Baby Items You Can Live Without
The Changing Table
This is one piece of furniture for the nursery you can definitely skip. It takes up valuable space in your baby's room, and it can be a pricey. And the reality is that with all of the diapers you'll be changing throughout the day, you probably won't be going to the nursery every time Baby needs a change, especially if you have stairs in your home; you'll be doing it where it's most convenient.
If you'd like a changing area, buy a changing pad and secure it onto a low dresser, which you can use even when your child is out of diapers.
"I remember being so excited when I got the wipe warmer and proudly plugged it in," says Shannon Duffy, a mom of two from Palm Springs, California. "But it turned out to be one of those things that is pointless. The wipes also seemed to dry out quickly in it, which defeated the purpose."
Other reasons to pass it up: Warm, moist environments are ideal breeding grounds for germs, so keeping something that will touch your baby's private areas in that contained space is not a good idea. In addition, 500,000 wipe warmers were recalled between 1997 and 2001 because of electric shock to parents' hands or melting of the product. Finally, a baby who gets used to warm wipes will likely throw a fit when you're out and about and need to change her diaper (unless you're planning on traveling with the warmer at all times).
Diaper Disposal System
"Do you want to keep dirty diapers in your house for a couple of days? I think not!" says Kathi Bertsch, a mom from Owens Cross Roads, Alabama. "If you empty your trash daily, the regular household trash can will suffice. For the poopy diapers, you can flush the solid waste down the toilet and that will take care of most of the problem."
Imani Powell-Razat, a mom from New York City, hated her diaper disposal so much she wound up leaving it on the sidewalk! "Old diapers would sit in it as I tended to forget that they were in there. Then I spent time cleaning the thing, which had by then collected a boat load of crummy fumes."
If you're really worried about smelly diapers, you can buy disposable diaper sacks (a box of 200 for $9 is available at Amazon.com), which can seal in wetness and bacteria and keep the household trash odor-free.
Special "Baby" Detergent
Once your baby arrives, you'll be spending a lot of time in the laundry room washing piles of spit-up-covered clothes. Seriously, it never seems to end! Contrary to what you may have heard, you don't need to wash your baby's clothes in a special (and extra expensive) detergent. All you need is a brand that is "free and clear," meaning that it is has no perfumes and dyes that might irritate baby's skin. Choosing a regular free and clear product off the supermarket shelf will save you money and time because you can throw baby's laundry in with the rest of the family's dirty clothes.
A portable device that keeps track of baby's feeding, changing, and sleeping schedules -- what's not to love? "I thought this was a genius idea before I actually had a baby," says Alison Shields, a mom of two from Fair Lawn, New Jersey. The reality is that you don't need to spend $30 on a timer when you can just as easily keep track of all of those things with a simple pen and paper. If you'd rather use technology, apps like Total Baby ($4.99; apple.com/itunes) and Baby Geek (99 cents; apple.com/itunes) serve the same purpose at a fraction of the cost.
"I received a beautiful basinet for my son -- it was stunning and looked gorgeous in his nursery," says Christy Cook, a mom from Toronto, Canada. "But my son refused to sleep in it! We tried everything to make it appealing and he had no interest. I think investing in a safe crib is more sensible and definitely more cost effective."
Samantha Kemp-Jackson, another mom from Toronto, agrees: "While you might save money in the short term by not purchasing a crib, you will eventually have to do it, so why bother with the bassinet?"
Still, many moms are torn about the bassinet -- especially if they want your little one in the same room as you during his first few weeks. A Moses basket or a Pack and Play might be a better, more affordable alternative. If you must have a bassinet, see if you can borrow one from a friend or family member -- just make sure the model is still safe by checking on any recalls at the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission's website (cpsc.gov).
Expensive Crib Bedding
You can make your nursery look stylish without dropping $200 on crib bedding! "My doctor advised me not to put the crib bumpers on the bed, as experts believe that they could contribute to SIDS, and the blanket/quilt that comes with the set is too big and heavy to use with a new baby," says Breanna Welke, a mom from Hastings, MN.
In fact, according to the U.S. Product Safety Commission, crib bumpers have caused a number of death and injuries in babies 2 years old or younger. The study found that many infants lack the motor development needed to free themselves when they become wedged between the bumper pad and another surface. If the pads are too soft, the baby's nose or face can get pressed up against it, causing suffocation. If they are too firm, the baby can climb up on the pads and fall out of the crib.
Instead, opt for cute sheets and a crib skirt. If you'd like a bumper, try a breathable one made of mesh, available at Babies R Us and Buy Buy Baby.
Baby does need a place to eat, but those huge, stand-alone high chairs are costly -- and, again, take up a lot of space in your house. "If I had it to do over again, I would never, ever buy a high chair," says Laura Beck, a mom from Austin, TX. "They are huge and so hard to store between kids. Plus, they just get disgusting, covered with food, and become something you are constantly cleaning, scrubbing, and finding random bits of food stuck to."
Kim Kempinski, a mom of three from Phoenix, AZ, recommends using a Space Saver high chair, which simply attaches to a chair. "It's much cheaper and takes up less room, and you don't have to buy a booster later. We bought a traditional high chair for our firstborn and donated it when the Space Saver came out -- our toddler is still in it."
Baby Food Processor
"Now, come on, why do I need a special food processor to make baby food?!" Bertsch says. Aside from the extra cost, these little appliances clutter up your kitchen counter. A regular mini food processor will do the exact same thing as the baby version, and you can use it well after your little one is off baby food. You can also use a regular blender or the Magic Bullet (buythebullet.com), which lots of moms love because it's small and easy to clean.
Although you do need something to carry Baby's things around in, what you don't need is one of the super-expensive diaper bags on the market. The truth is, simply marketing something for moms and babies can jack up the price on an item. And some diaper bags might be pretty to look at, but most of them don't have any special features that make them particularly "baby- friendly." "A knapsack or messenger bag does just fine, thanks!" Kemp-Jackson says.