Waste of money for these baby products?

Mindy Marshall, five short months away from delivering her third baby — and only nine months removed from her second — is unlikely to be wooed by the shower of advertisements that tickle new mommies (and daddies). By now, Marshall, who also has a 3-year-old, can decipher the difference between her children’s needs and wants lurking on the aisles.

Changing table? Probably not. Same goes for the cute shoes and the bottles that come in every size imaginable. And let’s not even mention the wipe warmer.

“I’ve yet to use it,” Marshall said. “It’s inconvenient. You’d have to have them all over the house.”

Savvy advice from a wise mother. August is the biggest birth month of the year in Georgia. Last year, 13,556 babies were born in hospitals, according to the Georgia Hospital Association. That’s 1,155 more than the next biggest month, in January.

And with the little ones come big expenses, many times on items that will stay boxed, packed, shelved or otherwise out of sight.

Summer Schulz is shopping wisely for her new baby Addison Photo: Schulz family

Summer Schulz is shopping wisely for her new baby Addison Photo: Schulz family

“You can really survive with the very basics,” said Summer Schulz, a first-time mother of a 3-month-old. “Especially newborns, all they really need is love, attention and care. Simply interacting with your baby can be better.”

Schulz is on a play-date, with two other new mothers and their children. Marshall is spending the day with her children. All the mothers came up with this list of not-so must-haves:

1. Bottle warmers: “They can be a waste of money and time,” Schulz said. “If it’s room temperature, that’s fine. The baby doesn’t care.”

If you do want the milk quickly warmed, run it over hot water or briefly keep it in a pot of gently boiling water.

2. Wipe warmers: “I haven’t used it once,” Marshall said.

Alternative: A warm cloth is sufficient.

3. Shoes: “They are very cute and tempting, but they never stay on their feet,” Schulz said. “I have a shelf full of cute baby shoes that have never been touched.”

Alternative: Slip on booties are inexpensive and will keep your babies’ feet warm and unexposed.

4. Swaddling suits: “A blanket is just as good,” Schulz said.

5. Changing table: “I knew I would never use it,” Marshall said.

Alternative: Some mothers suggest a changing pad on a dresser, for instance. Or even a towel underneath your baby while changing on the bed.

6. Too many clothes: “You get so many clothes; tons that they will never wear,” Marshall said.

Alternative: Children outgrow clothes quickly. You can find quality baby clothes at consignment stores, yard sales and from friends who’ve recently had children.

So, what’s on Marshall’s gift registry this time?

“I’m having a diapers and wipes shower,” she said. “That’s all I need. And gift certificates. Gift certificates are like gold.”

So are the coupons you’ll find on websites like Gerber and Johnson & Johnson for baby products. Hospitals also provide samples, products and coupons for new mothers. Don’t leave the hospital without them. Many grocery stores also have clubs for new parents, offering discounts and coupons on items throughout the store.

What do you consider the biggest wastes of money for new babies? What could you do without? And where wouldn’t you cut back?

Follow me on Twitter @atlbargains

Story idea? Email rcash@ajc.com

35 comments Add your comment

Sandy

August 17th, 2009
8:35 am

Every Mother I know uses a changing table…and I have seen plenty use the wipe warmer, if it is placed next to the changing table. I guess if you change your baby’s diaper all over the house because you don’t use a changing table, then that would be why you don’t need the wipe warmer. But if you have a “station”…it can be very nice and well used.

Tina

August 17th, 2009
8:47 am

I agree that there lots of baby stuff out there that you do not really use like the bottle warmers. If I need to warm a bottle I use a tea kettle to heat the water, then put it in a mug and put the bottle in it. I have a changing pad on the baby’s dresser and a pack-n-play downstairs so that I can easily change diapers without bending over in a bad way. I would not change on the bed or couch, with my luck the baby would pee or poop and that would not be as easy to clean!

EW

August 17th, 2009
8:52 am

when your baby goes to the bathroom on your floor or the bed you’ll wish you had a changing table cheapskate.

Becky

August 17th, 2009
8:52 am

I’ve never known any mother to use a changing table or wipe warmers..To me, unless you are a stay at home Mom, you need to learn to be able to change the baby in any situation..I agree about the shoes also..They never stay on, so why bother with them?

