Carley Roney
Carley Roney: Baby Expert

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Carley Roney is editor in chief and cofounder of TheBump.com, a word-of-mouth Web hub for hip, first-time parents. TheBump.com offers comprehensive stage-by-stage advice, enhanced community features, tools and checklists, Q&A expert advice, local reviews, and a baby and gift shop.

As “top mom,” Carley is responsible for overseeing content development and overall site direction on TheBump.com as well as coordinating partnerships with LilaGuide.com. Carley has personally endured three pregnancies, countless late-night breast-feeding sessions, toddler milestones, and temper tantrums. She’s poured years of hard-won mommy wisdom into TheBump.com and is excited to fill in first-time parents on all the things she wishes she’d known. Carley resides in Brooklyn, New York, where she enjoys her daughter’s dance recitals, park-hopping with her son, and showing her newborn baby to the world.

The nation’s hippest lifestage expert, Carley makes regular appearances on national television, including the TODAY Show, CNN, FOX, and WABC, where she shares trends, tips, and tricks for planning life with a new baby.
REVIEWS
  • Best Portable Changing Pads
    Big diaper bags are great, but nobody wants to lug one everywhere. That’s where changing totes step in. You can go with a fold-out changing pad that has built-in pockets for diapers and wipes; or opt for a diaper clutch/pod (a.k.a. teeny diaper bag) with a separate pad inside. The goal is to have just what you need for a quick change and enough protection to keep baby squeaky clean (a step up from most public restrooms).

    To find the one that’s right for you, think about how you’ll use it most. Just want something that you can pull out of a bigger bag for fuss-free trips to the potty? Look for an option that’s as small as possible and easy to open and close. Want something stylish for an afternoon out? Grab a snazzy “diaper clutch,” a new trend in baby gear that looks just like, well, a cute clutch. (Come on, moms still care about cute accessories.) You’ll want to go for something with more storage if you’ll be out for long; and by all means make sure the pad wipes clean if you won’t be near a washing machine in the next few hours.

    Here are the best portable pads I’ve found on the market. There are a ton of different features (cushioning, mesh pockets, different straps and closures, fun patterns), so check them over to find the one that suits your style.

    Confession: I did include one option that’s nothing but a roll-up changing pad, just because it’s so darn cute. Since there’s no storage, you’ll need another diaper bag or purse to hold the goodies.
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  • Best Slings Wraps Carriers
    There’s a reason people around the world strap their babies on their backs (and fronts) to get around: It’s just plain practical. New moms are notoriously busy - and occasionally, you’re going to need your hands free. (Plus, “baby-wearing” can be great for baby’s development and bonding. You both win.)

    There are lots of options when it comes to toting a baby: ring-slings, wraps, pouches, soft carriers, structured carriers... and who knows what they’ll come up with next. Here, I’ve pulled together today’s top players. As you look through for the best way to schlep your spawn, consider what factors are most important to you. Do you need to be able to share your carrier with others, or is it more important for it to fit you to a tee? Do you plan to breastfeed on the go? Do you need it to be more compact or more supportive? Other things to think about: ease of use, comfort, ergonomics, versatility, and yes... style.
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  • Best Teethers
    Teething can be tough on a baby (not to mention everyone else in earshot). And, when you get tired of the little one gumming on your knuckle/purse strap/BlackBerry, you just might need a little help. Good news! There are some unbelievably cute (and effective!) teething toys from which to choose. There’s the freezable, the vibrating, the hard, the squishy, the squeaky, the attachable... we’re certainly not running low on options.

    When choosing baby’s comfort-buddies, I suggest getting a toy or two that can easily travel in your diaper bag, a couple of soft, engaging or otherwise lovable ones that can double as “regular” toys (and aren’t just something to chew on), and at least one that can be refrigerated or frozen. As with most toys and gear, you may have to experiment to find out what works best for your baby’s particular stage and style. Just be sure your choices are non-toxic, have chewable textures, and are - above all - easy to clean!

    From little mesh bags to big hunks of rubber, these are my favorites.
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  • Best Baby Keepsakes
    You’ve heard it a million times: They grow up so quickly, so enjoy it now. That’s why we all want to have something to remind us of the days when baby depended on us fully (and couldn’t talk back). Luckily, we aren’t limited to little boxes of never-used silver spoons - there’s a ton of fun, stylish (even functional) products to choose from. From hip wall hangings to handmade pendants, here are some of the best keepsakes I’ve seen.


