Non-essential essentials: Ten baby things you really don’t need

A couple of weeks ago I made the shocking revelation that I use reusable nappies because I find them easier than single-use nappies. The reaction to that post got me thinking.

 Reusable nappies are kinder to your pocket as well as the planet. They work just as well - and often better than - single-use nappies. So if we can be so easily convinced that single-use nappies are so great, then what other baby ‘essentials’ do we use without questioning if they really are better – or even necessary?

In the UK we spend an eye-watering £75,000 on a child in his first five years. Ouch.

Today is Old Stuff Day – when we celebrate and repurpose our old stuff. But what if we didn’t have that stuff to start with? What if we didn’t spend the first few years of our babies’ lives endlessly researching the best buys; trying to find space for the latest gadget or toy? What if we weren’t endlessly trying to sell on our quickly discarded, never used ‘essentials’ - so that we have the space and money to introduce more stuff? And what if we spent less time shopping (and selling) – and used that time to simply enjoy being with our babies?

I’ve looked around my own house with a cynic’s eye. I’ve immersed myself in the website of a well-known baby site. And now, I’m looking at ten baby ‘essentials’ in a whole new light...

Baby towels

Yes, those little towels with a cute little hood. Clearly, we need those. Don’t we? Well, no. An adult size towel has plenty of room to wrap up baby, head and all. It will last until long after baby’s first birthday. And you won’t be adding to the terror of the first bath by using a towel that’s totally unabsorbent because it’s never been used. A towel is a towel. Putting a hood (or ears, or Eyeore) on it doesn’t improve its functionality.

Disposable wipes

Just don’t do it! Parents who use reusable wipes always say how much better they are. They are just better at cleaning mucky bums. It’s that simple. Plus, a heads up if you think you’ll be done with wipes when you hit potty training. Just remember me when you next see a ten-year-old with a bowl of spaghetti bolognese. Between hands, faces, walls and all those other places that never needed a wipe before you had children – you’ll get plenty of use from your reusable wipes!

Bottle warmer

There are people who swear by these, but look at the reaction of anyone over 50 to these. They don’t think it’s a great gadget. They think it’s weird. The reason? Because you already heat things up in your kitchen. A lot. You already have all the tools you need to heat something.

Baby food processor

See bottle warmers. Food is food.


Yes, first-time parents, you read that correctly. Your newborn baby does not need clothes. If your baby spends the majority of her first six months in sleepsuits, you won’t have to iron, you’ll reduce your washing pile, nappy changes will be easier, your baby will still look gorgeous and you will save a LOT of money. Oh, and your baby will be much more comfortable.

Swaddling blanket

It’s a blanket. It doesn’t need to be a special shape. Yes, it may be made of ‘super soft organic cotton’...but so are plenty of other blankets that cost half as much. It costs no more to manufacture a swaddling blanket than it does any other blanket. The only reason they cost more is because the word ‘swaddling’ is in the title.

Musical mobile

They sound awful. They’re guaranteed to stop at a critical moment. If you want to play music then use a CD or download of music that you actually like and that lasts for more than five seconds.

A changing table

Unless you have a bad back then you will end up changing your baby on the floor. And a change mat on top of a chest of drawers will do exactly the same job, anyway.

Baby shoes

It’s far better for your baby’s feet if they aren’t constricted as they grow. You’ll spend a lot of time putting them back on. And you’ll probably lose one.

A baby bath

This includes all those seats and contraptions for supporting your baby as well. You were probably bathed in the sink, and you’re still here to tell the tale. It’s easier on your back, one less thing to store and generally just…..easier.
And finally, if you’re wondering ‘whatever next?’...well here’s some kit from the US that hasn’t made it over the pond. Yet. Wipe warmers. So baby doesn’t get a cold bottom. Nasal aspirators. For sucking snot. Baby detergent., I really don’t know.

What’s your least used baby kit?


    • I would say Muslin cloths! They are totally unabsorbant. They are never in the right place. What is wrong with an old towel or lovely soft baby top to wipe your babies chins and noses. Muslin cloths are not soft! And you never remember to put them over your shoulder!

    • Nappy bin for disposable nappies (when we used them with my first). Another piece of plastic that has more plastic in it (cassette, plastic bags). We now use Baba and Boo nappies during the day and sposies at night and they just go into the kitchen bin. If it stinks- oh, yeah… time to take the bin out ?


    Leave a comment

    Please note, comments must be approved before they are published