Sunday, July 27, 2014

10 Things You Don't Need to Raise a Baby

Some things you just gotta have to properly raise a baby like nutritious food, clean water and warm bed. And then there are these things:

There are way more than ten useless baby items out there, but we'll just focus on the stuff that I was led to believe were necessities only to discover after having my kids that the just aren't.  I'll save duplication by first sharing THIS LIST from
  • Fancy bedding set
  • Clothes that go over a newborn's head
  • Wipe warmer
  • Shoes for newborns
  • Expensive baby clothes
  • Fancy stroller
  • Baby bathtub
  • Bumbo seat
  • Pee-pee teepees
I agree wholeheartedly with everything in the above list but the stroller point.  Depending on where you live (urban settings, especially) and your lifestyle (avid jogger/runner), the quality of your stroller does matter.  My suggestion is buy a really high quality stroller used to save some moolah, since the high-end strollers hold up well to multiple owners.

Now for my list, take it or leave it. I've now raised two babies and can reflect on my purchasing decisions (and suggestions I'm glad I ignored) as lessons learned and worth sharing. Whether you are on a budget or just want to keep things simple for your home and the planet, feel confident skipping the following purchases:


Diapers stink.  They are loaded with poop.  Don't store them in your baby's room, especially not in a pail that is lined with masking fragrances.  Throw the diapers out in an outdoor pail with your regular garbage every day.  


Seriously.  Your bed pillow works just fine AND it's easier to launder.


Changing tables are really cool and all, but in reality, diapers get changed all over the house so you really don't need a dedicated table for the grand event.  Laying a towel out on the floor, bed or sofa for a quick change works perfectly well.

4.  BIBS

I know, right? Call me a hater, but I don't "get" bibs.  Only my first baby briefly wore one at the introduction of solids, but I quickly discovered that food was still getting on her clothes while wearing the bibs, so then I had two things to launder, not just the one shirt.  If you like bibs, great.  But if you're a hater like me, then just accept crumbs will hit the shirt or have baby eat in the buff and do a rinse down after the meal.  


The hate continues with dedicated baby dishes, cups and silverware.  Both of my girls were trained from day one of eating solids to eat either with their hands (to build fine motor skills) or by using adult-sized silverware and dishware. They drink from glass cups out of glass straws.  Number of fork-related injuries: ZERO. Number of dishes broken to date: ZERO.  If cutesy plastic bowls and cups are your thing, great.  But if you want to keep sanity in your kitchen by limiting the additional variations of your tableware, just have the kidlins eat from your usual dishware set.  AND, if you are going to buy cutesy baby tableware, PLEASE be sure it's made of safe materials, and not BPA-laden plastics.   


Here's the deal:  Your baby is super soft and fairly clean all by herself.  Mainstream diaper powders, creams and oils (AHEM, Johnson's) are not only unnecessary, they're downright toxic (Read here on why you should NEVER put mineral oil like Johnson's Baby Oil on your baby)  If baby has a diaper rash, figure out why to avoid it in the future.  There's usually a reason.  Diaper was on too long? Air that kiester out and change the diapers more frequently.  Baby has a yeast infection?  Try using a herbal cream designed specifically for thrush like this one from Mother Love (this stuff works super well on cradle cap, as well).  As for cleaning baby, all you need is one gentle, healthy soap like our favorite, California Baby to wash body and hair. THAT'S IT. So, to summarize: do not put crap on your baby's skin. Wash her with a high quality soap, towel dry, and go.  No powders, lotions or creams.


And speaking of towels... Wrapping your baby in a towel that looks like a cartoon character is pretty fun, but totally unnecessary.  Unless you normally dry yourself with sandpaper, your adult-sized towels work just fine for drying baby.


What are you buying here? A super small (though admittedly colorful) mat, a small pillow and a few spare toys and mirrors.  Guess what?  You have all of those things around your house already.  You don't need to buy a dedicated set of them specifically for tummy time.  Lay out a blanket, throw a few toys down and open a book for baby to study while on his tummy. DONE.


And what are you buying here for $40?  A big square of fabric with a neck strap.  Cute? Kinda.  Necessary? No.  Most of the time you'll be home to feed baby so it's not necessary to get all discrete, but when you are out and need to cover up, here's a quick (and cheap) technique that I've mastered:  Start by buying yourself a dozen cheap square cotton kitchen towels like these that cost less than $1 each and keep a couple in your travel bag for on-the-go nursing.  Assuming you are wearing a bra while out, simply tuck one corner of the towel under each bra strap to create a little canopy over baby in your lap. Voila! A nursing shield for less than $1. And the benefit is that the shield can double as a burp cloth and is easily machine washable.


You're not shipping off to the Army; you're just going to Target.  How much stuff do you actually need to store in that gargantuan bag?  Seriously, people!  I have never owned a diaper bag.  The name grosses me out.  The price pisses me off.  I have a $12 beach bag from Old Navy that I carry whether the kids are with me or not.  It's my bag. It contains the following:

1 Wallet
2 diapers
1 small pack of wipes
2 boxes of raisins
1 box of crayons 
1 pad of paper
1 baggie of parking meter change
1 bottle of water (we share)
1 kitchen towel (see #9 above)
1 tiny bottle of hand sanitizer 

My bag does not have cartoon characters stitched on it.  It does not have a pack of butt wipes hanging off the side.  It's just a bag.  That happens to contain a couple of diapers. 

Got any other regrettable baby purchases to add to this list? I'd love to hear about them! 


  1. Skip the baby swing and the baby bouncer, but if you need one, choose only one. You don't need both. Accept hand-me-downs. Baby clothes are expensive. Tupperware makes for great bath toys.

  2. Agreed! My second baby preferred sleeping in her car seat to swinging. I'm not sure a bouncer offers much more than a car seat does, so I didn't even bother getting one of those.


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