As soon as the world finds out Mom's pregnant, especially if it's her first child, she will be blasted from all sides about "products every mom needs." Family will ask if you have the latest nursing pillow, friends will offer to "help you scan" (aka tell you exactly what to register for) at Buy Buy Baby, companies you've never heard of will mail you fliers and coupons for merchandise you didn't know existed.
Baby brands are a billion dollar business. With global sales predicted to hit nearly $67 billion in 2017, it's easy to feel overwhelmed by the sheer magnitude of product. With chains like Babies “R” Us carrying more than 20,000 items for pregnancy and beyond, it’s no wonder deciding what you actually need can make your head spin.
Expectant moms are particularly vulnerable to advertising, as they are often fearful and anxiety-ridden about the enormous task of keeping a tiny human being alive. Case in point: it’s estimated that American parents spend some $12,000 on their babies on the first year alone!
As much as you will want to go on a buying spree while pregnant so you can feel prepared, remember that every purchase has a built-in expiration date less than nine months away (Except maternity clothes. Sorry to say, you will be wearing those for a while after the baby is born). And there is very little a newborn needs aside from diapers, onesies, bibs and pacifiers/formula if you choose to use them. Oh, and butt cream. Lots of that.
A lot of pregnancy and baby swag is completely unnecessary. Behold: a list of BS items you do not need to buy.
15 Belly Band
Yes, some women swear by these, but we just don’t get it. These wide, tube-top looking, circular strips of spandex/lycra are designed to hold up your pre-pregnancy pants around your ever growing belly so you don’t have to buy a maternity wardrobe. The idea being, simply unzip your pre-natal jeans or khakis, wrap this bad boy around your waist and boom – those old clam diggers are now retro-fitted for your current body. Seamless, adjustable and stretchy, it sounds like this should work, right?
For some women, it does. But when we tried, all we got were droopy, saggy rear ends. The band was not tight enough to hold up the pants through walking, sitting and stretching, leaving us with a permanent case of the Eminem butts. Plus, we never found it comfortable to have the buttons and zipper hardware all smushed up against our bellies. Our advice: skip the belly band and invest in some cheap maternity khakis from Old Navy or Target. Your mid-section will thank you.
14 Anti-Stretch Mark Creams
Again, these may have worked for some. And by “worked” we mean, may have given the illusion of preventing stretch marks because you were already genetically predisposed not to get them. Even though there are anecdotal statements claiming the amazingness of stretch mark creams containing collagen, elastin, cocoa butter or vitamin E, there is little research-backed evidence that proves they work as marketed.
According to the Oprah-dubbed “Cosmetics Cop” Paula Begoun, stretch marks are caused by elastin breakage under the skin, so any topical ointment applied to the exterior of the skin is largely useless.
A pregnant woman’s best bet is to help the skin remain pliable with an emollient cream which may sooth skin itchiness and reduce the severity of stretch marks. But there is no need for expensive “wonder” products. Just get some coconut oil or cocoa butter from the grocery store and be on your way.
13 Baby Clothes
I know. How dare we say buying baby clothes is BS?! You’ve been waiting so long and your womb does cartwheels every time you see a tiny little tutu dress with matching booties or plaid button down shirt for your soon-to-be little man. We get it. But remember, a baby’s primary function is to emit bodily functions. Any nice clothes you put on an infant will inevitably be destroyed by barf or poop.
And, TruthBomb: as much as we fantasize about the many outings we will be taking to show off our baby’s impeccable cheeks and fashion sense, new moms don’t go too many places. Between the sleeplessness, leaking, sobbing at beer commercials, sore birth canal and getting used to the idea this new person is going to be in your house all the time, you mostly will want to stay home, close to your ice cream and your remote.
Also, newborns are hard to dress. They squirm and cry and shiver. They are most comfortable in onesies, snap-front shirts and jammies that don’t have to be pulled over their heads (they hate that). Besides, you will be getting tons of clothes from well-wishing friends, relatives and co-workers. So save your dough for a babysitter.
12 Any New Shoes You Plan On Wearing Post Baby
We won't go as far as to say you shouldn't buy any new shoes while pregnant. You should. Ones that are loose, cheap, a size too big and preferably orthopedic. Oh, did we mention they have to be slip-on? They do. Because you are not going to be able to see your feet much less twerk them into a complicated shoe with laces or zippers as your belly grows. You want some new power pumps? Sexy stilettos? Kick-ass knee high boots? Nope, nope, nope. Don't do it, girl.
