Baby products you simply don’t need


A friend recently sent me a Reader’s Digest article about baby products that are a waste of money (thanks, Irene!).  I agreed with every one of them, and it got me thinking that the list wasn’t exhaustive enough.  Thus, I’m posting the list here, as well as adding my own additions to it.  Right now I have at least half a dozen friends who are pregnant (three with their first children), so this is for you guys (or I should say gals)!

Reader’s Digest list:

1. Diaper Genie – You have to buy specific brand trash bag refills for this.  I used a Diaper Champ that allows you to use regular medium trash bags.  I used it a little while for Eliza, and then realized that no matter what you do to mask the smell, you just have to get diapers out of the house on a daily basis.  My kitchen trash can became the receptacle for all diapers.

2. Pee pee Tee Pees – Sure, Zach peed on the wall and on me a few times while getting changed, but you can just keep the dirty diaper over a boy’s anatomy while you change him and quickly recover the area with the new diaper.

3. bottle sanitizer

4. bottle warmer

5. wipe warmer

6. baby powder

7. diaper caddy

8. receiving blankets – I would recommend Aden + Anais swaddling blankets,

9. hand mittens – My lactation consultant chastised me for ever putting these on Eliza, saying a newborn only has so many ways to learn about the world, and one of them is touch)

10. baby food processor (I have another post about the Beaba)

11. baby video monitor – You don’t NEED to see your baby while he sleeps.  An audio monitor will suffice.  If you WANT to, that’s a different thing entirely.

12. Baby Einstein DVDs

13. shopping cart cover – You bring the cover home, which now has all those germs on it anyway.

And now, my additions …

14. a portable crib with any bells and whistles – the one I got was $170 because it had a changing station attached to it, a music player, a vibration machine … and I never needed any of those things.  I’ll say it a million times: you want your kids to learn to fall asleep without help, so getting in the habit of putting them down with sleep crutches is just dumb.  (My disclaimer here is I’ve never had a child with colic, so I’m sure if I did I would be willing to try anything.)

15. crib or bedroom ambiance toys – ocean wonders, noise makers, etc. all become sleep crutches.  It depends on you if you want to have to travel with these things for life.

16. special detergent – find a scent-free detergent you can use for the whole family and be done with it.

17. backseat mirror for the car – they’re safety hazards because they can cause accidents (because they distract you) and in an accident they can become airborne weapons.

18. car seat head supports – unless you have a preemie or your baby is underweight for your car seat and your pediatrician recommends this, you do not need it.

19. sleep positioners – aside from them being ridiculous to begin with, recent research has warned they are safety hazards.

20. Special stroller organizers or umbrellas – Honestly, marketers will try to sell you ANYTHING …

21. strap covers for car seats or strollers – My opinion is car seat makers have to meet strict standards to keep your kids safe.  Why add anything unnecessary to such a piece of equipment?  My kids are perfectly comfortable in their seats without these.

Stay tuned for a list that’s just the OPPOSITE – all the things you just can’t live without!  And I’m curious if you have any baby products you got that you found to be useless.

TIPS: Homemade baby food can be a cinch


Yes, it’s convenient to buy baby food for when you’re on-the-go or when you just don’t have time to make some fresh food.  But if you do a little planning and you cook big batches at once, you can feed your baby less expensively and more wholesomely.  Below are some tips for how I do it.  If you have anything to add, I’d love your feedback!

1) You should have on hand, at the very least: a) a steamer insert for a lidded saucepan, b) an immersion/hand blender (preferable), a blender, or a food processor, and c) a baby food cookbook.*  You do not need a special baby food maker (such as a Beaba cook – see my other post regarding this) or a food mill (though it does help with things such as peas and corn).

2) If you pick one morning and one night that are 3 1/2 days apart in the week to cook for your baby, you can make enough food for the entire week.  For example, pick Saturday mornings (when it might be easier to have someone else watch your kids) and Tuesday nights.  Or, if you’re not that much of a planner, you can cook as you need it or realize you are running out.  Sometimes I’m not good at planning ahead, but when I get low on Zach’s food supply, I’ll make it a take-out night so that after the kids go to bed, I have the energy to cook for him.

3) If you DO have several ways to cook baby food, you can make more batches at once and thus save time.  So, when I make anything on the stove, I also run something in my Beaba cook simultaneously.  Now that Zach is eating more “meals” (such as onion, carrots and chicken cooked in stock and finished with cheese), I can cook those in a large saute pan while I steam a vegetable in my stove-top steamer AND cook some fruit in the Beaba cook.  (If I were really ambitious, I’d also cook him a grain at the same time.)  I can make a bunch of food in about 45 minutes total from start to finish that way.

4) Some baby foods are super easy to make on-the-go and don’t need to be cooked at all.  If you know you’re going to be out for breakfast, pack some baby cereal and a ripe banana with a small mixing bowl and a fork to mash it together, and you’ve got a meal.  If it’s lunch, take a cooler bag and mix some fruit or veggie puree with some plain yogurt or soft tofu.  When we go out to dinner, I just heat up what I would have fed him at home to a pretty hot temperature, and when we get seated in the restaurant, I feed it to him and it’s still warm.

5) Once you know your baby likes a certain food or meal, then make larger batches at once and freeze the excess (that you won’t use within 3 days) in ice-cube trays wrapped in plastic wrap.  Then transfer them to plastic zip top bags once frozen and label them.  Or, if your baby is a little older and you need larger servings, you can freeze them in disposable tupperware.  I like the Gladware mini-round containers because they hold 4 oz. each.

6) I try to label my baby food containers with what’s in them and the date they were made.  I highly recommend using erasable labels by LabelOnce.  I found mine at The Container Store.  http://www.jokari.com/labelonce/product/items47802_47803.html

7) Once your child has had “first tastes” of the different food groups, try making it easy on yourself by picking food groups to feed at each meal instead of worrying about specific fruits, vegetables, grains or proteins.  For example, I now feed Zach some fruit and grains at breakfast every day.  Sometimes he also gets a protein with it from yogurt.  For lunch, he gets fruits and/or vegetables, and a protein from either dairy, meat or beans.  For dinner, he gets vegetables and a protein at the very least, and sometimes he gets grains and fruit.

8) Because it’s summer and lots of fruits and vegetables are fresh and in season, introduce your baby to these.  Zach is currently eating a lot of melons, peaches, nectarines, pluots and plums.  If they’re very ripe, they don’t need to be cooked and can be mashed together or with banana with just a fork.

I think that’s all I will list for now.  If you have any questions, let me know.

*I LOVE Annabel Karmel’s “Top 100 Baby Purees”

and I’m also starting to try recipes from the Williams-Sonoma “Cooking for Baby” cookbook as well.

http://www.williams-sonoma.com/products/cooking-for-baby-cookbook/?pkey=x%7C4%7C1%7C%7C4%7Ccooking%20for%20baby%7C%7C0&cm_src=SCH