Top 10 Things Your Baby Doesn’t Need (That Everyone Says You Do)

Top 10 Things Your Baby Doesn’t Need (That Everyone Says You Do)





If you’re having your first child, you’re about to be very surprised by all the stuff that’s not included at birth… and you’ll probably feel like you’re expected to buy all of it.  Fear not, we’ve put past experience to use and identified the 10 things your baby does not need that everyone says you do.

10. Baby Bathtub

While it’s true that your sink is likely much less aerodynamic than these marvels of modern engineering, it will nonetheless hold both soapy water and your baby adequately well.  When you feel you’ve outgrown the sink, you’re probably going to be able to use a real bathtub anyway.

9. Changing Table

Between the floor, bed, couch, and dresser top you probably already have at least one flat surface in your house that is larger than a baby.  Lay a towel, blanket, or pad down on top of said flat surface, and you have the perfect place to change a diaper.  This is certainly not a task that requires its own piece of furniture.

8. High Chair

Full-size high chairs are big and clumsy.  They don’t saddle up to a dining table very well, which makes the family dining experience increasingly challenging.  What’s worse is that these things are pretty expensive.  Their much more portable, smaller counterparts are cheaper and easier to use.

7. Diaper Genie

Diaper Genie, meet trashcan that sits outside the house (or at least in the garage).  The Diaper Genie seems to be considered a must-have for today’s discerning diaper-changing parent.  Why else would we have received 2 of these contraptions at our baby shower?  While fun to use at first, I found that the Genie lost some of its appeal as smells began to escape.  Dirty diaper storage is best left for places where you don’t actively live.

6. Baby Einstein Videos

The real Einstein was able to transition from baby to mind-bogglingly brilliant physicist without the aid of these videos.  Your child will too (yes, I’m guaranteeing brilliance as a physicist for you child).

5. Baby Wipe Warmers

If you don’t keep the baby wipes in the freezer, I don’t see much of a reason to need to warm them up.  These aren’t hot towels at the spa.  You’re wiping poop off a newborn — warmth is pretty far down the list of priorities at that point.

4. Super Deluxe Baby Monitor

A simple baby monitor is a nice thing to have.  You do NOT need a motion-activated video monitor with a transmission range of half a mile.  If you’re far enough away from your child that you need the extra MHZ of transmission power, you’re probably too far away to actually help your her if she needs it.

3. Baby Carrying Devices (Baby Bjorn)

Some people swear by baby wearing.  I found these types of devices to be incredibly awkward.  Maybe I’m a bit too clumsy, but when I tried to wear one of these things, I felt like I was always about to slam a door right into my son.  Even if you have the spatial perception required to be able to safely wear a baby, this is clearly a “nice to have” and not anywhere close to a “need to have.”

2. Infant Positioners – Boppies and Bumbos

As a class of product, these items are called infant positioners!  Do you really need a store-bought device to help you position an infant?  We’re basically talking about a pillow with a hole in it.  Your child will never know the difference if you use a real pillow.

1. Fancy Entertainers / ExerSaucers

Am I the only one who thinks an exersaucer sounds like a combination workout product / cooking appliance?  Get the biceps of your dreams while making the world’s most delicious tomato sauce!  Act now and we’ll also throw in 2 “bowls of the future!” In actuality, these things look like they could be part of a spacecraft with all the controls and gadgets they have attached to them.  Whatever happened to  a simple rattle?  Your child will have plenty of opportunity to command the star fleet when he’s a full grown, world-renowned physicist.  No need for the head start.

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  1. Karma says:

    As a mother of three, I agree with everything EXCEPT the baby carrier. Personally, I couldn’t go anywhere with my three young children (4,2, and 4 months) without it. I can however, thanks to a great carrier, live without a stroller for at least the first 6 months to a year. IMO, a carrier is one of the most important things to invest in (and I say invest becuase the cheap ones aren’t really worth owning).

  2. I’m also a mother of three and I also agree with the majority of your list. The two things I do use are my Diaper Champ (not diaper genie) and my Boppy. I live in an apartment so I can’t easily put my diapers outside. I had a diaper genie with my eldest and hated it, but we got a diaper champ when our second came along. The thing I like about it is that you can use normal trash bags, as opposed to special bags. For my Boppy, maybe I’m thinking of a different product than what you’re writing about. I’m talking about the breastfeeding pillow. I couldn’t live without mine!

