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Today’s Hint: 7 Waste-of-Money Baby Products

In response to my recent advice not to buy wipe warmers, I’ve received requests from soon-to-be moms for more information about products new parents don’t need. So here’s my list of seven other waste-of-money baby products.

1. A hands-free pumping bra. One of the best hints I got soon after giving birth came from the lactation consultant at the hospital. “Just take an old sports bra and cut two holes in it” instead of buying a hands-free pumping bra, she suggested. And the advice worked like a charm through 11 months of pumping and two old sports bras. And an added bonus of this technique, as pointed out recently by Rookie Moms’ Whitney Moss, is that the cut-up bra can also help you potentially lessen some of the pains associated with breastfeeding.

2. Shoes for babies who can’t yet cruise/furniture walk. When my daughter was about three months old, I bought her really cute leopard-print and black patent leather May Janes (see the picture above) in tiny baby sizes for an embarrassing amount of money. Unfortunately, the shoes were also a waste of money as my daughter never wore them. At first, the shoes were too big. Then, we never put them on because we were heeding experts’ advice to let babies learning to stand and walk be barefoot or in socks. Plus, my daughter has adorable socks that look like shoes, socks that I suggest other new parents buy instead of baby shoes. Turns out I’m not alone in finding baby shoes a waste of money. Baby shoes are “so cute” and “are hard to resist, but save your money,” wrote Devan McGuinness on Babble.com.

3. Crib bedding sets. To lessen the chance of SIDS, you’re not supposed to use blankets, pillows or crib bumpers. This means that everything but the sheet, mattress pad (and maybe the dust ruffle) in these sets is likely going to go unused (unless you don’t follow experts’ guidance regarding SIDS).

4. A dishwasher basket for baby items. I ended up just putting our bottle items right on the top rack of our dishwasher and my daughter hasn’t yet come down with any infection (that I know of) related to dishwasher germs.

5. A bottle sterilizer. To sterilize items like pacifiers, new bottles and new sippy cups when I felt the need, I just used an old-fashioned pot of boiling water. Plus, see the reasoning above for skipping the dishwasher caddie. And it’s not even clear if bottles really need to be sterilized. As Alan Fields of Baby Bargains told Mint.com’s Mint Life blog: A lot of these sterilization products prey upon a parent’s germ fears, but bottles don’t have to be sterilized . . . . Germs can be good, people!”

6. A special baby thermometer. While I have special thermometers designed just for babies and really appreciate my friends buying me these items as gifts, I wouldn’t register for them if I could have a registering do-over. I often find myself using a regular old digital temperature to take my daughter’s temperature (I’m a fan of the under-the-arm method) rather than going upstairs to her nursery to get her special infant versions. And the regular adult digital thermometer does the job just fine.

7. A special dad diaper bag (in addition to the one Mom already has). When I was putting our registry together, I included a diaper backpack designed for men called the DadGear backpack. I figured my husband wouldn’t want to use my designer diaper bag, which I splurged on since I figured it could also be used as a purse. However,  my husband rarely uses this bag and we could have just used one of the backpacks we have around the house and skipped getting this bag, which is really just a plain old backpack with a lot of compartments and a special pocket for wipes.

What items would you add to – or take off – this list?

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Comments

  1. Lindsay says

    Great advice, Jenny! I would add bottle warmers to that list… I just stuck the bottle in a cup of hot water for a few minutes if needed to take the edge off. If possible, it’s great to get the baby used to cold/cool bottles — what are you going to do if you’re out and about, in a car, on a plane, wherever… if they get used to always having a warm bottle you may be in a bind when the bottle warmer isn’t there. or if it’s the middle of the night and baby is screaming… you want to get him that bottle as fast as possible!

  2. says

    I totally agree with the diaper bag and for women who don’t care about a cool, printed, purse-shaped thing, ie, would rather be at REI than Barney’s, a backpack is totally fine. Whomever came up with diaper bags is laughing all the way to the bank.

    Ironically, however, I’m going to disagree on the hands-free pumping bra. (I know, I know, you linked to me with that point.) A sports bra is tough to put on and if you’re in your workplace, yanking something over your head is just one more awkward thing to do before pumping. The pumping bras that are styled like strapless bras can be put on around your waist and yanked up. Because pumping moms do this 2-3 times each day, it seems worth the money to me.

    Glad to have found you! Stay in touch!

  3. Julie says

    I would add bottle warmer to your list. We never bought one and instead just warmed up water in the microwave and stuck the bottle in the warm water for a few minutes before serving.

