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What Not to Buy for a New Baby

By Lisa Poisso

When there’s a new baby on the way, busy parents want affordable, practical solutions – not a lot of unnecessary gear. While innovative products are making infant care easier than ever in some ways, experienced parents often find that the simplest solutions are the best.

Parents simplify for many reasons. Some don’t have much money to spend on baby gear. Others don’t have space in their homes for a lot of unnecessary gadgets. Second-time parents often find that it’s easier to fill a need with something they already have. And many families subscribe to the growing trend toward simplifying their lives, from the workplace to home.

Before you sign up for a gang of gift registries and a flurry of baby showers, consider whether simplifying and streamlining might be more practical for you and your family. Think about dropping these items from your handy-dandy list of must-have’s.

Baby bathtubs Bulky storage and a limited size/age range make baby bathtubs prime candidates for pruning off a must-have list. Many parents take their babies into the bath or shower with them; you can tag-team with your partner, handing baby out for drying while you finish up. Small, blow-up air pillows and towels provide padding and insurance against slipping for baths in a dishpan or the kitchen sink. Wobbly sitters will feel secure in a plastic laundry basket set inside the big bathtub.

Baby laundry detergent While it’s true that many babies do have sensitive skin, most babies don’t need special detergents. Buy a “free/clear” formula and avoid unnecessary dyes and fragrances for the whole family. Test new products by washing and using a few items of clothes before washing all of baby’s clothes, sheets and towels.

Bottles A given if you are planning to work and pump, bottles may prove to be completely unnecessary if you’re going to breastfeed at home. Many breastfed babies progress straight from the breast to sippy cups by six or seven months of age.

Breastfeeding clothes Some women feel more comfortable wearing specially designed nursing clothing that helps them breastfeed discreetly, but others find that the special buttons, snaps and openings are more trouble than they’re worth. Before you invest a lot of money in these often pricey specialty clothes, test out a style or two (and don’t forget your own clothing!) to see what works best for you.

Changing tables Changing tables become precarious places to perch wiggly older babies. You can change your baby on a bed, couch, big chair or the floor. Tuck supplies into a dresser or bookcase, or station several baskets around the house for extra convenience.

Cribs Keeping your baby close at night simplifies things for everyone. Breastfeeding mamas have known for years that nursing in bed at night helps a mother snatch every precious second of sleep. Little bed-sharers can eventually move from your bed to a bed of their own – or even a comfy pallet or small mattress on the floor nearby. Don’t underestimate the power of flexible sleeping arrangements that change as baby grows.

Diaper pails The simplest and least expensive solution for dirty diapers is that old stand-by, a plastic flip-top trash can from the discount store. Buy one with a lid that pops up with the push of one hand or foot.

High chairs High chairs are high-profile items that gobble up floor space. Because you shouldn’t start solids until your baby can sit up well on her own anyway, you don’t need equipment that reclines. Try a booster seat that attaches to your table or chairs. You’ll save money and room, and your baby will feel more like a part of the family sitting at the table with the big people.

Pajamas Babies grow so fast! Buy clothes that do double duty. Use sweatsuits in the winter and T-shirts in the summer.

Plastic baby carriers Yes, we know they’re a standard – but your baby will outgrow a plastic baby carrier after the very first months. Besides, the very best way of getting to know your baby and bonding with her is to snuggle her up close in your arms or a soft carrier.

Play yards These space-hogs limit your baby’s ability to perform his primary task as an infant: explore and learn about his world. Babyproof rigorously and let your baby go. Buy a clear shower curtain, pull out a special basket of toys and lock baby inside the bathroom with you when you need to shower. Give you baby a special cabinet of things to play with in the kitchen, and carry him from room to room as you do things around the house. It’s time tested by generations of parents, and it works!

Strollers Consider how much easier it would be to slip between clothing racks at the mall with your baby in a front carrier or how much happier he would be nestled next to you in a sling, leaving you two hands free to deal with packages at the post office. A pull-along wagon fits the bill for special outings and does double duty for play.

Swings, bouncers, etc. When your baby needs comfort and movement, do things the easy way: pick her up! Save money and space and give your baby the physical and emotional closeness she craves with a carrier or sling that keeps her close to you.

Most of these space- and money-saving strategies offer an additional benefit: parent-child bonding. Steering clear of ”babysitting” gadgets and gear helps not only simplifies your household but also puts you and your baby in a position to build even stronger connections – simply wonderful, indeed!

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Written by Lisa Poisso, Natural Family Online editor. See more about Lisa.

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