As soon as the world finds out you’re pregnant, especially if it’s with your first child, you will be blasted from all sides with recommendations of “products every parent needs.” Family will ask if you have the latest nursing pillow, friends will offer to “help you scan” (that is, tell you exactly what they want you to register for) at Buy Buy Baby, companies you’ve never heard of will mail you coupons for merchandise you didn’t know existed.
According to GlobeNewswire, the global baby products market is set to reach $US15.6 ($22) billion annually by 2026 — and expectant, anxious parents are the perfect target for its marketing. As much fun as it is to go on a buying spree while expecting so you can “feel prepared,” (haha) remember that every purchase has a built-in expiration date: Kids grow so fast, that a lot of pregnancy and baby swag is completely unnecessary. Behold: a potentially controversial list of bullshit baby items you absolutely do not need to buy.
Maternity support belts
These wide, tube-top looking strips of spandex/nylon are designed to hold up pre-pregnancy pants around ever-growing bellies so expectant mums don’t have to buy a maternity wardrobe. (The “belt” is not to be confused with more firm “belly bands” that can actually support your lower back and reduce joint pain.) The idea is thus: simply unzip your pre-natal jeans, wrap this thing around your waist, and boom — those old clam diggers are now retro-fitted for your current body. Seamless, adjustable, and stretchy. It sounds like it should work, right?
For some women, maybe. But when we tried, all we got were pants with droopy, saggy butts. The band wasn’t tight enough to hold up the pants through walking, sitting, and stretching, and it wasn’t comfortable to have the hardware (buttons and zippers) smushed up against our bellies. Additionally, there is some medical concern that these compression bands may impair proper blood circulation. Our advice: skip the belt and invest in some cheap maternity khakis from Old Navy or Target. Your mid-section will thank you.
Expensive stretch mark creams
Though some claim anecdotal results from swanky anti-stretch mark creams containing collagen, elastin, cocoa butter, or vitamin E, there is little research-backed evidence proving they work. According to Oprah-dubbed “Cosmetics Cop” Paula Begoun, stretch marks are caused by collagen and elastin breakage under the skin, so any topical ointment applied to the exterior of the skin won’t prevent them. “It is impossible for any cosmetic to raise the indentations back to where the skin level used to be or to repair snapped elastin fibres,” Begoun says on her Facebook page. “You can choose to believe the ads if you like, but it will simply be money thrown down the drain.”
Now, if you want to moisturize with an emollient cream to keep the your pliable and soothe itchiness, go for it. Just don’t expect results from “wonder products” — you may need prescription retinoids or laser treatments for that.
Pee pee teepees
Are you familiar with this “must have diapering accessory”? It’s a small, cone-shaped piece of fabric that is meant to be placed over your baby boy’s tiny unit during diaper changes so he doesn’t pee in your face (or anywhere else, like his own eye). Problem is, small pieces of loose fabric don’t stay on microscopic body parts of crying, wriggling babies. Also, we have heard that the “wee wee tent” simply diverts pee down onto the changing table, so you’ve got a nice puddle of urine to mop up afterwards.
Instead, simply try using the diaper. Have one ready to gently cover his bits as soon as they’re exposed. Here’s another thought, forego all of the precautionary measures and let it ride. Parents existed for centuries without a barrier over their baby boy’s front region. I didn’t suffer spray to my face once in six years of baby boy diaper changes. Now, my carpet — that’s another story.
Cute newborn outfits
Hear us out. We know. How dare we say buying baby clothes is bullshit? The womb does cartwheels every time it sees a tiny little tutu dress with matching booties or plaid button down shirt for your soon-to-be little man. But remember, a baby’s primary activities are sleeping and emitting bodily fluids. Any nice clothes you put on an infant will inevitably be marred by spit up or poop.
Also, infants are hard to dress. They squirm and cry and shiver. You won’t want the clothing process to take too long. They are most comfortable in onesies, snap-front shirts and jammies that don’t have to be pulled over their heads (they hate that). Besides, you’ll probably be getting clothes from well-wishing friends, relatives, and co-workers. Save your own dough for a babysitter.
Sorry to keep crushing your dreams. We know, they are so freaking cute. But baby shoes are largely a waste of money. First off: Your baby can’t walk! Rendering footwear, as swoon-worthy as those Mary Janes and high-top sneakers may be, totally impractical. We know they look adorbs, but they actually don’t fit very well and most babies don’t like wearing them. They usually just rub their feet together until one or both falls off.
Also, there’s medical reasoning behind keeping your babies footwear free. Less is more when it comes to shoes during the first five years of your child’s life. Constricting soft feet with rigid shoes may prevent bones and muscles from developing properly.
The thinking on this one is that a baby’s tiny little buns cannot, and should not, withstand the indignity of a chilly wipe. But here’s the thing: Even if you opt to clutter up your changing table go the extra mile to ensure your infant’s bum is never less than 98.6 degrees, by the time you are ten seconds into the hazardous waste cleanup, that wipe will have lost its warmth.
Instead, hold a regular wipe in the palm of your closed hand for five seconds and voila: nature’s heater. Or throw caution to the wind and use the wipe directly out of the package. An infant has bigger things to wail about (like why you are holding their legs up and making them do a core workout in the middle of the night).
The Diaper Genie (and the competing Diaper Champ’s) claim to fame is that is hides diaper odor. They use official and imposing terms like “Odor Lock System,” “Air tight clamps,” and “Carbon filter police” on their website. Basically, it’s a long plastic tube (lined with special plastic bags) in which you can toss soiled diapers and theoretically forget about them until the bag is full, without gagging every time you enter the nursery.
But did we mention you have to buy special diaper pail liners at $5 to $9 a pop? Doesn’t seem like much, but when you figure you need enough liners to house 9,600 diapers over the first three years of your child’s life, that number doesn’t sound so small anymore. One pack of Sassy Brand disposable diaper sacks (200 count, $US13 ($18)) lasted through the first two years of my son’s life (when used only for poop). Better yet, if you have a newspaper delivered to your home, save the bags and repurpose them here.
Decorative crib bedding
Most beautiful crib bedding sets come with bumpers, which sound helpful — who doesn’t want to keep their infant from crashing its head or getting its leg stuck in crib slats? — but they have been deemed a suffocation hazard by the American Academy of Pediatrics (even the thin mesh ones). Ditto for blankets, quilts, and pillows. Pottery Barn makes it look gorgeous, but don’t be fooled. All the soft extras are not safe for your infant. A mattress pad and fitted crib sheet are more than adequate (both of which can be bought online for about $US20 ($28) total).
We’re not disputing the need for soft-padded clouds in which to swaddle your baby’s hiney — only the size. Newborn diapers are designed to fit babies up to 10 pounds, meaning that if you give birth to a hearty 9-pounder, they’ll be obsolete before you even leave the hospital. Average newborn weight is 4 kg. Unless your baby is premature or measuring below average growth, size one diapers should work fine in those early months.
If you think your baby is going to be on the smaller side, purchase a small quantity of newborn diapers to start and see how they grow. A 240-count box could leave you shaking your head and wondering what to do with all the leftovers.
Hooded baby bathrobe
While they do make for amazingly cute post-bath pix, baby bathrobes are largely useless. Not only are they often thin and not very absorbent, trying to accurately slide squirming, shell-shocked and cold little arms into a bathrobe is no easy task. By the time you get it on, they’ll be too upset for you to enjoy the crocodile mouth right above their head. Keeping your little one’s head warm is a valid concern, though. Instead, try a thick, hooded baby towel or a plain-old, regular-sized adult towel with plenty of extra room to cuddle them tightly and quickly.