As I was writing my last post about things new parents actually need I could not help but reflect on things parents do NOT need. Babies are a huge consumer market and parents are led to believe that they must have every new and expensive gadget out there in order to be able to cope with the task of parenting.
Parenting can be tough, I will readily admit as much, but will some of these products really make it easier?
Here is my look at 6 Things New Parents Really Do Not Need:
1. Diaper Genie
You better believe I had one of these when Walter was born. I had to, didn't I? If I didn't get the newest version of this soiled diaper keeper along with the costly refills my life would be an unmanageable mess of diapers smelling up our home....right? Wrong. I happened to be browsing at one of my favourite dollar stores when Walter was a few months old and I saw some dog poop bags- the kinds pet owners use during their "poop and scoop" duties. My mind yelled out "If its good enough for dog poop, why not baby poop?!" I could get 300 dog poop bags (with pretty designs on them no less) for $1.25. Verses an $8 Diaper Genie refill that was holding roughly 30 size 2 diapers.
Diaper Genie did do as promised in that I never had an odour issue with it. Those diapers were kept tightly sealed in their plastic twisted tube. Yet, at the same time, I don't have a problem when I put my diapers in the dog bags, tie them closed and put them in the kitchen garbage. Since our kitchen garbage is taken out at least once every day, its very easy to keep things under control in that regard.
After making my grand discovery I decided it was time for me to part ways with my diaper genie so I sat down to list it on kijiji.com. That's when I noticed the sheer number of these diaper disposal units for sale on this site (all brands, not just Diaper Genie). If they were so great, why is everyone selling them??? I think many people were having the light bulbs go on over their heads too.
You would be better off to buy $15 or $20 of dog poop bags, spending a small fraction of what you would with the Diaper Genie.
2. Baby Bullet Food Processing System
REALLY?!! This is a thing?!! Being a very frugal person I never intended to buy my babies their baby food jarred from a store. I planned to make it from the get-go. It was very important to me that I gave my kids fresh and local foods. I shopped at the local farmers market so that I even developed a relationship with the family responsible for growing my children's food. It was a wonderful experience and something I would recommend to everyone. Even me who cannot cook can make baby food. Just cut and boil. No need to worry about over cooking, since mushy was the texture I was after. But what did I do with the food once it was boiled, you ask? How to make it into smooth baby food? I used a $10 mini food processor That Guy had bought from Wal-Mart years before. Simple as that. No "system" required. No smiley face on the food processor, but for a savings of $60 I got by just fine without it.
They sell these plastic cubes with flip top lids that sit in a tray. The idea is that when making your baby food you can store or freeze the food in these cubes and its all very convenient. Sure it is. I was, in fact, given a set of these when Audrey was born. I used them, but my method before I got the set was just as relevant and (had I bought them myself) would have saved a ton of money. I used ice cube trays and freezer bags. This worked like a dream- make my baby food, put it in the ice cube trays, once frozen transfer the food cubes to a freezer bag labelled with what food it contained and when it was made. Knowing that each ice cube is 1oz of food made it easy for me to keep a handle on how much my kids were eating. Easy peasy. Baby cubes certainly did not make it noticeable easier, and in fact had the draw back that I could only freeze 16 cubes of food at a time, and had to wait until all the food was consumed to make another batch of food.
Two ice cube trays in a package at the dollar store, it really is the better way to go.
3. Baby Wipes Warmer
Unless you plan to change your baby outside in the winter this is a silly investment. If yo keep your house at room temperature of 21*C your baby wipes have no reason to be ice cold. They do contain moisture, so they will feel slightly cooler than the room temperature. But the idea is not to bathe your baby with these wipes, its to clean their bottoms. Frankly they will be much colder from being undressed for their diaper change than from a wipe.
4. Baby Swings
I am not against the idea of the baby swing, I am against the ridiculously high cost. Stores try to convince parents that this several hundred dollar, floor space hogging item is essential. It simply is not. I even had a used one for my daughter because my in-laws saw it and thought it would be useful. Being that my daughter was already a few months old when they gave us the swing, we got maybe half a dozen uses out of it. She enjoyed it, but no more than she enjoyed being walked in the sling or vibrating in a bouncy chair.
5. Baby Spa Bathtubs
Oh, how I wish I were kidding. These things on the market have jets and power sprayers the whole shebang. If MY bathtub doesn't have jets, there is no way on the face of the earth I am spending $60 on jets for a three month old baby who just wants to watch you pour water from a jug onto their knees as the ultimate form of bath time entertainment. Even if my tub did have jets this is simply a ridiculous form of indulgence- for the tub buyers, since the baby will have no idea. I used a baby bath tub from a second hand store. I paid a little over $5 for it, and when my daughter outgrew it I was able to sell it back to the second hand store for almost the same amount.
6.Any other baby item costing over $150 new with the exception of a car seat (possibly a crib)
examples of this include $1000 jogging strollers, $700 cribs, $500 swings/chairs, $400 high chairs that look sleek and ultra modern. Just listing these items I feel like my point is well made, the prices seem so far fetched. There are big ticket items that parents really do need, but for the length of time they will be in use please really consider the time:cost ratio.
So many of these things are bought by well meaning shower goers, but please gentle readers, instead of spending lots of money just spend your money well.
As far as parents buying for your own baby I would like to leave you with a thought.... spoiling children is not about providing for them, or providing well for them. Spoiling a child is when you give them things to make yourself feel better. So please, for the good of your finances and your children consider spending half as much money and twice as much time.