Thursday, March 26, 2015

Top Five Overrated Baby Items

Our youngest kiddo is about to turn 1-year-old and after now having two kids progress through infancy (Evie's almost at toddler stage), there are two things that I've come away from this stage with:

  1. Every kid, every family, every situation is different for everyone - so don't expect that your advice will port from you to another mom (or another kid) seemlessly.
  2. The baby industry will try to sell you just about anything they can. And they can - because you're so emotional and it's all adorable and you clearly need your baby to be super happy all the time. 

I remember when we were registering for Will there were so many things that we "thought" we needed that it turned out we just... didn't. We learned this either by trial and error, common sense, or anecdotes from other moms that had been before us. Over the course of the last 3 years, I've come up with a list of what I think are some of the most overrated baby items and submit them for consideration to moms everywhere, in no particular order...

Nursery Decorations & Bedding: When we were registering while we were pregnant with Will, a big point of contention was what we were going to decorate the room in. Colors, patterns, whatever. We finally decided on monkeys and palm trees, landing on the pattern of "Ahoy Mate" from NoJo. Now - what we forgot in this process were all the things they tell you NOT to do to avoid SIDS. No big blankets. No crib bumpers. No toys in the crib. So we of course registered for the $180 bedding set and the $50 mobile. Let me be clear - this is ALL for the parent just so you can have a pretty nursery. The kid 1) can't use most of the stuff and 2) doesn't give a rip about the mobile. By the time your kid is old enough to care, they're not even going to want their bedroom decorated the way you made it anyways. We just transitioned our son from his crib to a toddler bed, and all he wanted in there was Mickey Mouse and Thomas the Tank Engine. They go really well with the monkey & palm tree $70 lettering on his wall from Etsy. Bottom line: you can seriously get suckered into overpaying to decorate your nursery for no reason other than you feel like you decorated a nursery. Is it really worth it?

Baby Food Makers/Prep Items: Way to go, marketing people in the baby product market. You have managed to make parents who already own blenders, food processors, "Magic Bullets", and immersion sticks think that they need yet another thing in their kitchen that does the same thing as what they already have. Oh, but you have special containers? That's wonderful. People - I made my kids their own baby food. Boiled carrots, peas, broccoli, mixed vegetables, sweet potatoes... all sorts of things. I used standard pots and pans, a Cuisinart blender that we got when we got married and a couple of ice cube trays we had laying around. I stored the cubes in Ziploc freezer bags. Don't waste your money or precious registry space on a "Baby Bullet" or whatever other food prep system is out there. It's just a marketing ploy BECAUSE THEY CAN.

She told me she was horribly offended I didn't make her veggies in a Baby Bullet.
I told her when she got a job she could tell me how to make her food.

Diaper Pails: People swear by these things and we had one too. We had the Munchkin Arm & Hammer version of the pail because the refills were cheapest and it used baking soda - a tried and true odor removing tool - to keep the smell of the diapers at a minimum. The thing broke on us 9 months into our first kid. Now, the fine folks at Munchkin were kind enough to send us another one for zero dollars (side note - ALWAYS contact the company of your product if it breaks within a year or you lose parts... they'll often send you replacements, coupons, etc. for free), but then that one broke too due to the same design flaw about 1 month into kid 2. We went back and forth between buying a Diaper Champ (some friends had one that used just regular bags and didn't need refills) or just throwing the diapers away. What we learned: at the end of the day, we were emptying the diaper pail anyways - so why not just throw it in the garbage can under the sink? We also learned that most of our friends who had diaper pails were doing the same thing anyways. "But what about when it smells horrible at 2:00 PM?" Well... baking soda is cheap. I dump some on the trash and the smell goes minimizes. Save your money - just use grocery bags, baking soda, and your regular trash can.

Seriously guys... don't bother. So not worth it.

Wipe Warmers: I had a friend who registered for one of these once and my reaction was "Really? That's a thing?" I can't even begin to explain what a waste of shelf space I think these things are. In a society that I think kids are already too coddled, we now need to warm up the things that wipe turd off their rear ends? Seriously? I must be the worst parent ever because I would never even consider having one of these things in my home. I don't get warm wipes every time I deliver a number two, why should I start training my kids to think that warmth and soothing is going to ensue when they make a poopie in their diaper? Forget that. Toughen up, kids. You'll get room temperature wipes and you'll like it.

Three years of regular wiping - and still fine.
Diaper Bags: If I could get back the literal hours of deliberation that went into choosing what diaper bag to put on our registry, we could have gone on three more pre-kid dates. An extra day of pre-kid vacation. We registered for not one, but TWO diaper bags - one for me and one for Steve - and by the time Will was 9 months old Steve's had a rip in it and I wasn't even using mine anymore. I ended up using a regular messenger bag for a while and then when the second kid showed up and I needed both hands, I started to use the same backpack that I had used for the 2 years prior to having kids. My honest advice for diaper bags: just get a good backpack or messenger bag or large purse that you'll actually USE and are COMFORTABLE with. You're going to be carrying this thing with you everywhere for at least 2 years - more if you have more than one kid. Make it something that is actually you and not something you think you need to have. It's just a bag.

See that backpack? It's traveled with me since 2011. Old Faithful.
Runners Up: Receiving Blankets & Bottle Warmers: What I learned about receiving blankets is this: the ones they give you in the hospital are much bigger than the ones you get at the store. We had like, 3 different brands and could swaddle our kid in NONE of them (both of our kids hated the "Swaddle-Me" things, which are AWESOME, but just not their thing). We got a tip from a pediatric nurse about these waffle blankets that are stretchy and swaddle great. Our kids strongly preferred to be swaddled in those AND they use still now. Receiving blankets in our house turned into back-up burpcloths (which you can never have enough of). And bottle warmers... my mom always just used a cup of warm water. Maybe I have no leg to stand on because my kids weren't really bottle fed (one refused and the other just drank her rare bottle cold), but this seems like another thing "the industry" came up with that our parents did just fine without.

Look, I know that some of you out there reading this are thinking "Man I swear by my (fill in item from above) - it's totally NOT overrated". And that's OKAY - I repeat my earlier statement that everything is different for every kid/family/parent/situation. This is what I came away from my first couple of years parenting and my experience with and it's the answer I give to the question "What items did you not buy/would you not buy again and why?".

Weddings, funerals - and babies. It's where they know they can hit your wallet and convince you that you need things you just don't. Save your money and registry space - you're going to need the diapers.

In fact... in hindsight, that's what I would have asked for instead of some of the things I got above that I "really wanted and needed". A giant. Pile. Of. Diapers.

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