14 things not to spend baby money on April 23, 2015 15:15

During promotional sales and fairs, it's easy to get carried away with all the discounts and package deals abound.  (I know, me too...)

But, in the interests of mindful consumption, think twice before buying things that you really don't need (and end up having to find storage space for)!

Take a quick look into parent/mommy Facebook groups and forums, and you'll see just how many people are trying to get rid of brand-new or almost-unused baby gear.  Save yourself that trouble down the road!

The way I see it, a large part of the problem lies with new parents not knowing what they really need - and buying everything anyway just so they are fully prepared for baby (been there).  Forming a smaller part of the issue are non-parents who haven't got a clue either what baby owners truly require - but having to buy gifts anyway.  

Ambitious as it might seem, I hope today to shed some light on this matter and help you channel your hard-earned money in the right direction (or at least, not in the wrong directions).

There are many things I wish I hadn't bought (those darned things-to-buy lists from departmental stores...) but for brevity's sake, here are the top 12 things I'd definitely recommend you rethink - 

1. Baby shoes

Babies don't need shoes until they walk and before that, it's actually much healthier for foot development if your little one goes barefoot!




2. Cot bumpers

These are the things that pad round your baby's cot to "protect" your baby from bumping into the cot slats.  I know they make your baby's sleep place look oh so welcoming, but latest sleep safety recommendations from the American Pediatrics Association actually advise against using them.  Cot bumpers are known to be a suffocation, strangulation and entrapment risk because infants lack the motor skills or strength to turn their heads should they roll into something that obstructs their breathing - like the soft padded bumpers.  

So I'd say, go without.  Babies don't really roll around their cot at top speed anyway, so it really won't hurt much if they knock into the wood once in a while.




3. Bath thermometer

Honestly, your wrist (one of the more sensitive parts of the body) works just fine.  

At no extra charge.

Plus, if you rely solely on the thermometer to prepare your child's bath, just think what could happen if one day it turns faulty?

4. A special diaper bin (aka diaper disposal system)

Did you know that, for hygienic purposes, you are actually supposed to flush solid waste down the toilet before dumping your disposable diaper?  

There, big part of the problem solved.

The rest of the problem?  Your regular bin works just fine if you take the trash out daily (most people we know do!) - and at no extra charge.  If you don't already have one and the smell really bothers you, get a trash can with a lid that seals tight - it'll still give you more mileage than a diaper bin!  

And if you are thinking of going down the cloth route, you don't even need this!  

[Watch out for our upcoming blog features on cloth diapers - the latest cloth diaper technology makes going cloth easier than you think!]



5. Bottle steriliser

Now, I have an issue with many sterilisers on the market because they are made of plastic that can leach toxins (even faster at the high temperatures sterilisers operate at!) and I don't want any of those toxins in my baby bottles or breast pump parts.

But even ignoring the plastic point, I'm just not so sure sterilisers are essential!  I know it sounds primitive, but it really isn't that hard to just sterilise your bottles with boiling water in a pot.  

If you don't want to stand over the stove, try creating your own steam steriliser by steaming your bottles in the wok or pot - if that can cook meat, it can definitely sterilise your bottles!  

These "alternative" methods not only give new life to something you already own, but also save you precious money and countertop space!

6. Bottle warmer

OK, I know some people swear by this appliance so I won't diss it - but all I'm saying is, think twice.  It's really not hard (nor does it take long) to heat the bottle up in a bowl of hot water.  (Don't use the microwave as it can heat liquids unevenly and create hot spots that can scald baby!)  In fact, if you're getting stainless steel bottles, they heat up so easily that some people just hold the bottle under the hot water tap!  

My suggestion is to try going without for the first couple of weeks, then decide whether you really need it before paying!  Afterall, if you're breastfeeding, you won't even be feeding bottles to baby so early in your breastfeeding relationship!



7. Baby food maker

Another item that some can't live without, but I'd say it's something you can consider saving your money on.  Why?  First, they all come in plastic and you know my beef with that (if you still don't, see here).  Next, depending on what you serve baby, you may not actually need one.  I've had no problems mashing baby's food with the fork as I feed (I mean, how fast does a baby eat right?) and that's the case for most foods I cook for him.  For harder foods that you might want pureed, there's nothing a normal family-size blender (like the one you have at home) can't do!  (Plus, they come in glass or stainless steel!)  

And really, babies grow out of the purees phase so fast.  For proper development, child experts recommend that babies progress along to lumpy and chunky foods in the first 1-3 months after starting solids and then onto finger foods before they turn 1!  

(Needless to say, if you're going the baby-led weaning route, don't buy a baby food maker.)

In any event, you can probably afford to hold off on making a decision for now if you're still at the expectant stage - the recommendation is that children start solids only after 6 months to give your child's digestive and immune systems time to mature.



