Innovators seem to have parents on the brain. How can we tell? By the sheer amount of stuff moms and dads are increasingly being inundated with in an effort to help them optimize the process of raising small humans. We can’t help but wonder whether these inventors, when not busy disrupting marketplaces or working with Nobel prize winners, have also been administering at-home COVID-19 tests to their reluctant toddlers or freezing their buns off at outdoor February playdates. How else could they understand our needs so well? Either way, we’re tipping our hats to them. After another difficult year that stretched parents to their breaking point, we’re thrilled to acknowledge all of the best parenting products that changed our lives for the better.
The 8 Best Parenting Products of 2021
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1. Abbott Binaxnow At-home Covid-19 Test
Two words: game changer. In just 15 minutes, these rapid antigen tests can detect a positive COVID-19 case. And that’s good news for little noses: The swab need not be inserted deeper than a quarter inch. Are they accurate? According to the Federal Drug Administration (FDA), they’re not quite as sensitive as PCR, or polymerase chain reaction tests, that you’d get at a designated testing site, but they do catch roughly 85 percent of positive cases. Can you imagine if they were available to every school child, every weekday morning? Also, if you’re symptomatic and in your first week of being sick, “the tests are more sensitive.” $24 buys you two tests—and at least one less panic attack.
2. The Comfy
In the aughts, we had the Snuggie. Then came the Barefoot Dreams Robe. But the latest—and arguably greatest—snuggly innovation in wearable blanketry is The Comfy. Let’s get one thing straight: You don’t wear a Comfy to look cool. But man, will it keep your you warm when you're playing in the snow with your little one (or cozying up on the couch afterward). And if they’re outside running around in the snow, let’s face it—warm is all that matters.
3. Airfort Indoor Play Tent
Visiting family? Boring Sunday? There are inevitable moments in a parent’s life when cooped-up kids lose interest in their toys—yes, all of them. But thanks to this inflatable fort, monotony has officially been busted. Attach it to any box fan and watch it blow up in minutes so your little ones can camp out in the living room. Maybe they want to use it as a reading nook. The possibilities are endless! The best part? It can be stored and carried in a seriously manageable tote bag.
4. Clorox Compostable Cleaning Wipes
Let’s be honest. 2020 turned us all into germaphobes. And if you already were one in the “before” times, you have likely since reached levels of neurosis you didn’t know were possible. Enter: the compostable Clorox wipe. The cloth is plant-based to be kind to the environment, but it still delivers the bacteria-blasting cleaning power we came for. It even comes in an unscented free and clear version, so your conscience can be as clean as your countertops.
5. The Buckle Me Coat
Anyone who has ever tried to strap a squirming, snowsuit-clad toddler into a car seat has known a world of pain—especially if you’re trying to do so with a puffy winter coat. Beyond that, however, voluminous outerwear can also create a safety hazard, according to the Cleveland clinic. The makers of the Buckle Me car seat coat suggest that traditional coats add up to 10 centimeters of extra space in a car seat. This means if, heaven forbid, you’re ever in an accident, your babe may risk injury to their chest, head and neck. The Buckle Me car seat coat, by contrast, has strategically placed zippers to accommodate chest and shoulder harnesses, Available in three different levels of warmth (toasty, toastier and toastiest) these crash-tested jackets can be used with the same harness setting as no coat at all. Kids’ outerwear that increases comfort, requires zero adjusting of straps and is made to improve safety? We’re suddenly feeling all warm and fuzzy.
6. Lalabu’s Soothe Shirt
There are newborn moms who can easily tie a K’tan sling or fasten the back clips of a baby Bjorn without twisting themselves around like a Cirque du Soleil contortionist. And then, there was me. If only I had owned Lalabu’s marsupial-inspired shirt with a built-in nursing bra when my babies were small! You simply plop your infant into the front pouch of this top to carry him around. That’s it. “Best post-partum purchase I made,” raved one of many obsessed reviewers. “I love this shirt so much. My two complaints are that I didn't discover it soon enough after giving birth and that it only goes to 15 pounds. It breaks my heart that my baby has just grown out of it.”
7. The Kulala Baby Sleep Lamp
Struggling to get your kids to sleep? There is light at the end of the tunnel. This one. The market for products promoting baby sleep is crowded, to say the least, but this item takes the prize—and the Nobel prize, at that. Kulala’s organic maple sleep lamp, with its simple Scandi aesthetic, was created by neuroscientist and mom of two, Sofia Axelrod, PhD. She’s a sleep researcher at New York’s Rockefeller University in the lab of Michael W. Young and the winner of the 2017 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine. But Axelrod’s credentials don’t end there. She’s also the author of How Babies Sleep, a book lauded by the likes of toddler whisperer Dr. Tovah Klein. Here’s how Axelrod’s invention works: Traditional lamps, screens and even sunlight keep kids awake with blue light (yes, even if their bedroom lamp appears to emit yellow light, the body still responds to the blue therein). The only light color that may actually promote sleep by triggering hormones is red—thus, Kulala’s warm rosy glow. Just add blackout shades and you’ll be good to go.