Your feet expand during pregnancy and will most likely outgrow your regular sized shoes. The culprit? A hormone called “relaxin," which loosens the joints around your pelvis so your baby can travel through the birth canal, also loosens the ligaments in your feet causing the foot bones to spread. And then there is the lovely pregnancy symptom of fluid retention, which causes swelling, usually in the feet and ankles. So skip the fancy shoes and splurge on fuzzy socks and flip flops instead.
11 A Book On Birth Plans
Ha. Ha. Ha. This one makes us laugh! The idea of creating a birth plan, or list of expectations and preferences for the labor and delivery of your child, makes sense. Of course, you want your caregivers to know your desires around labor positions, pain management and whether you want to eat your placenta as a post-partum snack. In the birth plan, you also write down your feelings on induction, fetal monitoring and where you want the baby to sleep: next to you, or in a magical, sound-proof room far, far away.
The problem is, even if you spent hours thoughtfully considering your options, your plan very quickly becomes moot when you start moaning like a mortally wounded chimpanzee in the delivery room. Even if you indicate you want to “manage the pain naturally” (and went so far as to send your husband an 18 bullet point email titled “Why I Don’t Want an Epidural”) you may find yourself spitting in his poor, confused face, “I NEED YOU TO GET ON BOARD WITH THIS RIGHT NOW!” when you change your mind mid-labor.
We’re not saying don’t create a birth plan at all. Just realize it might not go down like that. At all.
10 Pregnancy Pillow
Sure it sounds nice to luxuriate in an all-over body contour pillow that supposedly “feels like you are sleeping on a cloud.” After all, there is a lot of extra weight to support while pregnant, especially while you are unconscious. But at $50 to $200+ a pop, we think you can do without.
There is an impressive (egregious?) array of choices on the market. There are preggo pillows that are adjustable, cooling, portable, firm – some even convert into a breastfeeding cushion or a co-sleeper.
But besides not being a great value proposition (you use it for a couple of months and then you’ve got a giant life-sized ball of fluff to get rid of), some of them don’t provide all around body support—meaning they only cushion one side, but when you toss and turn to the other side, that belly will be hitting the mattress and pulling the rest of your body down with it. How about a nice trip to your attic or the top of your closet to retrieve an extra pillow or two? You can position one on either side of you, taking up mucho bed space and feeling like the Maternal Queen that you are.
9 New Bras
Yes, your boobs may go from carafes to full on jugs during pregnancy. Even if you are a severe A cup for whom pregnancy enhanced almost nothing, there will still be a little sumthin' extra going on in the teats. (For those of you who have gone up 2-4 band and cup sizes, well, bless you. Go on a bra buying spree, you deserve it).
If your mammary growth is more minimal, a simple set of bra extenders will do the trick. For $6 on Amazon, you can get a set of three, each one easily hooking onto any traditional two hook bra and extending the width of your over-the-shoulder-boulder-holder by about two inches. Save your dollars for nursing bras (a must if you plan to breastfeed) and the deluxe, bulletproof brassiere that you will need to support your worn out knockers when your baby is done sucking the life out of them.
8 Fancy Hospital Nightgown
Some will say you need to bring a silky, shiny, photo-op ready nightgown to the hospital for some newborn/mom Glamour Shots. These people are not to be trusted.
Yes, photographs will be taken. But do you think you are going to want to put on cute clothes right after giving birth? Do you know that you will be bleeding for days and wearing a Boeing-sized maxipad loosely adhered the inside of a pair of mesh, hospital-issued boy shorts? Unless, of course you were lucky enough to have a C-section, in which case, you will have a catheter up your vajay and will be sitting in a pool of your own post-birth fluids for 24 hours. Say cheese!
Hate to be so graphic, but we didn’t know how gross those first few days postpartum could be and we want to prevent other new moms from experiencing the same confused shock. Your primary goal post-delivery will be COMFORT. So, ditch the designer nightgown and load up on yoga pants, granny undies and dark tops that conceal spit up.
7 Wipes Warmer
The thinking on this one is that a baby’s tiny little buns cannot, and should not, withstand the indignity of a slightly chilly wipe. But even if you opt to clutter up your changing table, I mean, go the extra mile to ensure your infant’s bum is never less than 98.6 degrees, those wipes don’t stay warm for long. By the time you are one minute into the wet poo-splosions that epitomize newborn bowel movements, that wipe will have lost its curled-up-by-the-fireplace coziness.
Instead, take a regular, un-warmed wipe and close it up in the palm of your hand for five seconds and voila! Nature’s heater. Or throw caution to the wind and use the wipe directly out of the package. An infant has bigger things to wail about. Like why you are holding their legs up and making them do core work in the middle of the night. My babies never complained. That I know of.
