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If there's a new dad in your life, they're no doubt terrified about being responsible for a tiny, defenseless human being. It's one thing to prepare yourself with parenting books, it's another to actually live through the cycle of constant diaper changes, naps and feedings. But there are a few things you can grab to make their lives -- not to mention their partners' lives -- easier. Building on our guide for best baby gadgets from last year, here are a few choice gifts to help anyone live their best Dad Life.
Amazon's Echo is the best deal around when it comes to smart speakers. It sounds great, and its voice-activated capabilities work well. That'll be incredibly useful for any new parent who's elbow deep in dirty diapers. The Echo can serve as a way to play gentle lullabies when it's time for bed or to catch up on podcasts and radio shows. I've also used it to input data in Hatch Baby's app for tracking feedings, diapers and sleep time. The Echo certainly isn't the best speaker, but it's one of the most convenient, especially in a nursery.
No, this isn't an original choice, but it's a good one for any new parent — in particular because the iPad is the perfect way for grandparents and far-off family to video chat with new babies. Its large, 10.2-inch display looks fantastic, and it supports just about every video conferencing app you'd want to use. There are also plenty of educational apps, games and streaming-video services parents can use when they're cool with baby having a bit of screen time. It'll also be a life-saver for any finicky babies during car rides and flights (in the far future, we assume).
Podcasts are great and all, but a well-produced audiobook can be another experience entirely. As a bonus, listening to them technically counts as reading books when you have your hands full with a baby. Audible is pretty much the only audiobook game in town, which makes it a no-brainer gift option (especially if the dad in question just got a pair of new wireless headphones). Every monthly membership (they start at $15) comes with credits toward books and access to Audible's Originals series. While you could gift titles individually as well, it makes more sense to go the monthly route so the recipient can start building a personalized audiobook library.
Between juggling strollers and car seats, moving around with a baby is tough -- especially if you plan to travel and take cabs often. That's where the Doona comes in: It's an ingenious stroller that can also transform into a car seat at the touch of a button. That's not only great for being on the go but also helpful for schlepping your baby up and down stairs. It's the perfect option for parents in cities who don't have a car of their own, and it's even FAA approved for airplanes. The only downside is it's only useful until your baby hits 32 inches or 35 pounds -- after that, you'll have to graduate to a traditional setup. Sure, it's more expensive than basic options. But in a world where parents are spending thousands on fancy-yet-impractical strollers, the Doona's flexibility quickly justifies its cost.
For some reason, baby-monitor tech has been stuck in the dark ages for a while. Eufy's Spaceview is one of the first to offer a modern handset unit with a five-inch HD screen and a decent amount of battery life. Its bulbous camera can also move around to give parents a full view of their nurseries, which is useful once their kids start moving around more. We also appreciate that it's not a "smart" monitor: It relies solely on local wireless reception, so there's no chance of hackers breaking in.
Every parent will need a sound machine. They're the single best way to help a baby sleep at night, since they help to recreate the sound of being in the womb. While there are many to choose from, I like Hatch Baby Rest because it's also much more than a plain old sound machine. You have a variety of noises to choose from, and it’s a decent speaker, so nothing sounds distorted. The kicker is that you can also control it from an app, which makes it easy to raise the volume if the neighbors are being too loud. It also functions as a night-light and can help your baby wake up by brightening in the morning. (Personally I don't think the newer Rest+ is worth the price. The audio monitoring and clock features aren’t essential.)
Wireless earbuds are a lifesaver when dealing with a baby, and Jabra's Elite Active 75t are among our favorites. They're compact, they sound great and they're rugged enough to handle a bit of rain ... if you can ever sneak out for a run. New parents will spend plenty of time soothing and feeding their little ones, but their little ones won't mind if they're also catching up on podcasts and audiobooks at the same time. The Elite Active 75t's tips form a nice and secure seal with most ears, which helps prevent sound from leaking out and disturbing conked-out babies. (Note: Be extra careful using any wireless earbuds around babies, and avoid loose ones entirely, as they are a choking hazard. As an alternative, consider Bluetooth buds with a thin cord connecting them, like the BeatsX or Jaybird's Tarah.)
Every baby thermometer needs to be fast and flexible, but Kinsa's also adds a decent amount of smarts. It connects to an app to track all of your temperature readings, and it has a large display for instant feedback. Even better, it can offer a bit of advice for what to do when your baby has a fever or other symptoms. It might suggest medication for a persistent cough and alert you when to call the doctor when your baby’s temperature gets too high. Kinsa's thermometer also has the advantage of being relatively cheap at $20.
This simple rattle will be a lifesaver during every baby tantrum. The NogginStik has a face to help your little one start recognizing facial features, a variety of textures to keep them interested and a mirror on the bottom so they can learn to see themselves. Best of all, it lights up whenever it's shaken. Rattles are a dime a dozen, but the NogginStik has enough features to soothe even the most tyrannical infant. It's something I've gifted to every expecting friend, and it's always been a hit.