Week 24: Gear down

Saving money on baby items you don’t need can help you buy more things you don’t need but have to have anyway. |  The Metropolitan Museum of Art

Saving money on baby items you don’t need can help you buy more things you don’t need but have to have anyway. | The Metropolitan Museum of Art

When you’re building baby registry, every item is a research task. You need the most ergonomic running stroller around in a bright color to ensure the baby’s safety when crossing the road. You don’t just want a thermometer. You want the best, most accurate thermometer that offers temperature readings to two decimal points. You need the finest snot sucker money can buy.

One book that helped me talk me off the designer crib ledge was Denise and Alan Fields’  Baby Bargains, which is updated yearly with the best deals by category. I would recommend you start saving for those high-ticket items right now by borrowing the book from the library instead of buying it.

One of the best lessons I learned from the Fields’ book is that expensive ≠ safe. Cribs, car seats, strollers, and a host of other baby products have manufacturing standards that mean the cheapest model is as safe as the most expensive one. I also learned that the ACA covers breast pumps, which saved me a few hundred dollars right away.

But I also took the wrong lesson from the book. I got great bargains on baby items, but did I need those items?

I’ve developed a new mantra that has saved me both money and trouble: just because a cheaper product is as effective as the more expensive one, doesn’t mean that either one is necessary.

The thermometer is a great example. You know what’s a really effective thermometer? Your hand. It can tell you whether the baby has a fever, how long the fever has been going on, and whether or not anything has changed the fever. Pediatricians don’t rely on temperature readings to make decisions, so you shouldn’t either. You don’t need a thermometer, at least not until you have a child in daycare or preschool and need to know whether or not he’s met the temperature cut off for drop off. Then again, your hand and your child’s mood can tell you whether or not it’s okay for him to go to school. 

Of course, if you’re already bought a thermometer, feel free to use it. But each time you do use it, remind yourself that the moment you decided to use the thermometer, you already knew something was wrong: the gear isn’t aiding your parenting other than confirming it. 

Focusing on getting “the best” for our babies blinds us to whether they need the gear in the first place. Just because a device is the best at removing boogers from your child's nose doesn't mean you need to remove boogers from your child's nose.

Here’s my list of 10 baby items you don’t need. Leaving them off your list will free up space for these other things you don’t need but are going to buy anyway.  

And just in case Amazon hasn’t already figured out that you’re expecting and is flooding you with e-mails about its registry, you can set up an account here.