January 8, 2014

What Not to Buy for a New Baby


While those adorably perfect bundles of joy certainly require their fair share of purchases, some gifts are better left on the shelf. Here are the top 10 worst-offender baby gifts most likely to be banished to the back corner of a closet or listed for a quick eBay sale.

1. Newborn to Toddler Adaptivity Seat for iPad
This bouncy seat starts off little ones on their screen addictions early by giving parents a way to strap their babies into the seat and look right up at an iPad the whole time.

There are several problems with this idea. First, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends parents keep children under 2 years of age as screen-free as possible. The organization found that babies learn best from real, unplugged play with actual humans, not media apps. The idea of allowing technology to babysit your kid is not a new one, but it is usually not employed until the tot is at least out of infancy. The first two years are critical to stimulate your baby with human contact and one-on-one playtime with both you and tangible objects. Don’t give those precious developmental years to a touch screen!

2. Bottle Warmer
While it seems like a great idea to lovingly give your sweet child a comforting, warm bottle straight from the warmer, many bottle warmers take 4 to 10 minutes to heat up the milk. This concept quickly dematerializes into reality when your child is shrieking at 2 a.m. Many children don’t care if the bottle is warm or not; they will just scream at you until they are fed. If you really want to give your baby a warm bottle, put it in a bowl of warm water – and you will have one less item you’ll need to sell at a future garage sale.

3. Crib Bumper
Crib bumpers look nice, but they are a waste of money and could harm your baby. There are several stories of infants suffocating on the bumpers, because they don’t have the motor skills to turn their heads away should they roll into them or the ties. The American Academy of Pediatrics has come out against the bumpers in their fight for SIDs prevention, noting the high risk of injury and also stating that there is no evidence that bumper pads prevent injuries. Something that could potentially end your baby’s life, while at the same time showing no evidence of effectiveness, is never a good buy for any new parent.

4. Tons of Infant Toys and Videos
Newborns aren’t a tough audience. Seriously, my mother entertained me for hours just putting me under the ceiling fan. All new babies want to do is eat, sleep, and listen to and stare at you.

Babies do not need an entire toy army; just a few age-appropriate, inexpensive toys will be more than adequate. Save the toy-store sprees for when they get older. If you’re buying gifts for new parents, spend the money on something that they really could use...like diapers.

5. Baby-Size Furniture
While those tiny chairs and dressers may appeal to your “awe” factor, don’t get sucked in by the cuteness. Why waste your money on furniture that the baby will grow out of in a few years? When your child turns 7, is he going to think the baby stuff is still cool? It will be rejected and you will be buying a new furniture set. If you buy functional adult-size furniture, your child will be able to use it in their room indefinitely.

6. Changing Table
Why buy an additional piece of furniture when any level surface can suffice? You can convert any dresser, bed, or flat surface into a changing table by using a changing pad. Just make sure to never leave your baby unattended during this process. To be sure, we want to make sure the baby is in a safe area and not at a risk of falling off.

7. Diaper Pail
Manufacturers will win if you decide to purchase this item, but the environment and your pocket book will lose. After the initial cost, most diaper pails also require additional purchases of refill cartridges and specific trash-bag liners. The same objective can be achieved with a lidded trash can and scented liners. If you still notice the smell, empty the trash to an outside storage bin more often. The time to use a diapers pail is fleeting: just imagine all of those functional diaper pails sent to landfills once children are potty trained.

8. Baby Shoes
I know, those baby shoes are the most adorable things you’ve ever seen! However, the entire point of shoes is to protect your feet while walking. Most babies don’t start walking until they are 9 to 18 months old. To keep their feet warm, just use socks or tights made from 100% cotton or a cotton and wool mix. Babies love to play with their feet and it is healthy to give them some barefoot time to work on their muscular movements. Tickle their feet to encourage them to flex and move them. Once they are ready to walk outside, you can go crazy on the cute tiny shoes.

9. A Baby Bathtub
I promise you, your baby won’t care or appreciate the fact that their brand-new baby tub resembles a cartoon turtle. There is no reason to purchase a baby bathtub when you already have a perfectly acceptable alternative — your sink. It’s just an extra cost item that your child will outgrow quickly.

10. Newborn-Size Bottles
Your baby’s needs for more milk per feeding will quickly outgrow the bottle’s capacity. A more cost-effective way to buy bottles is to buy the larger 8 oz bottles and put a slow-flow newborn nipple on it to control the milk flow. When the baby gets bigger and needs a faster flow, just switch to the stage two top.

The marketers behind baby products know that there is nothing cuter than a baby, and doting parents would do anything to meet their tiny tot’s every need. However, sometimes it’s best to be a bit smarter about your unnecessary baby purchases and save your money for things that really deserve your investment, such as putting any money you would put toward these unneeded items toward something that really matters - like starting up a college fund.

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