By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
Spring baby products review
a605f11d78ec1df985663528cf63a4b06f69f99447c75362e65ac25ac51405c9
Like most baby chairs, the Boppy Baby Chair has a three-point harness that keeps your child safe and sound. And because it has a skidproof bottom, it stays put. - photo by Grant Olsen
Did you know that June, July and August are often among the most popular months for baby births in the United States? This means that in many households, spring is the time when parents are looking at different products and trying to stock up on everything theyll need.

Each family has its own unique priorities and needs, so whats right for one family may not be right for another. This article looks at several new and established baby products. It can be a little overwhelming with all the options out there, but hopefully these reviews will help you get additional information on some of the possibilities.

Baby Safe Feeder

PRICE: $9

GRADE: A-

The Baby Safe Feeder is simple enough just a mesh bag attached to an oversized pacifier ring. But its an excellent way to introduce new foods to your little one. Just cut up some fresh fruits or veggies, put them in the bag and your child can gnaw on them all they want without the risk of choking. When your child is teething, you can put frozen fruit in the bag to give them relief. And at dinnertime its a fun way to share what youre eating with your little one.

It was actually a frightening experience with choking that led to the creation of the Baby Safe Feeder. The inventor had given his 9-month-old son a teething biscuit when the child began choking on a large chunk. The father frantically tried to clear his son's airway and finally managed to scoop the biscuit out with his finger. Shaken by the experience, he developed this safe feeding product.

As you might expect, the mesh bags can get pretty gunky after youve used them for a while. Theyre dishwasher safe, so thats an easy way to clean them. And when they get particularly messy, you can soak them in white vinegar for a deep clean.

Munchkin Arm and Hammer Diaper Pail

PRICE: $30

GRADE: C-

Dirty diapers are like an unstoppable rebel force if you dont do something about them, the stench will overwhelm your house. There are several odorless diaper pails on the market, but these claims are always exaggerated. Theres no such thing as a pail that completely eliminates the smell. But this Munchkin diaper pail is about as close as they come.

The key feature of this diaper pail is that it has a self-sealing lid. When you open the lid, the liner bag opens as well. But as soon as you lower the lid, the bag is twisted shut. As an added bonus, the lid contains baking soda and helps to absorb pesky odors.

The main drawback to Munchkins diaper pail is that the liner bags are overpriced ($17 for a box of 30). Many parents get around this by using a regular trash bag, though it never works quite as well. Another issue is that once the pail is half-full, its common for the lid to jam.

Boppy Baby Chair

PRICE: $50

GRADE: B+

Boppy products usually incorporate two key elements: convenience and comfort. The Boppy Baby Chair is no exception. Its easy to clean. Its lightweight. And the tray is a lot easier to use the clunky tray attachment for a Bumbo. Nothing against Bumbos, because theyre also great chairs, but the tray is tricky to use.

The BPA-free tray for a Boppy is removable and dishwasher safe, which is really convenient. I wish the fabric were also removable, but because it wipes clean so easily, you can get by without taking it off.

Like most baby chairs, the Boppy Baby Chair has a three-point harness that keeps your child safe and sound. And because it has a skidproof bottom, it stays put. An alarming amount of baby chairs on the market dont have something like this, and theyre far less stable. The chair also folds down to compact size, which is perfect for when you want to take it with you on an outing.

Graco Secure Coverage Digital Monitor

PRICE: $64

GRADE: B

Baby monitors can be really handy, but theyre often hampered by limited range or an unclear audio connection. The Secure Coverage Digital Monitor from Graco addresses these issues by extending the range to 2,000 feet and operating on 900 MHz frequency so that phones and other electronics wont mess with the audio quality. Im definitely impressed by the extensive range on this monitor, which is among the best Ive ever seen.

The Secure Coverage Digital Monitor also offers sound alerts. This means you can have your parent unit turned down and still be monitoring your child. When your child stirs and begins to make noise, the monitor gives you a cellphone-style vibration alert so you can turn up the volume if you wish.

With all the robust features on this monitor, its unsurprising that it drains its batteries faster than some other models. But because it has two parent units, many people dont worry about the limited battery life. They simply have one unit charging while they use the other one.

