-way zippers to facilitate quick middle of the night diaper changes, adjustable straps, and is reversible for stomach sleepers. While back is best until your baby rolls over, once they do, your baby might prefer the tummy frog position. For those with swaddling needs, Nested Bean also offers the Zen Swaddle Classic in a similar design and material.

Read our full review of the Nested Bead Zen Sack here.

The best organic sleep sack

Burt's Bees baby

The Burt’s Bees Baby Beekeeper Wearable Blanket is an organic cotton sleep sack that will keep your baby warm at night.

Pros: 100% organic, gentle on sensitive skin, zipper guard, cute designs

Cons: Not for all seasons

Burt’s Bees Baby Beekeeper Wearable Blanket is made with 100% certified organic cotton. It’s certified by the Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS). You can really feel the softness of this sleep sack’s material to give babies extra comfort.

The design features a bottom zipper to allow for quick diaper changes and an interior zipper guard and snap tab zipper pull for safety. You won’t have to worry about accidentally zipping up your baby’s skin.

At a TOG of .05, the Beekeeper is perfect for the warmer months; pair it underneath a jacket or blanket to add an extra layer of warmth for the cooler seasons.

Check out our other baby gear guides

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Read the original article on Business Insider