Another thing that I think is useless are those covers that people put in the buggies when they are shopping..If your that worried, wipe it off with a rag..Babies and kids are tougher than we give them credit for, they will survive..Like MRs Schulz said, with love, attention and care, this is the main thing that they need…

EW

August 17th, 2009
8:53 am

and I agree with Sandy, wipe warmers are amazing, and relatively inexpensive.

Becky

August 17th, 2009
8:55 am

EW, it’s not being cheap..Are you to lazy to wash the floor or the bedspread?

cartersmom

August 17th, 2009
8:56 am

I agree with everything but #4. It takes time, practice, patience and the right blanket to swaddle correctly. Additionally, in the first few weeks you are so sleep deprived that the swaddle suits are quick and easy to use. They were a life saver for me.

I agree wholeheartedly about changing tables. I NEVER used ours, but instead have always changed him on the bed. It was always easier for me to clean him with him facing me straight on, rather than doing it from the side.

Wipe warmers dry out the wipes half of the time. Once the baby gets used to the wipes, it is a non-issue. Trust me, my son has never even flinched at the temperature of his wipes and he’s 18 months old.

This was a great post. I will be interested to hear what others post.

Lynnette

August 17th, 2009
9:00 am

LOVE the wipe warmer… it gets terribly cold here and had two winter babies. And the changing table was a must – kept everything organized and at-hand. (I kept a little basket in the family room downstairs for quick changes, but otherwise used the changing table in the baby’s room). And clothes? Be specific. Cute frilly dresses and baby suits will go unused, but onesies, sleepers and stretchy, comfortable clothes are an absolute necessity.

Paul

August 17th, 2009
9:01 am

I have a three year old and a three month old and we use the changing table and wipe warmer all the time. We even have a second changing station set up with the pack-n-play changing table down stairs. But I do agree on the bottle warmer. Simply don’t premix the formula.

Kate

August 17th, 2009
9:02 am

I love my changing table and wipe warmer! I got loads of use out of both. It was nice to have a place to change diapers with everything handy and to know that any messes were contained to that one area and not my bed, couch etc. For me it was also a matter of safety. I cringe when I see someone trying to hold a squirming older baby on a dresser top with no safety rails/belts. The wipe warmer isn’t really necessary but it was a nice thing to have on cold nights. Even after my son was potty trained, I continued to use the changing table as a dressing table. I sat him there to comb his hair, clip his nails, administer to those scraped knees, etc. It was nice to have something at that height.

I do agree about the bottle warmer. Ours didn’t get much use because once I figured out that my child had no preference about the temp (cold or room temp) then I quit using it. My warmer had a basket to use for warming baby food bottles but again, my child was fine with room temp so we didn’t go through the trouble. I also agree about the shoes. We didn’t even bother until our son was learning to walk – he’d just kick them off anyway.

If I had to add an item it would be an overload of infant/toddler toys. Most of us bought too many!

motherjanegoose

August 17th, 2009
9:19 am

I clicked over here from Momania and was not even aware of this blog.

My kids are 17 and 22. We did not have MANY of the new fangled things that are out there today.
I am WAY out of touch.

I do not think I could part with a changing table. I chose the plastic Little Tikes one, with the two sets of doors. Whenever anything seeped out onto the changing table, I could use bleach generously.

@ becky, no I do not want to wash a bedspread or take it to the cleaners nor would I want to figure out how to get poop out of my carpet…neither can be done with bleach…probably just me.

Re: clothes, I usually buy baby clothes for gifts in a size 2…this way their will be something new to wear later.

new mom

August 17th, 2009
9:22 am

I’m kinda confused about the definition of ‘changing table’ used here–we didn’t buy a specific changing table, but got the $20 pad that secures onto a dresser (that is easily removable later on, so you don’t have a wasted piece of furniture) We used that all the time, but still, even as a SAHM, learn to be creative and improvise. As far as safety, we never used the belt on our changing pad, because I thought it provided a false sense of security, like ‘I can turn around for a second since they are buckled in’. And I doubt there are any rails that could actually contain a squirming older baby, you just have to be focused on them 110% and use your whole body if necessary! (or at that point, change them on the floor!)

I also never used the wipe warmer, ended up donating it to a women’s shelter. I had heard it dried out wipes, could damage any furniture it sat on, and then–what if you are out and about, and don’t have the wipe warmer handy?