    • Eppie Vojt says:

      @Melissa – I’ve heard better things about the Diaper Champ vs. the Diaper Genie, but if we have another baby, we’re likely to stick with wrapping the diaper in a plastic bag, then putting in a garbage can in the garage. As for the boppy, I’ll confess that as a dad, positioning an infant for a feeding was less important to me than it would be for a mother. My arm or a regular pillow worked perfectly well for positioning a child to receive a bottle… but it may be entirely different for breastfeeding. Forgive my ignorance on the matter.

  3. Tiffany says:

    We ditched the Diaper Genie too! Totally agree–much too “fragrant” after a few months of use.

  4. @Eppie – I much prefered being able to just throw our diapers in the can outside our door…so I think you’ve got a good plan. :) Most of my friends who bottle fed didn’t see much value in the Boppy either. But, for breastfeeding it was essential (for me). It made it possible for me to have my hands free for other things. I wouldn’t imagine a dad to know that though. Haha! No ignorance. :)

  5. Ryan says:

    I would agree except for two things.

    1. I think a video monitor is VERY important. It’s so much easier to look and see what your child is doing except for wondering what that noise was. Plus…my daughter ended up having an extended seizure at 14 months that might have gone unnoticed for longer had my wife not looked at the monitor one time in the middle of the night. Even catching it when we did ended up in a 5 day hospital stay. Let’s just say I’m glad we got that video monitor!

    2. The bumbo is GREAT! I agree about the boppy but the bumbo let’s your child sit up as early as 3 months. I know my son and daughter both loved it!

  6. Totally agree. All these gadgets only mean parents will be lost when they don’t have them, instead of being able to care for their babies anywhere and with anything.

    Great post!

  7. Stephanie says:

    Hmmm. I have to disagree with most of the list. (Though I love thi topic! It is fascinating to me!!)

    I loved our wipe warmer for the newborn (room temp wipes are shocking to a new little one). Though, after a few months the wipe warmer was in the garage. One of our kids loved the Bumbo, the other didn’t, so I have mixed feelings about it. I do like having a “changing table,” but it really is just a low height dresser that we bought (thank you, IKEA) and put a changing mat on top of it. Baby bathtub was nice because our sink is a pedestal sink and not roomy enough for a bigger baby. I agree 100% about the videos. It is so sad when babies are plugged-in so early. I’m sure most families will have different must-haves and did-not-use. Two things I wanted to address more directly: exersaucer and babywearing (baby carriers).

    For us, the exersaucer was essential for getting dinner done. The end of the day is usually a hard time of day for the kids, plus the adult is trying to get a healthy meal on the table, so the baby needed something fun to do where they couldn’t get into trouble and they could entertain themselves briefly. We did NOT rely on these all day long – it was used exclusively during dinner prep time so it was still “new” and interesting. I dislike over-use of ANY baby-entertainig gadget (see ‘babywearing’ below). But, I did allow this once per day.

    Babywearing is one of the best things you can do for your child. Too often, parents are relying on baby gadgets to entertain, so baby is just getting schlupped from the swing to the bouncer to the exersaucer to the jump-a-roo. TOUCH is so very important to babies – they do better both physically and mentally when they are in physical closeness with the caregiver for most of the day. Also, babywearing things (I had a Bjorn, and now have a ring sling, and mei tai) were (and still are) very, very much used. Lots of people LOVE the Ergo carrier – I have not tried it but would buy one if we have another baby. The Bjorn was not as useful for us and I abandoned it after a couple of months. The ring sling gets used most of all (still use it with my 18 month old), but I started using that when she could hold her head up when held on the hip position. The Mei Tai was nice for when I needed to wear her on my back while I did something else. Anyway – Babywearing International has great resources and can hook you up with a certified babywearing specialist who can help ensure you’re doing it correctly. Depending on where you live, they may have a carrier ‘library’ where you can check out different carriers to try before you buy.

