Unnecessary Baby Products
When you’re finished reading this article, be sure to read the continuation, Unnecessary Baby Products – Part 2
New parents almost always make the mistake of buying a bunch of gadgets for their babies that are totally unnecessary. Having kids is pretty expensive; there’s no disputing that. But, adding another family member would be expensive whether he was 1 month old or 40 years old. Generally speaking living is downright costly. We have been conditioned to believe, through a variety of marketing ploys, that newborns need to have a wide array of safety, fun, entertainment, and dietary products, and that if we do not provide those products that we are neglectful. Marketing is so effective in fact that even our own friends and family tell us we need these products. Parents spend, on average, $6,000 on baby gear in the first year alone. That figure does not include perfectly legitimate expenses like medical checkups. So, if anybody reading this is a new parent, pay attention because those of us who have been through it would like for you to avoid the pitfalls that so many of the rest of us have already made. My list of products we could all do without is as follows:
My wife and I bought one and found out right away how silly it was. Parents find themselves changing diapers on the couch, bed, kitchen counter, dining room table, floor, coffee table, bla bla bla. Wherever the kid does his business is where he gets changed. You will, more frequently than not, end up changing your baby wherever it is most convenient at the moment. The specialized changing table does not get used enough to make the cost worthwhile.
Strollers are actually quite necessary, but not big fancy fluffy ones. The cheaper ones are actually much better because they fold down smaller and steer better. Don’t get an umbrella stroller though; they have no support. But also avoid spend more than, say, 75 bucks. Your baby doesn’t care. Now, if you want to make a fashion statement then that’s a different matter, go for it. But don’t buy it because you think you need it.
It might be just me on this one, but my kids were never out of my sight the first year of their lives, and that’s not an exaggeration. I slept with them and carried them everywhere with me. Some parents want their kids sleeping in a separate room right away. Even if that is the case, a baby monitor will not help much. The noises emitted from babies are monotonous and easily ignored. It lulls a parent into a false sense of security. I think they’re more dangerous than helpful. Baby monitors give parents the sense that they can prevent an accident when in fact it encourages neglectfulness. But, as with all advice, take it with a grain of salt. If your circumstances are such that you are convinced you can’t do without it, then that’s your business. But, always trust more in your own motherly and fatherly instinct, not the sounds of the monitor.
Bottle warmers and special cleaners
Does this really need any explanation? They never get used, and they take up space in the kitchen. Kids are an impatient lot. They won’t wait for you to clean and disinfect everything before screaming their heads off. Parents, for their part, are usually in such a rush that these sorts of products become laughable. You will certainly learn quickly how little time you are afforded as a parent. Bottle warmers and baby specific bottle cleaners are among the first to get tossed.
Baby Proofing Devices
This is a novel concept and all, but I’m an advocate of educating children on what is safe to touch and what is not. The only baby proofing we did in our house was for sharp table corners. But, sealing doors and making jars impossible to open is silly. By the time children are old enough to be moving around and getting into things they can be taught what they are allowed to play with and what is off limits. Not only are these things a waste of money, but they make houses stupidly frustrating to navigate for adults.
The Diaper Genie (and products like it) is supposed to seal away a dirty diaper for easy disposal later. They don’t work. Even if they did work parents get so accustomed to the smell of dirty diapers that they would forget to use it. Heck, dirty diapers become makeshift playthings for parents. “Hey, throw the bomb! I’ll slam dunk it in the trash out here!” That’s how it goes.
I used a backpack, it worked well for me. I had no complaints. Perhaps it’s because I’m a guy and I don’t care about style, but having the diaper bag seemed quite unnecessary. Some parents say a diaper bag is a vital accessory because of the handy little pockets designed for bottles and other tools. It wasn’t a problem for me to reach into a backpack to get what I needed. I guess it’s just a style preference. Still, if it’s a matter of saving money then it’s not necessary.
Cribs are really expensive and unnecessary for one reason. There exist these little folding travel cribs that work just as well and cost a fraction. When kids are old enough to outgrow it then they are able to sleep in a normal bed. Cribs are aesthetic pieces of furniture more than anything. Besides, I would argue the best place for a baby to sleep is with his parents, not a crib. That topic, however, is a different article.
Advertisers want us to believe that the products I’ve listed above are necessary and vital to the proper development of babies. But the reality is that, if money is an issue, these things can be done without. There are enough unavoidable expenses in life, such as education and medical, that we should not be worried about trivial baby products that are sold and pushed for the simple purpose of getting our money, not for helping our babies. Kids need love and attention, they do not generally need fancy and expensive products. Not all baby gear gets a thumbs down from me; there are products that are quite useful. That, again is, another article. My above criticisms are not intended to advocate a Spartan lifestyle. I am only saying that, when money is tight, we should recognize the things that are not worth the cost.