  4. Grace says

    I agree with this. I would add a wipe warmer. I received one as a shower gift, never asked for one, it was pointless. We were so tired and out of it with our first that we never kept up with it and we just wanted to change the baby as fast as we could so we could feed and go to bed. Baby socks have been pointless for us too under a certain age. They fall off their feet. We just put them in something footed or cover with a blanket. I would say 6 months they stay on and are a necessity.

  5. Megan says

    Question about the crib sets – totally agree on nothing in the bed for the first few months, but won’t there be a time when baby is a little older when he can have blankets in the crib? I have no idea when (first time mama) but I thought maybe I’d be able to use my crib set down the line?

    • Hint Mama says

      Hi Megan, Thanks for reading! My daughter is nearly 14 months old and she still doesn’t sleep with a blanket. Initially, we used sleep sacks, but then we stopped using those once she could pull up for fear she’d trip (though I know parents who used them until age 2). We just put her in warm pajamas or two pairs of pajamas – one light, one warm — if it’s cold. She does get a couple small lovey animals that she uses as pillows. We plan on giving her a blanket when she’s ready to switch to a bed (unless she asks for one before). The experts at What to Expect advise a similar plan.

  6. Heather says

    I love my wipe warmer! We mainly use cloth diapers & cloth wipes. It stores wipes so they’re ready to use. I throw the cloth wipes in the wash with the diapers. A sports bra might be ok for at home, but at work the hands-free pumping bra is essential, much less awkward. One thing I could do without is a nursing pillow, our baby preferred my neck support bed pillow. I found the boppy to be more trouble than it’s worth.

  7. says

    I think hair band and berets for baby girls are useless. They don’t stay in their what little bit of hair they do have. Save it for when they actually have enough hair to use them. A head band maybe cute for pictures.

  8. says

    I think that whether a bottle steriliser is needed depends on how much you’re going to be using bottles. Sure, you can boil them, but the microwave sterilisers are much quicker and easier and that makes a difference at the end of a long day. If you only use a bottle occasionally, it probably isn’t worth it, but if you use them on a regular basis then a microwave steriliser is going to save you enough time over the months that many of us would find it worth the money.

    And, no, I wouldn’t really recommend going for the ‘no sterilising’ option. Sure, our houses are full of germs and babies can’t (and shouldn’t) avoid them all, but the difference is that those bottles are going to contain a major food source for bacteria, so any bugs that start out on those bottles are going to multiply pretty rapidly as soon as the bottle gets filled with formula. Gastroenteritis is nasty for a baby, and no fun for the parents to have to deal with either.

    • Christa says

      I agree that there is so much baby gear out there, and you do not need it all. I did find some of the items you listed useful, but it depends on your personal situation and preferences.
      4. The reason I used the basket is to keep those tiny baby items from flying into the moving dishwasher parts and getting lost/stuck/ground to bits by the propeller at the bottom of the dishwasher. I’ve broken multiple bottle pieces through everyday handling, so I’d have to guess the basket at least saved them further wear and tear.
      5. I loved the microwavable sterilizing bags for cleaning my pump parts while traveling for work. They pack down to a tiny size and could be reused ~20 times. It gave me more confidence that I was getting these things truly clean vs. just washing them up in the hotel bath sinks.
      6. The most accurate way to take a baby’s temperature is rectally. I clean it between uses with rubbing alcohol, but I still would feel weird about sharing that between family members. Alternatively, you could use those plastic cover things, but I am forever running out of those when someone in the house is sick.

      Waste of money items for me:
      1. We should not have bought stuffed any animals before munchkin was born. The first ones we bought cost 50 cents to $3, but it was like a gateway drug. We are forever having to remind ourselves, “No more stuffed animals!” because they are just so adorable until they are cluttering up your entire house.
      2. Fancy glass bottles: My daughter refused them, and we ended up trying a bunch of hand-me-down types from friends and family before we hit the jackpot. I have since heard many similar stories from other breastfed baby’s moms.
      3. Wipes: Sure, they are great for traveling and for leaving with the babysitter. But for normal diaper changes at home, a wet paper towel is cheaper and has fewer chemicals. I am thankful our pediatrician suggested this during one of our first appointments.
      4. Dedicated high chair: Instead, we use the portable plastic kind that straps to a normal chair. And while I’m on this topic, those soft cushions for high chairs that seem to just trap food and grow mold.

      Then there was the piece of baby gear that caused me to eat my own words.
      Baby swing: They are good for less than 6 months, take up a decent amount of floor space, and can cost >$100 new. Yet, for the ability to sooth my baby long enough to prepare dinner and as the magic nap device, it was ultimately priceless.

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