Babies need food, shelter, and love. They don't need a $3,000 hands-free stroller that the Queen of England was once photographed with, or any of these superfluous products below...
Swing a purse in my apartment and you’ll hit the many baby essentials that are rarely used and pretty much useless. Of all the helpful and somewhat overwhelming advice expecting mums receive, ‘do not overbuy’ is always a repetitive one that’s of course, ignored. After all, what’s an especially round and heavy woman going to do, if not to slump into the couch and rummage through thousands of online baby stores? And yet, as I hopelessly declutter my space each day, here I present to you the top seven baby products I wish I hadn’t bought. Plus, some more wisdom from the HoneyKids mums.
7 baby products to not waste your money on
1. Fancy schmancy crib bedding sets
My heart still aches every time I glance at the Pottery Barn baby bedding sets that I hauled all the way from the States. Their Marketing team did a fantastic job, painting a dreamy image of what my baby’s nursery would look like if I bought this exact set. So I did. Turns out, the crib skirt is as useful as a chocolate teapot. And the crib bumper? Still neatly folded with a tag on. You can drop hundreds of dollars on a perfectly matched bedding set, or a few bucks at the clearance section of Mothercare. Baby won’t know the difference. I’m not saying you shouldn’t spend a wazoo on your infant’s mattress. That one is important for his or her airflow and sleep safety. But the bedding? Not so much. The only one that can appreciate the aesthetic aspect of cute matching elephants printed on Egyptian cotton bedding sets, is you, mum. And maybe your social media…
2. A changing table
Another item that has either been collecting dust or used as an unwanted display tray: the changing table. What I learnt is that the baby was either too small and fragile, or too big and mobile, to be put on what essentially is the top of a dresser. If you have a bed, then you already have a changing ‘table’. Don’t spend hundreds of dollars on a piece of furniture that serves only one purpose, and will soon be obsolete. By the time the baby can flip onto his tummy and worm around, all your changing business will probably happen somewhere closer to the ground, say, the floor.
3. A ton of baby clothes in newborn size
Before you respond with outrage at the suggestion of depriving your precious child of clothes, think of how many times you’ve heard of the phrase “baby outgrows everything so fast”. Countless times, I imagine. And from both parent friends who have gone down the same regretful road, and non-parent friends who binge watch ‘Bad Moms’. The truth is, newborns grow overnight. And as for newborn-sized clothes? Unless they’re jammies that they practically live in, most are used just once. Have a look on Facebook Marketplace and Carousell, and see how many parents are throwing in a ‘buy 1 get 5’ deal on their baby’s newborn clothes.
4. A baby food maker
The cutest, yet most unnecessary piece of kitchen equipment you can certainly survive without: a baby food maker. We all come from a proud tradition of hoarding kitchen gadgets that we will never use. With a dedicated puree machine, your little ones can kickstart this tradition early. Here’s the thing: baby food makers are just blenders with higher price tags. And perhaps a steam function that your rice cooker also has. Before you wander to the baby food maker aisle, ask yourself this: do you really want to pile this onto your currently neglected dirty dish load? I’m guessing no.
5. 5oz (150ml) baby bottles
5oz/150ml milk bottles are great for about four months. After that, they will serve as a constant reminder of how much money you’ve wasted. Instead of these tiny bottles, go for the 9oz/260ml ones. You can use them from birth and up to the day your baby makes his transition to drinking from a cup. Your wallet and baby will thank you for that.
6. Burp cloths
First time parents will be tempted to buy every type of cloth – washcloths, swaddle cloths, and God forbid, burp cloths. If you were me, who frantically secured a bundle of eight burp cloths off Amazon after seeing them on a must-buy list, I bet by now, you’ve found a dedicated space in the bottom of your closet for them. But if you haven’t heard of the term burp cloth, good for you. Let’s keep it that way. Because they are just pieces of cotton fabric, designed to drape over your shoulder when you burp your baby. Nine out of 10 times, they don’t catch any spit-up. Some Marketing genius came up with the idea of burp cloths for parents, and they’re laughing all the way to the bank. Think about it: there’s a reason why mothers are known to wear milk-stained and puke-stained tops! Use any cloths in the vicinity and you will be fine. Plus, getting puked on is just part of parenting. It’s called ‘paying your dues’.
7. Stuffed animals
Since every household seems to own a little too many stuffed toys, new parents often think it’s a must-buy. The reality is, between grandparents, relatives, and friends, there’s no reason for you to buy your baby more stuffed animals. Let them do the work. Give your baby five years, and watch his stuffed menagerie grow on its own. Until then, he will find joy in playing with anything – from your TV remote to coffee-stained cushions and even a bag that fell out of your trash can. Trust me. As for newborns, life itself is psychedelic enough. You don’t need to complicate things with a blue teddy bear that sings.
Other helpful tips from HoneyKids mums
“For first-time mums, don’t bother with the so-called baby essentials like breast pumps, bottles, or dummies straight away. Wait until your little one is born and figure out what you need. I never expressed with my first two kids and neither of them used dummies. It wasn’t until I had my third and was returning to work that any of this was useful.
Also, if you can, try a few different baby carriers from friends once the baby is born before you splurge. I bought a few slings and a front-facing baby carrier and didn’t end up using any of them. My carrier of choice is now an Ergobaby, which I ended up buying second-hand after trying out my best friend’s one.
Breast feeding pillows can also be a hard one – this really didn’t work for me. I ended up just using a good old-fashioned cushion from the couch. There really is so much junk that you can stock up on. I’m a big fan of the slowly, slowly approach to buying.
Oh, one more: don’t stock up on lots of baby toiletries. All babies need for their precious new skin is water, and maybe some barrier cream if they’re prone to nappy rash. Shampoo, moisturiser, bath wash etc can all come much later once they’re past the newborn stage.”
“Firstly, the coffee cup attachment for your pram! Ah, those visions of pushing the pram while taking leisurely sips of soy latte. LOL. More coffee ended up splattered on the pram handle than in my mouth. Plus, who wants to navigate a pram one-handed or stop every time you want a sip? It’s much nicer to sit down at a cafe anyway.
Secondly, the top and tail bowl…. Take a bowl from your kitchen and fill it with water to clean your baby’s behind. Voila!
Last but not least, the nappy sacks. We’re already bombarded with plastic bags, despite our best efforts to turn them down at the checkout. If you can’t keep up by reusing them as bin liners, tuck a couple of plastic bags from your last grocery shop or delivery into your kit and use them as nappy sacks when you’re out and about. We spend so much time trying to avoid accumulating plastic bags, why would we buy more?”
“The one piece of advice I tend to give is don’t buy lots of sleeping bags, swaddles, bedding etc until you’ve kind of figured out what your baby likes. Sleeping bags can be quite expensive, and come in a few different formats (sleeveless, covered hands, both combined etc) so you don’t want to spend $50 on one only to find that you’re whipping it off the baby within the first two minutes because she’s screaming about the covered hands/exposed hands/whatever it is she insists she doesn’t like. I suggest borrowing a few from friends or buying them secondhand if you can. Or if not, only buy one of each kind so you can test the waters before spending more money.
Another essential a friend told me I HAD TO HAVE was one of those nappy disposal systems, but the moment I looked at it I recoiled in horror. Everyone’s different, but to me this just created extra waste. It ain’t that hard to empty the nappy bin.”
All baby stuff is cute. Your baby, however, is the cutest. Save your money for their college funds!