This is a letter to all women expecting a first baby. You may feel like you want all the baby things. Let me be the voice of reason here with 11 things babies don’t need.
Congratulations! You are embarking upon one of life’s greatest joys and biggest challenges: motherhood.
Right now your blinders are on. You have tunnel vision. All that you see and all that you think about is…BABY! It’s amazing and overwhelming. While you have your head in the clouds, listen up for a minute. You don’t need ALL THE THINGS. Not really. You mostly just need that baby and some essentials. Here is my list of the most unnecessary baby things, which hopefully will save you sanity and some moolah.
1. Designer nursery
Baby doesn’t care what the nursery looks like. The nesting process for Mama is normal and awesome, but don’t go spend your life savings on the nursery. The reality is, everything will get spit-up on, the walls will get drawn on, and the furniture will be climbed on. Go basic and cute. Sometimes it’s amazing what you can find at a Mom-2-Mom sale, and usually, the frilly cute stuff was never even used because that Mama realized that something washable and cotton was a lot easier. Save your money for things that baby needs, like clothing and diapers.
2. Wipe warmer
This is hands down, the most ridiculously unnecessary baby item out there. Babies have been having their little bums wiped for centuries, and only today’s world would devise something so silly as a gadget that warms wipes. What does this really do? When you change baby and don’t have one (if he’s used to one), he’ll probably scream. After all, he got spoiled with a warm, luxurious wipe every time. Of course the wipe in the bottom of the diaper bag, in the back of the mini van on a cold wintry day, just won’t do and he’ll be mad as a hornet. Save your $30 and just go without. If you don’t want to put a freezing cold wipe on his bum, stick it in your hand for 20 seconds as you’re getting him undressed. That will make it plenty warm.
The diaper warmer is also one more thing to store atop the changing table area, and then you also need a plug. Just forget it. You don’t need this crazy contraption.
3. Changing Tables
Changing tables aren’t needed for long. What is more effective is buying a dresser that can be used as a changing table (just put one of those foam pads on top), and then later it can be transitioned into a bookshelf or just a dresser top for whatever. Changing tables are usually about $100, and they really are only good for one thing: changing diapers. Dressers with the space on top are a little pricier (if you buy new), but they will last well into the teenage years and are much more versatile. You will learn soon that versatile wins. Every time.
4. Expensive diaper bags
Rather than going all expensive, go basic and comfortable. You want something with pockets, but not 1,000 pockets. I think it’s awesome to have one that can be worn as a backpack and also a sling over the shoulder. You need one large enough for snacks, wipes, diapers, a changing pad, and maybe a wet bag (if you cloth diaper your kid). That’s it. Don’t store everything but the kitchen sink in there, and don’t spend $300 on one.
Again, it’s going to get spit up on, there will be poop, and there will be a menagerie of other things that end up on this thing. It will be set on the ground on a snowy or rainy day, and if you buy one with ruffles that cost $300, odds are you’re going to be miffed when it gets dirty or torn. Don’t get miffed. Stay calm by going cost effective, decent quality, and the straps fit well. That’s what you want.
5. Johnson and Johnson lotion
Ok, so what you put onto your baby’s skin gets absorbed into his bloodstream. That’s a fact. Why on EARTH would you want to put something on his skin that has all of these ingredients: Water, Isopropyl Palmitate, Glycerin, Stearic Acid, Glyceryl Stearate, Cetyl Alcohol, Cetearyl Alcohol, Dimethicone, Mineral Oil, Phenoxyethanol, Polysorbate 20, Magnesium Aluminum Silicate, Fragrance, Carbomer, p-Anisic Acid, Sodium Hydroxide, Xanthan Gum, Ethylhexylglycerin, Pentaerythrityl Tetraditbutyl Hydroxyhydrocinnamate, Red 33. What on EARTH is half of that stuff?! I can tell you one thing, I don’t want to be putting red dye into my baby’s bloodstream, so I am steering clear of this stuff.
