Expectant mothers, especially first-timers, have much to think about. There’s so much planning to do that you may not know where to begin! You’ll probably do a lot of reading of those pregnancy and baby care books that everyone will recommend or pass on to you. You may find yourself submerged in online birth clubs and baby blogs, scouring the internet for those precious gems of wisdom that often are found at 2:00 a.m. (when you can’t sleep because of the little one doing gymnastics in your belly.)
And yes, you’ll learn plenty from those sources and many others, but you may eventually find yourself on baby info overload, especially where “the things you should buy” are concerned. Hey, you have enough to worry about. Your navel’s turning inside out, there’s morning sickness to contend with, and strange things are happening with your boobs. The last thing you need to fret over now is whether or not you really need a $900 stroller because it’s the cutest thing ever, and because you saw Gwyneth Paltrow strolling Apple in one on E! last night.
Look around, and you’ll find plenty of lists out there - things you “need” for baby - from retailers, manufacturers, magazines… and many of them can be quite helpful. But keep in mind that many of those seemingly necessary products were put on that list by marketers who just want your money. I can’t blame them really, as I worked in marketing for years, and it’s nice to make money! What’s not nice is to spend it on things that are wasteful, inefficient or just plain useless.
So with that in mind, here’s a list of things you really don’t need…
“What?!” you ask, “no childproofing - are you nuts?!” I’m still sane as far as I know. And that is due, at least in part, to my having learned to put aside unnecessary worries. Newborns aren’t mobile, so it’s unlikely they’ll be trying to get into household chemicals under the kitchen sink as soon as you bring them home from the hospital. Do yourself a favor, and use your first few months to take care of baby and yourself. You don’t need to bother with childproofing until Baby can get around and get into things. Of course you’ll need to ensure that your nursery is safe, but in the beginning that’s easily accomplished without all the white plastic gadgets. Relax, you have time. (If you are one of those obsessive planners, however, and simply must have the childproofing out of the way before baby comes home - fine, do it if it makes you feel better. I don’t understand you, though. Sometimes I envy you and your organization, but then I also know how your planning will go out the window when baby arrives and sets his own rules… so allow me to snicker about that.)
Unless you live in an igloo, wipes aren’t that cold. They’re moist and cool to the touch, which is logical since they’re made for babies’ bottoms. Wipe warmers do more than their namesake implies… they dry the wipes out, too. Nobody wants to try to remove sticky baby poop with a dry wipe, I don’t care how warm it is. And honestly, Baby just wants the poop gone as much as you do. Start him on moist and cool wipes, and he’ll never complain.
This thing was the bane of my existence for a about a week when my daughter was first born. Measure the water, fill the container, wait for steam, wait to refill since it didn’t work the first time, etc. Meanwhile, a baby is hungry and letting you and the neighbors know about it.
The books all say not to use the microwave. Most bottles say “do not microwave” right on the bottle, because bottle manufacturers do not want to be sued. This is one area where I was quick to learn that breaking the rules can be a good thing. The danger of the microwave is that it heats unevenly, and you don’t want Baby to get a “hot spot” and burn his tongue. This is where a little science and some common sense can come in handy. Experiment while the baby is napping and thus not screaming for nourishment. Fill a bottle and nuke it for 20 seconds or so. Then in the words of Def Leppard (one for you soccer moms), take the bottle, shake it up. Ahhh… yes, that’s right; if you shake it up, uneven heating can be fixed! What a concept. Of course you need to test it by squirting some on your hand or wrist, and adjust your microwave time accordingly, and of course all microwaves are different, and you should also take into account whether or not the formula was cold or room temperature to start with. This is where the common sense comes in. Just play with it a little until you figure out what works with your microwave and your bottles. (Obviously the construction of the bottles you use should be taken into consideration as well. I wouldn’t nuke a cheap, thin plastic bottle, but the Playtex Vent-Aires and Avents we use have always worked fine.)
While we’re on bottles, what’s with the sterilizer? Wash them well - by hand or in the dishwasher - and if you want to sterilize, you can do so by nuking them (empty) for 5 minutes or so in the microwave. A separate thing to put them in isn’t necessary.
