Top-rated baby gifts for new parents

Cribs, strollers, and car seats that are safe and reliable

Published: December 11, 2013 12:00 PM

Europa baby Palisades Lifetime crib.

As tiny as they are, babies need a lot of stuff. So helping new or soon-to-be parents furnish the nursery makes a welcome gift, especially around the holidays. The little rascals need many new things all at once and a sturdy crib or stroller can cost hundreds of dollars. Consumer Reports tests such baby essentials as cribs, strollers, car seats, and more. Here’s some advice from our experts on the best baby products for new parents.

A newborn may seem too small for a full-size crib, but it’s the safest place for babies to sleep, according to our experts. They recommend purchasing a new crib rather than a bassinet or cradle that a baby will quickly outgrow. In our crib tests, the Europa baby Palisades Lifetime, $350, a CR Best Buy, earned excellent scores for safety, construction, and ease of assembly. It also converts to a toddler or daybed as a child grows.

Many new parents start with a traditional stroller or a travel system, which adds a car seat and base. When the baby is ready, they may need a lightweight umbrella stroller for quick trips. Another option is a car seat carrier frame, which accepts a variety of infant car seat models, such as the Baby Trend Snap N Go, $60. For a basic traditional stroller, consider the top-rated Graco Vie4, $90. Our top-rated travel system, the Graco Stylus, $245, is very sturdy and has many convenience features.

Chicco KeyFit infant car seat.

Car seats
A dedicated infant car seat is the safest way to transport a new baby because it provides the best fit, according to our experts. Infant seats also offer the convenience of a carry-handle so the baby isn’t awakened when taken in and out of the car. The top-rated Chicco KeyFit, $170, (for babies weighing 22 pounds or less) and Chicco KeyFit 30, $180, (more than 22 pounds) are easy to use and fit into a range of vehicle types. Both offer very good crash protection.

High chairs
Midpriced high chairs generally offer the best combination of value and convenience features. The top-rated Peg Perego Prima Pappa Best, $250, has excellent performance overall for safety and ease of use and such helpful features as multiple seat heights and back adjustments, an adjustable tray, and wipe-clean fabric.

The Crane Penguin EE-865.

Children under the age of 2 shouldn’t be given over-the-counter cough and cold remedies. So when they get a cold or the sniffles, the best way to offer relief is with a humidifier. The Crane Penguin EE-865, $45, a CR Best Buy, comes in a menagerie of other animal shapes, including pigs, dogs, and cows. Whimsical as it may be, it’s also our top-rated humidifier due to its excellent output, efficiency, and quietness. It’s also easy to operate and clean.

What not to buy. Crib bumpers, pillows, and blankets pose a suffocation hazard to infants. The safest crib is an empty crib.  If you want to give the family something cute, buy the baby a cozy zippered sleep sack or footie pajamas.

For more information about what not to buy read "13 dangerous baby products to avoid."

—Artemis DiBenedetto

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