New parents have virtually no spare time, but they'll make time to praise favorite baby products. We know because for the last nine years, we've asked readers, "What three products make your life easier?" and each year we've received thousands of nominations. We tabulate them, and the winning manufacturers of those products receive an American Baby Best of the Year (AMBY) award. So what do moms and dads in 2007 consider baby-product royalty?
Johnson's Bedtime Products
Skin is in. That's the message we got loud and clear this year; three baby skincare lines won an AMBY, and four of the five runners-up are diaper-rash creams. At the top of the heap? Johnson's Bedtime products, which not only gently clean and moisturize baby's skin but have the added promise of promoting relaxation and sleep. The lavender scent of the bath wash, lotion, and massage gel is a hit with moms, who trust its aromatherapy benefits. "It really helps my baby relax and sleep after a long day," says Kerine Simms, of Montgomery Village, Maryland (about $4-$5; johnsonsbaby.com).
The pillow that makes feeding baby easier (by eliminating your shoulder strain and giving baby a comfortable rest) enjoyed the last five consecutive years in the number-one spot; it's still considered a must-have by most new parents. "It's been great for nursing, and it's one of the few products I'm still using a year after my daughter was born," says Jennifer Costa, of Stoddard, New Hampshire ($25-$60; boppy.com).
Forget trying to find a baby whisperer -- your best bet may be a baby swinger. A huge number of readers voted for a Fisher-Price swing as one of their three favorite products. The swings are easy to get baby in and out of, they have toys that really hold an infant's attention, and many models will rock baby front to back or side to side. "It honestly saved my life when everything else failed," says Candace Clark, of Quakertown, Pennsylvania. Shown: Baby Papasan Cradle Swing ($40-$100; fisher-price.com).
It also helps to have a seat you can easily move from room to room for times when you need your hands free. Parents who have to shower or cook (and we assume that's all of you!) rely on a bouncer seat, and Fisher-Price versions are the favorites. "It's the only place I can put the baby down without her crying," says Melissa Strawn, of Colusa, California. Shown: Rainforest Bouncer ($22-$50; fisher-price.com).
It's nice to be natural, especially these days when parents demand more purity in baby products. Aveeno makes its debut on our list all the way up at number five thanks to its sensitive-skin formulas and drugstore price and availability. With ingredients such as oatmeal and the promise to relieve eczema, these are products that many moms find they can't do without. "I like that it's scent free and keeps my baby's skin moisturized," says Katherine Ayala, of Springfield, Massachusetts (about $4-$5.50; aveeno.com).
We've watched this product grow steadily in reader popularity over the past few years, and now it's made the list. Once baby has outgrown a bouncer, this gives her a safe place to jump and play. "My daughter uses it every day and has a blast," says Jen Wubben, of Morrison, Illinois. Shown: Deluxe Jumperoo ($65-$80; fisher-price.com).
Another AMBY first-timer! This little chair isn't designed to provide entertainment, but it's excellent as a safe, portable seat for a baby who can sit up with some support (usually from about 3 months). It's perfect for playtime, mealtime, video watching...there are lots of possibilities. "I use it to keep my baby sitting upright and close while I cook and clean up the kitchen," says Lisa Buschur, of Abilene, Texas ($35-$40; bumbobabysitter.com).
It's not that parents expect children to learn a lot from these videos; they just trust the shows to be gentle, stimulating, and perfectly age-appropriate. When you and the kids need a break, they're a great solution. "A DVD gives me 25 minutes of quiet, and both my kids love them," says Heather Dauzat, of Jefferson, Louisiana ($20 each; babyeinstein.com).
These portable play yards have become so jazzed up that they now practically rival traditional baby furniture. You can find versions with mobiles, storage, and more. "Mine is totally multipurpose...it's a bassinet, crib, playpen, and changing center," says Jamie Shurkowski, of Norwich, Connecticut. Shown: the Milan pattern ($50-$230; gracobaby.com).
Gerber's made a playful skincare line with characters such as kittens and otters gracing the labels of washes and lotions. Scents like cucumber-melon are popular with parents. "I love the smell and feel of the products -- I use them myself," says Rebecca Nelson, of Pleasant Grove, Utah ($3.50; gerber.com).
Desitin took the staining stickiness out of diaper rash ointment with its creamy version, and it offers a clear treatment now as well. "It's good protection for diaper rash, with a no-mess consistency," says Larisa Golikous, of West Sacramento, California (about $4.50-$11.50; desitin.com).
Another popular, tried-and-true rash fighter: A+D, in the newer zinc oxide cream (shown) or the original ointment. "At the first signs of redness, I dab a little on, and the rash is gone at the next change," says Danielle Lopez, of Somerton, Arizona ($3-$10; mass merchants).
The physician-designed bottles have a patented internal vent to eliminate the air bubbles that can make baby cranky. "They're the best -- they really prevent gas!" says Meg Duckett, of Marietta, Georgia (about $5; handi-craft.com).
The diaper rash cream with a cheeky name makes its debut this year in our top 15. "It gets rid of a rash without any initial sting when I put it on my baby," says Sarah Miller, of Rexburg, Idaho (about $3-$15; buttpaste.com).
One more diaper rash line is big with readers: Balmex, for its fast-acting ointment to treat rashes and its daily protectant to avoid them. "Redness is gone in an hour," says Heather Haener, of Visalia, California (about $6-$12; balmex.com).
Carrier: Baby Bjorn
Mobiles: Tiny Love
Pacifiers: Gerber NUK, Sassy Mam, Playtex Binky
Breast pump: Medela Pump in Style
Gas reliever: Mylicon
Diaper pail: Playtex Diaper Genie
Wipes warmer: Prince Lionheart
Nipple cream: Lansinoh
Toy: Playskool Busy Ball Popper
Baby food: Earth's Best
Toddler food: Gerber Graduates
Stroller/car seat travel system: Graco