Baby “Essentials” You May Want to Skip

When you look at baby supply checklists, it is easy to see why people say that babies are so expensive. You’re sure to break the bank if you purchase all of these purported essentials!

Many baby items purported to be must-haves are actually inessential. You can save some space and money by skipping these items.

The good news is that not all of these must-haves are essential. Many are convenient to have, but you’ll do just fine without them. Others are just plain impractical!

As we’re preparing to welcome baby #2, we’re checking to see if we need anything new. Through this process, I’ve been reminded of why the following “essentials” aren’t really needed. Some of the following links are affiliate links (click here to read about what this means).

Inessential baby items

Themed bedding and nursery décor

Why they’re unnecessary: Babies can’t fully appreciate the décor and will outgrow the cute nursery quickly. Additionally, some types of bedding (pillows, comforters, bumpers, etc.) are safety hazards.

Alternatives: Pass on a pricey crib bedding set and choose fitted crib sheets that are a color or pattern you prefer. Select a well-constructed crib that meets current safety standards. If you want to get a lot of use out of the crib, then consider getting a convertible one that transforms into a toddler and “big kid” bed. When selecting accessories (curtains, rugs, wall hangings, etc.), consider getting some that are age-neutral so your child will enjoy them as he or she ages. Some families find that a crib and accessories aren’t even necessary. Many of these families practice bed-sharing and simply forego setting up a nursery.

Baby bath tub

Why it’s unnecessary: You already have a bathtub or sink in your home that you can use to bathe baby. If you use a baby-sized bathtub, you’ll have to clean and find a place to store this rather bulky piece of equipment. These tubs are suitable when babies are small, but many babies outgrow them quickly.

Alternatives: A bath sponge or bath pad is an economical option that allows you to easily bathe baby in your tub or sink. These are small so they are easy to store and they can be washed in the clothes washer, which makes cleanup a breeze. We used a bath pad and loved it for these reasons! Of course, you can always pass on special bath items entirely and bathe your baby with you or by using a towel as a cushion in the tub.

Hooded bath towels

Why they’re unnecessary: You already have towels in your home that you can use to dry baby. Though hooded bath towels are cute, they are often smaller and may be less absorbent than regular towels.

The alternative: Your regular bath towels will work just fine for drying baby. I always selected a soft, fluffy one and, if it was chilly, pulled a corner of the towel over my little one’s head to create an impromptu hood.

Many baby items purported to be must-haves are actually inessential. You can save some space and money by skipping these items.

Lots of toys

Why they’re unnecessary: Newborns can’t really play with toys. As babies age, they do appreciate toys but they are more than satisfied with the basics: Rattles, teething toys, baby-safe mirrors, books, etc.

Alternatives: In addition to the basics mentioned above, let baby play with common household items that make great baby toys. Items like boxes, laundry baskets, mixing bowls, and spatulas kept our little one entertained for hours!

Jars and pouches of baby food

Why they’re unnecessary: You likely already purchase foods that can be prepared for baby. The cost of prepackaged baby foods adds up, but these are no more nutritious or appropriate for baby than foods you can prepare yourself.

Alternatives: Jars and pouches of baby food contain pureed foods. Pretty simple, right? You can easily make these yourself without any special equipment (such as a baby food maker). Peel an avocado or banana and mash it. Voila! You have baby food. Puree some peas that you’ve steamed. Voila! You have baby food. You can even puree things like meats and beans. I made all of my little one’s foods with the help of basic kitchen equipment like a fork and food processor. I froze the purees in ice cube trays and thawed small amounts as needed. Another alternative is skipping pureed foods altogether and using an approach referred to as baby-led weaning. This involves introducing solids by allowing infants to self-feed most of the same foods consumed by other family members.

Wipe warmer

Why it’s unnecessary: Room temperature wipes clean baby’s bottom as well as warm ones. Additionally, many wipe warmers have a tendency to dry out wipes, requiring you to add liquid to them if they are going to do their job.

Alternatives: Room temperature wipes work just fine! Baby gets used to their cool sensation because the wipes you use while out and about haven’t been warmed. Even if baby does get bothered by a cool wipe, it doesn’t cause any permanent harm. Disposal wipes aren’t even technically necessary—you can use reusable cloth ones instead. We cloth diaper, so I often use cloth wipes. However, I do rely on disposable wipes quite a bit. My little one has thrived despite the fact that I’ve never once warmed a wipe for her.

