Since the second I found out I was pregnant, I’ve been bombarded by ads for baby related paraphernalia across platforms. I can’t go an hour, it seems, without encountering some new flame retardant onesie or safety centric detergent in my social feeds that will improve my baby’s quality of life and/or overall health and/or chances of getting into Harvard. The message is always clear: You must own said product if you want to be a “good” mom who prioritizes her baby’s well-being above ALL else.
Twelve weeks into parenting, I’m tired of being targeted for shit I definitely don’t need to own. It seems wrong to prey on a mother’s undying love for her child, which is so easily exploited, to sell her needless shit. Do you know what a new mom needs more than anything else? To avoid squandering her precious cash on needless items so she can save money for things like childcare and unforeseen medical expenses!!!
In the name of helping expectant mothers avoid senseless expenditures, here’s a comprehensive list of all the shit I purchased and promptly returned after having my baby (shoutout to Amazon for their super lenient return policy!!!).
Bassinet for Stroller
I believe a good stroller is totally worth the investment. We settled on the Uppababy Cruz, an expensive model that’s really well designed and worth every penny from what I can tell so far. That said, there’s absolutely no need to buy the bassinet that attaches to whatever stroller you commit to. I feel a pang of vicarious buyer’s remorse every time I pass a mom pushing her bassinet-stroller down the street. The bassinet attachment looks clunky and coffin-esque. Plus, it costs a few hundred bucks. In reality, all you need is a newborn insert to keep your little one safe and snug as you stroll along.
If you live in a country where the tap water is safe enough to drink, buying a bottle sterilizer is downright ridiculous. What it will do, in addition to assuaging undue fears instilled in you by bottle sterilizer manufacturers, is take up counter space and look ugly. I’m no medical professional, but I doubt a bottle sterilizer could be proven essential to the health and well-being of any baby ever. Instead, I believe wholeheartedly in the powers of soap and water (and, if you’re lucky enough to have one, the dishwasher).
The only thing sillier than a bottle sterilizer is a bottle warmer. As if you needed ANOTHER gizmo atop your counter to take up space and look unsightly. Just stick your bottle under some running hot water, or place it in a cup of hot water for a few minutes before feeding your infant. Et voila! Bottle warming accomplished, sans additional appliances.
Somehow, the changing table has become of piece of furniture in its own right. It’s one of the items considered absolutely essential when outfitting your nursery. But what IS a changing table, really??? Just a surface upon which to lay your baby while changing their diaper. While researching changing tables, I was pretty horrified by the lack of options out there. The standard ones are all made in the same dimensions, in spite of the fact that our heights vary quite widely as parents. Since my baby daddy and I are both quite tall, we decided to repurpose a dresser as our baby’s diaper changing station. All we did was place a simple, inexpensive changing pad on top of it.
Specialized Swaddling Blankets
The special swaddling wrap blankets with the little pouch and the flaps and the velcro confused me from day one. I didn’t understand how to use them or fold them for storage, and truthfully I’m glad I never really figured it out. If you choose to swaddle your baby, you can do so using any soft blanket or cloth. Personally, I’ve found it very handy to own a set of multi-purpose muslin blankets, which you can use to swaddle, drape over your stroller, or lay out on a friend’s couch as an impromptu diaper changing surface.
In anticipation of my baby girl’s arrival, I spent soooo many minutes of my life researching the best nursing pillow because I wanted to breastfeed, and I wanted to do it right! I recognized the Boppy immediately from many a new mom’s nursing photos on Facebook and Instagram, but the My Breast Friend, which has a little pocket and a strap that buckles in back, looked super enticing for its thoughtful design. So what did I do??? Enthusiastic would-be mama that I was, I purchased BOTH, figuring I’d return my second pick once I tried each model out. Within a week, however, I’d returned them both, favoring a simple throw pillow to prop up my arm as I figured out how the hell to get my baby to latch and suckle my boob at 2AM.
If you don’t already know it: Breastfeeding is fucking HARD. As a first-time mom, I would’ve dropped any amount of money in exchange for one degree of nipple pain alleviation during that first week of nursing hell. So when several well-meaning friends recommended Lanolin, I purchased several tubes of this pricy cream, which many an experienced mother swears by. Lanolin does indeed reduce nipple soreness. The thing is, so do a few regular household products, like coconut or olive oil. There’s no need to buy a special cream as long as you have one of these other standard cooking oils on hand.
Baby Friendly Laundry Detergent
So many companies sell a variety of detergent designed JUST for baby. The argument? That baby’s skin is super new and sensitive and that we should thus wash the clothing that envelops it with something very gentle rather than the stuff we use on our own clothes. But really??? Seems likely to me that this whole concept of specialized baby detergent is an attempt to capitalize on the hyper paranoid parent’s desire to protect their kid from anything and everything. Instead of stocking two different types of laundry detergent at all times, why not just use a reasonable amount of the stuff you already have at home?
Hands-free Pumping Bra
Lots of women adore the hands-free pumping bra. If it works for you, by all means, use one! But I’d argue that it’s a waste of money. The art of pumping already requires so many steps and so much fiddling with tubes and funnels and bottles and caps. Why add yet another step to the process of boob draining? From my experience, the start-to-finish act of pumping is quicker without the additional hassle of putting on an unflattering bandeau bra with slits in front. Sure, holding those little bottles in your hands for 8 to 10 minutes is frustrating AF, but I promise you’re not going to accomplish all that much while you pump anyway, with or without free hands. Or maybe you are. In which case, teach me!!!
Fancy baby clothes
Let me tell you something about babies: They are messy little creatures. When they’re not drooling or spitting up milk or formula or whatever you’re feeding them, they’re pooping or peeing through their pants, tights, or onesies. Sometimes, you will have to change your baby’s outfit several times a day, maybe even an hour. Plus, your baby will quickly outgrow every single thing you purchase for them within a shockingly short amount of time. Investing too much money in a baby’s wardrobe is maybe the dumbest thing you could do. Yes, I realize that tiny, overpriced cashmere onesie looks way too adorable not to own, but guess what? Babies look adorable in anything, so you might as well get the affordable stuff! A five-pack of solid colored onesies will go a long way. I don’t care if you’re Blue Ivy Carter or the offspring of a Kardashian. Baby couture should be banned.