Walk into any big box store and moms will find at least three aisles devoted to all the odds and ends people think they need when they are expecting a baby. Stores specifically for new parents and babies are even more overwhelming and websites are the absolute top of the pile when it comes to having a variety of products to choose from.
Most people know the basics that every baby needs: diapers, bottles, wipes, onesies, socks, pants, and a couple of baby blankets. Beyond those absolute basics, the range of products offered to new parents becomes overwhelming. It’s easy to spot the utterly ridiculous, such as baby high heels, cribs designed to look like castles, saddles for their parents’ backs, and the latest electrical entertainment gadgets.
But there are a lot of products out there that seem like good ideas, maybe even necessary items, until you really look at them. Most of these products just add a layer of work to the already busy task of raising a small human. They’re wastes of money, wastes of time, and almost always end up as clutter at the back a closet that you’re going to need when the child grows up. So take a look at these fifteen overrated baby products and, hopefully, save yourself the expense of buying them and the work of having to clear them out in a year or two when you don’t need them anymore!
15 Diaper Pail
Nobody likes smelly diapers. Enter the diaper pail: a specialized trash can with very unique bags that will keep the baby’s dirty diapers from stinking up their nursery until trash night. This is a pretty good idea in and of itself, but diaper pails start at $30 and can go over $100. Their liners are sold separately and are often specialized, which means you can’t substitute more affordable bags if you need to.
Instead of dropping money on a one-of-a-kind trash can, get a cheap office trash can with a lid. Bonus points if it has a kick pedal to open the lid. Line the trash can with grocery bags and you have a diaper pail that can be reused in the child’s room for years to come and will encourage whoever takes out the garbage to do it a little more often!
14 Bottle Sterilizers
There’s a few things wrong with the idea of a bottle sanitizer. The first, and most obvious, is the sheer size of these things. They can be anywhere from the size of just a couple of bottles to the size of a cake carrier and even bigger. Some can be popped in the microwave while others have to be plugged in on the countertop. And all of them are unnecessary.
If you have a dishwasher, there’s a good chance it has a “Sanitization” cycle. That cycle will do the same essential job. For those who don’t have a dishwasher, fill a pot with water and boil. When the water is boiling, submerge the bottles and let stand in the boiling water for a few minutes, usually five to seven. Remove and let dry. Presto, sanitized bottles without spending any extra money and losing space to a huge machine.
13 A Wipe Warmer
It is almost possible to see the use for this one. Babies do not like cold diaper wipes and any parent who has had their baby nearly squirm off the changing table will tell you as much. And, yes, a cold wet rag on your bottom is bound to be a little shocking. But there is absolutely no point in spending money on a diaper wipe warmer, and then paying an increased electric bill to keep it plugged in, just to save your baby the five seconds or less of a cold diaper wipe.
And that really is all the discomfort the baby will feel. Holding the wipe and using it will have it warmed to body temperature in a few seconds and after that the baby won’t know the difference. The $20 or more that a warmer can cost you might seem like a small price, but once you add in the clutter and power cost, it really is not worth a couple of seconds at changing time.
12 Temperature Sensitive Bath Ducky
This has to be one of the silliest items on the list unless, that is, you’re at risk of melting if you touch water. In case you are, this duck will float in your baby’s bath water and change color if the water is too hot for the baby to safely bathe in.
For the rest of us, this is just another waste of money that will end up as clutter in the back of your bathroom cabinets after adding another layer of work to the task of bathing your child. It is a thousand times easier to simply test the water coming out of the tap against the skin of your inner wrist, the same technique recommended for testing the temperature of bottles. Once the tub is full, submerge your hand up to the same area of sensitive skin. It’s not likely your hands are going to stay dry while giving the baby a bath anyway, making the temperature-sensitive duck especially useless.
11 Baby Shoes
Bronze baby shoes have been, quite possibly, the most iconic keepsake for generations of American parents. Nearly every attic in the country has a pair stuffed away somewhere that nobody quite knows what to do with. The idea is that whichever shoes baby takes their first steps in are the ones that are bronzed, and this may seem like a cute idea. But there is one big problem with this tradition: babies don’t need shoes.
Experts now agree that baby shoes aren’t helpful. They are, in fact, bad for the baby’s feet. When a baby wears shoes, it restricts and alters the development of the muscles of the foot and can lead to weaker feet in later life. It is now thought best to let a baby run around barefoot or in socks until they are outside. Until then, it is just a waste of money to buy them shoes that they’re going to outgrow well before they’re supposed to be wearing them.