We have some baby clothes that are so pretty and fancy that we never used them with our daughter, so we’ll have them ready for our baby who is due in 5 weeks. However, we did have to go buy 5-6 more sleepers for the winter, as our daughter wore them all the time and between the spitup and acid reflux, they were just too nasty to save.

jrm

August 17th, 2009
9:52 am

Perspective of grandma of 6.
I have a tendancy for low back pain, so my grandchildren’s changing tables were a great back saver. Even lifting a toddler onto the table was less strain on my back than leaning over the bed. And, yes, I tried sitting on the bed with the baby, but then you have to twist and that’s even worse for your back.
Small water-proof changing pads are a must! They are a lot easier to toss into the wash than the changing table covers, or bedspreads, etc.
My daughter’s favorite gift, and now my choice to give, was a fold up changing station. It has pockets for a couple of diapers, wipes, and ointment. It’s great to take in somewhere that you don’t want to lug a diaper bag.

Amy

August 17th, 2009
9:58 am

I’m not a mom yet but we’re working on it. =) We’ve already started thinking about things we would need and I agree.. there are a lot of things out there that aren’t necessary. I like the changing pad on top of dresser idea. We already have a dresser so that’s less cost upfront. Ive been offered a hand me down crib from a sister so that is awesome! The one thing that my husband and I both agree on is that we are going to use a cloth diaper service. We’re not green fanatics are anything.. but google how many diapers go into landfills each year. It’s disgusting…and they don’t break down. The diaper service also offers biodegradable diapers too for traveling.

OlderMom

August 17th, 2009
10:24 am

Changing tables are a MUST if you are an older mom! The bending, stooping, & lifting can wreak havoc on a “old” back. For my first child, and 12.3 years earlier, I didn’t really need it. For the new baby, it was a lifesaver :) Just my 2 cents.

Brett

August 17th, 2009
10:37 am

My wife and I have a little girl. While we didn’t invest in a changing table, we did invest in water proof changing blankets and we just change her on the bed…works just fine. As for wipe warmers, we definitely use one. Remember how your baby reacted when he/she was born…pretty chilly. A baby doesn’t enjoy a cold wipe (at least ours didn’t). We didn’t really get her any shoes, but we did use the swaddling wraps…easier to put on and they pretty much stay in place. As for clothes we’ve been quite lucky…about 80% of our little one’s wardrobe has been donated to us from friends with older daughters. But she hasn’t worn all of that stuff either.

Kelly

August 17th, 2009
10:39 am

There is a secret to wipe warmers…just add a teaspoon of water into the warmer. I never had any of my wipes dry out but the very first time. And then I was told to always keep a teaspoon of water in there. It helped with the steam. I did this all 3 of my girls. I didn’t have a changing table with my first daughter, but my 2nd one I had one and loved it. It was only the attachment to her pack n play. With my 3rd, my dad bought me the matching one for the girls crib. I loved it! I may not use it all the time but its more convenient than I thought it would be. I never used a swaddling suit. My daughters despised being swaddled. All 3 would scream if they were swaddled, even in the hospital. So much fun explaining why my newborn child was never swaddled in the hospital to a Mean Grumpy L&D nurse. They were all happy with a blanket.

Sara

August 17th, 2009
11:06 am

Why is Marshall having a baby shower for her 3rd child??? Sounds like gift grubbing to me. TACKY.

Dee

August 17th, 2009
11:07 am

I agree that a changing table is not worth it. I have a 6 month old girl and a 2 1/2 year old boy and with both we had a changing pad on the dresser. I don’t understand why people are saying you need the changing table for the height because both dressers I have are about the same height and width as the chaning tables I found and I will second the issue about the false sense of security with the straps and stuff. My 6 month old girl is almost impossible to hold down with straps and 2 people so if you just pay attention when you have them up there you are fine.

For the wipe warmers I have never used one of those either and haven’t noticed my little ones freaking out when a wipe touches their bottoms besides what do you do when not at home? The wipes would be cold then. And my kids have always taken room temp bottles so I ended up giving the bottle warmer I got as a gift to a shelter because using a cup of hot water worked as well and was easier.