The only thing you need for your baby’s entire babyhood and toddlerhood for a moisturizer is coconut oil. Organic, unrefined, cold pressed Extra Virgin Coconut Oil. It is found everywhere, I buy mine at Costco because it’s huge and most affordable. It’s actually moisturizing (unlike those lotions, in my opinion) and it’s 100% natural. No additives. No junk. I’m sold. I hope you are too. Want some more information on the benefits of coconut oil? Click here.
6. Stuffed animals
Babies play with teething rings, things with mirrors, fabrics that feel funny, and Mama’s hair. That’s really about it. Save your money and save space in your home by steering clear of 100 stuffed animals. Get a few special ones for keepsake purposes, and stay away from the rest. Baby doesn’t need them, doesn’t care about them, and your home potentially already full of baby clutter will thank you.
7. Baby Swings
My girls hated this thing. I think it cost upwards of $200 and it was used maybe 3 times total. They screamed and wanted out immediately. I know some moms like them, but most of my friends agree they were a waste of money. Better yet? Hold your baby. Baby wear. They are only little once, and why do we need an electronic contraption to hold them. If you are making dinner and need to be hands-free, put them in an Ergo or Tula and give them kisses and snuggles between stirs of the crockpot. They are soft structured carriers you can wear on your front or your back, and they are AWESOME. I don’t think I would have survived the early years of motherhood without babywearing. Say “no” to swings. Say “yes” to babywearing.
8. Jar baby food
This stuff is pricey. We are big believers in Baby Led Weaning. The basic idea is that babies feed themselves with appropriate foods. We use avocado, steamed carrots and steamed sweet potatoes. We give baby a big chunk of one those, and she goes to town. No need for you to spoon feed your baby, no need for a zillion jars collecting in your home, and no need for the extra grocery bill of overpriced baby food. Feed your baby wholesome, real, organic, nutritious food that she can be in charge of. It’s fun for her to learn the fine motor coordination needed to feed, and by her feeding herself, you know baby is only eating when she’s hungry (rather than you shoveling it in). Skip the baby food jars.
9. Dreft detergent
This detergent smells “baby-like,” because it has been associated with baby laundry loads for so many years. The reality? It is still full of nasty perfumes that aren’t necessary or good for babies (or anyone really). Go with a scent free, perfume free, gentle detergent. You can get many brands that are super cheap, and they don’t leave baby clothes with that strong perfume smell. After all, don’t you want to smell your beautiful baby’s skin instead of a detergent? I do!
10. Noisy toys
Your parents or grandparents likely told you “babies don’t need much.” As much as you don’t want to agree with them, they are right. Babies don’t need much. Don’t overdo it. I overdid it with my first, and I spent her entire first 2 years of life decluttering and donating the ridiculousness that I collected in the play area. This time around with our second daughter, we are subscribing to the “less is more” principle. Buy good toys, and toys that your baby can engage in play, instead of those toys who engage your child.
We like wooden toys, non-talking toys, no electronic or battery operated toys, and just good old fashioned real play. We like to encourage imagination and independent play from an early age, and by limiting all the flashy, plastic, electronic, talking, obnoxious toys, we are doing everyone in our household a favor; most importantly, our kiddo. You don’t need tons of toys. Stick with the basics. Blocks, legos, Lincoln logs, puzzles, books and instruments.
11. Store-bought diaper cream
There are seriously over 300 varieties of diaper creams on the market. Complete and utter insanity, if you ask me. They’re expensive, they have questionable ingredients (many of them), and they are marketed REALLY well to make Mamas feel like they need 1 or 28 different varieties. What do you really need? Coconut Oil. Antibacterial, anti-viral, anti-fungal, moisturizing. It is truly what I call “The Miracle Oil.” Keep it in a small jar next to your changing area, put it on baby’s bottom if it starts looking red, and magically, the redness will disappear almost always. It’s also safe for you cloth diapering mamas, so that’s a win too!
Less is more. This is your mantra from now until the end of raising children. You can do this, Mama! Focus on that baby, and less on baby stuff. Congratulations on that Blessing who will soon be entering your world!