10 Changing Tables
Most of you are probably a little bit skeptical about this one. Changing tables are one of the iconic pieces of modern baby furniture, right up there with a rocking chair and a crib. They are also incredibly expensive. A cheap one can easily run for more than $100 and unless you can score one second-hand (or better, free as a hand-me-down), you will essentially be paying a small car payment for a piece of furniture that you child is going to outgrow in a little more than a year. The only real advantage that a changing table has over a normal table is that there are railings to try and prevent the baby from rolling off, but everyone knows they’re not high enough to really stop a determined explorer.
A normal table, couch, or even a floor works just as well. Lay down a towel, set out the supplies you need, and get the baby changed. No extra cost and no extra clutter. And as long as you keep an eye (and hand) on your baby, they don’t stand any higher risk of rolling off than they do from a changing table.
9 Burping Cloths
Babies are messy, there is absolutely no denying that. And while diapers exist to keep most of their clothes clean, spit-up still happens. Time is of the essence when cleaning up a mess like that and what could be more intuitive to reach for than a burp cloth? The answer is, well, anything absorbent. There’s a very good chance that you already have hand towels, kitchen towels, or paper towels on hand at any given moment. If you don’t, or if your supply might not be up to the task of keeping up with a new baby, they are far and away less expensive than towels branded “burp cloths” and are often the exact same product.
Some items marketed as burp cloths are super-soft cotton or flannel, however even these are overpriced. A quick trip to the thrift store, a run through a washing machine, and a pair of scissors will net you a ton of the same item for a lot less money.
8 A Diaper Stacker
There’s a good chance that many people reading this entry did not even know that a diaper stacker was something they could buy before seeing it listed here. A diaper stacker is a cute bag or shelving unit designed to make a stack of clean diapers look better. They can run for more than $30, which is a pretty hefty price tag when you consider how many packs of diapers that could cover and how fast diapers seem to be used up!
If it is really bothering you to have an open bag of diapers around, get a cheap bin to keep under the baby’s bed or changing table and put the diapers in there. Put them in a dresser drawer or in a cabinet with doors. Even a decorative, lidded box from the thrift store will be infinitely cheaper and more multi-use in the long run than a diaper stacker.
7 Infant Bath Tubs
Bath time has got to be one of the most stressful times of a new parent’s day. The baby is a wiggly, slippery, and probably unhappy that their day has been interrupted by something that, from the sounds of it, they think is cruel and unusual punishment. Babies, as a general rule, thoroughly hate bath time until they’re old enough to hold their own heads up and can splash water all over whichever parent got roped into giving them the bath. Anything that could make this easier would be a great investment, right?
Well...not exactly. Baby bathtubs are a waste of money. These tubs are essentially small plastic recliners that you fill with water so that the baby is sitting back instead of lying down in the water. Unfortunately, by the time they need this, a kitchen sink and a parent’s arm under their back is just as effective. Many hospitals now not recommending giving the baby a bath for the first few weeks, until their umbilical cord heals. By then, the baby can be bathed with a rag or in a sink until they’re old enough to sit up in the tub. If a smaller area to fill with water really is needed, a rubbermaid container will do just as well and be much cheaper!
6 Car Seat Canopies
Car seat canopies seem to be a fairly new trend and one that’s adding unnecessary cost, work, and waste to parenthood. Most car seats and baby carriers come with their own canopies. This little half-domes collapse down when they’re not needed and can easily be pulled up to shield the baby’s face from sun, wind, rain, or snow if need be. But some people take it a step further and buy an entirely separate canopy that fits over the top of the baby carrier and usually stays in place with elastic or button bands. This larger canopy closes the baby in entirely.
There is absolutely no reason for these. They’re unnecessarily expensive and just add another layer of work to getting the baby in and out of a car seat. As if that wasn’t enough to make them one of the most irritating new baby gear trends around right now, there’s the effect on the baby to consider. A very, very young baby might need to avoid being over stimulated in the car or while they’re out, but by the time a baby is four or five months old, their brains need to be stimulated so that can learn. Keeping them covered up all the time when they’re out of the house robs them of that chance. Not to mention, do you like spending time with a blanket over your head?
