Frugal Baby Advice: 10 Unnecessary Purchases

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Frugal Baby Advice
After 20 months (and counting) with The Tot, I have learned how to distinguish important baby gear from items that are a sheer waste of money.  Baby gear is marketed to parents, praying on one of several things: convenience, nutrition/health, and making baby smart(er).  Here’s what I’ve learned, both from personal experience and from simple observation.

Diaper Bags
Yes, there are gobs and gobs of uber-cute, super-sleek diaper bags out there.  But you’ll likely pay a pretty penny for them.  Guess what I’ve been using for about a year now?  A canvas cloth tote bag.  (And it was free.  With coupons in it!)  Yep.  A large cloth tote bag, with several smaller ones nestled inside to compartmentalize things (or large plastic baggies could also work).  Think about how often you get a free tote bag, or an offer for a free tote bag.  Stock up on them, as they may wear out fairly frequently.

“Your Baby Can Read”
If babies were meant to read as infants and toddlers, we would’ve cracked the code long ago.  Period.  Are there young children out there who may learn to read at an exceptionally early age?  Of course.  But will it be your child or mine?  Not bloody likely.  And a program that you purchase will not accelerate his reading readiness.  Let your little Einstein emerge at his own pace, not by one dictated by your wallet.  What’s next?  “Your Baby Can Conjugate”, or better yet, “Your Baby Can Solve Algebraic Equations”….  puh-lease.   (I would, however, settle for “Your Baby Can Self-Potty Train”.)

There are numerous products out there praying on parents’ vulnerabilities (i.e. guilt and wanting The Best for their kids), with the promise of making their child smarter, by some gimmick.  Peruse through the infant and toddler toy isle(s) the next time you’re at the store.  You’ll see the sheer volume of toys with “learning” in the title.  For instance, my daughter has a “learning” kitchen, thanks to Santa.  You know what she’s “learned” from it?  That she can open the fridge door to help her climb over to the other side.  ABCs, colors, shapes?  Not so much —  those concepts are best left to teaching through direct interactions with me and her other caregivers, not some silly plastic toy.

Toddler Meals
Really?  Prepackaged toddler meals?  By this stage, toddlers should be eating table foods, just in smaller portions.  Like many of us, our toddlers are probably served better, more nutritional options that we the parents.  These meals are marketed to pray on parents, to make them feel like they can’t create nutritious meals themselves.  In reality, these are over-priced and over-packaged — HOOEY!  I say, instead, go buy some fresh veggies and fruit, get some simple meats, perhaps some fun-shaped mini pasta, and serve your Tot this — all at a FRACTION of the cost (and unnecessary packaging) of these prepackaged meals.

Plastic Infant and Toddler Dishes
I’m going to get a lot of slack for this, but guess what works just as well?  Leftover frozen dinner dishes, yogurt containers, fruit cups, butter dishes, etc.  …AND you’ve already paid for those!!  Are those matching Elmo or Cinderella cups, plates, and bowls to-die-for adorable?  Yes.  But you can get by without them.  Or if you must get them, get them gently used at garage sales, consignment sales, or Goodwill.  Or try the dollar section at Target — they’ve almost always got them there.  But spend more than a few dollars for a toddler’s plate?  Perish the thought!!

Wipe Warmers
I have never heard of a baby getting sick, dumber, lacking in nutrition, or growing up to resent his parents for having a cold (or even room temperature) wipe run across their fanny.  End of story.  Of course, if you know of a documented case, I will happily stand corrected.  ;o)

“Boogie Wipes” and Paci Wipes
…and speaking of wipes.  Boogie Wipes?!!  The name directly tells you what they’re intended purpose is.  Guess what else works: a tissue!  And they cost way less.  Want a “moist” tissue?  Try a diaper wipe — you can always find good deals on them.

Let’s just round out the whole “wipe” rant with Paci Wipes.  Again, if you MUST use a wipe for her paci whence it falls to the floor (GASP!), try running it under the faucet.  Or use a diaper wipe.  (Maybe they should be called “all purpose wipes?”)  Oh, and many parents have been spotted cleaning a paci with their shirt tale.  I’ve yet to hear of death-by-dirty-paci…

Diaper Pale Systems
If you choose to use disposable diapers, then you must deal with the subsequent stinch from  a sitting diaper.  In my experience, I have yet to see an inexpensive system that truly keeps the poo from stinking up the room.  Sure, you could spend thirty to fifty bucks on the pale, plus the cost of the “special” bags it takes and/or the batteries it requires.  But that adds up quickly, and I’ll betcha you can still smell the poo.  I’ve taken a cheaper, greener approach: we dump the poop (as much as we can) in the toilet, then put in a lidded pale.  For the icky diapers that just can get completely de-pooped, I tie them in a newspaper bag, invert it and tie it again.  (Essentially, double-bagging with one bag.  Shall I create a video to demonstrate?)  It costs nothing, and it keeps nasty poo out of the landfill.

Gadgety Toys
You’ve seen them in the stores and in commercials: the battery-operated toys with lights, noise, and motion.  Quick: name five toys your child possesses that lack all three of these.  I bet you couldn’t do it, could you?  Now, show of hands: do your kids like to play with empty cartons, soda bottles, milk jugs, etc?  (In other words: trash!)  Kids don’t NEED all the bells and whistles that are out there, nor does your wallet likely need all the replacement batteries they devour!  I’m not suggesting that we all rid our homes of these toys, and never buy them again.  …but perhaps keep it simple.  Also, keep only a few toys out at any given time, and the rest packed away.  Rotate them through periodically, and it’s like you’ve got new toys all over again.  

Ultrasound Videos and Photos
I’ll admit, I fell for this one.  Was it a great experience to see my sweet little girl moving around, and have that moment captured on film?  Absolutely.  But the cost was absurd, even with a “good deal”.

Pee Pee TeePees
They are a great shower gift for an expectant mother of a boy, and will emit quite a few grins and giggles.  But, again…. really?  I must believe that diapers were changed for many many moons (pun intended) before these were manufactured, and parents and caregivers found ways to avoid the -um- splattering.  I must disclose, however, having a daughter, this particular item has thus far been a moot point for us.  Still, I just can’t imagine that these would do anything that a rain coat and umbrella, or a mere diaper wipe couldn’t also do.  Notice how versatile diaper wipes can be?!


This list could be exponentially longer, but hopefully, y’all get the gist of it.  Cute, convenient, and praying on parental insecurities is a recipe for baby gear money-making.  As a parent and a consumer, I hope that you can be discerning in what is important, and what is right for you and your family’s needs. 

Keep on saving!  :o)
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Keep on saving!  :o)

**Remember, y'all, this post may contain affiliate links. I receive a small amount of compensation when you purchase from my links, which I"ll totally blow on waffle fries and sweet tea, y'all!**


  1. After having had my first baby a year ago I whole-heartedly agree with you and am glad that I did not fall for most of the things you listed here! 🙂 Great tips for first-time moms.

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