Congratulations! You’re having a baby! Whether you’re a first-time parent or it’s just been a couple of years since the birth of your last child, it’s easy to become overwhelmed by all the baby products on the market. When I found out I was expecting, a friend with two kids under 2 years old offered to take me to a popular baby superstore to register. The idea was that she could show me exactly what I needed and steer me away from useless items that would just take up space. Some four hours later, my head was spinning and my registry list of supposedly “essential” items was still growing.? How could such a tiny baby need so much stuff?
The answer is, they don’t. And you don’t have to spend a small fortune getting ready for your newest little family member. Parents and co-authors Denise and Alan Fields have made a living convincing other parents of this truth. They wrote the book Baby Bargains in 1993 when their son was born. Since it’s publication, the Fields have continued to add new and updated information on how to save on baby furniture, equipment, clothes, toys and maternity wear to the book, which is now in its 8th edition. I picked up a copy of Baby Bargains in my first trimester, and I found the authors so helpful that I called them up to ask what they think are the most useless, potentially hazardous, and downright expensive baby products on the market.
?Author and dad Alan Fields compiled this list of products to avoid:?
1. Teething Tablets: Fields says these are pitched to parents as a sort of homeopathic remedy for fussy, teething infants. At $5 to $10, it’s a price most sleep-deprived and desperate parents would gladly pay in hopes of calming their little one, but Fields says there is no evidence that they work. In fact, last year, the Federal Drug Administration recalled millions of teething tablets that it said contained a possibly toxic ingredient called belladonna.? As a safer and less expensive alternative to teething tablets, Fields suggests giving your teething baby a small frozen bagel.
2. Baby Toothpaste: Fields says baby toothpaste is a waste of money, and that the best way to clean your baby’s teeth is to wipe them off with a wet towel.
3. Baby Walkers: The problem with these rolling contraptions is that they don’t really teach babies how to walk. Furthermore, Fields says there have been thousands of accidents involving baby walkers.
“Not only can they roll down a set of stairs, but they can also bump into things,” said Fields. “We would suggest you save your $60 and skip the baby walker.”
4. Ear Thermometers: These devices cost anywhere from $50 to $100, and Fields says they are notoriously inaccurate when used on infants. The best way to take your baby’s temperature is by using a rectal thermometer that will cost you about $10.
“Let’s be realistic,” said Fields. “When you’re a parent, sometimes the hard way is the only way that works.”
5. Crib Bedding in a Bag: The number one biggest waste of money, according to Fields, are bags of color-coordinated bedding. The giant bags usually include a bumper, sheet set, crib skirt and a quilt or baby blanket.
“Not only is it a waste of money,” says Fields, but it’s actually not even safe.” Safe sleep advocates and the American Academy of Pediatrics say there should be nothing in the crib with your baby except a wearable sleep sack to keep them warm. They say the risks of suffocation and strangulation from blankets, quilts and crib bumpers far outweigh any benefits from the items.
“Crib sheets cost just $10 or $20 each,” said Fields. “You don’t have to spend $200 to $400 on a set of bedding.”
Don’t be afraid to venture out of the baby store in search of items for your baby. For example, if you need a baby safety gate, check out your local pet store. Fields says the only difference between the gates at a baby store and those at a pet store is the packaging. The actual gates are the same, and sometimes you can find a version for dogs at a lower price.