Infant car seat

Why it’s unnecessary: A single convertible car seat can be used for baby from the time he or she is born through the early childhood years. Using a convertible car seat from birth generally saves parents money (they don’t have to replace their infant car seat with a convertible one when baby is 6 months to 1 year old) and helps parents comply with the AAP’s safety recommendations (that infant car seats only be used for travel—not for sleeping, feeding, or other uses outside the vehicle). Due to their size and special needs, premature infants and infants with medical problems may require infant car seats. Check with your pediatrician if you have questions.

The alternative: I know that many parents love the convenience of being able to carry baby around in an infant car seat, especially if he or she has fallen asleep in the car. Personally, my husband and I do not feel that the bulk and weight of an infant car seat is convenient, so we’ve only used convertible car seats and will continue to do so when we welcome our new baby this summer. We had no need for the travel systems associated with infant car seats because we carried our little one in a Moby Wrap or soft-structured carrier. This hands-free option truly was convenient and we felt it was best for her development to have her upright and against our chests.

What you consider to be essential will depend on your lifestyle and family, so you may disagree with what I’ve said above. Now it’s your turn! Share what baby “essentials” you think are unnecessary.

Shared at the following link parties:

Monday’s Musings, Titus 2 Tuesday, Tuesday Talk, WholeHearted Wednesday, Coffee and Conversation, Shine Blog Hop, and The Art of Home-Making.

Comments

  1. I agree about the wipe warmer. They never made much sense to me.

    Another great alternative for a baby bath is a $3 plastic dish pan from Walmart. It’s a perfect size and when baby outgrows it, it has other uses.

    We actually really liked having an infant car seat. We aren’t home a ton so having a safe place to baby down when out and about was handy. I also tend to have small babies so they can use them for quite some time.

    • Neat suggestion for the baby bath, Julie! I’ve never thought of that option before. Also, thanks for sharing your take on the infant car seat. You illustrate why it is important to consider your lifestyle and preferences when deciding what is and isn’t essential.

  2. Whoa, I have never even heard of a wipe warmer before-but, with the huge realm and market for baby items out there, it doesn’t necessarily surprise me, either. We’re planning to cloth diaper, so we’re going to use cloth wipes, anyway. I’ve gotten the impression that a lot of baby “essentials” usually revolve around women wanting something just because it’s “cute” or because it looks convenient. But, the baby doesn’t really care how “cute” something is, and when you fill your house with “convenience items,” it becomes very inconvenient, because of the added clutter! Furthermore, just because something is cute does not mean that we all need to buy it. We can enjoy looking at pretty things and not buy them 🙂

    Another item that I personally feel is not necessarily an “essential” is a Boppy. Recently, I was in a group where a woman asked if Boppies were really necessary, since she wants to go for a minimalist approach. I grew up as the 2nd oldest of 6 kids, all of whom breastfeed for at least 2 years, and I never saw a Boppy enter the house. Plus, women have been nursing for thousands of years without them. So, while I know that some women prefer to have that particular shape of pillow for support, I think that too many times, women are guided to think that they must have it if they want to breastfeed, instead of thinking about and learning what’s best for them-because while they may really benefit from using one, they may not benefit from it at all!

    Finally, thanks for your thoughts on the carseat thing! My husband and I are slowly working through our list of “topics to discuss about baby,” and we’re going to start figuring that out soon. I actually kind of dread the idea of carrying around a bulky seat (we have a couple of soft structure carriers and I’m planning to make a wrap for babywearing), so it’s nice to know that we don’t necessarily have to go with that route if we don’t want to. Lots of good things to consider!

    • Hi AnneMarie,
      My husband had also never heard of a wipe warmer until we began looking at supplies for our first little one. Indeed, they do exist!
      As far as the Boppy is concerned, all I will say for now is to stay tuned! I have a post on the topic of inessential, but valuable baby items scheduled for April 4th. I discuss nursing pillows in this post.
      I was pleased to share my thoughts on the car seat. Many first-time parents think the only option is an infant car seat. It’s important to know that there are options!

  3. I liked your list! Our little one is almost 5 months old & researching all the baby stuff had me sooo stressed! We said “no way” to the infant car seats & opted for the convertible for the reasons mentioned. We also decided against a stroller since I asked for an Ergo & planned to wear him. However, just like with his birth, I realized not everything always goes according to our plans lol. One day I’ll learn 😉 Due to cesarean recovery & diastasis recti, wearing him just wasn’t/isn’t comfortable for me at all. And he’s not a fan, either. Loves to be held but worn? Not so much. We wound up purchasing an inexpensive lightweight stroller with an infant safety boot (so he wouldn’t slide out) & we all LOVE it! Just something to keep in mind 🙂 Baby bath towels were too small & not very soft & baby washcloths feel like little squares of sandpaper (we use burp cloths & dishcloths). We do have a baby bathtub & love it 🙂 He likes splashing & it’s easier to bathe him than if I had to hang on to a slippery wet baby 🙂 Other than that, I agree with your list!