The best things I have gotten and used the most really aren’t necessarily stuff you can use right away but they are pack n play, exersaucer, and larger size clothes, anywhere from 6 months up to 12 months. The pack and play is great because then you have something easy to travel with and can do double duty. Both of mine love the exersaucer and my little girl won’t be still for a moment so trying to play on a mat on the floor can be hectic. And the larger size clothes are great because like someone else mentioned you usually end up with a ton of stuff for them for right after they are born and half the time they grow too fast to wear it all. And that way you have new stuff for later or for when you suddenly realize they don’t fit in the stuff you already have because they grew several inches/pounds overnight it seems.

I think swaddling outfits would depend on how cold it is because they can get out of a blanket and if you live where it is cold and your old heating system can’t keep out, like mine, then you have to really count on the clothes helping to keep them warm.

Sowega

August 17th, 2009
11:26 am

Bottle warmers: If your wife pumps like mine did, you’ll be glad to use one of these little steamers to heat refrigerated breast milk. I don’t think I ever overheated a bottle with the warmer.

Changing table: these may not be necessary, but they sure do help you get organized. They’re a good place to keep baby maintenance tools and supplies organized and ready for immediate action. I did feel much safer changing diapers with the safety strap.

Buggy Cover: You may not want to put your kid in on of these, but heck, they’re a cheap way to provide a thin layer of comfort. And again, the straps hold the squirmy little boogers very secure, helping you focus on the shopping mission. If you’ve ever found yourself at Wal-mart at the wrong time of day, you’ll be glad you have one. But seriously, germs? I doubt most folks have these because they’re afraid of germs. Trust me, a freaking buggy cover won’t turn your kids into candy-a**es.

Sowega

August 17th, 2009
11:28 am

Ooo! Dee–I forgot about the exersaucer–that thing rocks! Also forgot about pack n play–a must for overnights and when you can’t tag team baby supervision.

motherjanegoose

August 17th, 2009
11:41 am

@ Sara….”is unlikely to be wooed by the shower of advertisements”

I think this means that she will receive lots of advertisements for things she may not need and NOT that she is having another shower…

Am I the only one who thinks this?

even if she is being honored with a shower, perhaps she has wonderful friends who want to celebrate with her and share a gift ….

janie Hopwood

August 17th, 2009
11:51 am

The thing I found the most useless was the bathing stations. Best place to bath a baby? the sink. And Yes I clean the sink before and after. I never used a changing station or wipe warmer. The new thing I like best is the wrap around for carrying a baby. Those make me wish I had one. They keep the baby close to mommy’s body and wrapped securely at the same time, much easier than carrying the infant seat.

Amy

August 17th, 2009
12:31 pm

Our daughter is now 7 months old and our first child. I have to say that prior to having her we had all these plans to breastfeed, use biodegradable diapers, etc. Well, she was lactose intolerant and had major gas troubles. Once we realized this everything changed. I forced myself to pump in hopes she’d be able to take lactose and get back to my milk rather then the sensitive stomach formula. She did eventually but I quit pumping. Needless to say, we did nothing as planned.

We use our bed to change her (or the floor) and cold wipes. She does not seem to mind and never has. We did use a bottle warmer but got lazy and so she adapted…she never got crazy gas or whatever the wives tales were about cold formula/breast milk. We used a “Snugglenest” for her to sleep in and then moved to a bassinet and then the pack and play. She loves all her toys like her walker/car and play matt. We use the Rainforest Jumperoo but had little use for the bouncer (although my sister’s daughter LOVED her bouncer). The swing was also a lifesaver for those times when you just wanted to get something done or eat dinner while it was still warm.

The biggest waste of money in my opinion, are clothes in the 0-4 month range (especially jackets/coats). She wore the one piece things and jeans everywhere. Shoes were a waste as were socks. We kept her in the socks from the hospital most of the time b/c they gave us several pairs and they were extra warm. Also, we liked the ‘mosses basket’ we received as a gift- it was helpful in the early months. We also absolutely love sleep sacks! This is the best money spent for sure. We have swaddle blankets but of course she hated being swaddled so those were never used nor were the wraps and slings we had. Washcloths, baby towels, and those small ‘receiving blankets’- waste of money. The hospital gave us two receiving blankets and those were good enough.

