Top 7 Baby Gadgets You Don’t Need (And 7 You Do!)
Every soon-to-be parent asks themselves a ton of questions about the upcoming birth of their child, including the typical ‘what do I really need’ question because babies are expensive enough as it is–there is no sense buying all the things, especially ones you don’t actually need. While I have encountered many products over the years while caring for other babies, and existing in the industry through my business, I don’t know everything, so I set out to find an expert and I turned to the wonderful ladies from National Capital Doulas. Here is the lowdown on the Top 7 Baby Gadgets You Don’t Need (And 7 You Do!).
The Must-Haves and Must-Not-Haves of Baby Products
The baby industry is second only to the wedding industry in terms of products available. Some of the products on the market are necessities, some of them will make your parenting day to day easier, while others are merely gimmicks, or even potentially dangerous. We have left out the seemingly obvious like a great diaper bag, change-table, swaddle blankets, nursing pillow, and baby-safe creams & soaps because those all fall into the ‘must-have’ category, but technically aren’t “gadgets” so we opted to leave them for another post altogether.
Top Baby Gadgets You DON’T Need
7. Diaper Genie
While it’s a great idea to have scented bags to help keep the poop smell at bay, it becomes a really expensive gadget because they are all proprietary to the Diaper Genie and aren’t exactly cheap. Since taking out the trash daily is absolutely an option, especially since they actually sell scented garbage bags now for the bathroom or kitchen, you can skip the gadget and keep it simple.
6. Baby Pods or Baby Nests
There is some controversy around baby pod products like the Dock-a-Tot. It was initially designed for short term, supervised use only but has been used by parents in lieu of safe sleep devices for daytime naps and overnight sleep. This has resulted in Health Canada releasing a statement warning of the risks of using baby nests in ways it was not designed, due to the suffocation risk. There are other products available that don’t pose the same risks, for better price points.
5.Car Seat Bunting Bags
Car seat accessories like the bunting bags, such as the JJ Cole Bundleme, can certainly provide warmth in our cold winters, but they aren’t safe for use in carseats. Similar to snowsuits and puffy coats, they create additional bulk between your baby and their carseat. This added bulk can compress in the event of an accident, making the straps (which you’ve diligently tightened) suddenly looser then they were prior to the compression (by up to 4 inches). This can result in your child being ejected from their seat. Leave items like these for use in strollers or pulling sleds only. INSTEAD, try a fleece poncho (more details in the must-haves below).
4. Infant Seats
Infant seats such as the Bumbo were developed for use on the floor with babies that are able to sit. The basic idea is that it encourages the development of baby’s muscles and strength while sitting. However, putting a baby into a sustained seated position before they are physically ready can pose risk to their natural development. Also, misuse of this product happens often–the seat is used on other surfaces, such as tables and counters, which can pose significant risk to the baby were they to fall out of the seat.
3. Tummy-Time Paraphernalia
When a baby spends time on their tummy it encourages proper development of their cervical spine and reduces the risk of plagiocephaly (flat head). “Tummy time” as it’s referred to is a necessary activity. What you don’t need is a special mat to do it. Some of the mats come with little pillows to lift the baby higher, which can actually overextend their spine. Babies that are worn receive the same benefits. All you really need is to hold your baby skin to skin on your chest while lying down, or use a blanket on the floor.
2. Harness Walking Helper
As your baby grows and develops they move from crawling and creeping to walking. This gradual process takes place as their muscular and spinal strength increases. Hurrying this process, or encouraging your baby to stand or walk before they’re ready, or for longer then they’re able, is counterproductive and can hurt their growing bodies. The harness style walking helpers are sold for babies 6 months and older. As with sitting, it’s best to let your baby take the lead. These products are often sold as a means of protecting the adult back with new walkers, but the strap length often means parents, especially tall parents, are still hunched over.
1. Peepee Teepee
The peepee teepee is a small triangular shaped piece of cloth designed to place over a baby boy’s penis during diaper changes (spoiler alert! baby girls also pee straight up). Babies will often pee during diaper changes and with baby boys this can be a messy, wet process. The problem is that peepee teepees don’t work. They’re small, don’t stay in place, and often end up either falling off or being peed off. It’s a fun gag gift, but for actual function, a small washcloth works best.
Must Have Baby Items
1. Safe Sleep Space
A safe sleep space, with a firm mattress that meets current safety standards, is essential for your baby. Your budget, available space, and personal design esthetic will play a large role in determining what you prefer to have for your little one. You can spend nothing, in the case of the Baby Box, or the sky’s the limit on designer cribs, and everything in between. Whatever you choose, it’s necessary for your baby’s safety to keep it free of stuffies, bumper pads, blankets, and pillows – all of which are potential suffocation hazards.
2. Sleep Sack
Sleeps sacks are a great way to keep your baby warm overnight without the risk of using sheets and blankets that can shift and cover your baby’s face. Sleep sacks are rated in “togs”, which indicate the thickness and warmth of the sac. They range from 0.5 to 2.5 (2.5 being the warmest) and come in a variety of fabrics – organic cotton, cotton, bamboo, linen blends, fleece, and combinations therein.
3. White Noise
White noise is an ongoing background sound that drowns out other sound and is a wonderful infant soothing tool. White noise can help calm a fussy baby, can help a baby fall asleep and can help them stay asleep. It’s a parent’s best friend. There are a variety of white noise machines available, or for those of you with smartphones there are white noise apps available. White Noise Baby is a free app that offers a variety of sounds, timers, and you can even combine sounds together to find that perfect blend for your baby.
4. Booster Seat
Food introduction is an exciting time for parent and baby alike. Babies love to be at the table with their family, and food exploration is a wonderful developmental tool. The Fisher Price Healthy Care Deluxe Booster Seat is a budget savvy, space-saving option in lieu of a traditional high chair. The seat folds up small, is easily transportable (great for taking to restaurants or grandparents’ house!) and easy to clean. The tray is dishwasher safe, and the seat has 3 height adjustments so it grows with your baby.
5. Baby Carriers
It’s no secret that babies love to be held, but that can make daily activities like eating and going to the bathroom very challenging. Investing in a wrap, ringsling, or carrier and wearing your baby will give you back your hands, and your baby will be where they want to be most, held close to your heart. There are a number of types of babywearing apparatus on the market and some will fit you and your baby better than others. Check out a babywearing workshop near you to try different types, and learn more about how to wear your baby safely.
6. Car Seat Fleece or Poncho
Being a parent in a cold climate means finding safe options for keeping your baby warm in their carseat. Snowsuits and puffy coats provide too much bulk between your baby and their seat straps. In an accident that could result in the baby being ejected from the seat. Specially designed fleece suits provide additional warmth without the added bulk. Once your child graduates to a convertible seat, carseat ponchos are a safe, warm option. The poncho covers your child, but goes over top of the carseat straps.
7. A Snottie
A good quality nasal aspirator will be your best friend. The Snottie is great for several reasons – it was designed by a local Ottawa mom, is does not require replacement filters so there are no consumables to pay for, and it sucks snot like it’s nobody’s business. This useful gadget will be your go-to whenever your baby is congested, and an uncongested baby is a happy baby – they feed and sleep with more ease.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR – Amie Scharfe is a practicing birth and postpartum doula in Ottawa and has been supporting families for seven years. She is a certified birth doula through DONA, a Certified Lactation Counselor, a trained lactation educator, and a trained postpartum doula. She is a co-owner of National Capital Doulas, a full service doula business offering a wide range of services through pregnancy, birth, and parenting. Amie met her husband while finishing a Bachelors degree in Psychology at Carleton University. They live in Ottawa with their three sons.