When you are preparing for a baby — especially a first baby — the urge to buy everything everyone says you’ll need is almost too much to resist. But for your sake — resist. Many baby products have an extremely limited lifespan or are completely unnecessary. For the low-down on what you don’t need when shopping for a baby, check out our list of 10 baby products that you should never put on your baby registry, buy for yourself, or give as a present.
1. A Bassinet
Yes, you will probably want something smaller than a crib near your bed for the first three months or so of your baby’s life for easy night feeding, but skip the expensive, bulky bassinet — especially if you’re short on space or cash. A Moses basket on a rocking stand has a much smaller footprint, and the basket easily travels from room to room. Keep in mind that neither a bassinet nor Moses basket should be used past its weight limit or once the baby can push up or roll over — three months is a general guideline.
2. Expensive Crib Bedding Packages
The crib is the piece de resistance in the modern nursery, and the bedding sets the tone for the room, but those $300 packages often include unnecessary bumpers, blankets, and pillows — none of which are recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics due to SIDS concerns. Find a couple of cute, decor-pleasing fitted sheets, and you’re good to go, with plenty of cash to spare.
3. Shoes for Newborns
This one is hard to resist. There’s possibly nothing cuter in newborn fashion than the world’s tiniest baby shoes. There’s also nothing more pointless. Newborns are barely even aware they have feet, let alone concerned with what they’ll eventually use them for. To keep toes toasty, opt for warm baby booties or socks, depending on the season. Even the most ambitious baby won’t start to walk until 9 months old.
4. A Sleep Positioner
Both the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission have warned that infant sleep positioners are dangerous and should not be used. Babies should fall asleep on their backs until they are old enough to roll themselves over. If you want to keep your baby in place, try a swaddling blanket or a “cheater” swaddling blanket, such as the Miracle Blanket. They keep babies feeling secure — and limbs from flailing — safely.
5. A Changing Table
The best way to optimize space — and purchases — is to make items do double-duty. Nowhere is this more apparent than with the changing table/dresser combination. Buy a dresser that tops out at about waist height, put a changing pad on top, and voila, you have also just created the perfect changing table — two necessary baby units in one. Adhere the pad with stick-on Velcro if you’re really worried about it slipping, and you can stash diapers and supplies in the top drawers, while using the rest for all those adorable baby clothes.
6. Baby Bucket or Tummy Tub
When babies are very small, they don’t need baths — a simple warm washrag will do just fine. And by the time you really do need to dunk them, most won’t enjoy being stuffed into an expensive bucket. One caveat: If reviewers are to be believed, babies with colic do like the tub — but then, do you really want to bet that you’re going to be birthing a colic-y baby? Get a simple, inexpensive bath seat (one that works in the sink does double-duty), and pass it to a friend when your baby graduates to the tub.
7. Bottle Warmers
Going without this item saves you time, money, and effort. Room temperature milk (breast or formula) is the way to go from the beginning. If your darling son or daughter insists on warm liquids, put your cold bottle in a bowl of warm water for a few minutes and then do a quick liquid-on-the-wrist test to check temperature. Take the money you saved and put it toward BPA-free bottles and, for picky eaters, a variety of different nipple flow types.
8. Wipe Warmer
Another thing that doesn’t need to be warmed? Baby wipes. After all, they shouldn’t be that cold if you live in a heated home, and do you really want get your child used to warm wipes when you won’t always be in changing distance of your warmer? Not to mention the electricity waste. Just buy lots of wipes, and if you end up with a screamer at diaper time, re-evaluate your options from there.
Babies don’t appreciate fine fabrics, and whatever you buy for them will be spit-up on, peed on, and, occasionally, pooped on in a most unpleasant way. Throw cashmere out the window (do you really want to be hand-washing a $200 cashmere baby sweater praying that the stains come out?) and embrace cotton. Many companies now have soft organic cottons that rival cashmere in softness while faring much better in the washing machine. Use the money you saved on a new outfit for yourself.
10. Anything New That You Can Get Used
New parents often assume they’re doing their children a disservice by picking up used baby goods. Parents who’ve been around the block, however, know to scour garage sales, Craigslist, eBay, and the like to score perfectly good gear at a small fraction of the original cost. If you’re a design-hound, think of it this way: buying used is a great way to score designer goods at prices well below retail of even the ugliest plastic baby gear. And you’re doing the environment a favor, as well. Just make sure to check expiration dates on car seats and recall notices on items such as cribs and baby jumpers.