18 'Nonessential' Baby And Toddler Products Parents Swear By

Because a perfectly warmed wet wipe or baby bottle can make a huge difference for you and your child.

Every parent-to-be knows the essential items needed: a crib, stroller, car seat. But there are thousands of other “nonessential” baby and toddler products out there that parents come to rely on just as much.

Take it from parents who have tried and loved these items: A wipe warmer can be a life-saver, and a kneeling pad could make bath time so much more comfortable. Here are 18 “nonessential” products that you’ll use over and over again. Trust.

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1
A Regalo "Sensory & Learning" play mat
This mat has it all: It's foldable, reversible and waterproof.

Promising review: "If you've got hardwood floors and neighbors below, you're going to get a lot of use out of this mat. It's so much better than a rug when it comes to cushioning all the trips and falls of a toddler. Big bonus: two different designs. One side features colorful animals matched with letters of the alphabet; the other side is a simple white pattern, which kind of reminds me of Joy Division's Unknown Pleasures (you've probably seen the T-shirt). This mat gets a daily workout, and I'm not really sure what we did without it." — John Mihaly

Get it from Amazon for $44.99.
2
A pack of stretchable silicone straps
These handy accessories will help keep pacifiers, toys and bottles from falling on the ground, getting lost or becoming dirty. Plus, they cut down on how much bending down and crawling around you'll have to do.

Promising review: "My son is like any kid out there. Loves throwing toys and bottles and water. You name it. He loves to throw it all. He especially finds it hilarious when mommy and daddy have to get the toys and stuff over and over. This is awesome! Easy to clean easy to use and if he bites it, it won’t rip or anything. Perfectly safe. Definitely wash before use! Keeps bottles and water from falling. I’ve used it on his tablet too! It’s awesome! I have nothing bad to say except this is A MUST BUY! It will save you the headaches and the wondering where everything went." — Glamorous Mama

Get it from Amazon for $9.99+ (available in five- or eight-packs).
3
A PackIt Freezable lunch box
No need to weigh down your kid's lunches and snacks with unwieldy ice packs. This lunchbox will keep everything inside extra chill if you put it in the freezer the night before.

Promising review: "Pure genius invention to put the gel into the lunchbox! The entire lunchbox stays cold. It collapses so it doesn’t take up much room in the freezer. The gel doesn’t get too stiff so it easily opens to fit all of your items. So far it seems very durable. It is a bit heavier than anticipated due to the gel. I will be purchasing more for my other children, this is a great product." — Katie Robinson

Get it from Amazon for $19.99+ (available in 21 colors and patterns).
4
A foldable Munchkin nursery and toy UV sterilizer
This snazzy device says it kills up to 99% of germs and will sanitize your little one's favorite toys and stuffed animals, as well as your phone, in all of five minutes.

Promising review: "So, I recently got a chance to test out this UV sterilizer, which is about the size of a breadbox. I wasn't sure what to think at first because, well, everything a toddler touches gets dirty and needs a thorough cleaning. But here's where it comes in handy. There are some toys that you can throw in the wash (but if it's a favorite that's being taken away, that might cause a meltdown). There are also some toys that get waterlogged and need to be carefully cleaned. And then there are times when you just sick of using another disinfecting wipe. So now you've got another option that doesn't take long at all and will leave your child's toys germ-free and ready to pick up brand-new germs." — John Mihaly

Get it from Amazon for $99.99.
5
A Baby Nasal Aspirator NoseFrida (aka The Snotsucker)
This is an unquestionably necessary element of any new parent's arsenal of baby gear.

Promising review: "This is an essential tool for parents! I'd buy it again and I'd buy it for all of my pregnant friends. The best, a lifesaver, definitely want to have on hand for those unexpected boogery moments. The baby won't be quite as thrilled, but it's WAY safer than an aspirator and way less gross than some other ways. Just make sure all pieces are tightly connected for the best suction." — Max H.

Get it from Amazon for $15.24+ (available in two styles)
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6
A Graco "DuetSoothe" baby swing and rocker
Amazon
This sways side to side and glides front to back to (hopefully) put babies to sleep — and give parents a few minutes of hands-free break time.

