The Baby Gear Every Parent Needs in 2021

Being a first-time mom is stressful as is, but giving birth to your first baby during a global pandemic? Let's just say anxiety levels were at an all-time high for me when I welcomed my daughter into the world last September. I knew that I wasn't going to be able to lean on the "village" that was often referred to in parenting books —  the help you'd get from parents, siblings, family, and friends when taking care of your newborn, especially in the first few weeks. I knew that my husband and I would be on our own and instead, would have to rely on baby gear to be our "village." While the baby gear market is certainly a crowded one, there are a handful of products that I found myself turning to day after day, often multiple times a day.

From carriers to play gyms, here are the products I could not have survived without over the past few months. Every parent raising a baby in 2021 absolutely *needs* these, especially those first-timers.

SNOO Smart Sleeper

First thing’s first — arguably the most talked-about baby product ever since it hit the market — the Snoo. When I found out I was pregnant, I knew that I was going to get one — no questions asked. I had read all the reviews and the scientific studies about the “robot bassinet.” I knew that it was the safest infant bed option and was approved by the FDA for preventing SIDS. Almost just as important, I read how it helped babies sleep better at night. My daughter has slept in the Snoo almost every night since coming home from the hospital and has been sleeping through the night since she was nine weeks old. It has given my husband and me peace of mind and hours of sleep. I’m already sad about having to part with it when she’s six months old.

BABYBJÖRN Baby Carrier Mini

Aside from the BABYBJÖRN bouncer, this is probably the most used baby gear item we use throughout the day. It’s by far the easiest carrier to put on and it fits comfortably on both my husband (who is 6’2″) and myself (I’m 5’2″). I love this particular style because it’s super lightweight, yet still sturdy for carrying your baby. You can carry your baby facing in toward your chest or facing out (which is my daughter’s favorite position — she could stay all day like this!). It’s also newborn baby-friendly, which we definitely took advantage of when she was tiny. Even better, the style comes in a super chic leopard print now — a beige cotton and a gray mesh. I can’t recommend this product more to new mamas and papas!

Dagne Dover Indi Diaper Backpack

This diaper bag is not cheap, but it is worth every penny! It has a ton of storage and a bunch of little pockets and pouches so you can stay organized and keep everything, from diapers to burp cloths, in its place. And thanks to its neoprene fabric, you can really stuff it — believe me, I have — and not worry about things falling out or the bag breaking. I love how stylish it looks, too — not your typical diaper bag. My husband also has no reservations about carrying it around as it looks like a sleek, modern backpack. And if my Swear isn’t recommendation enough, know that all of the moms I know who have had babies over the last 5 months use this as their diaper bag, too.

Hushh Noise Machine

I registered for a fancy sound machine, but to be honest, this inexpensive one I got on Amazon is the one I use the most. We’ve been using it since our daughter came home from the hospital and we never leave home without it. It has three different white noises and even though it’s tiny, it can get really loud, which is ideal when you’re out and about and the baby gets fussy. We also use it a ton at home. It’s the best $25 I’ve spent on my baby, for sure.

Joolz Geo² Complete Stroller in Gorgeous Grey

Whoever said strollers couldn’t be functional and stylish clearly hasn’t done their research enough, because Joolz strollers are exactly that — super chic, but equipped with all the practical features you need in a stroller. We’ve been using it since my daughter was born — she sleeps SO well in the little bassinet. The wheels make it easy to maneuver in any terrain. I also appreciate that you can buy adapters that work with certain brands, so you can easily pop in your car seat in a pinch. The quality of the materials really shines when you use the stroller. You can tell that it’ll last you years to come, which is great because it can later be expanded into a double stroller.

Miku Smart Baby Monitor

As a first-time mom, I’m paranoid about everything, so having gadgets like the Miku helps calm my nerves tremendously. This monitor is like the Rolls Royce of baby monitors — it keeps track of my baby’s breathing, sounds, and sleeping patterns. Not only that, but you can also see the temperature of the room, which is helpful to ensure my baby is sleeping comfortably. The camera has excellent night vision, so you can see your baby easily, no matter how dark it is. The app is really secure and easy to use, too.

mamaRoo4 infant seat

I don’t mean to sound overdramatic, but I don’t think I’d be able to survive as a first-time mom without the mamaRoo. It has been incredibly helpful over the past three months, not just in entertaining my baby, but also in help soothing her when she’s feeling particularly fussy. She loves looking at the colorful balls above her head and can sit and watch me cook in the kitchen, giving me the ability to multi-task while also paying attention to her. We also put her in her chair and place it near the dining table while we’re having dinner. I couldn’t recommend this product more to parents — I can only imagine how helpful it is when there are more littles running around too!

