When it comes to buying products for your little one, decision fatigue is real. You’ve probably scoured way too many baby item Pinterest boards to count. Truth is, there are an overwhelming amount of options and some pretty compelling reasons to want to buy all the things, causing you to quickly overspend. Rather than waste your much-needed resources on products you don’t actually need, there are items worth every penny, and we’re here to break them down for you. Below are 15 baby and kids products you can definitely live without—and what to shop for instead!
1. Don’t do: Baby wipe warmer.
This is first on our list because it’s one of the most tempting purchases to pick up before your little bundle of joy arrives. It seems logical that your baby’s tiny bottom would need warm wipes, right? Wrong. From my experience, my little one couldn’t tell the difference between a room temperature wipe from a “warmed up” one. And believe you me, in those early days of parenting, you’ll be using those wipes so often that you’ll practically rip them out of the package.
Do try: These delightfully absorbent burp cloths.
Your baby is going to spit all up on you (and then some), and for this reason, you must be prepared. While wipes generally come in handy for any number of things, you’ll want to protect your clothes from getting wet in the first place. That’s why ARNIZION’s Curved Burp Cloths are so great. You just sling one of their 100 percent cotton cloths over your shoulder, and not only will it protect you from your little angel’s drips and drools, but it also won’t slip off easily. Trust me, you’ll be using these round the clock.
2. Don’t do: Bottle warmers.
Likewise with wipe warmers: Just don’t. Many of us parents are easily duped into these items before our kids arrive because let’s face it: We have no idea what we’re getting into. It’s like when you’re going on vacation and you buy (and then pack) a bunch of needless stuff you end up regretting. Luckily, those of us on the other side can let other parents know ahead of time. Instead of paying money for this contraption, run your baby’s bottle under a hot faucet or warm it in a cup of hot water—BOOM. Remember, each formula’s instructions will be different, but a good rule of thumb is that it should be body temperature, meaning, it should feel warm or cool, but never hot.
Do try: Baby bottles worth investing in.
Rather than spend money on unnecessary items, spend a little more on the quality of your baby bottles (I promise, it’s worth it). Philips Avent Anti-Colic Baby Bottles are beloved far and wide for their design and durability. And as their name implies, they are clinically proven to reduce your baby’s colic, meaning less gas and fussiness (aka a more rested you).
3. Don’t do: Baby perfume.
One of the things I love the most about my munchkin is that he always smells like peanut butter. No matter what he eats. It’s the weirdest, most lovable scent in the world to me, and I promise your little one will be equally delicious to inhale. In fact, research has shown that women, mothers or not, tend to enjoy a baby’s scent. Which brings me to my point: You do not need to cover them up with pricey, superficial fragrance.
Do try: These baby grooming essentials.
Keep your small human healthy and groomed with this handy 17-piece kit by The First Years. My two-year-old still uses the majority of these essentials. The pack of neat items includes a nasal aspirator for cleaning out a runny nose, a digital thermometer, a medicine spoon with a cap, a nail clipper, a tiny brush and comb, and even a small rattle to keep your baby entertained and distracted. All of this comes in a practical bag to take with you on outings and trips.
4. Don’t do: Changing tables.
Confession time: I purchased the loveliest of changing tables before my little one got here. How did this happen? Because all of those Pinterest boards with the cute nursery rooms had them, and it seemed logical that you’d need a special place to change your child’s diapers. But here’s the thing, when it comes to parenting, you want to look at the long game (I can say this now in hindsight); in other words, find furniture that your child won’t outgrow.
Do try: A dresser that will go the distance.
Here’s what I wish I had bought two years ago: The Delta Children Universal 6 Drawer Dresser; you just set up a changing kit and pad on top, and you’re good to go. Once your baby starts potty training, you simply take it off and have a completely functional furniture item to last you for years. Hurrah!
5. Don’t do: Baby pillow.
As we’re certain you’ve heard before, anything other than a fitted sheet in your baby’s crib is a big no-no. Tempting as it may be, your baby will be perfectly fine to sleep without one, and you’ll stave off any potential choking hazards.