6 Pee Pee Teepee
Are you familiar with this “must have diapering accessory”? It’s a small, cone-shaped piece of cotton that is meant to be placed over your baby boy’s tiny unit during diaper changes so he doesn’t pee in your face (or his own eye). Problem is, small pieces of loose fabric don’t stay on microscopic body parts of crying, wriggling babies. Also, we have heard that the “wee wee tent” simply diverts pee down onto the changing table, so you’ve got a nice puddle of urine to mop up afterwards.
Instead, try using the diaper. Have one ready to gently impose upon your boy’s front region as soon as he is exposed. Here’s another thought, forego all of the precautionary measures and let it go. Parents existed for centuries without a midget sized BS barrier over their child’s genitals. Only if he has an involuntary boner will it go right up into your face. I haven’t suffered facial spray once in going on 2 ½ years of baby boy diaper changes. Now, my carpet, that’s another story.
5 Baby Shoes
Sorry to keep crushing your dreams, but baby shoes are a waste of money. First off: your baby can’t walk! Rendering footwear, as crazy cute as those Mary Janes and high-top sneakers may be, impractical and unnecessary. We know they look adorbs, but they actually don’t fit very well and most babies don’t like wearing them. They usually just rub their feet together until one, or inevitably both, fall off.
There’s also medical reasoning behind keeping your baby footwear free. Many doctors agree that less is more when it comes to shoes during the first five years of your child’s life. Constricting soft feet with rigid shoes could prevent bones and muscles from developing properly. If you must, stick to fuzzy booties with ties on the top that might have a fighting chance of staying on.
4 Cute Animal-Themed Hooded Baby Bathrobe/Towel
You want nothing more than to give your lil' pumpkin a warm bath and then wrap her up in a brightly colored bathrobe or towel that will keep her warm and showcase those adorable, floppy elephant ears.
Though super cute on the hanger, baby bathrobes and towels - especially Disney themed ones - are often cheaply made, thin and not very absorbent. Trying to accurately slide squirming, shell-shocked and cold little arms into a bathrobe is not an easy task. By the time you get it on, she’ll be too upset for you to enjoy the monkey eyes right above her head.
Keeping your little one’s head warm is a valid concern and you know how you can do that? With an adult sized towel. Anything already in your linen closet will have plenty of extra room to cuddle her up tightly and quickly.
3 Diaper Genie
Full disclosure: this is a product I actually loved having for my first child but realized after having my second was actually not necessary. The Diaper Genie's claim to fame is that is hides diaper odor. On their website, they use plenty of official and imposing terms like “Odor Lock System” “Air Tight Clamps” and “Carbon Filter Police." Basically, it’s a long plastic tube (lined with special plastic bags) in which you can toss soiled diapers and theoretically forget about them until the bag is full, because the room won't stink.
Which is great, but did we mention you have to buy special bags, called diaper pail liners, that are about $6.50 a pop? Doesn’t sound like much. But when you figure you need enough liners to house 9,600 diapers over the first three years of your child’s life, that number doesn’t sound so small anymore. One package of Sassy Brand disposable diaper sacs and a bunch of plastic newspaper bags got me through the first two years of my son’s life (when used only for poop. Pee diapers can be taped up and go straight into the wastebasket).
We’ve heard stories of mythical unicorn babies who slept in their cribs – in their own rooms!—from day one, but for majority of parents that is not the case. Of course you will need one eventually, but we do not believe this needs to be on your list of baby essentials to buy while pregnant. Many babies have trouble sleeping in a new environment and need the comfort of their parents nearby to help ease the transition. Often parents find that placing their newborn in a co-sleeper, rock n play, bouncy seat or even a swing enables both baby and parent to catch some Zzzs much more easily. Often babies do not like sleeping flat in their first few months and these other sleeping structures offer a slight incline that can minimize the discomfort of acid reflux.
1 Fancy Crib Bedding
If you don’t need a crib, you certainly don’t need all the expensive bedding to go along with it. We will concede when your baby does start sleeping in its crib, he will need a mattress pad and fitted crib sheet (both of which can be bought online for about $20 total).
Most bedding sets come with bumpers, which sound helpful – who doesn’t want to keep their infant from crashing its head or getting its leg stuck in cold, hard crib slats?—but they have been deemed a suffocation hazard by the American Academy of Pediatrics (even the thin mesh ones). Ditto for blankets, quilts and pillows. We all want a Pottery Barn worthy nursery, but don’t be fooled. All the soft extras are not safe for your infant.