8. Baby moisturisers and creams

Babies don't need fancy lotions.  In fact, some commercial brands contain harmful ingredients that I wouldn't recommend even for adults!  

To keep baby's skin soft and smooth, why not use organic extra virgin coconut oil instead?  It's all-natural, amazing for skin (newborn or adult), and is even known to be helpful in treating eczema!  

[More on this and other fantastic natural moisturisers, in our other blog posts here and here!]

9. Special laundry detergent for babies

Many things cost more when they're marketed "for baby". You don't really need something fancy - in fact, as is the case for baby lotion, some baby detergents contain chemicals I wouldn't even recommend for adult clothing!  Instead, just get a brand that is free of harsh cleaners, artificial fragrances or dyes that can irritate baby's delicate skin.  If you're already using a "clean" detergent for adults, it'll work just fine for baby!  

Or if you don't already have a suitable detergent, consider using pure liquid castile soap - it's good for a lot more than just bathing, and so healthy!  

10. Infant support seat

Think Bumbos and other such seats.  These are a real popular purchase for new moms but I just don't think it's worth your money.  

Babies do not need to be placed into a chair to help them sit up when their muscles are not yet ready to manage it on their own.  A quick Google will show you just how many paediatric specialists are vehemently against this contraption.  

Also, Bumbo may say that it's suitable for babies from 3 months and up but frankly, at that age, your baby will just look like an uncomfortable puppet in your photos (which, admit it, is the only reason why you're propping him up - yes, I confess).  I received a Bumbo hand-me-down so baby had a (brief) run in it, and I would say that the Bumbo is only truly usable for the month or so before baby is independently able to sit up.  

So $100 for a month or two?  No thanks.  

Sit him up in your lap instead - free, and I like to think she'll enjoy our belly more than the hard foam.




11. Baby walker

In the same vein, babies really don't need to be walking until they are able to walk on their own.  Baby walkers don't actually help babies learn to walk any faster - instead, they have been shown to impede that developmental process.  

Also, baby walkers are strongly discouraged by many safety experts and health professionals because of the number of accidents and injuries they've caused (whether from falls out of the walker, falls down stairs or from baby getting access to previously out-of-reach hazards).  In fact, Canada has banned the sale of baby walkers since 2004 - that's how seriously they are taking it.  

Now, if a baby walker doesn't actually benefit your child and can in fact cause harm, why buy it?




12. Weather shields for strollers

Yeap, I got one the same day I got my stroller - that weather shield designed to perfectly fit my stroller model.  I was certain it was completely necessary, given Singapore's erratic weather.  I was also completely mistaken.  

I now know that when it's raining, I'm not going out with baby and if I am, the last thing we're doing is taking a romantic stroll in the rain (hiding out in a shopping mall is more like it).  More importantly, because my stroller has to fold up to fit the boot, I cannot keep the weather shield in the stroller's pocket as I had intended to (given how convenient it would then be to use it when the occasion arises).  And so, if it does so happen that a drizzle catches me by surprise, my expensive weather shield is never around.  (I mean, it doesn't fit in a diaper bag, does it?  Not mine, at least.)  Which means it never gets used.  

So there - perfect idea, incredibly imperfect usage.  



13. Tons of baby clothing

Your friends and family will give you lots, whether hand-me-downs or brand-new as gifts. And your baby really doesn't need that many, given how fast she outgrows each size.  He also will not go out as much as you think he will, so you're likely to just keep re-wearing the same few ultra-easy-to-wear and super-comfortable ones (even if they score zero on style) instead of, say, that adorable set of overalls.  Trust us.

14. Tons of baby toys 

In the same vein, you will receive lots of toys from friends and family.  Toys and clothes are the top two most-gifted baby things probably due to their perceived practicality - so don't spend on them until the gifts are in!  Afterall, baby doesn't really have much use for toys in their first weeks or months - your face and voice is ample stimulation in those early days!  And once they start playing, you really don't need many toys - to your little one, your home is one giant toy chest!  I've found, as have many of my mommy friends, that tools and knick-knacks around the house can actually be more engaging than the "real" toys you paid for.  See, your kid's naturally thirty!

And on the topic of newborns and toys, do be careful about stuffing their cot with soft toys - according to the American Association of Paediatrics, they also pose a suffocation risk, just like soft cot bumpers!




So there you have it - our top 14 things not to spend baby money on.  Now go out there and save your money.

It is normal to want to detox your cleaning routine with the arrival of a new bundle of joy - but did you know that simple DIY cleaning recipes using common household ingredients could work as well as those commercial eco-cleaners you might be thinking of purchasing?  Try out our tried-and-tested natural cleaning recipes here!