Sunday, August 15, 2010

It's a conspiracy, I tell you!

Some people think I am crazy when I say that, but I really do mean it. Ok, well sort of. Maybe conspiracy is a little dramatic... maybe "scam" is more like it! I seriously think that the manufacturers of baby products are out to take our money. And in exchange for our money, they are giving us completely useless crap that we do not need for our babies.

Ok, so back up a few steps here. You find out you are pregnant for the first time and amid all the excitement over the pregnancy, choosing baby names, dreaming about what the sex of the baby will be... you quickly realize that having a baby means you need stuff. Lots and lots of "stuff" that you don't already have! I mean, babies require an entire house full of products, right? There are items you are going to need for just about every room in your house! So, you do what every expecting parent does... You head out to the baby store or your local superstore to register for all that amazing baby stuff you are going to need.

And wouldn't you know it, you walk in and tell the customer service reps that you are expecting and need to register, and what is their response? They congratulate you, of course, while handing you a long list of "essentials" that you should throw onto your registry. You stare at the long list, as your eyes bug out from the overwhelming number of products... and you start walking through the aisles, zapping that gun at every item they list. I mean, they are the baby experts, right? They know what you do and don't need!

Ha. Such a crock. The whole idea of registries in general seems kind of backwards to me. I remember trying to register for things for our wedding. It seemed pretty difficult to do since we had not even started our life together! We did not know where we would be living in the long term, or how many bathrooms we'd have, or how many of those bathrooms would actually need shower curtains, or what color scheme would look best in the house that we would be buying three years from that moment. So, it seems backwards to me. If anything, it makes more sense to register for gifts a few years after your wedding when you have realized what items you are missing now that you are all settled. But, I don't think that would go over too well.

So, baby registries are funny to me, because at the time that you register, you have NO CLUE what you are doing or even what you can really expect. Sure, you might have some friends who have kids, but that does not mean you have any idea of what is headed your way and what products you will need in order to survive it. Maybe you are lucky enough to have a lot of friends with kids so you can ask them what you should throw on your registry. But, many new moms, even those who DO have friends with kids, get excited at the sight of all that cute baby stuff and get sucked into all the hype. How do I know this? Because I made that mistake, too.

Just because a product is made for a baby does not mean your baby needs to have it. Listed here are some of the baby products that I found to be a complete crock and total waste of money, for various reasons. For those of you that are moms, you might disagree, and that's OK, too. These are just my thoughts on it:

1) CRIB BEDDING SETS: Yes, you read that correctly. How completely USELESS are crib bedding sets? Usually the set will come with the ruffle, a sheet (sometimes 2), a comforter, and the bumper. Some even come with a little decorative pillow. They look so cute all set up at the baby store and in catalogs, and the baby's crib needs all that decor, of course. It's all totally practical. Oh, wait. No... it's not. Let's review... First of all, the comforter/blanket. That seems like an essential piece of the set. However, any doctor will tell you that the use of such a heavy/puffy/large blanket puts your child at risk for suffocation/SIDS. You can't use it. Well, what about the crib bumper. Definitely an important part of the set! No. You're technically not supposed to be using that either, for the same reason. It poses a risk for suffocation and SIDS as well. It's now recommended that you use a breathable mesh bumper, which is not included with these sets. So now, your bumper AND comforter are useless to you. Moving on to the decorative pillow... No. Again with the suffocation/SIDs. You should not keep stuffed animals or pillows in the crib. Ok, so that leaves us with... sheets and the dust ruffle. So at this point, I have to wonder, what is the point of buying that whole set? Why not just buy yourself a couple sheet sets and call it a day? You can save a TON of money this way and still decorate your nursery in any way you want!

2) BOTTLE WARMERS: They seem like such a great idea! But in reality, I found that it was a total waste. It's purpose is to just use a hot plate to quickly heat a little water that in turn creates steam. The hot steam against the bottle warms the contents of the bottle. Now, if you nurse, this is obviously not a product for you. And most bottle-fed babies are on formula. But, if your child is on formula, why would you need to heat the bottle? Most formula-feeding moms just use heated tap water from the sink when making a bottle. So, you wait for the water to get warm, add the formula powder, and shake. Where does the bottle warmer come into play? Maybe if you use nursery water, but even in that case, couldn't you just put the water in the microwave for a few seconds or even use room temperature water? I really don't see the need. We have this amazing invention call the microwave. It's pretty great. No bottle warmer needed.

3) BOTTLE/PACIFIER/TOY STERILIZER: This product is a joke. Seriously. It is this big plastic chamber in which you place bottle parts or pacifiers or toys that you want to sterilize. Like the bottle warmer, it has a metal plate that heats up. Then when the water is added to the hot plate, it creates steam that is supposed to kill germs and sterilize. Great idea. Here is a free way to do the same thing. Take a big pot, fill it with water, bring the water to a boil, place said items into boiling water, wait 5 mins, then remove. Sterilization complete. So why spend $40 on a plastic chamber that does what boiling water can do?