Do try: A magical sound machine to get your baby to sleep.
You know what becomes your top priority? Getting your small angel to sleep through the night. As every parent since the beginning of time can tell you, this is no easy feat. Luckily, the Baby Sleep Soother Sound Machine is basically magic. The shushing heartbeat sound, white noise, and soft, pulsing light will lull your baby into dreamland. You can set a 10-, 20-, or 30-minute shut-off timer, too, so you can head to bed.
6. Don’t do: Diaper pails.
Diaper pails are easily one of the most overhyped items on this list. Sure, this seems like an incredibly important purchase, but really, all you need is any closed trash bin. Trust me, you’re not going to want to fill a diaper pail to the brim with stinky, soiled diapers. You’re going to immediately take out the trash after a poopy session (of which there will be plenty), so why invest in a fancy bin?
Do try: Keep your baby nearby with this rocking bassinet.
Whether you’re unsure if you’ll co-sleep or have your little angel sleep in a crib, one thing is for sure: You’ll have round the clock feedings. And for this reason, a bassinet can feel like a life-saver. This portable bassinet by MiClassic makes sleep time a lot more manageable with its brilliant rocking mode. It also gives you the option of folding into a carry on bag for traveling.
7. Don’t do: Designer diaper bag.
As tempting as a designer bag may seem, resist the urge to spend hundreds of dollars on something meant to get dirty (diaper cream and sippy cup spillage come to mind). More importantly, you’re going to need that extra money for the loads upon loads of diapers you will actually need.
Do try: This fashionably frugal tote.
Being practical doesn’t mean you have to give up style! The striped tote from Primebabe is fashionable, and it’s also large enough to fit all of your baby’s essentials. It also comes with an assortment of neat (and useful) accessories: a changing pad for all your outings, a bottle bag, adjustable shoulder strap, and a cute mini purse.
8. Scented detergent.
While most people will simply tell you don’t do the thing, let me share my experience: I, too, bought into the hype of spending money on scented laundry detergent before my son was born, and wouldn’t-ya-know-it—he has sensitive skin. Meaning it was all for waste. Babies come straight from the womb with delicate, pristine skin—no need to push harsh soaps on them. WebMD recommends sticking to fragrance-free laundry detergents whenever possible and to keep in mind that liquid rinses out better than flakes.
Do try: A free and clear detergent that won’t harm your little one.
Since you have no way of knowing how your baby will react, keep things on the safe side with Seventh Generation’s Concentrated Laundry Detergent, an unscented and hypoallergenic alternative. You’ll never spend as much time washing clothes as when you have a small human in your home (unless there are several!), which is all the more reason to opt for a detergent that is both tough on stains and gentle for your skin.
9. Don’t do: Baby shoes galore.
Teeny tiny baby shoes are the cutest. I really, truly understand the desire to buy them in the dozens. But here’s a fact: They have no actual purpose other than looking all kinds of adorable. Baby shoes for a non-walking baby is basically throwing money into a big ole’ pit with little return. Since we know the temptation is strong, we recommend limiting yourself to buying only one pair for all your photo-taking needs.
Do try: These stylish bibs that keep your baby drool-free.
There are few things I know for certain, but one of them is this: You can never have too many bibs in your parenting arsenal. As we’ve established before, babies love to spit up all over us and themselves (and just wait until they’re teething!). These super absorbent drool bibs will keep your little one nice and dry.
10. Don’t do: Expensive bedding.
They add a layer of cuteness to your nursery room, you might say. But in reality, all of those frilly bumpers and pillows are problematic as they put your baby at risk for Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, as soft and loose bedding can increase the potential risk of suffocation. Like we said before, you only really need a soft fitted crib sheet to cover the mattress pad, which is your safest option for bedtime.
Do try: These baby-hugging wearable blankets.
If you’re worried about your munchkin staying warm, there’s a perfect alternative to potentially hazardous bedding. This wearable blanket from Bon Bebe Baby is pure cotton and keeps your little one nice and cozy without the added risk. This is one of our favorite items on this list, and one you’ll most likely use all day.