I agree with the best gifts being wipes and diapers. We got so many clothes and she never wore half. I wish we would have had the diapers and wipes instead.

One more thing. We bought all these cool bottles that prevented gas, etc., well, she did best (and so did we) with the Medela bottles and the Similac ones the hospital sends you home with- plus they fit on pumps! Now that we know all this stuff the next baby will be 100% easier.
month range. She wore the one piece things and jeans. Shoes were a waste as were socks. We kept her in the socks from the hospital most of the time b/c they gave us several pairs. Also, we liked the ‘moses basket’ we received as a gift- it was helpful. We use the Rainforest Jumperoo but had little use for the bouncer (although my sister’s daughter LOVED her bouncer). We also absoluetly love sleep sacks. This is the best money spent for sure.

Yanamom

August 17th, 2009
12:55 pm

Didn’t use the changing table either and it wasn’t because we are cheap, it was because that piece of furnature didn’t fit in our house. If you have a small house or apartment with small rooms, a changing table is something you just don’t need. Companies that make stuff for babies love the people who think they have to have every gadget and piece of crap that they sell for babies and a changing table is one of those items, large price, small return on value. Plus we got used to changing the children in a variety of places, which came in handy when we visited with the grandparents and other relatives who didn’t have babies. No babies, no changing tables… We changed diapers for over 4 years on the bed and we did not have to wash the quilt or sheets at any time because of any baby mess.

Having a changing table is not a MUST have for organizing stuff either. If you don’t have changing table, you just designate an area for the diapers, wipes, creams etc…which is all you are doing with the changing table, it is the designated spot for all that stuff. It’s great if you can afford and have the room for all those pieces of furnature that you will only use for a short time, but moms have been doing without changing tables for thousands of years and you don’t have to have them. Even the moms that I know that had room for them, ended up not using it very often, usally only for the night time change during the first few months.

Wipe warmer, great idea, stupid product, tried it, hated it. Hard to open, dried out the wipes, heated up the dresser it was on, tossed it after a couple of weeks.

Never had a bottle warmer, warmed them under hot tap water. Or, GASP, in the microwave. (No matter what you tell them, that is how they warm bottles in Day Care Centers! I used to work for one, so that is personal experience at that day care and I saw them do it at a couple of others!)

Shoes, learned with the first one to buy the footed sleepers and onsie type outfits. None of my kids would keep shoes or socks on their feet. They still don’t wear shoes or socks if they don’t have too! Clothes, I always bought the next size or two up when they went on sale, depending on how fast the baby was growing. Almost all my children’s first baby clothes were yard sale, thrift store or baby gifts.

Trish

August 17th, 2009
1:45 pm

Let me add a couple more which I’m sure I will get a lot of flack about. A tub and wipes. May have used the tub a couple times and I hate wipes, I feel like I’m wiping something foreign on the baby. I’m old school and still use the soapy wash cloth.

new mom

August 17th, 2009
2:10 pm

One of the things I couldn’t have lived without was our bouncy-seat. I’m not sure what the proper name for it was, but our daughter would sleep in it, sit happily in it, and when she’d poop or spit up on it, the entire cloth cover would come off and wash in the washing machine, leaving a round steel frame. And I think it was relatively cheap, maybe in the $30 range. We used it soooo much, much more then the expensive swing! I just double checked, ours was made my Fisher-Price and has ‘calming vibrations’ on it. I doubt they still make the exact thing, but I’m sure there’s something similar out there. :)

Connie D

August 17th, 2009
2:32 pm

I get all my baby information here: http://www.babychitchat.com.

A LOT of these products are a waste of money, and chatting with other moms on this site has saved me time and money…

Belle

August 17th, 2009
3:23 pm

I agree with Older Mom the bending and stooping would kill my back. I used my changing table (which I keep in the living area) for the past 3 years, and I will use it until baby #2 is out of diapers.
It works great to store my diapers, wipes and even toys on the shelves.

Didn’t use a bouncy seat much, but the Bumbo seat was my saving grace. I take that thing everywhere!

Dee

August 17th, 2009
3:35 pm

Good call Janie Hopwood about the bathing station. I got one for my son and it was almost impossible to use. We ended up doing baths in the sink or just putting enough water in the tub to put maybe 1/4 inch in the shallower end and put his head at that end. That is what I do now with my little girl and they both loved it and it was much easier than the bathing station, I don’t worry about it because who in their right mind is not going to pay total attention to an infant when giving a bath. I keep one hand on her at all times so she doesn’t roll over. Both of them loved it too. The both would kick their feet and laugh during bath time.

