Overrated Baby Items (And Their Thrifty Replacements)

Overrated Baby Items (And Their Thrifty Replacements)

Overrated baby items aren’t exactly far and few between. There are so many expensive baby products that have a thriftier alternative. Whether you’re already a parent, have a baby on the way, or are just looking for creative ideas for a baby shower, I’ve got great suggestions for you!

Overrated Baby Items and What to Use Instead

baby gear to avoid

Disclosure: The links in this post contain affiliate links and I will receive a small commission at no additional cost to you if you make a purchase after clicking on my link. My affiliations in no way affect my suggestions or recommendations.

Prior to becoming a parent, there’s a lot of prep work to be done – babies are insanely expensive, time-consuming, needy, and completely worth it.

Companies like Fisher-Price and Graco know that parents, especially those having their first child, are eager to give their babies the best of the best so they work to develop multiple products that only serve singular needs. Singular-use tools like bottles are fine, because we only need them to feed the baby, but then there’s thing like wipes – you’ve got booger wipes, butt wipes, pacifier wipes, hand wipes…it’s insane!

Bottle Warmers


Truthfully, if I had a child that looked like that, I’d feed it via long-range apparatus as well.


Those who already have kids might not initially agree – I know that my child wouldn’t take a cold bottle of milk, no matter how hungry he was. I thought for sure a bottle warmer was one of the top necessities…until I had my second child and the warmer stayed in its box until we re-sold it on Craigslist.

Most bottle warmers work by heating a small amount of water to create steam to heat the bottle. If you, as a bleary-eyed parent stumbling around in the middle of the night, forget to put water in it before you turn it on, the hotplate at the bottom of the warmer will heat up without actually heating the bottle. Make that mistake and you’ll have to wait ten minutes or more for it to cool down before you can re-start it. Meanwhile you’re left with cold milk, a wailing baby, and the acrid aroma of burning metal.

I wish I could say I only made that mistake once…

Thrifty Solution: Place the bottle in a coffee mug and let hot water from your faucet slowly run over the bottle for a couple minutes. Pluck the bottle out, swirl it to make sure the heat is evenly distributed, and then check the temperature of the milk by squirting a little on your wrist. You should just barely be able to feel it. You’ll likely know if it’s too hot. Voila! Mostly free, uses less energy, and can be done with stuff you already have.

Another option (if formula feeding) is to buy a water cooler that allows for both hot and cold water. Again you want to be careful here in checking the temp before giving it to baby, but our water cooler was a life saver when our little one switched to formula!

See on Amazon

Wipe Warmers

"Necessary" Baby Items and Their Thifty (Just as Useful!) Alternatives!

Warm or cold, it doesn’t matter; you’re not sleeping through the night for another fifteen years.


These things seem so logical at first – a nice, warm wipe for the middle of the night when you’re changing your baby will feel good for them and keep them from waking up. The reality here is that your baby is either sleeping well enough that a quick diaper change in the middle of the night won’t bother them, or they’re not, and anything you do is going to make them scream.

Thrifty Solution: A quick balling up of the wipe in your hand and holding it there for a second will warm it up enough that it shouldn’t be as much of a cold shock to a little baby butt. Your diaper station will be cluttered with so much stuff as it is, you really shouldn’t waste your energy finding room for yet another thing to plug in and work around.

Baby Shoes

"Necessary" Baby Items and Their Thifty (Just as Useful!) Alternatives!

I originally bought those from a garage sale for his sister but hey! Whatever keeps the toddler happy!


A caveat before I continue: I don’t mean toddler shoes. I mean infant shoes. A toddler, or any child old enough to actually walk, should be wearing shoes. I frequent Facebook resale sites and I see people selling baby shoes for $20-$30+ and it just makes me laugh.

Baby shoes aren’t functional, and while they’re cute, they’re just a HUGE waste of money. Truth told, I haven’t spent a red cent on full priced kids’ shoes, not even once.

Thrifty Solution: Clearance, garage sales, or re-sale sites!

It might sound like I’m going overboard on not wanting to spend money on my kids (you know I don’t pay for kid clothes either!) but kids wear shoes for a few months at most. I just don’t think it’s worth spending half a day’s pay on a pair of shoes.

