Parents readers weigh in on the most helpful gear during their little one's first year.
Our crib's toy attachment plays music and has pictures that light up. If the baby fusses, I can turn it on with a remote control without letting him see me. It's saved me from many sleepless nights.
--Lara Feinberg; Waynesville, N.C.
I made a nursing cover from a small blanket with a clip attaching the top two corners together. Whenever my daughter wanted to be fed in public, I slipped it over my shoulders and gave her dinner -- in private.
--Debbie Barents; Aurora, Colo.
Safe and Sound
I still can't manage without my baby monitor, and my "baby" is now 4 years old. When he was tiny, I could calmly get chores done, knowing I'd hear him if he cried. Now I use it to check on him when he plays in his room by himself.
--Kathleen Jenkins; Wichita, Kans.
Our battery-powered bouncy chair got me through the first four months of each of my daughters' lives. The vibrations and lullabies helped calm my kids in any situation.
--Laura Roukis; Garden City, N.Y.
The American Academy of Pediatrics' book Caring for Your Baby and Young Child: Birth to Age 5 is an excellent resource. Whenever I'm worried about my child's health, I can find helpful information before calling my doctor.
--Angie Smith; Iowa City, Iowa
Have a Seat
Our portable, plastic high chair is so sturdy and easy to tote that we take it everywhere. And now that our "real" wooden high chair has broken, we use the plastic one at home too.
--Dawn Huizinga; Owatonna, Minn.
We couldn't live without our child-safe pacifier clip, which we attach to our son's shirt. He was always losing his Binky before we got this gadget. Now, it's within his reach.
--Sharon Magner; Danbury, Conn.
I am most thankful for the tent that attaches to the top of our crib. We originally got it to keep the cat from bothering our first baby. But now we use it with our second child, who's a year old and an expert climber. With the tent, he can't climb out of the crib and hurt himself.
--Jeanne Triola; Fenton, Mich.
I'd be lost without my infant-size nail clippers, because my daughter's fingernails grow so quickly. I'm constantly cutting them, and adult clippers just don't work as well.
--Melanie Rohr; Arlington, Va.
Pump It Up
I couldn't have nursed my daughter without my electric breast pump. I was uncomfortable breastfeeding in public, and it gave me the freedom that bottle-feeding moms have.
--Lori Taglione; Steubenville, Ohio
The product I've found most useful is a baby-size medication syringe. I can't imagine giving my daughter cough syrup without it.
--Denise Grissom; Birmingham, Ala.
My Maya Wrap sling carrier is adjustable, so both my husband and I can use it. Our daughter is now a year old and topping 20 pounds, but I can still do housework with her happily snuggled and watching.
--Audrey Lengbeyer; Annapolis, Md.
Baby wipes are a lifesaver in our house. Besides using them at changing time, I count on them for cleaning up spills, dealing with messes in restaurants, and wiping off toys.
--Melva Castillo; Laredo, Tex.
The best $12 investment I made with my second child was a baby-wipes warmer. In the middle of the night, warm wipes made diaper changes more comfortable for her.
--Michelle Griswold; Baton Rouge, La.
A Neat Idea
I discovered Table Toppers' disposable plastic place mats that stick to the table. At mealtime, we put one down and place our 1-year-old daughter's food right on it. That way, we can pull the mat off easily when she's done, and the table always stays clean.
--Sarah Detwiler; Tippecanoe, Ind.
When I was pregnant, my aunt sent me an infant-massage kit. It really helped me bond with my son, Connor, and I still give him a massage after his bath every night.
--Laura Olsen Dugan; Madison, Wis.
I bought a quilted cover for shopping carts that protects my baby from dirt and bacteria. Now I don't have to worry that my son will pick up germs when we go to the store.
--Emily Coff; Rancho Santa Margarita, Calif.
The Boppy pillow was so handy when I was nursing my baby daughter. Not only did it help when my arms got tired, but it was also useful when my older daughter wanted to hold her.
--Kim Schultz; Wheaton, Ill.
My Baby Trend Snap-N-Go stroller is great because I just pop my infant seat out of the car and attach it to the base to create an instant carriage.
--Deborah Skolnik Scarsdale, N.Y.
Divide & Conquer
A three-section formula container makes traveling with a baby so much easier. When you're out and about, there's no need to measure or scoop -- just open the spout and empty one section into the bottle with water, shake, and feed.
-Karen Clark; Loveland, Colo.