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  • Best Infant Activity Centers
    When it comes to baby play gear, there seem to be two main functions to look out for: entertainment and smarts. In other words, you want to make a space where baby has fun and learns something while you can focus on dinner or some adult conversation for a sec. There are about a billion options for baby play places, so really pay attention to what each offers before you splurge. I’ve rounded up the best activity centers, play yards, and infant gyms out there in terms of form, function, and features.


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  • Best Baby Swings
    Of course, there’s nothing like Mommy’s arms, but let’s face it: A lady needs her limbs for other things now and then. Where will your baby hang while you do the dishes and trim your nails? For swings, your options range from fully loaded models packed with tunes, vibrations, multi-positions, and toys galore to a simple frame that swings your car seat. There are even a few that pop apart so you can tote baby around the house.

    One of my favorite new features in baby swings is the bidirectional swing. With these, you can rotate the seat 90 degrees, making for a side-to-side rocking motion, like a cradle. This function works wonders to keep babies soothed, and you’ll see this feature in most of my top picks.

    But, as you’re probably finding with most baby gear, no one swing works best for all babies. My advice is to take a good, hard look at the features that matter most to you. Living in a small space? Look for options that are more compact. Can’t stand the music from most baby toys? Look for volume control (and an “off” switch!) and try to listen to the sounds before making a purchase. Above all, be sure the harness will keep your baby from sliding or slumping, and check that the seat feels comfy and sturdy. With an informed purchase and a little bit of luck, your biceps will get a much-needed break.


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  • Best Baby Monitors
    Monitor shopping can be a real doozy. First off, note that the perfect one doesn’t exist. It just doesn’t. The good news, though, is that they’re getting better by the minute, and today’s models have all sorts of fun features and gadgets attached.

    When looking for your ideal pick, pay special attention to the range (how far you can take the parent receiver from the monitor) and frequency (generally listed in MHz or GHz). Frequency is key - it helps determine how clear your connection will be. The best bet is to go for a product that runs on a different radio frequency band than your other electric goodies, especially your cordless phone. In other words, check the specs on your phone’s base, and shy away from monitors that sport the same GHz.

    For the best reception and least interference (some monitors have been known to accidentally listen in on phone calls and neighbors’ nurseries), go digital. Digital monitors encode the signals that shoot between baby’s room and your receiver, so you’re not likely to hear someone else’s kid (or have anyone else hear yours!). If you aren’t worried about mixed signals, there are some great analog monitors out there too, and many come with an array of channels to help you find the cleanest sound.

    One of the coolest monitor features (potentially, anyway) is video, allowing you to keep visual tabs on your tot. Just keep in mind that the same interference issues come into play - more than one mom has reportedly switched on her monitor and seen a child that’s not her own. A couple of the best video versions made the list, but you might want to hold off until the technology is a bit better.


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  • Best Infant Car Seats
    Safety is the top priority when it comes to baby’s first car seat, but how do you really know which one is the right pick for you? I’ve sorted through the top models to help you find the comfiest, most secure ride for your babe. Sorry, toddler-moms - this one’s all about infant-only seats. I also stuck to those with 5-point safety harnesses, which most experts agree are tops, and all models here include a snap-in base that can stay in your car for easy comings and goings. When you’ve found the seat that seems right for you, be sure to check for any recalls, learn to install it correctly, and keep the receipt until you’ve tried it out - different models work better with different cars.


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  • Best Strollers
    Shopping for baby’s ride can be almost as complicated as shopping for your own. There’s a lot to consider: brake systems, cup holders, safety harnesses, comfort, weight, ease of folding, durability… not to mention the cuteness factor. Here are my top stroller picks - based on all of the above and more.


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  • Best Baby Shower Gifts
    Ahhh…the baby shower. In terms of gifts, there are really two ways to go. One, you can pluck something off mommy-to-be’s registry. Or you can show up with something so sweet or indulgent that she either didn’t know it existed or would feel too guilty asking for it. The first option is surely practical, but the second is way more fun.

    Here are the top fun, stylish, and original gifts, all of them just as delightful for mommy as for baby. After all, pregnancy is tough. So go on, give your friend a treat.


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