This is the 11th year we've asked parents to tell us which products make life with baby easier. It's an open-ended question, and the thousands of votes we count include hundreds of different answers. Even so, many of the same items consistently rise to the top, making our annual list a perfect gauge of what you really need. We award an AMBY (American Baby Best of the Year) Award to the ten most-mentioned products. Congratulations to this year's winners!
We bet you didn't even know what a Boppy was before you became a parent! Now you sure do; this nursing pillow has taken first place seven times, leaving us with the impression that many readers cast their AMBY votes with a Boppy wrapped around their waist! "It saves my back and helps me continue cuddling my son when he's done eating," says Beth Schmids, of Havertown, PA ($25-$60; boppy.com).
Readers mention the Bedtime Moisture Wash most often, saying that it gets baby in the mood for sleep, but all of Johnson's formulas win votes for being easy on tender eyes and skin. "They gently clean and soften my baby's skin," says Brittany Russell, of Crystal Falls, MI ($3.50-$6; mass merchants).
Parents have no tolerance for diaper rash--they want it gone immediately--and Desitin is their weapon of choice. "I only have to apply it once, and it takes care of things," says Merry Smith, of Coos Bay, OR (about $5; drugstores).
You love your baby, but if you're ever going to shower, you need to set him down. This is a perfect place--and it may rock him to sleep too. "We wouldn't have survived the first six weeks without it," says Tara Brogna, of East Stroudsburg, PA ($150; fisher-price.com).
Aah, that sweet baby smell! It doesn't always come naturally--many readers equate the scent of Johnson's lotions, like the one in the classic pink bottle, with a clean baby. "It smells wonderful and is great on sensitive skin," says Catherine Lugo, of Harrisburg, PA ($2-$3; mass merchants).
This has a loyal following; parents swear it works fast on diaper rash and makes the least amount of mess. "It's a miracle in a bottle," says Clarissa Lopez, of Bloomfield, NM (about $5, Babies "R" Us).
You don't always know if crying is due to teething--unless using Baby Orajel quiets your little one down. Then you've hit the answer! "It almost instantly makes my baby happier," says Heather Gordon, of Anchorage, AK (about $5; drugstores).
These days almost every bottle claims to treat colic, but Dr. Brown's was the first and is still the best known for helping milk go down gently. "Within 24 hours it stopped my baby's gas and crying," says Jody Olsen, of Shelton, WA ($5-$6; Babies "R" Us).
The worst thing, next to a diaper blowout, is a wipes malfunction. If you've ever used one that rips in your hand, you'll appreciate Huggies. "They're thick and big and clean my baby's bottom with just one wipe," says Brittany Haire, of York, AL (about $3; mass merchants).
This medicine (the active ingredient is Simethicone) gets love from parents whose baby suffers gas pains. "It gets rid of her tummy ache fast, and she likes the taste," says Starr Hathaway, of Pensacola, FL (about $9-$14; drugstores).
Here's a third diaper rash treatment that's popular with readers; this one has been around since you were a baby. "It works every time, and just a little goes a long way," says Kerrin Carr, of Las Cruces, NM (about $5, drugstores).
Once they have head control, babies can graduate from an infant seat to the Bumbo. "It gives little ones the chance to sit up and see the world from a different vantage point," says Jennifer Whyle, of Marietta, GA ($40; Babies "R" Us).
It becomes obvious really fast that you can't throw a dirty diaper into any old garbage can. The latest Genie is our readers' favorite diaper pail. "You get no odor, and it's convenient," says Kristy Dippold, of Glendale, AZ ($25; Babies "R" Us).
One of these is often baby's first seat--a safe place to set a newborn when you need your hands free. "My daughter loves it, and it allows me to get stuff done," says Christina Hogue, of Tucson ($35; fisher-price.com).
Once baby likes to be fully upright, this is a favorite spot for hanging out and doing a little safe bouncing. "My son gets so excited, he squeals while he's in it," says Jennifer Austin, of Sacramento, CA ($90; fisher-price.com).
And if we kept going, here's what parents say about the next five most important baby items:
#16. Dreft detergent
#17. NUK pacifiers
#18. Kiddopotamus SwaddleMe blanket
#19. Gerber foods
#20. Graco Pack 'n Play
No, we didn't forget diapers.
Many parents vote for diapers as lifesavers, but they seem so obvious (who doesn't use them?) that we mention them as an aside. The Huggies brand gets the most votes overall, but many Pampers votes are for Swaddlers specifically, showing they have a passionate following.
Originally published in the October 2009 issue of American Baby magazine.