Promising review: "We love this thing. It has a permanent spot in our living room. Before this, someone always had to be holding our daughter. Now we can both eat dinner at the same time! And since we’ve been home with her all day while trying to work, when she starts getting sleepy we put her in here to nap and she’s out. She naps for longer in here compared to on the floor or in the pack and play. We love this thing, it has really helped us." — CMI

Get it from Amazon for $107.09+ (available in two colors).
7
A nonslip, super-cushiony Skip Hop baby bath kneeler pad
Unless you're getting in the tub, you're going to be praying (you're basically already in that position) for some support for your patellas. That bathroom floor is unforgiving, but this product will save you.

Promising review: "Soooo, this is Mr. Whale, at least that's what he's called in our house. My knees and I love him so much that I've even started to sing a song about him every night at bath time (come to think of it, it's more of a sea shanty). And it goes a little something like this: 'He's Mr. Whale, he's Mr. Whale. He's got a tail(tale)...to telllllllll / When you set sail, please do not fail, to say hellllllllooooo!' It's just my little way of thanking him for his consistent quiet service in offering just the right amount of cushiness so I don't have to make that 'old-man-getting-up' noise every time I've finished bathing my child." — John Mihaly

Get it from Amazon for $14.99.
8
A 10-pack of Gerber three-ply cloth diapers
Many parents don't actually use these as diapers. Instead, they're helpful as super-absorbent workhorses to deal with puke, leaky breast milk, sweat or any other massive spill that a baby can bring.

Promising review: "These are essential for every newborn household. They can be used as burp cloths, changing pads, towels to wipe up spills, or cloth diapers. I use them every feed, every day. When I change my son, I use them to cover his 'business' to prevent unwanted spray. I use them underneath my kids when changing them to protect whatever surface I’m working on. When my kids get a nasty rash, I use them as cloth diapers to air them out to heal. They are the first thing I reach for when my kids' spit-up. Plus since they are white, you can bleach them out to give them a superior clean." — Rebecca

Get it from Amazon for $13.99.
9
An 80-piece Crayola Color Wonder mess-free coloring kit
No need to worry about your little Picassos going after the walls with this kit. It includes markers that only work on the special coloring paper that's included.

Promising review: "This is the greatest gift to moms everywhere! My daughter (18 months when she received this) loves coloring with these markers, and they do not make a mess anywhere since they will not write on anything but the Color Wonder paper. Not our white couch (yes, we're crazy enough to have a white couch with a toddler), not the walls, not the carpet, hands, anywhere. Because the markers are labeled with the correct colors, she is having no problems associating the colors with the appropriate marker. One added bonus is that these seem to never dry out! My girl has left them un-topped for days and they still write just as well as they ever did." — Jayme

Get it from Amazon for $24.76+ (available in five styles).
10
A Boppy nursing pillow
This multipurpose pillow helps with feeding, but it's also great for propping babies up, moving them into tummy time and helping them sit upright. That's one hard-working pillow.

Promising review: "I wasn't sure when I purchased this as a first-time mom if I'd get a lot of use out of it. I would easily say it's an essential baby product now. It helped so much in the beginning with breastfeeding and cuddling with my newborn. I did find in the very initial newborn stages it was almost too fluffy but I quickly learned how to use it properly as she grew and never went back. Dad loved it too for cuddling with baby. It helped so much with tired arms and sore backs, fit nicely while sitting in a glider to rock baby to sleep. We even used it for propping her up for cuter pictures!" — Jessica

Get it from Amazon for $39.99.
11
A 32-piece set of Magna-Tiles
These are, in short, genius. They're practically unbreakable and provide hours of entertainment for kids and adults alike.

Promising review:
"We originally saw these at a local children's museum and our kids (ages four and two) were instantly drawn to them. We had to literally pull them away to get them to leave! I have to admit that I actually love playing with them as well. They are a little pricey, but the construction is very solid. We have had them for nearly two years and have had no issues with breaks in any of them. The magnets work well. There are some 'instructions' with some suggestions to make things but overall, they're kind of like Legos in that you just build whatever you want. A good teaching tool also for pattern recognition and shapes." — Tom

Get it from Amazon for $49.97.
12
A rechargeable flexible stroller fan
You can wrap this fan around the handle of the stroller to keep the kids (and you) cool while you're out strolling under the hot sun. It has three speed settings, plus three LED settings so you can also use it as a night light.

