Edgy Mama: baby economics, or stuff newborns don’t need

There seems to be another baby boom happening here in Asheville (cold winters equal fall bundles of joy). I was thinking about all the baby stuff necessary to care for a bambino, and more importantly, all the baby stuff that parents think is necessary that truly is a waste of money.

So here are the baby apparati that you don’t really need and that you shouldn’t give as shower gifts. Yes, I’m here both to save you cash in tough economic times and to help you de-clutter.

1. Expensive baby clothes and/or blankets. Babies are mostly liquid — they’re constantly drooling, spitting up, vomiting, pooping and peeing. Unless it’s a special occasion, there’s really no need for baby to wear fancy dresses or be wrapped in embroidered cashmere blankets. You may think you can wash the stains out, but you can’t. I recently discovered a “clean” box of baby clothing in my basement, and guess what? After more than ten years, it still reeked of baby spit-up when I opened it. Can you say landfill?

2. Changing table. All you really need is a dresser with a pad on it. Actually, all you really need is a pad that you can put on the dresser or the floor or the bed, so that baby expellant doesn’t get everywhere. There’s actually no changing pad that’s big enough to contain little boy urine streams or projectile poop, so really the best place to change diapers is outside. Unless it’s cold. The best piece of baby equipment I ever had was a folding changing pad that fit in my backpack and went everywhere with my babies and me.

3. Wipe warmers. Your baby does not need the wipes you use to clean his or her tushie to be warm. Room temperature will suffice. After all, you’re already exposing that little bum to the room temperature air. Plus, if your baby needs to have everything that touches his heiney warmed up, he’s gonna have a tough time with toilet seats.

4. Bottle warmers. Same as the wipe warmers — room temperature (or body temp if you’re breast feeding, of course). Bottle warmers are a waste of good money and electricity. If your baby’s hungry, she’ll drink.

5. Baby bathtubs. Get a baby seat that fits into the bathtub instead. A stand-alone tub is a pain in the you-know-what to fill and empty. Plus, I’ve seen folks put them on countertops, which looks downright dangerous. If you can’t bend over a bathtub for long enough to wash your baby, you have a tough road ahead.

6. Pillows, stuffed animals, comforters, crib sets. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, loose bedding can be a contributor to Sudden Infant Death Syndrome. There’s no need for pillows or crib bumpers or even sleep positioners for baby (plus, the kid’s going to barf or poo on them — necessitating more laundry). The AAP recommends one-piece sleepers for infants. Get the kind with the leg snaps — those make middle of the night diaper changes a bit easier.

7. Shoes. I’ve never understood why people buy infant shoes. Ummm, babies can’t walk. Sure, they may need socks or booties to keep their tootsies toasty, but they don’t need shoes until they can walk (at earliest nine or ten months, but typically later). And in fact, unless it’s winter, it’s better for feet to be bare — it helps with balance and toe strength. So don’t waste your money on mini-Nikes — no matter how cute they may be.

Finally, borrow as much baby gear as possible or buy used. Your baby’s going to be out of a crib in a blink of an eye. One of my two never even slept in his crib (he slept with me or on the floor). You may be surprised how many of your friends have baby stuff cluttering up their basements and attics. Oh, and baby really doesn’t care about matching patterns or designer labels. I promise.


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3 thoughts on “Edgy Mama: baby economics, or stuff newborns don’t need

  1. Stewart David

    Great column. It’s not only a waste of money to buy all of this crap, it’s also a waste of resources.

    I always find it ironic when people who profess to love children purchase sweatshop products for baby gifts. They love the children they are buying the stuff for, but clearly aren’t expressing compassion for the children who work 12 hours a day, 7 days a week in foreign sweatshops, producing the items that will soon be in our landfills.

    Of course, the population explosion is the biggest form of unsustainable consumption!

    Help Stop Unsustainable Population Growth

    • bill smith

      how does not buying items from the child-labor sweatshop show compassion for the children, exactly?

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