A few years ago, while pregnant for the first time, I excitedly went to the baby section of the malls and online to check out items I would have to get for my baby girl—and I was shocked at all the items that I “needed!” How can such a tiny little person need so many things?
I then turned to my more experienced friends to give me a list of things they actually used. Then I based my shopping list on that. Thankfully, it was much shorter and more practical.
A few years later, after my second baby, I shortened my list to what I felt were my personal essentials, and wrote about it in this column.
Since I’ve already shared my list of “must-haves,” I thought I could also show my list of nonessentials.
I thought I would have trouble reaching 10, but the baby market isn’t one of the biggest markets for nothing! Before I knew it, I had already doubled my list and was struggling to bring it down to half.
Of course, at the end of the day, people have their own preferences, and what doesn’t work for some families may be heaven-sent for another. In our case, we easily survived without most of these items, while the few we acquired ended up collecting dust at the back of a closet.
I hope this list helps you navigate the crazy world of baby must-haves, and save you money for the more essential expenses.
1. A special diaper trash can
Special diaper trash cans are supposed to be more hygienic and keep the odors away because they are airtight and have special bags to keep the diaper from touching the bin, keeping it germ-free. However, if you go to any hardware store, you can also buy a stainless trash bin with a lid that opens when you step on the lever at the bottom.
As for keeping the bin germ-free, you can wrap the used diaper in an old grocery bag before throwing it in the waste can if you want to go the extra mile.
Or you can just line the trash bin with the grocery bag and throw the whole bag away at the end of the day.
When the baby gets a little older and the contents of the diaper become more assaulting to the nose, you can also empty it out into the toilet before throwing the diaper into the trash can.
I don’t think this ordinary trash bin can keep the odor away for two to three days as the special pails do, but smell or no smell, do you really want to keep dirty diapers in the nursery for three days?
Never leave the baby
2. Diaper-changing table
A special diaper table in the nursery, carefully coordinated to match the wooden grain of the crib and tables, looks perfect in photos, but is not something you really need to buy. You can easily create your own diaper table by looking around your home for a low solid dresser, and get a changing pad instead that you can secure on top of it.
You can put everything you need in its drawers or add some pretty open boxes beside the pad where you can put the diapers, cream and everything else you will need.
Add a covered trash bin beside the table, and you’re all set.
But whether you use a real diaper table or a converted ordinary table, just remember to never leave your baby on it for even just a second. Always keep a hand on your tot while you reach for the diaper or cotton balls, because he/she can very easily fall off.
This is why some moms opt to skip the idea of using a changing table entirely and simply put the changing pads on beds or other large flat and low surfaces.
3. Baby monitors with color monitor screens
Baby monitors are most useful for hearing a baby cry in the middle of the night. But if your baby sleeps with you, chances are, you, and the rest of your barangay, will know when he/she wakes up.
If it’s daytime and your baby’s room is too far for anyone to hear him/her, or your baby is in that stage where he/she can climb out of the crib already, then a baby monitor will save you time and energy.
However, there’s really not much added use for a monitor screen—color or black and white.
4. Water thermometer/bathtub with water temperature sensor
Stick your hand into the water, and if it feels too hot or cold, then it probably is.
5. Baby timers
I saw this being advertised online, and while I used to keep track of feeding, changing and sleeping schedules when my kids were newborn, an ordinary clock, notebook and pen worked just fine. If I decide to upgrade, I hear there are numerous apps online that can easily be downloaded.
6. Special baby laundry detergent
Babies have sensitive skin, and some babies really need special hypoallergenic detergent soaps to be used on their things because they can develop rashes and allergies to the harsh chemicals and strong fragrances in some products.
If your doctor recommends these for your baby, you should listen. But if your doctor isn’t asking you to buy them, there’s no need to.
When I had my first baby, we used the same laundry soap on her things as on my husband’s and my clothes, and we had no problems. But my second baby had more sensitive skin and developed a rash all over his face and body. I was all set to buy the special detergents when our pediatrician recommended simply switching to a mild, fragrance-free laundry detergent like Perla and skipping the fabric softeners. Two days later, the rash cleared up.
More harm than good
Who doesn’t like baby shoes? They’re tiny and oh so adorable! But babies don’t walk and can barely even stand, so if you’re going to buy shoes, keep them to a minimum.
Also, most doctors don’t actually recommend making babies wear shoes at such a young age as their feet are still developing. And if you get a bad pair, it might actually do more harm than good.
8. Expensive, full-crib bedding sets
These look beautiful in pictures, but are a different story in real life. The American Academy of Pediatrics has repeatedly been warning parents that crib bumpers, pillows and blankets may suffocate newborns and babies and cause SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome).
So, once you remove all those, you’re left with a fitted sheet worth how much again?
9. Baby food processor
If you already have a food processor at home, you can use the same one to make your baby’s food. There’s really nothing that a baby food processor does that an ordinary food processor cannot. Just make sure you clean it properly before and after each use, so that other ingredients and spices don’t get mixed with your baby’s food.
10. Breastfeeding pillows
These seem to belong to the hit-or-miss category. I have friends who swear by these, while I never really got the hang of using it while nursing. I felt the pillow propped up my babies too much, and ordinary flatter pillows worked better for us.
This list could go on and on, but I’ll stop here. There are many things a new mom-to-be needs to worry about, and your baby’s things should be the least of your concerns. Get the essentials, get yourself into shape and get ready, because the best is yet to come.