Expecting parents know the gauntlet of baby gear pushed and prodded their way through the store’s aisles. Modern-day culture all but guilts the average parent-to-be that they’ll fail at the task without the shiny new products begging for purchase.
Never mind that men and women have parented children for eons without most of these things.
I have recently walked the “expecting parent” route, having two preschool children, and I registered for gifts with both. But my lists were small, because we really didn’t want to have stuff for the sake of stuff. We only wanted things that would enhance our home and our new life with a baby.
As a mom of three, I gradually learned what was genuinely useful, and what’s just sold to us as “necessary.” Here are the baby items I did just fine without.
1. More than one stroller
Instead of going with multiple sizes of strollers, we use one well-made stroller.
We made sure it was a stroller that both of us could easily push (my husband and I are a foot apart in height), and was well-made with sturdy wheels. Two babies, a bajillion airports, and who knows how many countries later, it’s still in use.
- Recommended: Chicco’s lightweight stroller + carseat combo, good for infants through toddlers
2. Shopping cart cover
I’m just not a germophobe. Never have been. My mother never covered the shopping cart seat before sitting me in, and I’m fine and healthy today. I decided I didn’t need to do it with my kids—and they almost never get sick. We over-sanitize our culture as it is, and within reason, everyday items like shopping carts are perfectly safe for most kids.
(After extensive global travel, I’ll say this seems to be mostly a North American trend.)
3. Baby wipe warmers
On the rare occasion I felt like I needed a slightly warmer wipe, I rubbed it in my hands for a few seconds. Voila—a warmer wipe, without the extra cost or clutter.
4. Full-size highchair
We were given a hand-me-down large highchair for our second baby, and I can honestly report that having a giant highchair with its own tray is pretty much the same as having a portable highchair strapped to a regular chair, pushed up to the dining table.
Plus, they take up so much less room, and the baby can eat right next to the rest of the family.
- Recommended: Fisher Price’s booster seat, or go with a convertible highchair that can be used forever
4. Diaper pail
We had a Diaper Champ with our daughter, but with our son, we just have a standard trash with a foot lever. We keep it outside, and this simple method has kept our home much less smelly than an indoor diaper pail. Plus side: when you’re out of diapers, you still have a useful trash can.
5. Baby detergent
I know there are special cases when babies have ultra-sensitive skin. But since day one, I’ve washed my babies’ clothing alongside the rest of the families’ with the same laundry soap, and we’ve had no issues.
We simply stick with eco-friendly, fragrance-free powder for all the laundry (I like Charlie’s Soap).
6. Changing table
With our oldest, my carpenter husband made a nifty, catch-all piece of furniture with shelves and a dowel for hanging dresses. We put a changing pad on top, and used that as our changing table.
With our son, we simply put a changing pad on top of his dresser. There’s no need to take up valuable square footage with a piece of furniture that does just one thing.
I don’t love the design aesthetics of a classic glider, and they’re expensive. The wooden rocking chair I inherited from my grandmother worked just fine with our babies. If you don’t have one already, go for a rocking chair that looks good in your main living space.
- Recommended: Eames-style rocking chair
8. Baby lotion
Babies have the softest, sweetest-smelling skin on their own, and I can’t think of any lotion that would enhance it. Most of the time, they just don’t need it—especially if you use gentle, non-drying soap.