4) WIPES WARMER: I know people that have these. And that's fine. But in my opinion, this is such a waste of money. Sure the wipes feel cool when you wipe the baby clean, but we are talking about subjecting their little bums to the cool, damp wipe for, what? 10 seconds tops? Is it really that important to keep the wipes warm? At what point does the child no longer need warmed wipes? Because I can honestly say that I have never seen a mother use warmed wipes on a toddler before. It might be nice for while you are at home, but most people are not going to take their wipes warmer with them every time they leave the house, right? So, the baby will have to deal with the cool (notice, I am not saying cold) wipes at some point or another! And it is not like the wipes were stored in the freezer or something. This product just seems like a massive waste of money. I think this is definitely one of those products that was designed to take advantage of new parents.

5) WOMB SOUNDS TEDDY BEAR: Have you heard of this product? I have. I had one. It sounded like a great idea. The bear actual made sounds similar to those that the baby would hear when in the womb. We never, ever used it. It was the biggest waste of $20. If anyone out there is considering registering for one of those, please don't. It would be in your best interest for your friends & family to give you $20 worth of diapers rather than this totally useless decorative item.

6) DIAPER STACKER: What is a diaper stacker? Well, for those of you not familiar, a diaper stacker is this fabric "tent" that has a hook at the top. You are supposed to fill it with diapers and then hang it on the wall... or something? I am not sure where you would hang it, actually. Most people have a changing table or some sort of changing station that includes room for diapers. So, there really is no point to this piece of nursery decor. I think the designers were just looking for another decorative item they could make money on, honestly. These things are totally stupid, in my opinion. Maybe I am wrong, though. Is there anyone out there who absolutely LOVED their diaper stacker and could not live without it? If so, I'd like to hear from you.

7) DREFT: Dreft Laundry Detergent is "special" laundry detergent that is supposedly extra gentle for babies. It does not have dyes and as far as I know it is free of scent and such. It's essentially gently, dye-free detergent. Babies can definitely have sensitive skin, so this sounds like a good idea. The only problem is that Dreft is WAY over-priced. On top of that, all the major laundry detergent brands make a dye-free, gentle version for adults with sensitive skin, too! And theirs is much cheaper. A lot of the baby stores try to sucker you into spending a ton of money on this stuff, and it is just a huge waste of money.

8) DIAPER GENIES/DIAPER PAILS: These products all usually have special bags that work with the system, and those bags are not cheap. Our diaper pail is a little flip-top garbage can with a Target shopping bag. The can cost me $15, and the bags are free. Poopy diapers smell... bad. So in my opinion, they do not belong in the house, period. Those get put immediately into the garage garbage can. And I empty the bag of wet diapers every 1-2 days, depending on how many diapers I even changed up there. Most of our diaper-changing happens downstairs, so there is no need for a special pail. I just don't really see the need for some expensive diaper contraption when you can just get rid of poopy diapers right away and then dispose of your wet ones on a regular basis. It's really not that complicated.

9) THE BUMBO SEAT: This is a borderline item. I do know a few people that swear by theirs, but my experience with it was not very good. My kids hated this seat. I used it to take their pictures when they were too little to sit on their own. The Bumbo actually caused my nephew's legs to turn purple since it cut off his circulation! So, you do have to watch the baby closely to make sure that does not happen it. My kids were always bored while in it. They always wanted to be doing something, and they did not enjoy just sitting there. Even with the play tray attached, it was useless. They'd knock the toys off the tray within seconds and then sit there bored (and then fuss). The time in which you can use this product is SO SHORT that spending $40 on the seat at $10 on the tray is a total waste. They can use this seat from maybe 3 months (depending on head, neck and upper back control) to around 6 months when they can sit on their own. So you are spending $50 plus tax on an item that you might get occasional use of for maybe 2 months, if you're lucky. That just seems silly to me. I ended up selling ours after both my daughter and my first son didn't really get much use out of it.

So, those are my most-hated baby products on the market. It bugs me that parents are made to think that these items are necessary when they are such a waste of money. I remember when Lucy was about 9-10 months old and starting to need new clothes and toys and such (since everything she received from the shower was being outgrown). I needed money to get some new items and I totally remember looking through a lot of her stuff thinking, "Why the heck did I ask for this stuff?!"

My biggest suggestion to expecting moms... ASK YOUR MOM FRIENDS FOR ADVICE. Even if you do not completely agree with my take on these items, that's OK! See what other moms had to say about them. Definitely read the reviews of these products online! Many moms will take the time to leave a review and let you know what they think of the product. Whatever you do, do not make my mistake and just blindly register for whatever the baby superstores tell you that you're going to need. And definitely consider the opinions of more than one person. You'll certainly find that one mom will love a product that another mom hates (such as the Bumbo seat). If you only consider one mom's opinion, that is just as bad as only listening to the store. You might end up with a house full of products that worked for her but might not work for you!

I definitely think this whole bedding set scam needs to stop, though. :) That is my #1 Most-Hated Baby Product on the market!

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