    Anyway – my list for the top 10 (well – just a Top 6)would be:
    6.) Baby Swings, Baby Bouncer Seats, Jump-a-roos, etc. etc. Sometimes people think it is a bad thing if babies are held a lot. It is actually a very good thing to hold your baby. This time is so precious and will be gone so fast; your child will grow so quickly that you will look back and wish you could hold your baby for even just a moment more. Hold on to your kids. The baby-entertaining-gadgets can be useful if they are only used sparingly. But too often people over-use them and baby does not get held by anything human for most of the day. Touch is one of the first senses that the fetus develops in the womb. Babies that are held more tend to end up more secure than babies who were not. It is sad that we have a culture where we can be criticized for babying our babies. They are babies and they were built to be kept close. The best place for your baby is in your arms. And if you need a free hand, try babywearing!!
    5.) Videos for baby (YUCK – can’t agree more!)
    4.) Stroller (for the young babies, babywearing is better). Stroller for the toddler is helpful, but it is sort of foolish-looking when mamas and papas are pushing around this ginormous stroller with this eensy-weensy babe in it.
    3.) Crib – we used a crib with our first, but when the 2nd one came around, cribs were so 20th century. Co-sleeping ended up working best for us with the 2nd child. But you couldn’t have paid me a million dollars to believe that I’d someday be and advocate for co-sleeping. I would have never believed it, but here we are.
    2.) Car Seat Strap (a ridiculous strap that you hook on to your carseat so you can wear it like a purse). Not sure what to say about this except nooooo. Car seats are for cars.
    1.) Toys – Babies do not need many toys. At all. Especially if the toys are made in China and/or plastic – double no. Kids are drowning in toys. Plus – if the toy does more, the less the baby’s / child’s brain has to do. There are some great resources for natural-material open-ended toys that babies and toddlers love. Babies and kids definitely need things to play with, but I’d caution parents to be really careful what things you allow in your home.

  8. Holly V says:

    ExerSaucers are a MUST! I don’t think I could have survived without one.

    But I 100% agree with Stephanie’s comment about toys.

  9. Stefan V says:

    I know I am probably in the minority, but personally, I’ve found that the changing table is not as overrated as many make it out to be. The main benefit of the changing table (aside from saving your back from bending over) is that even now with a 2.5 year old, if I have her on the changing table, it is much more difficult for her to squirm around and run off while I am putting lotion on her after a bath or changing a diaper (if she wore diapers). While I agree that the price of changing tables is ridiculous when you consider what you are paying for, if you can get one second hand it is well worth it.

    Second item is the diaper genie. Again, I am in the minority, but ours works well. It is nice for people in a rush that don’t want to carry a poopie diaper downstairs and into the garage everytime your kid goes to the bathroom. I find that as long as you empty it every week, it serves it purpose. Keep the dirty diapers in there for more than a week and you could be in a ton of trouble.

    The rest of the list is right on. We have a friend who has a bumpo for their child and told me how much it cost: I almost needed to change my own undergarments! Baby bjorn is the same deal, although it does work better than the cheaper competitors (we had a friend let us borrow one: it is pretty sweet). The margins on these things have to be through the roof!

    good post.

  10. Raquel Johnston says:

    I agree with everything except for the diaper genie. I have a very strong sense of smell and a sensitive stomach…which do not mix well. I actually own the diaper genie II which is much improved over the original…easier to use and seems to hold the smell in MUCH better!

  11. Mec Arevalo says:

    I guess certain products work for certain families… I have certainly survived without a high chair and a Bumbo seat (it looked awkward to me plus I liked letting my child roam. If I didn’t want that, in the pen he goes). It also turned out I would seldom wear my baby in the sling, but that my husband would use it more for our son. Haha. I love slings but don’t much care for really expensive carriers or those designed to look extra fab (that last one recalled totally didn’t LOOK safe at all!).

    I am 100% with you on fancy entertainers too. I’d go for utilitarian, safe ones that a child can play with in many different ways, in different ages that are also easy to clean. Pushing buttons may teach cause and effect but letting a child play with stacking blocks or cups also lets a child figure out the why’s and how’s of things.

  12. Erica C. says:

    I’m definitely on board with 5-7. We also received a Diaper Genie…well you can get a trash can, with a better sealed lid, and be completely happy with your diaper disposal. The baby einstein videos I can’t stand. Nothing beats sitting down with your child and just reading to them…it’s just how it should be! The baby wipe warmers…that’s just ridiculous!