Promising review: "This fan is great for a hot day. It has multiple speeds, can charge so it's not dependent on disposable batteries, and will hang on to practically anything. Originally bought to use on my daughter's stroller, but I'm pretty sure my husband is claiming it for his office space now and we'll need to get another. Overall, you won't be disappointed with this fan." — Carla Bingaman

Get it from Amazon for $24.99+ (available in three colors).
13
A Baby Brezza Formula Dispenser Machine
This time-saving machine mixes and warms consistently perfect formula-based bottles in a matter of seconds.

Promising review: "Listen, listen, listen. Without hyperbole, the Baby Brezza has been one of my best investments for year one in babyland. Late-night feeds no longer become about fumbling, spilling, mixing, warming, and minutes later delivering a so-so bottle to a crying child. No, in seconds a measured and warm concoction is in hand and then in baby's mouth. Just add water to the tank and formula to the dispenser and serve bottles ranging between 2-10 ounces warmed to three different temperatures. The time, effort, and stress this wonderful machine has saved me from is emotionally immeasurable and worth the price tag. It even forces you to clean it after every four uses because that formula gets gunky and you get lazy." — John Mihaly

Get it from Amazon for $199.99.
14
A BabyX Fast bottle warmer
While this is ideal for breast milk, it also heats up baby food and sterilizes pacifiers all in a matter of minutes — and we know every second counts when you've got a hungry child.

Promising review: "The BabyX bottle warmer has been a lifesaver since we got it. It's quick and easy to use with very little mess or clean up. Our daughter has been sick so keeping bottles and pacifiers clean has been essential. And with the the babyX's ability to also sterilize parts, it's been a HUGE help. I would highly recommend to anyone looking for a compact and sleek designed bottle warmer. The dialed thermostat is also easy to use and has a great variation from cold to hot which is fantastic for getting bottles and food just right for your child." — Trevor

Get it from Amazon for $22.95.
15
A reusable, waterproof, anti-slip splat mat
It may seem excessive, but a splat mat is key if you have a messy eater.

Promising review:
"We debated on buying this for months, and when we finally did, I should have bought it earlier. It's amazing quality, easy to clean, and makes our lives SO MUCH EASIER. We used to scrub our floor every night multiple times due to our wonderful baby throwing food everywhere... now we just pick up the mat, put the food crumbs in the trash, and drop the mat in the laundry every other day." — C Fam

Get it from Amazon for $20.99+ (available in four patterns).
16
A Douni sleep sound machine
It has 24 soothing sounds for keeping kids fast asleep. Plus, it's portable.

Promising review: "This was the third (maybe fourth) white noise machine I purchased for my baby/toddler's room and it's still getting the job done after nearly a year. There's a lot of city traffic and a very busy intersection outside our apartment windows and the Douni masks all of it (except for the occasional blaring ambulance siren). The wood grain is a nice change of pace from all the other white, black, metallic gadgets populating our home." — John Mihaly

Get it from Amazon for $33.95.
17
A folding, indoor/outdoor Little Tikes play slide
For those days when you can't go to the park, you'll be so relieved that you can at least bring part of the park to your living room or backyard.

Promising review: "These slides have been one of our go-to gifts for new parents. They are sturdy, easy to set up, and will be used/played with than most toys ever will. It's high quality enough to pass it down to other families when your kids outgrow it. Fantastic buy!" — Thomas & Jessii

Get it from Amazon for $49.99.
18
A Munchkin "Warm Glow" wipe warmer
Amazon
Your baby's butt (and your hands, come to think of it) will never suffer the touch of a damp, chilly wipe ever again. Plus, it has a night light with a 10-minute automatic shut-off function.

Promising review: "An essential for my baby. Every diaper change was an event full of crying and screaming until I bought this. Then it became a bonding time full of coos and smiles. I absolutely love this thing. It is super easy to set up and use, and you can buy the wipes in bulk which likely saves you money as well. If your baby cries every time you change the diaper, I highly recommend this." — Jorge

Get it from Amazon for $27.44.

Some reviews have been edited for length and/or clarity.