Monday, July 4, 2011

Buying Baby Things Part 1: Stuff I Shouldn't Have Bought

I was in no hurry when I found out I was pregnant to purchase a ton of things. I was almost embarrassingly late on buying essential items like diapers and clothes, and I was of the firm belief that most of the stuff placed on "essential" lists from parenting magazines and websites  were just clever marketing ploys. Still, babies (especially first babies) are pretty big environmental changes to a household, and that comes with some necessary adjustments in the surrounding--adjustments that are most easily seen in the sheer amount of things you end up buying.

Now that I've had some time to reflect (and see all that stuff in use) I've found that most of the things I've bought fall into one of two categories 1) things I shouldn't have bought or 2) things I almost didn't buy (or were given to me as gifts that I wouldn't have purchased myself) but am so glad to have.

To aid anyone else who might be walking into Babies R Us for the first time and gawking open-mouthed and wide-eyed at the swirl of pastel colors in utter confusion, I share my hindsight, starting with:

Things I Shouldn't Have Bought

Infantino Flip Carrier1. Infantino Flip Carrier- Now, I liked this carrier for a while, and I did use it right away. I gave birth on December 1, and grades were due for the spring classes I was teaching on December 16. I stuck my infant daughter in this carrier against my chest and graded away while she slept. It was wonderful. And at first I was a little smug. "I spent 30 bucks on this thing, and it's fine. What's wrong with those people who shell out hundreds for the same thing? Elitists!" What's wrong with them? Their children, like mine, did not remain tiny and still for very long. Now that my daughter weighs nearly 20 pounds and moves a ton, the weight distribution in the Infantino is not so great.

What I should have bought instead:

Well, I haven't quite decided yet. At first I thought I'd just use the Infantino one and suck it up, but we walk a lot. We're urban parents, and trips to the zoo, Sunday morning breakfast, and sometimes even the grocery store are often done on foot. Even when my daughter starts walking, some of these trips will be too long for her to walk the whole time, and a stroller isn't always practical.
Boba Classic Baby Carrier 2G - Dusk
Boba Classic

I've looked at Ergo and Baby Bjorn, both of which are popular brands that boast a better weight distribution and more comfortable experience.

But my research has me leaning towards a Boba Carrier that has a pretty high weight limit, wide waist belt, and foot straps for older children to take some of the weight off of the shoulders. I'd love comments from anyone who has advice on which one is best.

2. Graco Flip It Travel System-
Graco Alano Flip It Travel System, Strata To  be fair, there's nothing wrong with this product; it's just the wrong fit for my lifestyle. The stroller is too big to be practical at almost any of the places we usually go. It's a pain to manuever through crowds and nearly impossible to deal with in a store. It's nice to have a system where the car seat snaps into the stroller, but we literally only used it like four times, and now that our daughter's old enough to sit up on her own, we use a much smaller stroller and leave the carseat in the car.

Cosco Umbrella Stroller, Giraffe
What I should have bought instead: 
Really any inexpensive, simple umbrella stroller. We picked one up at Babies R Us for $15. We've already used it more than the Graco one, and we've only had it a few weeks. It's just so much simpler to put in the car, carry around, and maneuver in stores.
Graco Snugride Infant Car Seat, Lively DotsI love the car seat that came with the Graco travel system. It's a Snugride, and though it doesn't go up to the same weight limits as the bigger car seats in the Graco line, it fits in the car easily, snaps into the base great, and is (relatively) easy to carry around. I should have bought the car seat on its own and held off on the stroller until she was big enough to sit up. Before that,  I could have just set the car seat in the bottom of a shopping cart or worn her in a sling, which is what I ended up doing most of the time anyway. I may still have ended up purchasing a bigger stroller, too, especially for walking in the park or someplace that isn't crowded, but I don't think it was necessary to buy the whole travel system.

3.  Diaper Genie II Elite-
Diaper Genie II Elite Pail SystemI put this on my registry thinking that it would be a necessity. This is one of those purchases driven by the mythos of parenting. "The smell! Oh my God! The diapers smell so bad!" Now, my daughter's only been on solids for a month and a half, so I'm sure I haven't had the full-blown diaper experience, but the Diaper Genie still seems unnecessary. There's only one or two dirty diapers a day. The rest are just wet. I can take the dirty ones and throw them out immediately. But what am I left with? A disposal system that holds next to nothing. In the first few weeks of my daughter's life, she was wetting a diaper about every hour. That's a lot of diapers to cram into a tiny little bin of plastic. So many, that I often ended up stacking them on top until the end of the day when I dumped them all into a trash bag and took them outside. That kind of defeats the purpose. Plus, the refill liners are very expensive, especially considering that they tear pretty easily.

What I should have bought instead:
 A cheap, plastic kitchen trash can with a lid. It serves the same purpose, has more space, and can be used to also throw away the other junk that accumulates upstairs near the nursery.