    • Your experience makes a very important point, Heather, which is that we often learn what we do and don’t need after baby is born. There is some trial and error that has to happen!
      Thanks for sharing about your enjoyment of the baby bath tub. It’s great to hear your perspective!

  4. Lovely list!

    We also found that the crib was completely useless! In retrospect, I have no idea why I thought we should have one except that my Mom had one for me.

    • Hi Anna,
      I think we often do things simply because that’s what we’ve seen done before. Then we learn from experience…

  5. Wow, I can’t believe there even is such a thing as a wipe warmer! We also never used many of these things, and it is so sad that many people think it is so expensive to have children, when in fact it is our western expectations that make it expensive. Thank you for sharing this 🙂

    • Hi Gwen,
      Indeed, our western expectations do make it expensive. I can’t believe how much it would cost if you purchased every recommended item!

  6. With my first baby I had it all! Come baby #2 I got rid of a lot since I realized it really wasn’t necessary. Funny you mention infant car seats and slings. This is our first time using a convertible car seat ( I reused my infant one all the way until baby #4 and then we moved. It didn’t make the move with us). It took me a bit to adapt to from not having a huge, heavy, uncomfortable seat to carry around to wrapping a Moby wrap in the car. Got I down. So much more convient.

    • Most moms I know choose infant car seats because they find them to be convenient. It’s amazing how subjective convenience is! Once you learn how to wrap a Moby (or any similar carriers), using them is a piece of cake!

  7. I would love to hear more of your thoughts on the Moby wrap and soft structured carriers! We’re expecting our baby in August and I really want to do babywearing. Right now I’m registered for a Solly Wrap and a Boba soft structure carrier but would love to hear your thoughts on best brands/styles!

    • Hi Laura,
      Congrats on the baby! I’d love to share some more of my thoughts. 🙂
      Solly Wraps are great. They are very much like a Moby in terms of how they are worn and how baby will be positioned. However, they are made of different fabrics. Most Moby wraps are cotton and the Solly wraps are modal. A Moby will be heavier and warmer, while a Solly will be lighter and cooler. If you live in a warm climate and have the money to spend on a Solly (they cost about $20 more than a Moby), then go for it! You and baby will both appreciate having a lighter wrap. However, if you live in a colder climate, then you might consider the Moby.
      Boba carriers (like the 3G and 4G) are great. I considered getting one, but went with the Mo+m carrier because of the price difference. Mo+m carriers are very affordable (about $45 currently on Amazon). Many affordable carriers are “crotch danglers,” so they are not comfortable or healthy for babies (in regard to their hips). The Mo+m carrier has a wide base to support baby, is comfortable for mom, and is high quality. It also has a vent in the back (you can unzip the back of the carrier and fold down a flap to reveal a mesh panel that helps cool baby). I’ve loved my Mo+m carrier, but I believe you’d be quite happy with a Boba.
      If you have friends who babywear, check with them to see if you can borrow and try out their different carriers. Nothing can top your own experience! Also, see if your community has a local chapter of Babywearing International. Many chapters have lending libraries that allow you to try different carriers.
      Hope this helps!

  8. Absolutely agree. The other inessential we found was a changing table. We placed a changing pad on a small dresser and voila. Changing tables will be outgrown, but not dressers!

    • Hi Jess,
      Great addition to the list! We also used a dresser for our changing table (a dresser we purchased used on craigslist). It’s been great!

  9. So true! Our son is 3-months old and we’ve tried to take a minimalist approach to the amount of baby stuff we’ve acquired – and I still feel like we are drowning in it!! It amazes me what society deems “necessary” for a newborn!

    I will say, I was gifted a baby bathtub, and while I thought it was completely unnecessary at the time (and still really do), I have a lot of lower back problems, and having the bathtub to put on top of the counter has made bath time a lot easier on my back (no bending or awkward positioning necessary).

    • Hi Julianne,
      “Necessary” tends to include a lot of wants in addition to needs, doesn’t it?
      Great point about the baby bathtub and back problems.

  10. I totally agree with the crib bedding. We just have a sheet for baby’s crib this time around. I actually liked having the bathtub with my daughter; it helped save my back from bending over the tub.
    Thanks for sharing on the Shine Blog Hop!

    • Hi Tiffany,
      A simple fitted sheet is the way to go!
      Your sentiments about the bathtub seem to be shared by many other moms. Definitely something to think about!

  11. I agree with a lot of your unnecessary baby items and like that you offered alternatives. While hooded bath towels are not necessary since we have towels at home, I might have bought a couple because they were cute.

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