Second place in our Miraculous Giveaway goes to Arnold, who has the distinction of being our only male contestant.
I would say that the best item we ever had was a battery-powered swing. Now, this was a much bigger deal for my first daughter, Katerina, because we used it _all_ the time. In particular, we often did the Lower Mainland trek and this swing saved our weary souls many-a-time. Set it up in the VW Camper van, get on the ferry, tie the baby down and start it a rockin'. (ed. note: THIS IS PURE BRILLIANCE.) Katerina went to sleep quickly 90% of the time, and then so did we. Compressing a two hour ferry ride into less than 30 minutes waketime was a God-send. And with 4 D cells for power, it was able to operate for up to something like 12 hours straight. It was used a lot at home too, putting her to sleep without leaving our sight - much better than wailing in a crib that was cold and lonely.
Since it was so successful for baby #1, we got another one for baby #2 (11 years apart - sold everything in between, so we needed a full resupply). This child, Alexandra, was a much more boisterous, action-packed baby, who fought sleep (and straps, and laying down) with a vengeance. While Katerina lay and fell asleep in the swing, Alexandra flailed. It worked occasionally, though, and that was good, but was used far less than the first time around. That being said - at 18 months now, Alexandra wants to get back into the swing to play again!
So, I would consider this product one to really consider investing in for those early months. (From 6 months to a year, my highest recommendation would be an ExerSaucer - but that is an item for another post.)
I've had the pleasure of meeting Arnold's daughters, and they are both lovely and charming. Thanks for your entry, Arnold!