This one’s iffy. I didn’t like having to reach into the Diaper Genie to push the diaper in to where it needed to go. I got over that, and then my daughter started solids, and even though I switched to the next “stage” of refill bags for solid food-eaters, the smell was in no way contained. In fact, there was nothing odor free about the Diaper Genie, nor any other brand or form of diaper pail I have tried. Pee and poop stink, that’s just the way it is. Keep in mind that you have to empty the diaper pails often, and clean and disinfect them as well. Eventually I just got a regular old diaper pail that I can use tall kitchen trash bags in - they’re cheaper than Genie refills, and I have to buy them anyway for the kitchen. I put pee diapers in the pail, and all poopie diapers get tied up in grocery bags and go straight to the trash. Grocery bags are easy to come by, but the little disposal dirty diaper bags work too - you can find a box of 50 or so for a buck at your local dollar store. In the end, diaper pails are somewhat necessary. In my case, I opted for something that didn’t require me to buy branded refills. It doesn’t make neat little linked sausages of the diapers, and it stinks - but they all do, no matter what it says on the package.
If you keep diapers in a basket or some other kind of organizer near your changing table or crib, the diaper stacker is just another unnecessary accessory. When it’s empty, you have to fill it, and they’re not that cute. Are they?
Cover for changing table pad
I honestly cannot think of a more useless product. Here’s a cheap piece of terry cloth that’ll cost you 10 bucks, fit the pad poorly and get raggedy after only a few washes… all so you don’t have to look at the plain white changing table pad, and maybe so you can cover it with something that matches your nursery décor. Well, it’ll get poop on it, and that will not only not match your décor, but it also makes for more stinky clean up and laundry. Most changing table pads are covered in a slick material that can be easily wiped down and disinfected. I clean mine with a bit of bleach water, and to me that seems more sanitary anyway… and there’s no worry over when was the last time I washed the changing table pad cover.
While we’re on the subject of changing table stuff, I was told by at least two people while pregnant with my first that a changing table is a waste of space. I read in several magazines that a separate changing table is not a necessity. That may be true if you are comfortable bending over to change Baby in his crib, on the floor, on the bed, or wherever you may do it. In my case, the changing table has been used probably more than any other “baby thing” in my house. It’s great for those of us who have back trouble, and it provides storage space as well.
I suppose a stroller is much like buying a car in that you have you own preferences for features and desire for a certain level of luxury. Luxury isn’t much of an option in my case, and functionality is more important. My required features were safety, smooth “ride”, easy to “drive”, and recline function. (Don’t buy any stroller that doesn’t recline. Just don’t! You can thank me later.) I can’t believe there are strollers that cost $400, $700, even $1000 and have to believe that much of that cost has to do with status symbols. If that’s what you’re into, more power to ya - but I tend to think that a kid could benefit much more from that money going into a college fund instead. I have splurged on some baby gear, but I can’t imagine what is some folks’ rent or mortgage payment amount going for a stroller. It better be automatic and come with a nanny for that kind of money!
We started with a Graco travel system, which is really nice, and added a lightweight “umbrella” stroller to the mix later. Eventually my one became two, so we’ve since replaced them all with a tandem double stroller that does its job well and was a whopping $89 at Wal-Mart. It’s not a Bugaboo, but the kids love it, and besides the fact that it takes up a lot of my shopping bag space in the back of the SUV, it works fine for me.
Expensive high chair
When Baby can sit up and is eating solids, of course you will need a high chair or feeding seat of some sort. I started with a mid-range high chair (can you believe these things can go upwards of 200 bucks?!) and ended up with an $18 chair from IKEA. Know why I tossed the more expensive one? I got tired of washing the chair cover… over and over and over. Even worse was the divided tray. Sure, it had an insert that was dishwasher safe, but it was still hard to clean because of the divided areas. And when you think about it, there’s the tray insert and the tray to clean, so that’s double the work. Who needs that?
High chairs are for feeding, and they’re going to get dirty. Babies care about eating, and little else, when they’re in a high chair - so it seems excessive to me to provide more than what they want and need to make happy mealtimes for them and for you.
I now have two IKEA Antilop high chairs and feel that cleaning both of them up is less of hassle than it ever was to clean the one semi-expensive high chair that I had (before my second child was born.) They wipe/wash clean, and there are no extra parts to worry about. Smaller feeding chairs that strap on to big people chairs work well too and are portable which can come in handy.
(Note: the IKEA high chair pictured does not recline. It is probably best to use when Baby can sit unsupported. My son the super baby started in this high chair at 3.5 months, though he didn’t sit fully unsupported for another month. He may be a special case since he held his head up from the day he was born and had full control of it soon thereafter - he has never really liked to sit in anything reclined actually. Use your own judgment… you’ll know when Baby is ready.)
I’m not a doctor or an expert, just a mom like you. If you’re feeling overwhelmed by the choices you’ll be faced with as you enter motherhood, just do the best you can for you and your baby - if you find ways of making things easier for you along the way, it just means you’ll have less to worry about, and more precious time to spend with your baby. I hope you’ve found some information that will save you some money, and a headache or two.