As for the bouncy chair it was great up until the time they could hold/support themselves well enough to sit in the exersaucer. I don’t mean well enough to sit on their own but well enough to sit supported. After that they would get bored in the bouncy seat.

I also had a Bumbo chair and it was great with my son but for my little girl who has aspirations to be a gymnast I think, it actually got to be dangerous by the time she was about four months old because she would flip herself out in about half a second once she got bored being in it. Unfortunately that was also about the time she was big enough to use it so it has been a waste for her.

Lucy Frost

August 18th, 2009
6:51 pm

I definitely agree on shoes being a waste of money. Sure they’re cute but let’s face it, they don’t stay put on baby’s feet for longer than a couple of minutes. My son is just as happy in a pair of socks.
I didn’t bother to invest in a wipe warmer figuring that it wasn’t necessary. I’m glad to hear that others feel the same way.
I disagree on the swaddle. I can’t live without my Merino Kids Cocooi and would recommend investing in a good quality swaddling blanket to any Moms out there. It’s been a godsend for us and has resulted in at least one and a half extra hours of sleep a night for us.

amh

August 18th, 2009
8:54 pm

The phrase “waste of money” is really just relative. My must-haves are definitely not going to match up with everyone else’s. Not really sure why people are getting heated about this topic???? Yes, some of my “must-haves” are not necessities but they sure did make life a whole lot more pleasant during those first sleep-deprived weeks.

Here are/were my favorite baby/newborn “must-haves”:

1. Changing table/pack ‘n’ play: Yep, it was a must-have for me. The height was just a million times better for my back. I’m young and have never had back issues but my delivery did a real number on me all over and me back wasn’t the same for a good two weeks. Now (7 months later), I change him in the crib and keep a basket of diaper stuff downstairs next to the couch but I still use the changing table for organization. However, now that our necessities are a little less and we’ve revamped some stuff, I’m going to use it to organize some of my craft supplies. And I’ll definitely be using it again with the next babe.

2. Wipe warmer: My baby screamed bloody murder at the touch of a wipe for the first week until I spent 15 bucks on that wipe warmer. I had a winter baby so I even loved it to use the warm wipes on my face :) A lot of people have been asking what you do when you go out… well, you just don’t use it. Or you can run it under hot water/hold it in the palm of your hand so it’s nto QUITE so cold but c’mon, it’s not like most people are out and about at every diaper change.

3. Baby Gap socks. Like I said, winter baby = cold weather = super cold feet. Baby Gap’s socks were the best at staying on and they’re thick.

4. Swaddling blanket. I can do a mean swaddle but I know a lot of people who just never got it tight enough and the swaddle sack things were life savers for them.

5. Sleep sacks (NOT the swaddle sack)… These. Were. Wonderful. I could swaddle him with these on and they made diaper changes a BREEZE.

6. Bottle warmer. Seriously, I LOVED our bottle warmer. I pumped a lot of breastmilk and the microwave can destroy the nutritive properties. I’d rather pay 10 bucks to be able to pop it in the warmer and let it beep at me when it’s finished than sit and hold it in the water or go through all of those steps. Lazy, I know. I AM an American, you know. ;)

7. Side-snap/kimono shirts. Love those things. When our baby wasn’t in a sleep sack, he was probably in one of these. (The cute little outfits ARE nice to have sometimes but really we mostly kept him in these kinda things. But the cute clothes are wonderful gifts from people who really wanted to gift you and your baby with something.)

8. Can’t think of any off the top of my head right now….

[...] Waste of money for these baby products | Atlanta Bargain HunterWe have some baby clothes that are so pretty and fancy that we never used them with our daughter, so we’ll have them ready for our baby who is due in 5 weeks. However, we did have to go buy 5-6 more sleepers for the winter, … [...]

Becky

August 19th, 2009
10:44 am

@MJG, ususally for the amount of poop that you would get on your carpet or bedspread while changing the baby, you can clean this up with hot water and soap..This I found out from my nephew when he cleaned carpet for a living..

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