by Charlotte Hilton Andersen, REDBOOK
Lists of "must have" baby products are standard fare in pregnancy and parenting magazines and while they certainly have their place - every new mom needs to start somewhere - it seems like they are getting longer and more expensive. Babies come into this world naked and without a credit card grasped in their tiny fist so why do we insist on pushing so much stuff on them? Save some money and simplify your life by separating your baby's real needs from the Pottery Barn fantasy in your head.
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1. A changing table: Babies are like puppies, they like to poop and pee in every room of the house so skip the table and just keep a small basket of dipes-n-wipes in a few main rooms of your house. Plus if you use the floor, there's no way your baby can roll off!
2. Diaper genie: Yogurt. Vanilla. Even buttered popcorn. My friends describe their infants' poop smells many different ways but the truth is newborn diapers don't stink. And when they are old enough to start solid food and therefore have smelly poop, you're going to want those bombs out of the house not just wrapped in cellophane.
3. Onesies: Why must we double-layer babies' clothing? It's not like their sleep-n-plays are made out of horsehair. And a diaper blowout means you have to pull it over their head, getting poop in their hair! My kids lived in snap-up sleepers for their first year of life and I'm pretty sure none of them died of hypothermia.
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4. Diaper wipes and warmer: Consider what they are (wet scented paper sealed in a plastic pouch) and what they're used for (wiping butts). Why is it so wrong to use water to clean tiny tushies? As for the wipes warmer, my kids can have one as soon as I get a heated toilet seat.
5. Special laundry baby detergent: It costs three times as much and there isn't any good reason those adorable little leggings can't be washed with their adult counterparts. If you don't want to use fragrances or dyes on your baby's new skin just switch to a regular hypoallergenic laundry detergent for the whole family - probably better your husband doesn't go to the office smelling like Lilac Dream anyhow.
6. Baby food: Baby food is watered down, smashed up regular food. A jar of regular organic unsweetened applesauce is the same price as two of those little tubs of the baby stuff. You can make your own but I'm lazy. Yogurt, canned squash, no-salt beans and strawberry ice cream (don't ask, it's a 4th-kid thing) are already baby kosher.
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7. Bassinet: Laundry baskets make excellent bassinets. Go with me for a second on this one - buy a sturdy one with holes small enough that bitty arms won't get stuck, line it with a cut-to-fit changing table pad and cover it with a bassinet sheet. It already has handles, it won't tip over, it's well ventilated; it's pretty much the same thing as the super trendy Moses baskets but easier to clean!
What "must have" baby product do you think is overrated?
Charlotte Hilton Andersen is the author of The Great Fitness Experiment: One Year of Trying Everything
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