Nuna PIPA™ lite lx Infant Car Seat & Base

So many of my friends recommended this car seat from Nuna and after using it over the past few months, I see why. It’s super easy to use, beautifully-made, easy on the eye, incredibly safe, and extremely lightweight. New parents out there know that between changing diapers and lifting your baby out of the crib, your back can suffer a bit. This car seat is really easy to carry around and plop in and out of the car, so you won’t have to worry about injuring yourself. More importantly, it’s made with the highest safety standards so you can rest assured knowing your baby is super safe in it. It also comes with a UPF 50+ canopy with a drape to protect your baby from the sun.

Lovevery Play Gym

I don’t know any babies who were born in the last two years who don’t have this Play Gym. It is the best! Lovevery is an incredible toy company that creates Montessori-inspired toys designed by childhood development experts. Even better, they’re all made from sustainably-sourced pieces, like wood and organic cotton. You can feel good about your baby spending hours on it because it’s thoughtfully-crafted and stimulating for their growing brains. My daughter loves hers!

BABYBJÖRN Bouncer Bliss

My baby LOVES her BABYBJÖRN bouncer. We use it constantly throughout the day. It gives her the opportunity to sit comfortably and see the world. We read her stories, sing her songs, and chat with her while she bounces in her seat. It’s also extremely helpful when I need to use my hands to cook or clean — she happily will just sit and watch. Plus, it’s incredibly easy to clean, which is great for the unexpected blowout. You can just toss it in the laundry machine and air dry it. I couldn’t recommend this product more.

Solly Baby Wrap Carrier

I used the Solly Baby Wrap carrier almost immediately after my daughter was born. She loved being close to my chest, but she was so tiny, I was afraid she’d slip through my arms. The Solly Baby Wrap allowed me to carry her close to me wherever I went, while also giving me both hands to do whatever else I needed — wash a dish, type up an email, or just clutch her closer to my body as we went for walks. The fabric is so soft and the carrier comes in a number of prints and colors, so not only is it super functional, but it’s also super chic.

Snuggle Me Organic Infant Lounger

I knew we were going to love the Snoo, but I didn’t want to rely on it as the only place my baby could sleep. Not just that, I didn’t want her to get too used to the rocking motion for her daytime naps. There are a bunch of baby loungers on the market, but after doing some research, I decided to go with the Snuggle Me, and I’m so glad I did. My daughter took her first nap out of the hospital in her Snuggle Me and snoozed for hours! The pad is designed so that it hugs your baby’s body, making them feel like they’re being held. The lounger is also organic, sustainable, and ethically-made and can be easily thrown into the wash, too. Aside from the fact that my daughter loves to sleep her Snuggle Me, I also loved the way that it looked — modern and minimalist.

BEABA® Shnuggle Baby Bath Tub

We were using a different bathtub that came highly recommended at first, but in my opinion, it made bathing a newborn even more stressful. She looked uncomfortable and would sink as she sat in it, so I decided to get her this one from BEABA. It’s almost like a mini soaking tub for babies — it is adorable! But it’s also super functional and comfortable. It has a foam back and a little bump at the bottom that supports her body so she can fully enjoy bath time — and I don’t have to worry about her slipping and sliding!

Hatch Baby Grow Smart Changing Pad

This Hatch product was a hand-me-down from another mommy friend of mine who swore by this with her newborn. It’s more than just a changing pad — it also features a scale (controlled by an app) that allows you to weigh your baby. This was super helpful for us in the first couple of months because we wanted to know if she was gaining weight between appointments. It’s definitely not the comfiest changing pad, but it’s super easy to clean, and again, the scale is so incredibly useful!

Boppy Nursing Pillow

The Boppy Nursing Pillow was one of the only things I remembered to bring to the hospital with me when my daughter was born (because she came unexpectedly and I wasn’t fully prepared!). Many moms told me that I would need it and it would help make breastfeeding a more comfortable experience. I’ve been using it for every feeding basically since she was born. It helps me support her body and is super soft for her to lay on. Once she gets a little bigger, she’ll be able to use it for tummy time and as a lounger. There are also endless pillowcases you can purchase to use with it.

Artipoppe Zeitgeist Baby Carrier Convertible Leopard Classic

I know I have a lot of carriers on this list, but ask any parent and they’ll tell you — they are essential! And if you’re looking for one that is both functional and fashionable, look no further than Artipoppe. These gorgeous carriers are handcrafted from high-quality, responsibly-sourced fabrics. It’s easy to strap on, extremely sturdy, and super supportive for both baby and my back. I plan on wearing this until she can no longer fit!

Sara Tan (@saratan) is SwearBy's Content Director, spending much of her time curating her favorite products and recommendations across beauty, fashion, fitness, and home. She is also the co-host of Gloss Angeles, a beauty podcast offering a west coast perspective on all things beauty. She was previously the Senior Fashion and Beauty Editor at Bustle. She has over 10 years of editorial experience and her bylines can be found on Allure, InStyle, BRIDES, and Coveteur. She is passionate about beauty, fitness, and wellness and can be found running around Los Angeles in pursuit of the latest skincare innovation and cool new workout with her Frenchie by her side.