The New Mom’s Essential Guide to The Best Baby Gear

If you’ve ever bolted up in the middle of the night in a cold sweat over strollers, debated breast pumps with your bestie, sent out all-caps emails to your mom friends for their registry recommendations— or all of the above—this is the story for you. To give you the short answer on exactly what you need for Baby, we picked our favorite gear and shipped it to a panel of real-mom testers. They strolled, studied sleeping babies and discerningly issued their stamps of approval. We found you don’t need 289 things to be fully prepared—try 24. You’re about to become ridiculously ready for your little love.

Read the rest of the article in the October/November issue of Fit Pregnancy—on newsstands now! (Or, download it on iTunes and GooglePlay.)

Our judges aren’t pros, they’re parents—the closest credential to actually having a master’s degree in baby stuff.

Jessica Garvin, Atlanta—Mom to Harper, 2, and Eloise, 6 monthsFind her at Little Baby Garvin

Erin Boyle, Brooklyn—Mom to Faye, 5 monthsFind her at Reading My Tea Leaves

Katie Bower, Loganville, Ga.—Mom to Will, 4, and LJ, 6 monthsFind her at Bower Power

Caroline Harper Knapp, Houston—Mom to Knox, 1Find her at House of Harper

The bucket seat of the Ergobaby Four Position 360 Carrier assures your cutie is ergonomically situated however he prefers—front-inward, front-outward, on the hip or back. And the wide waistband and padded shoulder straps guarantee your comfort. Newborn to 33 pounds. ($160,

Our Real-Mom Tester Says:   “There’s no fabric barrier between mom and baby, so discreet breastfeeding is totally possible.”—Erin Boyle

The Baby Jogger City Mini keeps you and your jock-in-training on the move. The wheels lock in place for a smooth long-distance stroll or swivel to maneuver around tough terrain. The seat fully reclines, and with the purchase of an adaptor, it’s compatible with Maxi-Cosi, Nuna and Cybex seats. Newborn to 50 pounds. ($250,

Our Real-Mom Tester Says:   “It folds up with only one hand and is compact enough to fit in a small trunk. And the large canopy for full coverage from the sun is really nice—especially for us Southerners!”—Katie Bower

The 8.6-pound Maxi-Cosi Mico AP makes sure your pint-sized passenger is safe with extra side-impact protection and an indicator to show when it’s installed correctly. But the cozy extras—padded seat, multi-position canopy, and ergonomic handle—aren’t to be missed. The perch is compatible with Maxi-Cosi and Quinny strollers, as well as other brands, like Baby Jogger. 5 to 22 pounds. ($200,

Our Real-Mom Tester Says:   “These days, I’m toting around everything but the kitchen sink. This car seat is so light and easy to lift on and off the base—it’s a lifesaver.”—Jessica Garvin

Keep bottles, snacks and diapers neatly contained with the Skip Hop Duo Special Edition Diaper Bag in French Stripe. Plenty of pockets and magnetic closures make it simple to find what you’re looking for, and the fabric wipes down for an easy clean. The contemporary carryall also comes with a changing pad. ($64,

Your peach will need a lot of LWB s— little white bodysuits—and Carter’s 5-Pack Short Sleeve Bodysuits are a perfect pick. They’re 100 percent cotton and have a wide neck—the better for getting your bambino dressed in a hurry. ($16,

The oval-shaped Ubbi Diaper Pail is a game changer—no special bags are required; it’s made of powder-coated steel and it holds 58 cloth or disposable diapers. ($80,

Our Real-Mom Tester Says:   “I use a cloth diapering service and the diapers get picked up weekly. In the meantime I want the apartment to stay fresh. I was able to slip the bag required by our service right into the pail—no odors.”—Erin Boyle

Whether you wonder if your squirt’s rustling awake or you just want to gaze at her as she dreams, the Motorola MBP36 has all angles covered. It tilts, pans and zooms and includes infrared night vision, room temperature reading, lullabies and remote camera adjustment. ($250,

Our Real-Mom Tester Says:   “I love the large screen. You can really zoom in and scan the room—and it’s nice to be able to talk to Baby, too.”—Katie Bower

The closed pumping system on the amazingly affordable Evenflo Advanced Double Electric Breast Pump prevents expressed milk from backing up into the tubes and passing on bacteria to your sweet pea. It feels made just for you with 32 speed and suction settings and three flange sizes, so you get a perfect fit. Plus, it includes online instructional breastfeeding videos. ($100,

The 4Moms Infant Tub fits into most sinks and a side drain allows dirty H20 to funnel out while fresh water flows in. Another nifty feature: A color-coded digital thermometer keeps tabs on the bath’s temp so you can focus on giving your bub a calming scrub. ($50,

Our Real-Mom Tester Says:   “This is totally innovative, since newborns tend to pee (or worse) with every sneeze.”—Jessica Garvin

No chemicals here! The Born Free Glass Bottle is clear of any BPA and other synthetics. Plus, Babe can guzzle at his own pace thanks to vent technology that allows him to control the milk flow, for a suckle that’s similar to breastfeeding and helps with gas and colic. And the sipper’s handles, spouts and nipples are interchangeable for an easy transition from bottle to toddler cup. ($10,

Our Real-Mom Tester Says:   “I love how easy these are to clean. It’s also nice to have the option to switch the top to a sippy cup so Knox can have water during meal times when he’s not taking a bottle.”—Caroline Harper Knapp

The iconic style of the DaVinci Jenny Lind 3-in-1 Convertible Crib is gender-neutral and fits well in any design scheme. It’s made of pine from sustainable forests and has a nontoxic finish, plus it offers four mattress heights and converts to a toddler bed and daybed. Amp up the bunk’s charm by opting for the peppy Lagoon or Sunshine shades. ($249,

The Baby Bjorn Travel Crib Light is flush with the floor, so it won’t tip over with your teeny tot inside. The 13-pound cot unfolds with one simple movement and there are no loose parts to attach, so it’s a snap to set up—even in a tryptophan haze after turkey dinner at Grandma’s. Newborn to 3 years. ($300,

The Stokke Tripp Trapp easily wipes down and adjusts as your sprout grows, including the height, depth and footplate (inserts for kiddies from 6 months to 3 years, sold separately). 6 months to 300 pounds. ($249,

Our Real-Mom Tester Says:   “The modern design isn’t an eyesore in my dining room. And I love that this isn’t something you only use for a few months—it grows with your child.”—Caroline Harper Knapp

Related: The Essential Shopping List