  13. Sarah L says:

    The world will not end if you don’t have these things. I have to agree that for entertaining a child reading to and with them is the best thing you can do.

  14. Nikki says:

    As a mom, I have to disagree with some of your items…
    I agree with the other posters about baby wearing. Touch is SO important for babies/children. It helps babies organize their world and they are able to use their energy for things like growing and learning. I do not love the Bjorn either, my personal favorite is the Moby Wrap.
    We don’t use a boppy, but we use a “My Brest Friend” nursing pillow. We had a rough first two weeks of nursing (with both children) and the nursing pillow is the only way we were able to position baby properly. Both ended up nursing successfully for 18 months.

    I think it is important to remember that we are here to take care of these little ones. You can not spoil an infant and so my philosophy is to give them all the love that I have and make them as comfortable as possible. You have nothing to lose and everything to gain.

    I think that some of these things are necessary for some families, and while I don’t use everything on your list I don’t think that they are frivolous by any means.

  15. Chrissi says:

    I am going to have to disagree with the baby carrier-my second child was one of those kids who could NOT be put down and my ring sling and mei tai saved me multiple times.

    Also, Boppies are nursing pillows…not baby positioners and they are amazing for nursing.

  16. Janelle says:

    Have you actually tried to bathe a newborn in the kitchen sink? pretty awkward and it continues until they can actually sit up on their own. the $10 tub is worth every penny. I used the same tub for 3 kids.

    Boppies Rule. I sold my pink boppy after 3 girls. Then the baby boy came along 5 years later. I really missed having the Boppy. I agree with the rest of the list.

  17. Jeremy says:

    As the father of an 11-month old, I agree with all of these being unnecessary except for #1 and #10. My sister-in-law scored an exersaucer at a yard sale for dirt cheap, and our son played in that for an hour-plus every day from 4 months to 9 months. As for the baby bathtub, neither of us really wanted our pee-freely son to urinate all over the kitchen counters, so we went for the baby bathtub.

  18. Emily says:

    I have to disagree with the wipe warmer…so totally loved mine! I actually used it until my daughter was 2 and will use it again for future children. Also, I loved the exersaucer. My daughter was born with dislocated hips and contractures throughout her body. The exersaucer helped her to strengthen her legs after surgery and she loved playing in it. I pretty much agree with everything else…we hardly ever used our changing table. The couch seemed to be the most common diaper changing area.

  19. Donna L says:

    While I agree that none of the items on your list are true necessities, obviously the convenience factor changes according to one’s circumstances. Although many people agreed with your inclusion of baby wipe warmers on your list, I have to say they were a big hit in our household. Cold wipes on the bum can be shocking in the middle-of-the-night changes, and when the goal is to gently ease the baby back to sleep, warm wipes definitely help. In addition, if there are other older children trying to sleep in the house, shocking the baby with cold wipes can also result in shocking the others awake if they can hear the baby’s indignant cries.

  20. Randy Q says:

    I agree with 4-10 but I think the author went a little overboard with some of his comments on the others. My Baby Bjorn allows me to carry Emma while still working (my wife and I own a small town pharmacy), Boppie is imp if you are breast feeding bc pillows can slide out, and the Bumbo/Exercausers give them some place to play/be entertained while the parent does housework, etc tht cannot be done carrying an infant. So are they must haves, no but to say they are useless is wrong as well.

  21. anna says:

    I’m wondering if you actually have a kid. I have used/use everything, except the baby warmer wipes and the videos.

    Trust me, after a woman births a baby, she does not want to crouch on the floor, changing a diaper!

    The exersaucer allows me to go pee and put my baby someplace safe.

    The bjorn holds my baby safely and I have both hands free – ever try to walk with a squirming kid?

    I read someplace, “I was the perfect parent until I had kids.” Have a kid – you’ll learn something.

  22. Barb says:

    I think having a child seat is helpful but would not recommend the Bumbo. There is no safety strap and children can “eject” themselves when getting excited or exploring. There are other, safer seats available for kids, with safety straps. Even with the Bumbo tray attached to the seat kids can fall out if they are squirming because there is no safety strap.