11. Don’t do: Musical potty.
At some point in your potty training trajectory, you will have the impulse to buy a potty with flashing lights and loud sounds. It’ll make poopy time so fun, you’ll say. Well, I am here to help you resist that urge. Just no. Kids don’t need all those bells and whistles to do their business (promise!). It’s nothing an average-priced potty seat and good old-fashioned patience can’t handle.
Do try: A book to guide you on the potty training path.
A good friend of mine says that life is all about strategy. That’s why parents need The Complete Guide to Potty Training by Michelle D. Swaney. Sure, while your child’s milestone (sans diaper) seems pretty straightforward, it can also get exasperating. Needless to say, difficulties will arise, and it’s times like these where you’ll want the step-by-step guidance of experts.
12. Don’t do: Toys that sing or light up.
Another tempting buy, and one totally not worth your money. While initially entertaining, the batteries wear off fast or the toy will stop working altogether. I can personally vouch for the tedium of having your child go into full tantrum mode because their once favorite teddy no longer lights up. Yeah…best to avoid this pitfall altogether.
Do try: Fostering their musical talents.
Encourage your child’s creativity by letting them come up with their own rhythms instead. Science has shown that a child’s brain is enhanced by learning to play a musical instrument. According to Melissa Locker at Time, “This helps them develop ‘neurophysiological distinction’ between certain sounds that can aid in literacy, which can translate into improved academic results for kids.” This set of kids’ musical instruments not only lasts longer than a singing toy, but it also allows a child to create their own melodies. The complete set comes with various instruments for a wider range of sounds and is safe to use for younger kids as well.
13. Don’t do: Brand-name apparel.
There’s honestly nothing more frustrating than spending a large chunk of a paycheck on a jazzy outfit your child will outgrow in a matter of months. Avoid overpaying for brand-name clothes and opt instead for buying from big box retailers and thrift stores, which offer similar value for a LOT less.
Do try: A durable backpack that lasts all year.
Aside from making sure your child’s sporting a backpack that’s stylish and functional, you’ll want to go for one that’s going to be easy on their back. Remember that a heavy bag can cause nerve damage to your kiddo’s arms and shoulders, so investing in a high-quality book bag should be a priority. We recommend MIFULGOO’s Kids Waterproof Backpack for its smart design, roomy compartments, and added reflector (which combines safety with style).
14. Don’t do: Fancy laptops.
You might easily be tempted to overspend thousands of dollars on the latest high-tech laptop computer, but keep in mind: Does your kid really need it? With the ever-changing tech landscape, it makes no sense to spend an exorbitant amount of funds on a laptop that will quickly become outdated.
Do try: Getting a cost-effective alternative.
If your child would mainly use a pricey MacBook Air for surfing the web and watching Netflix, you’re better off opting for a Google-powered Acer Chromebook, which offers the same value for a fraction of the cost. The convertible laptop boots up in seconds, has full HD touch, 4GB memory, and a 12-hour battery life. Put the rest of what you would have spent on a fancy laptop toward their college fund (trust me, they’ll thank you later).
15. Don’t do: Extravagant birthdays.
Alright, alright—this one’s not exactly a “product,” but it does involve a lot of wasted money. Sure, we want our kids to have the most magical of days, but as Samantha Kemp-Jackson of HuffPost questioned, are expensive kiddie birthday parties more over-indulgent than they are necessary? Some researchers have found that spoiling children at a young age can pose long-term effects such as poor social skills, irresponsibility, and lack of independence. Kemp-Jackson noted that this might be “to make up for our feelings of parental inadequacy and engagement by spending lots of money.”
Do try: Taking them on an adventure.
Your kids will only be little for so long, so don’t spend a fortune on birthday supplies that you’ll only use once when you can opt for more memorable experiences. Pack their bag (we recommend MiniMAX’s Children’s Trolley Luggage) and take them camping to watch falling stars. Hit the road (or the sky) for an adventurous trip, or simply spend the day at the beach. After all, there’s nothing more extravagant than the gift of your undivided attention.