4. Onesies, Burp Cloths, and Sleep Bundlers-
No, I'm not suggesting that onesies and burp cloths were bad purchases. I just bought way too many of them. When I finally went to buy clothes, I was overwhelmed and figured I should stock up on the basics. She hardly wore any of the plain white 0-3 month onesies. I don't think she ever wore a newborn sized one (she was 9 lbs when she was born). I still use the burp cloths, but I have like twenty of them.

Organic Baby Soy Bundler - Elephant Size: 0-3 MonthsAs for the sleep bundlers, these were the long gowns that were open at the bottom with elastic. In theory, you pull them down over your sleeping child's legs, and she drifts peacefully off to sleep without the risk of a blanket in the crib. In reality, my daughter sleeps like she's running a marathon, and the little elastic bottom ended up around her waist, leaving her with ice-cold legs. It didn't help that she was born in December. 

What I should have bought instead-
For the first few months, my daughter lived in footed one-piece outfits and sleep sacks with zippers. I probably shouldn't have bought any onesies, and one pack of burp cloths would have sufficed.

5. Johnson and Johnson everything
Johnson's Bathtime Essentials Gift SetI purchased quite a few different J and J products: shampoo, lotion, baby oil, etc. At the time, I was overwhelmed by the fact that I was about to have a baby and hadn't done much to prepare. This seemed like an easy way to start stockpiling necessities. I shouldn't have. First of all, I received a couple of very nice J and J gift sets at my baby shower. These gifts lasted me quite a while, making it unnecessary to tap into my baby lotion reserves. Secondly, my daugther ended up with extremely dry skin, and I couldn't really use the bath soap without her getting dry patches.

What I should have bought instead:
Nothing. I should have waited until after the baby shower and my daughter's birth and used the very nice gifts as a chance to experiment with the different products and see what worked out best. Even if I hadn't gotten any gifts, she was an infant. It's not like she was rolling around in the mud and needing hourly baths. There was no reason for me to stock up on these months in advance.

So what would you add to the list of things you shouldn't have bought? Did you buy too many of something? Buy something you never used at all?


  1. This is great to read - I'm a few weeks away from my baby arriving, and it's reassuring to see I haven't been doing everything wrong! It's hard to hold back from shopping extravagantly, though, when sometimes it feels like it's marketed as an activity to do in preparation for having a baby. "You may not have a child yet, but you can be a parent now simply by spending money!"

  2. I do this list in my head ALL the time.
    1. Totally agree, and you should get an ergo sport - I absolutely LOVE mine and wish I'd got it sooner. While I also use a sling at times the front/backpack is terrific as it is more hands free. Anna is 20 months and I still use it, mostly on the back but yesterday we have a very busy day while on vacation and she had a one hour nap on my chest. Very handy (and yes, she is about 11kg but whatever, she wants to be be carried a lot anyway - all kids that age do). Also - don't get a baby bjorn. Have a look at this site:

    2. Again, totally agree - I got one and it didn't get a lot of use. Carrying the whole capsule around is *really* hard on your joints, sling or frontpack definitely the way to go when they are littlest.

    3. Yup! The refills are $25 here in NZ so pretty ridiculous. I try to have a plastic shopping bag handy to "isolate" the grossest nappies and the wet ones just go in the bin.

    4. Yes, again! Footed outfits were heaps better than onesies. I didn't discover zipped sacks until Anna was a bit older but then loved them (she's still in one at 20 months). She was a very spilly baby so we needed all 20+ of our burp cloths but I have a whole pile of blankets and top sheets that we never use.

    Other things I would add: a bouncer (much more convenient to put her on the floor under an activity gym if you have to run for the door or the phone, and better for their development to have the freedom to roll). The bassinet - between the co-sleeper and a cot I think we had enough sleeping places! A bath support - the fabric gets freezing cold once it's wet - and it's not that hard to just hold the baby yourself!

    I have a whole list of "things I thought were ridiculous but ended up loving" but I'm guessing that's part two so I will hold onto them :)

  3. W/r/t #1: We loved our Beco carrier and used it for a very long time indeed--like even sometimes when Noah was three and a half. It was a huge part of our daily life and never failed us. Also, it's really pretty.

  4. Greate post,I was checking constantly this blog and i am impressed, afterall very useful info
    speciifically the last part.I care for such information much,I was seeking this certain
    information for a long time,thank you again and again.

  5. Have you thought about a manducca carrier? They are amazing. My son is almost 9months and I find it really hard to hold him due to weight and wriggling. In a manducca the weight is distributed so you carry more around your waist and I can wear him for hours (going for walks, shopping in town etc). Can be used up to 20kgs. It has an inbuilt infant insert as well so good for other children or for on-selling when you're done.

  6. Thanks for sharing exceptional informations. Your Article is so cool. We have been
    impressed from the main items that you’ve discussed. That reveals how nicely people
    perceive this kind of subject. It’s gratifying to see that your article confirms my
    time and attendance reporting