Written by Jessica Jordan
As the adage goes, “Babies are not born with instruction manuals.” So it’s a good thing all their stuff comes with directions! In addition to sustaining another human life, new parents are tasked with sorting through the inundation of new and improved baby products!
There are some obvious needs: good diapers, a safe car seat and stroller (or maybe an awesome travel system!), a baby monitor system, a baby carrier, and a comprehensive diaper bag to tote around baby’s supplies. But some other baby essentials on the market seem more superfluous (and silly) than essential!
Here is a list of 20 products expectant parents do not need on their baby registries!
- Bumper pads: There is no doubt that bumper pads are adorable, and they make baby’s first crib look comfortable and plush—but that may be the reason the American Academy of Pediatrics explicitly warns against their use. Plush pillows and toys are dangerous for infants, and according to the AAP, “Bumper pads should not be used in cribs. There is no evidence that bumper pads prevent injuries, and there is a potential risk of suffocation, strangulation or entrapment.”
- Diaper stacker: What is that small, hanging tent that comes with baby’s bedroom set? That’s a diaper stacker! A super-organized place to house baby’s diapers. This might seem like a cute idea until mom breaks a diaper tab and can’t reach the stacker from the changing table.
- Wipe warmer: These devices aim to keep baby wipes warm so that your baby won't feel a cold wipe on their bum. This idea certainly seems luxurious. However, these devices may be solving a non-existent problem, and product feedback from parents on shopping sites indicates additional hassles including product cleaning and lid malfunctions. For parents with sensitive babies, some good sensitive baby wipes may provide enough softness to ease diapering.
- Peepee Teepee: Imagine those cone-shaped drinking cups at the office water station. Now, imagine the cups are made out of fun-print fabric—introducing the Peepee Teepee! This device is placed over a baby’s penis to thwart the potential for friendly fire. While this can be an issue for some babies, any parent with boys will agree that it doesn’t happen during every change, and when it does happen, there is no time to reach for a small, fabric cone. To avoid unexpected sprinkles, have the new diaper open and ready to cover.
- Baby powder: Baby powder or dusting powder is used for preventing diaper rash. However, “published reports indicate that talc or cornstarch in baby powder can injure a baby's lungs.” To avoid diaper rash, parents should regularly change wet and soiled diapers and keep baby’s diaper area clean and dry; some of the best diaper rash creams and balms are excellent at preventing or treating mild-to-moderate diaper rash. If parents are concerned about frequent diaper rash despite these efforts, they should contact the child’s pediatrician.
- Squeezable spoons: Instead of scooping baby food from the bowl or jar, parents can load up this spoon and squeeze out the right amount for each bite. This seems like another non-issue solver, and it actually adds more small spaces to clean when it comes time to do the dishes—have fun cleaning dried rice cereal out of that tube!
- Netted Fruit Feeder: Solid food exploration is an exciting milestone to watch. Babies make new, adorable faces as they nibble “real” table foods! Netted fruit feeders look like odd pacifiers with a netted space to insert a small, soft fruit for baby to chew on. After one strawberry, the baby, the highchair, and perhaps the walls will look like a finger-paint accident, and the feeder will be a soggy, stained mess of fruit mush. Maybe just go with a quality baby food maker for new foods. Or, just keep them in the high chair for this sensory experience!
- Formula maker: Essentially an overpriced Keurig for mixing baby formula—this machine measures and mixes formula for a bottle. Unless it simultaneously makes coffee for tired parents, this machine isn’t worth the money.
- Grape cutter: Grapes are a serious concern when feeding babies solids. They are one of the top choking hazards for kids. That being said, grapes do not require a special tool for cutting—especially one that can only cut one grape in the time most adults can cross-cut four or five!
- Disposable placemats: These mats are wasteful and sometimes make more of a mess than they are worth. Spilled juice disintegrates the mats and quick-drying rice cereal turns these flimsy sheets into cement. A reusable mat is the more effective and eco-friendly choice.
- Bath thermometer: Typically seen in the shape of a duck with a color changing bottom, the bath thermometer warns parents when water is too hot for bath time. While safety is extremely important, and scalding is a concern at bath time, most parents are able to safely test water temperature with their hands/wrists before washing baby. But we do strongly recommend a regular baby thermometer, such as an oral, rectal, or forehead model.
- Bath time kneeler: Essentially a foam pad to keep on the bathroom floor by the tub, these kneelers are just asking to grow mold and other germs. Rather than taking up more floor space with baby equipment, parents can fold a towel as a kneeler and pop it in the wash after tub time!
- Bathrobes: Baby bathrobes are cute but serve no real purpose that a towel doesn’t accomplish. Plus, parents are going to want to get a diaper on their babies as soon as possible after bath time!
Health & Safety
- Pacifier wipes: For parents who choose to use them, there are great options for newborn soothers and orthodontic approved pacifiers. But despite clips and special pacifier travel cases, every pacifier will eventually hit the floor. When this happens, a simple wash at the sink works well without waste. Additionally, parents can keep a set of back-up pacifiers and boil the dirty ones to sanitize.
- Shopping cart cover: Shopping carts are gross, and soft fabric cart covers appear to protect baby from the sticky, germy surfaces. But honestly, parents have enough baby luggage to carry without jamming another item into the diaper bag just to go to the grocery store. Additionally, cart cover effectiveness has never really been tested, and many stores now have antimicrobial wipes available near cart stalls. If you're worried about shopping carts, use a wipe!
- Infrared thermometer: This technology is definitely cool, but the price-point has not yet reached the general market. Some parents may choose this option for convenience, but a standard digital thermometer is much more affordable and offers quick, efficient accuracy.
Growth & Development
- Shoes: Infants and babies do not walk, so why are there so many tiny shoes? According to the American Podiatric Medical Association, babies’ feet grow rapidly during the first year. The APMA recommends, “Keep your baby’s feet unrestricted. No shoes or booties are necessary for infants. These can restrict movement and can inhibit toes and feet from normal development." Once your toddler starts walking, you can check out our reviews of the best baby shoes.
- Bumbo: Every baby is different and will reach milestones at their own pace. Unless specifically recommended by a medical professional, parents need not force babies to race toward sitting or any other physical achievement. In addition to poor posture when seated in early-sitters, there have been numerous injuries and safety recalls of these seats.
- Walking harness: Another milestone-pusher is the walking harness—a waist harness/seat with handles for parents to hold to support baby’s first steps. Just like sitting, babies will learn to walk without these devices, and there is no need to rush. Let them be babies a little while longer.
- Babies? There’s an app for that! For anyone who has ever wondered, “Have we taken technology too far?” consider the diaper alarm, a wearable humidity sensor for babies, designed to alert a parent’s smart device when it’s time for a diaper change. Most parents have this under control without an app. There is also the smart sock, which monitors baby’s oxygen levels and other vitals—the technology is impressive, but any tool/app regularly reporting on baby’s bodily functions may be a bit overkill. And even for babies at risk, remember those devices are not hospital grade reliability.