Parents Reveal The 16 “Most Essential” Baby Items They Wish They Hadn’t Purchased

Save your money for their education.

March 6, 2017
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Your baby needs food, shelter, and love. They don’t need a $2,000 iPhone-charging stroller—or any of these other superfluous products.

1. Baby Knee Pads

Crawling isn’t exactly a contact sport. Still, first-time parents will be tempted to deck their babies out like roller derby girls. Some marketing genius came up with the idea of slip-proof knee pads for babies, and they’re laughing all the way to the bank.

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Think about it. Babies have been crawling for millennia. Their knees don’t need any help.

2. Fancy Changing Tables

Is there a spare dresser in your house? Or even a bed? If the answer is yes, then you already have a changing table.

Don’t waste hundreds of dollars on a piece of furniture that only serves one purpose and will be obsolete in no time flat. Just get a changing pad and use your existing furniture to change the baby.

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You can even use the dining room table. If that seems gross to you, just wait. A few weeks of spit-up and baby poop will lower your gross-out threshold to basically nil.

3. Shopping Cart Covers

These portable seat cushions sell parents on the idea that germ-covered grocery cart handles are the No. 1 threat to your child’s health. In fact, micromanaging your kid’s germ intake could do more harm than good.

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Babies develop their immune systems through contact with germs. We’re not saying it’s a good idea to let your kid chew on a public urinal, but whatever’s on that grocery cart is probably fine. You don’t need a special seat cover, even if it does come with a handy smartphone pouch.

4. Floor Seats

Most infants can’t sit up on their own until they’re a few months old. That is fine. They’ve got their whole lives to sit up and stare at screens. Why rush into it?

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Floor seats prop up babies who can’t actually sit yet, as if they needed that. There’s even a safety belt so your kid can’t escape. Save your money and let your baby’s musculoskeletal system do the work.

5. Wipe Warmers

Didn’t Freud say something about adult depression being caused by contact with freezing cold baby wipes during infancy? No, he didn’t, because the idea is absurd.

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Unless you store your baby wipes in the refrigerator, there’s no good reason to heat them up before using them for their disgusting and necessary purpose. If you do store baby wipes in the fridge, though, let us know; we’ve got an idea for a $450 baby wipe cooler we’d love to discuss with you.

6. Portable Pacifier Sanitizing Wipes

We understand why these make sense for a first-time parent. After religiously scrubbing a first-born’s binky every time it hits the floor (which is often), parents tend to relax.

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We know terrific moms who actually lick their kids’ pacifiers clean. Others give them a once-over with their sleeves. Unless your pediatrician specifically tells you to use sanitizing wipes, you can probably get by without them.

7. Super-Fancy Bedding Sets for a Crib

There’s a whole cottage industry based on the human need to make nurseries as cute as possible. You know what’s really cute, though? Your baby.

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You can spend thousands on a chic, perfectly matched bedding set. Or you could spend a few bucks at the thrift store. Either way, your baby won’t know the difference. We’re not saying you shouldn’t pay out the wazoo for your infant’s sheets. We’re just saying that you shouldn’t think it will make a difference to your baby—that stuff is for you, mom.

8. Diaper Disposal Systems (Besides Trash Cans)

You might have heard of the “Diaper Genie.” It’s basically a trash can with a scent-reducing liner and a reliable lid. The thing is, you have to buy special garbage bags and replacement filters for these things, and they’re really only useful if you only take out the trash once every other week.

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If you can handle a daily trip to the dumpster, you can save a lot by going with a regular old lidded trash can instead.

9. Baby Food Makers

We come from a proud tradition of collecting kitchen gadgets that we’ll never use. With dedicated puree machines, you can get your young one started on this tradition early.

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Baby food makers are basically just blenders with a little fancy packaging. If there’s a blender in your kitchen, you’re already there. A baby food cookbook is probably more worth your while, and will definitely cost a lot less.

10. Baby Shoes

Before you respond with outrage that we’d dare suggest you deprive your baby of shoes, ask yourself this question: Is your infant walking yet?

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If the answer is no, then shoes are just decoration. Try socks to keep your baby’s feet warm, and if you want to up the “Awww” factor on your kid, try a bonnet. Baby bonnets are totally classic. Plus, they might actually serve a purpose, like keeping the sun out of your baby’s eyes.

11. Baby Bathtubs

You can spend a lot on a specially designed, ergonomically enhanced plastic box. Or you could just put a few inches of lukewarm water in your actual bathtub and pocket the savings (or, you know, put them into a college fund).

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Heck, if you like to bathe your baby in the sink, go for it. The important thing is that you never leave your infant alone in any amount of water. As long as you’re paying attention, there are lots of ways to get through bath time without investing in an expensive product that you’ll only need for a few months.

12. Thermometers Made for the Bath

While we’re on the subject of bathing, you might see some cute thermometers that are designed to warn you when the bath water is too hot. You actually already own a product that can do this. It is your elbow.

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Stick your elbow in the water. It should feel just slightly warm, but not hot. That should do the trick.

13. A Teepee For His Pee-pee

If you’re the first-time parent of a little boy, you’re about to get peed on. That’s just part of the deal.

The manufacturers of this item have come to the rescue. They sell packs of these little cloth cones, which you can use to isolate the danger zone while you’re changing a diaper.

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Here’s the thing, though. A regular old washcloth will work just as well. Plus, getting peed on is just part of parenting; it’s known as “paying your dues.”

14. Disposable Plastic Place Mats

New parents take a lot of joy in ticking off their baby’s major milestones. First step, first word, first dinner out with mom and dad because the babysitter canceled.

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Plastic place mats allow parents to save a little face as their tiny wonder flings dinner all over the table. It may be tempting to get a pack of disposable mats so you don’t have to clean a reusable one. These tend to be thinner and lighter, though, and they usually just end up balled up on the floor. You’re way better off with a nice reusable mat.

15. Walking Helpers

Unless your doctor specifically orders you to use one of these portable harnesses, there’s no real reason to invest in one. They’re supposed to help your kid learn to walk, but learning to walk is a natural process that doesn’t really need fancy new devices to take effect.

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On the other hand, if you’re going to keep your kid (literally) on a leash until they’re like 12, this product provides some nice training.

16. More Stuffed Animals

Until your kid is, like, 8, their stuffed menagerie will grow on its own. Between grandparents, aunts and uncles, and family friends, there’s no reason to buy your kid more stuffed animals.

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By the time your baby is developed enough to enjoy these toys, you will have enough of them. Trust us on that. As for newborns, well, life is psychedelic enough for them already. You don’t need to complicate things with tiny purple lions.

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