9 Baby Items You Don't Really Need to Buy

Buying all the latest baby gear might be tempting, but some items are just a waste of money (and space). Here are the baby products you should skip (and what to get instead), according to parents.

All the latest high-tech baby gear for your new addition may be tempting to add to your shopping list, but some products are not worth your time—or money. With all your expenses with your new baby, it's wise to save money where possible so you can put it toward savings or retirement.

While some splurges are worth the money if you're a new parent, others will take up space in your home and be a headache to get rid of down the line. Here are the baby products you should avoid spending money on—and what to get instead.

An image of a pregnant woman and her partner online shopping.
Getty Images.

1. A 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 can be pricey. 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 your baby needs a change, especially if you have stairs in your home; you'll be doing it where it's most convenient like the sofa or even on the carpet.

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.

2. Wipe Warmer

"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."

Wipes warmers sound so fancy, but there are plenty of reasons to skip this nonessential baby item. For example:

  • 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.
  • Five hundred thousand wipe warmers were recalled between 1997 and 2001 because of electric shocks to parents' hands or the product's melting, giving this product a terrible safety record.
  • A baby who gets used to warm wipes will likely throw a fit when you're out and about and need to change their diaper—unless you're planning on traveling with the warmer at all times.

3. 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 that 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."

Suppose you're worried about smelly diapers. In that case, you can buy disposable diaper sacks (a box of 200 for $8 is available on Amazon), which can seal in wetness and bacteria and keep the household trash odor-free.

4. Special "Baby" Detergent

Once your baby arrives, you'll spend 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 "free and clear" brand, meaning it has no perfumes and dyes that might irritate your baby's skin. Choosing a regular free and clear product off the supermarket shelf will save you money and time because you can throw the baby's laundry in with the rest of the family's dirty clothes.

5. Bassinet

"I received a beautiful bassinet 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 their little one in the same room as them during the 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.

6. 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 dozens of deaths 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 them, 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 mesh number available in most retail stores that sell baby gear.

7. High Chair

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 the Space Saver high chair, which 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."

8. 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 small appliances clutter your kitchen counter. A regular mini food processor will do the 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, which many parents love because it's small and easy to clean.

9. Diaper Bag

Although you do need something to carry your baby's things around, you don't need one of the super-expensive diaper bags on the market. The truth is simply marketing something for parents, and babies can jack up the price of 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.

Updated by Dina Roth Port and Hiranmayi Srinivasan
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