    While I agree with the author’s perspective which generally conveys that families can survive without excessive baby gear, I am curious if he is the primary care provider for his children. I think the parent who cares for the children alone during the day (ex: stay at home mom or dad) would find many of these items essential for those 40+ hours alone with the child(ren).

    Baby carriers are essential – wonderful bonding with child, convenient for running errands, and great for both parents to wear. Be careful, though, to find a safe one. Watch out for recalls, such as the recent baby sling recall.

  23. Misty says:

    I am split down the middle on these things. I was totally loving my baby swing to help me get things done around the house until about 3 months( as long as the seat had a slightly reclined position). And after that the exersaucer served for the same purpose(getting dinner, dishes, cleaning), plus all the gadgets on it is what keeps them entertained and enables independent playtime. In short spurts, I think it was very useful. I also loved my baby carrier, not so much for inside the house but more for being outside. I could put him to sleep a lot of times by carrying him in front of me while doing some of the things I loved outside. As long as you do invest in a good one that has the head and neck support, the cheaper one did not work for me at all. I definately could not have lived without the monitor the first year! Being that he slept in his own room from about 5 months on, I was so afraid of not hearing him quick enough without one through the night.
    I definately did not need a changing table or diaper Genie or a wipe warmer, although I could see how the warmer wipes would be less shocking to a new born. If you don’t have the warm wipes just do the cleanup quickly I guess.
    My high chair was a must also, I agree about the big and in the way thing about most older ones, but I had one that adjusted up and down, the big tray pulled off so you could push them up to a table and fit it no matter what the heighth, and when not in use it scissor folded to fit anywhere out of the way, I used my highchair for my son until he was almost two. That also made a designated eating area for him so you have less messes around the house. And they can’t run off before you clean them up after messy meals=)
    I also agree that a baby bathtub is not essential but when they get too big for the sink I had a round thing that suctioned to the bottom of the tub that I loved to put my son in for baths because it keeps them sitting up right with the risk of them falling over and it frees up your hands to wash them and move around (especially if you have a big tub that your reaching into).
    But it’s whatever works for you and makes you and your baby the most comfortable. We are lucky to have all these things on the market today that allows parents to have these options and makes our jobs a little easier because all parents know that raising and nurturing a baby and child is a very tough and very full time job let alone having the time and attention for the rest of the family and household chores and even jobs outside the home. These choices that we now have as parents is a luxury no matter how big or small but as a new parent that may be the only luxury you get for a while and also makes you appreciate how hard our parents and grandparents, etc.. really did have it in their days of raising kids. I really think that some of these products are there for us to aleviate the stress that parents to do have at times and makes me think that if more people could have the little extra help that these products give you at times there would be less cases of shaken baby syndrome or abuse that some precious babies adorn by overstressed parents in todays’ society. So whether you think it’s a necessity or not, it’s really up to the individual. The less stress on mother and baby, the happier the family=)

  24. Jessica S. says:

    I think what Eppie was trying to say is that everyone has their own must-haves, and everyone will tell you you HAVE to have this and you HAVE to have that. But let’s face it: in this economy, money matters. We can’t always get everything we want. And sometimes we can’t always afford what we need (or are told we need).

    So here is a list of things that clever viral- and mass- marketing has convinced most of the population they simply must have and the truth is, you don’t. There are alternatives. There are workarounds. So if you need to save a few bucks (and a hundred or so square yards in your home) and want to avoid what could turn out to be a few “what was I thinking?/what a waste!” moments, here are some ideas on how.

    At least, that’s how I took it. And I appreciated it. I’m the mom whose marriage fell apart in the down economy, who was abandoned with two children and a third on the way, and who was down-sized a month before having that baby. So personally, I think the article rocked. Just sayin’…

  25. Danielle says:

    I also think that most parents are so concerned about “cold wipes on heinies” but you’re willing to have doctors cut off nerves and skin on your sons. you don’t think that hurts?

    oh right.
    you’re worried about cold wipes.

  26. Heather says:

    I agree with everything on this list except for the baby carrier , I live in my moby wrap and i don’t think i would be able to function w/o it not only is it good for my infant, i can put my 3 year old in it on days where i need to get things done , and she’s just not having it, also the bumbo. we got it as a show gift when my oldest was born , she never , ever used it but, with number two its a necessity. My husband is obsessed with the diaper genie, i hate it and think it should die.

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