It’s boring and gets stuffy really quick, so why would anyone want to make a baby go through that? Just put a hat on the baby’s head and a blanket over the lap. They’ll be fine (as long as you’re not in the bitter cold for hours) and their brains will get some stimulation. A win-win!
5 Receiving Blankets
Even if you don’t know what they’re called, you’ve seen a receiving blanket before. It’s the ultra-thin and ultra-soft blankets that every television show and movie has newborns swaddled in when they’re handed to their mother or father for the first time. Their general use is supposed to be a thing blanket to wrap around the baby when it is being handed to someone. The unfortunate truth, however, is that they’re next to useless.
Babies will outgrow a receiving blanket after only a few months. The blankets are too thin to keep a little one warm and anyone who has tried to hold a baby wrapped loosely in a receiving blanket knows how easily it feels like the baby is going to slip right out of their arms! A normal baby blanket is a much better option. They’re bigger, which means the baby can use it longer and it’s easier to wrap the baby in to avoid the worry that the blanket will slip off. They also keep the baby warmer, which any parent can tell you is harder than it sounds. If you already have receiving blankets, they may be better off as giant drool rags or burp cloths. Then again, we already covered those on this list too!
4 Designer Baby Clothing
Unless your baby is going to be seen near the runways of Paris and Milan, designer baby clothes are the ultimate waste of money. In any given hour a baby will drool, throw up, wet their diaper, and get into something that isn’t easily identifiable but leaves a lasting mark on whatever they’re wearing.
Kids are expensive, everyone knows that. Their clothes are one of the last places that a parent should be dropping the big bucks. Thrift stores are filled to bursting with kids clothes and there’s almost always someone in your social circle who can get their hands on hand-me-downs. They might not be the most fashionable jumpers in the world, but kids very rarely care about looking trendy. Babies don’t even care about keeping their socks on, let alone if their onesie is UnderArmour, Marc Jacobs, or Tommy Hilfiger. Save yourself the money and just get your kids comfortable clothes that fit. They will be out-growing them well before they wear them out anyway.
3 Bottle Warmers
Why are there so many baby products that cost a fortune to do the same job that someone’s wrist or a mug of water in the microwave can do? Most parents know that you never microwave breast milk or formula. If either liquid needs to be reheated, the only way to do it is to put it into a bottle and then submerge the bottle in hot or warm water for about ten minutes until thoroughly warmed. Dribble a little on your inner wrist to make sure it’s not too hot, then feed to baby. Simple!
Bottle warmers take it to the next level, keeping water at a constant temperature as long as it’s plugged in. Unless you remember to turn it off or unplug it once the bottle is done, it’s just another expensive product that adds to the electric bill at the end of every month and could very possibly overheat the bottle. Save yourself the money (and added clutter) and just use a mug. Add some water, microwave for a minute or two, and submerge the bottle about halfway until warm.
Every parent has a story about how much their kid loved the swing or how the swing was a life saver. But, truth be told, swings are almost entirely unnecessary. Most children outgrow swings by the time they are seven or eight months old, leaving a $100 or more piece of furniture sitting unused in their room until it can be sold or ends up donated to make room for something more age appropriate. For most babies, a portable bassinet will do the exact same job as a swing if mom or dad needs to free up their hands for cooking, cleaning, or maybe even a long-coveted shower! Bassinets have an added benefit of lying the baby flat on their back which is widely acknowledged as the safest position for a little one. Most swings cannot lie the seats back far enough to lie a baby flat on their backs. This can even be dangerous as a baby’s head may fall forward and cause breathing problems while they’re sleeping.
1 Bedding And Sheets For The Crib
Everyone knows what a crib is supposed to look like: A cute printed sheet on the mattress with a coordinating or matched throw folded up at one end and a teddy bear standing guard in a corner. Bumpers line the inside to keep the baby from bumping their head while they’re sleeping and there’s usually a ruffle of some kind around the bottom to hide any storage that is under the crib. We see this image on packaging, in TV shows, and in baby photos. Unfortunately, it’s a dangerous lie.
The American Academy of Pediatrics has spoken out against these crib bedding sets for years. Babies can roll into the bumpers and become stuck or unable to breathe, the loose blanket can end up over their face, and the teddy bear is a whole host of risks rolled into one. According to the AAP, babies should not be put to bed with anything more than a warm fitted onesie and a sheet that is fitted to the mattress. Anything more increases the risk of SIDS until the baby is at least 12 months old. Until then, these bedding sets are not only a waste of money but dangerous.