When I was 6 months pregnant and basking in the second trimester glow (before those last months of waking up every hour at night to pee), my husband and I went away for the weekend with another couple who were also expecting. We spent a good amount of time pointing out the number of young families walking around with fancy baby gear and poking fun — who in their right mind would spend $900 for a stroller? Where did that baby think they were going, a runway show?
Welp, a couple of months and hours of research later (including pushing a sandbag shaped like a baby in circles around a BuyBuy Baby), I spent almost that on an UppaBaby stroller — and I have no regrets. It was one of several baby products we decided may be worth the splurge for our nursery and beyond, that ended up making the first year of our lives as parents far easier.
None of these were items we wanted to force anyone to buy us on our baby registry, but ones that we felt would be worth the money to buy on our own to last us through the first year of parenthood (and a potential second child down the line). Now that we’re well into toddlerhood, I can confirm that if you want to invest in some top-of-the-line baby gear, these are well worth the extra expense. You can also check out our editors’ picks for splurge-worthy kitchen tools and the best gifts to buy your older parents.
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The aforementioned UPPAbaby Vista V2 is the Rolls-Royce of strollers — it’s super sturdy and could handle the bumpy sidewalks around our apartment with ease, allowing our newborn to fall asleep on walks. Later on it was able to handle sand, dirt and gravel roads, too. While it’s larger than most strollers and takes up a good amount of trunk space, I didn’t find that to be an issue most of the time. We went with the Vista (which starts at $1,000) since it came with a bassinet attachment and can convert to a two-seater in the event of a second child, but if you only need a one-child option (and a sold-separately bassinet), the Cruz V2 model is $300 less.
Pro tip: Watch out for sales from places like BuyBuy Baby (before it goes out of business) — we ended up getting our Vista for around $750 since the color was going out of commission, and found the car seat that pairs with it on heavy discount at a Bed Bath and Beyond.
When my breastfeeding journey ended earlier than expected, one of my least favorite things to do was carefully measure out baby formula and mix bottles. Enter the Baby Brezza: Basically a Keurig for baby formula, where all you have to do is push a button (on the Advanced model, you can do this on your phone) and out comes a fresh bottle with the amount and temperature of your choosing. I cannot stress enough what a game-changer this was as a formula-feeding parent.
Yes, there have been concerns in the past about the machine not measuring the proper amount, but the manufacturer says that new models (and following the recommended cleaning routine) have fixed this issue. And to be sure, I made a bottle by hand and weighed it on a kitchen scale, and every now and then would weigh the Brezza-made bottles to make sure they were the same.
Read more: 8 Best Baby Monitors to Buy
I agonized for months over whether or not we should get a Snoo, the aesthetically pleasing smart bassinet that rocks your baby while playing white noise, supposedly simulating the womb during those early newborn days to help them sleep better. Is it terrible to have a robot bassinet rock your baby for you? Ultimately we decided anything that could help us get more sleep would probably be worth it.
We were lucky to have a good sleeper, and we’ll never know if it was the Snoo, her natural temperament or some combination of the two. But beyond the movement (which can increase to respond to your baby’s cries and rock them back to sleep) and the white noise, the thing that actually gave me the most peace of mind was that she was snugly swaddled down each night, and I knew she couldn’t roll over or hurt herself. While the Snoo is expensive to purchase at $1,695, we rented it for six months for about $734 total. Not cheap, but when our three-month-old was sleeping for 8-hour stretches, it was worth it.
Even with super-absorbent nighttime diapers, leaks and accidents happen. And once your baby is sleeping in their crib, few things sound worse than wrestling with a fitted sheet in the middle of the night. These QuickZip zip-off crib sheets are amazing: The base under the mattress stays on, and you just zip off the top portion and zip on a fresh one. It takes just a few seconds, and it makes sheet changes so much faster and easier. (And yes, they do make them for adult beds, too.)
One of the joys of parenting is heaving your child into their car seat, sometimes multiple times a day. Once you’re out of the newborn phase, make it easier on yourself by investing in a swivel toddler car seat. I bought the Evenflo Gold Revolve360 (though Cybex, Graco and others have similar models) and it was worth every penny — especially if you wait for a coupon or a sale. Whenever my husband or parents take the baby in my car, they say they wish they had gotten a swivel seat too instead of your standard fixed one. Save your back and thank me later.
Bonus: Toddler picks
Though you can still use some of the products above during the toddler years, particularly the stroller and car seat, there are a few more toddler-specific splurges I’ve gotten to try out and would recommend.
The older my daughter gets, the more resistant she is to being in her stroller for long periods of time. The Doona Liki Trike S3 is a really cool, foldable little trike with a backrest and safety belt, and a handle that mercifully rises to a parent’s level to push (unlike so many other child cars and ride-on toys that require parents to spend lots of time hunched over). It’s basically a cross between a bike and a stroller. It folds up easily to a small, store-able form — if you live in a walkable area and are brave enough to take your child into restaurants, I could see how it could be great for walking out to eat and storing under a table. But it’s also nice for just wandering around the neighborhood, as a stroller alternative that lets a tyke feel a bit more active. It also converts to a regular trike for older toddlers.
My response to the Wonderfold W2 Luxe Stroller Wagon is similar to how I feel about the UPPAbaby stroller: Do you need a wagon for your kids, let alone one this fancy? No. But if you want one for trips to the zoo or the pool, is this a top-of-the-line option? Absolutely. It’s got room for two kids, with a deep and comfy-looking carriage, and seats that can recline for naps on the go. It also features an adjustable canopy, and lots of storage pockets on the sides. The large wheels make for a smooth ride, too. If you’re in the market to splurge on a wagon, I can’t imagine a much more luxurious option than this one.
There’s no shortage of toddler learning towers available, at a variety of price points — but this one from Little Partners has the benefit of being more sturdy and aesthetically pleasing than many other options I’ve come across. My daughter loves climbing in and out, and being able to play in the sink and help me make cookies at the counter. You can also adjust the height as your child grows. Though this learning tower doesn’t fold up the way some do, you can purchase additional attachments to get more uses out of it, like a slide and an easel.