Joovy Caboose VaryLight Tandem Stroller

PRICE: $399

GRADE: A

Versatility is often missing from tandem strollers. You either have a large stroller that is always set up to accommodate two children or you have a smaller stroller that can be outfitted with a second seat. The VaryLight bridges that gap. When you want to use it as a single-child stroller, it contracts to a smaller size. And when you need it to hold two children, it easily expands so your older child can sit in a car seat, sit on the bench seat or stand on the riding platform. Its really like having several strollers in one.

Given its size when expanded for two children, the VaryLight is indeed very light (just over 30 pounds). Joovy has done an exceptional job on the design, which is stylish and highly functional. It also gives you tons of storage space, which is premium with a stroller.

Something to note is that while the VaryLight is intended to be folded with only one hand, its not quite as easy to collapse down as some of the other strollers Ive tried. Thats one of the few areas where this stroller could be improved.

Among its great features is the hinged tray, which you can open from either side. It swings up and out of the way, making it easy to access the child seat. As mentioned earlier, theres a rear platform for older children to safely stand on during excursions. Theres also suspension on the front wheels for smoother rides, which is nice.

Stokke MyCarrier Cool

PRICE: $219

GRADE: A-

As baby carriers get more advanced, its interesting to see the new technologies incorporated by different manufacturers. The Stokke MyCarrier Cool introduces temperature management with high-end, breathable fabric. This is relevant because there are carriers currently on the market that are notorious for overheating babies (especially on summer days). A good rule of thumb is that if youre uncomfortably hot and sweaty while wearing your baby, your baby is even more uncomfortable.

The moisture-wicking fabric on the MyCarrier Cool has a sturdy and substantial feel to it. The mesh is water- and wind-resistant. It should also be noted that while the fabric is robust and durable, its incredibly lightweight.

The MyCarrier Cool is a 3-in-1 carrier that adapts to your growing child. The shoulder straps and waist belt are extremely comfortable, which is important for parents on days with extended use. Also, all of the adjustment straps are within reach at any time for extra convenience.

Safety 1st Nod-A-Way Bassinet

PRICE: Varies by retailer

GRADE: B+

The basic design for bassinets has been around for centuries, so how do you improve upon it? Safety 1st took inspiration from modern baby products to incorporate some unique features into its Nod-A-Way bassinet.

For starters, the Nod-A-Way has sound-activated soothing. When your child gets restless, the bassinet detects this and can play music and provide a calming vibration. Another innovation is the peek-a-boo mesh window that lets you see your little one from afar, rather than you needing to peer down into the bassinet and risking waking them.

Another nice benefit of this bassinet is that it has wheels. This seems basic enough, but a lot of bassinets dont have wheels and can be clunky to move around. Additional features include hanging toys, a retractable canopy, a removable sheet and a convenient storage shelf.

4moms mamaRoo

PRICE: $269

GRADE: A

When most people see a mamaRoo for the first time, they think it looks like something from the Jetsons. After all, the futuristic-looking device is unlike anything else on the market. And when most people try the mamaRoo for the first time, they fall in love with it and wonder how they ever lived without it.

The main idea behind this unique infant seat is to provide soothing motions similar to the ones that parents use for their children. To accomplish this, the manufacturer used motion sensors to track the movements of real moms and dads soothing their babies. Armed with this data, they incorporated those movements into a sleek baby bouncer that never gets tired (unlike your arms).

The mamaRoo has five motions: kangaroo, tree swing, rock a bye, car ride, and my daughters personal favorite, wave. There are also five speed options for each of these motions. It also has four built-in sounds that can help to soothe your child. And if prefer your own music or sounds, simply connect your MP3 device with the included cord. The mamaRoo is Bluetooth enabled, so you can control it from your mobile device. Its able to accommodate babies up to 25 pounds and keeps them snug and secure with a three-point harness.

Britax B-Ready Second Seat

PRICE: $149

GRADE: A-

The Second Seat is sold by Britax as a streamlined way to allow the B-Reay stroller to accommodate two children. Right off the bat, the safety harness impressed me. Like most child seat harnesses, its a five-point restraint. But unlike most harnesses, its extremely easy to use. Theres a giant release button on the front that makes it a breeze to get your child in and out of the seat.

