Modern parenting means sorting through mountains of products and information that can keep you busier than the kids themselves do—often starting from when they're still in the womb. To help navigate the bunch, we asked a few moms and dads what accessories they can't live without. Coupled with a little of our own research and contributions from our mommy editors Wendy Dembo, Tamara Warren and Julie Wolfson, we put together a list of the helpers that make parenting easier.
The In The Pocket Baby bib's clever fold-up feature keeps the food and mess on the bib and out of the diaper bag. The machine washable bib comes in standard style or an even more foolproof full-sleeve version, and both attach around the neck. Swedish and family-run, the label sells the bibs from their online shop. The sleeveless bib runs SEK139 ($20) and the full sleeve bib is SEK199 ($30).
Charley Harper books teach kids their ABCs and 123s while providing a rudimentary lesson on the artist's "minimal realism" at the same time. (Click above images for detail.) The colorful illustrations make great reads for babies, toddlers and art fans alike. From Ammo Books, each costs $10.
Frank Frisari and John McCoy's Constructible Drinking Straws provide a creative outlet and entertain kids for hours. Rubber pieces connect the dishwasher-safe straws, affording simple but clever construction. Get them from the MoMA store for $14.
Brio's bed rockers easily turn any crib (or chair for that matter) into a soothing bedtime situation. By simply popping them onto the legs, the spring-loaded devices work with almost any style of crib. They sell in a variety of colors from Brio retailers worldwide for about $30.
The father of an extremely peaceful baby tipped us to the Baby Plus prenatal education system, a set of 16 naturally occurring sounds that resemble a mother's heartbeat designed to teach babies in the womb. A strap easily attaches the device to an expecting mother's stomach, allowing the sonic pattern to introduce babies to a sequential learning process. Reports say it makes little ones more calm, better nursers and smarter. Baby Plus sells it for $150.
NYC parents tell us being a good parent in the city requires a good carrier. Ergobaby offers a hands-free lifestyle with their baby carrier built for toting babies to toddlers. Designed to support a natural sitting position, the carriers keep the child close but eliminate the chance of injury that can occur without proper support suspension. Available from Ergobaby in a variety of colors or an organic version, the carriers span $105-148.
Enabling kids' insatiable curiosity while providing an instant high chair, Phil and Ted's Amazon for $50.
Baby Bjorn's Amazon for $220.
While conversion beds aren't exactly a novel concept, Ouef's Robin Toddler Conversion Kit defines the reasoning behind the idea, extending a well-designed, classic piece of furniture that would be a welcome part of any bedroom for several years. Comprised of Nordic pine, over the years the wood will develop a natural patina, adding more beauty to the simple motif. The Robin crib can be purchased from Oeuf for $565, the conversion kit for $145.
The jubilant world of Wee See is "part installation, part pacifier" for your child, initiating them to the realm of motion graphics with DVDs portraying contrasting black and white visuals set to a calming original tune. Engaging a baby's naturally curious mind, the DVDs entertain while enlightening. Already in two volumes, the Wee See DVDs are each $20 or available as a set for $35.—Wendy Dembo
Peekaboo's Barn and Wild iPhone apps teach children the names and sounds of animals found around the farm or African Savannah. (Click images for detail.) A quick, educational distraction, the app will teach kids the words in both English and Spanish. Get it from iTunes for $2.—WD
Elias Smiles ABC and Zoo iPhone apps easily teach your kids the alphabet and animal words with their digital cards boasting cute and colorful illustrations. Each card has a little animation when you touch the screen. After saying "S is for shovel,â the image of the shovel digs for example. iTunes has it for $2.âWD
When it comes to authenticity, children rule the world of fashion originality. Planet Awesome Kid is a new Brooklyn-based website that celebrates the fabled world of kids gone creative—providing an expressive, dreamy and incredibly fresh approach to children's apparel and the youngsters who effortlessly rock style.—TW
Made in Honduras, these simple, magnetic blocks called Tegu are already on backorder because the small company cant keep up with their orders since launching two months ago. Inspired by classic European wooden toys and founded to "foster a positive social impact," Tegu employs people in Tegucigalpa and also replants 100 trees for every tree used to make the blocks. Prices start at $26, get on the waiting list by visiting their site.âJulie Wolfson
I love Patemm's round diaper changing pads for great fabrics and design. and often give them as gifts. I know several people that use the large version as a play mat. They range from $60-88 from Patemm.âJW
Wikki Stix are my secret weapon for keeping kids occupied in restaurants. The bendable wax sticks make addicts out of big and little ones (adults too!), turning squirmy kids into wonderful dinner guests. Packs start at $3.25 from Wikki Stix.âJW
We have Flor's button rugs in our daughter's room and no matter what she gets on them they are easy to clean and replace. Plus the pop of color (Flor just introduced new colors) keeps her room looking modern and bright. Four tiles start at $45 from FlorâJW