Plus, the Second Seat is really comfortable. The way its designed ensures that both children will enjoy the ride in the B-Ready. Other nice features include built-in seat suspension and multiple reclining positions. The way this seat clicks into place is really sleek. You can install it or remove it in just a matter of seconds. It can safely accommodate children up to 35 pounds.

The Britax B-READY works great as a single-child stroller, then smoothly adapts to a double stroller when the Second Seat is added. You can use two Britax seats or use one from a different manufacturer (with the optional adaptor kit the stroller is compatible with most major manufacturers car seats). There are 14 different configurations, meaning parents can easily choose the best setup for their needs.

Summer Bottle Genius Warmer

PRICE: $199

GRADE: A-

Getting bottles to the perfect temperature can sometimes be a pain. The Born Free Bottle Genius was designed to address this issue and simplify the process. Does it succeed? That depends on what your specific needs are.

Heres how it works: The Bottle Genius is compatible with all the major brands of bottles and baby formula. You just dial up a 2- to 10-ounce serving, push the button and let the machine dispense the precise amount you want and at the ideal temperature. If that sounds like a timesaving benefit to you, then the Bottle Genius is for you. If it sounds like an unnecessary extravagance, then you obviously dont need one.

The Bottle Genius is BPA-free and has a cleaning cycle that makes it easy to sanitize the machine. The tank holds enough water and formula at a time to make 2-3 days worth of bottles.

Yada Tiny Traveler

PRICE: Varies by retailer

GRADE: B

If you like using a video baby monitor in your home, you might want to try one in your car as well. The Tiny Traveler from Yada has a camera that can be mounted in your vehicle using one of three methods: attached to the headrest pole, strapped to the headrest or attached to the window with suction cups.

The parent unit is then mounted in the front of your car and you can check on your child without having to turn around. Its especially helpful when your baby is in a rear-facing seat and its difficult to see them. The Tiny Traveler has a range of 16 feet, so you wont have any trouble getting clear video unless youre driving a limo and your babys in the back.

Some parents may already be using a back-seat mirror to keep an eye on their children. This kind of mirror attaches to the seat headrest and allows parents to look at a child in the vehicles rearview mirror. Its a simple and affordable solution. If theres a drawback to a simple mirror setup like this, its that it can be hard to see your child at night unless the vehicles dome light is on. The Tiny Traveler helps to alleviate this problem because it has improved night vision, ensuring that on nighttime trips you can still effortlessly keep watch over your child.

Chicco NextFit Zip Convertible Car Seat

PRICE: $329

GRADE: A-

This car seat is impressive. Its designed like a comfy captains chair, with lots of safety features to give you peace of mind. One of the biggest benefits is that all of its key features are adjustable and grow with your child. This means that the NextFit Zip can safely and comfortably accommodate children from 5-40 pounds when rear-facing and from 22-65 pounds when forward-facing.

The seat is easy to install in your vehicle and doesnt take up too much room. There are nine different reclining positions and you can quickly make adjustments with only one hand. The headrest also has six positions, so you can customize the seats fit to your child.

Other features include a removable cup holder, a special tightening device that ensures the seat is securely fastened in your car, and bubble levels to check the angle of the seat. And last of all, the seat lining easily zips out so you can throw it in the washing machine when it needs to be cleaned. Its just one more way this car seat makes life simpler for parents.

First Years Talk & Soothe Video Monitor

PRICE: $99

GRADE: B-

The Talk & Soothe is one of the few video monitors out there that cost less than $100. It offers many of the features youd get with a more expensive model, such as two-way communication, 600-foot range, pre-programmed lullabies, background sound filtration and an out-of-range indicator.

The parent unit has a 2.4-inch color screen that delivers good clarity during the day. At night, however, the quality declines. And thats the one weakness of the monitor. The night vision may be adequate for what some parents need, but you definitely wont be able to see your child in crystal clear detail.

So is the Talk & Soothe a good product? Sure. It has many commendable features (low-battery alert, parent unit finder and power-save mode) and is one of the most affordable of its kind on the market. But if high-quality night vision is important to you, then you may want to consider another option.