For the price of a new pair of sneakers (let’s say $30) you can get nearly 15 pairs of shoes at most garage sales. Also, because of the rate at which kids go through shoes, second-hand shopping often yields sneakers that are next to new.

Shopping Cart Covers


Tiny little patient zero in the Walking Dead spinoff “Squeaky Cart of Doom”

While I can see purchasing a cart cover in the hopes of keeping your baby comfortable, I think the over-sanitizing of our world is taken to another level with these bulky, absurd things. Let your kid sit in the cart; it’s not made of lava.

Thrifty Solution: The cart will not eat your child, nor will it disgorge thousands of germs upon their skin. As long as your kid isn’t actively cleaning the surface of the grocery cart with their mouth, you’re good. Even if they are, it’s probably fine. Chances are good they’re doing worse (so, so much worse) at daycare.

Nursing Glider


Prehistoric gliders in their natural habitat.


We bought one of these, thinking that we could feed the baby in comfort at night when he woke up. Let me tell you just how non-functional gliders are for that purpose (or at least ours was!)

The way they’re designed isn’t very conducive to holding a baby at the correct angle to feed him. In addition, because it’s generally straight-backed, if you start to doze off holding the baby, there’s a decent chance he’ll roll off your lap. Sounds insane, I know, but it happened to a friend of mine with her 2-day old son.

Thrifty Solution: A recliner works just as well, if not better, and also serves the purpose of not being an uncomfortable piece of furniture that has a weirdly specific purpose.

Even if “buy a recliner” doesn’t seem very thrifty, it’s far and away not the worst purchase you can make as new parents, plus you might be able to get one second-hand or on deep discount on Labor Day Weekend (ha…labor day…but seriously…)

As a breastfeeding mother, I still stand by our recliner purchase as being the BEST thing we’ve ever bought.

Changing Table

We agonized over what changing table to get, the color of it, how much space we’d need…

Then we ended up just putting a changing pad on top of the dresser and haven’t looked back since.

Thrifty Solution: Like I said – use a dresser! All you really need is a changing pad (and even that is debatable). You really don’t need a specific piece of furniture to wipe your child’s butt; don’t fall into the poop-furniture trap!

See on Amazon


Very pretty and very useless.

Babies grow very fast, and soon you’ll find that yours has outgrown her bassinet. Then it’s just another horizontal surface gathering laundry and other items in the corner of your nursery.

Thrifty Solution: A Rock ‘n Play is amazing for when baby is first born – it keeps them feeling secure and it also folds up for easy store. A Pack n Play or some other “travel yard”, also work great as starter cribs. Bonus: when the child gets older, you can use it as an indoor yard/prison while you do housework or eat your weight in chocolate. Whatever, not here to judge.

 See on Amazon

Baby food makers

These are generally little blenders for making baby food. Often they’ve got a built-in storage thing, too. They’re awfully silly, so please don’t waste money on them. Bigger blenders also do this and then some!

Thrifty Solution: Do you already have a blender for making delicious margaritas and … whatever else people blend? Then use that (just clean it first!) You can then deposit the blended food into a storage container, which you also likely already have.

Hyper Elaborate Diaper Bags

Don’t think they’re not useful, they’re just not THAT useful. We have one that was given to us, and it’s a nice bag, but we kind of just shove stuff into the big middle pocket and everything else where it fits. All those pockets, not enough give-a-dook to organize our stuff into them. And let’s not even get started on the designer diaper bags that run a few hundred dollars…ooph.

Thrifty Solution: Get a canvas bag and use that instead. You can get cute canvas bags from various sources that cost a fraction of what a diaper bag does. Plus if you’re anything like every other parent, you’ll pretty much just end up putting everything in the central pocket anyway. Most of us just don’t have time to break down baby items into various categories based on available pocket sizes and locations.

Diaper Genie

These things seem incredible (I mean look at all those award graphics!) They work by sealing away the foul-smelling diapers and then change it, with not a whiff of displeasure. Except this concept is founded on lies!

The issue with the diaper pails is that they’re great if you go through a ton of diapers and are forced to change it often. More than a few poopy diapers, though, and they’ll overpower it’s high-tech “plastic around the poop” design. They’re a great concept, but they just don’t really function the way they’re intended.

Thrifty Solution: A small garbage can with a disposable grocery bag tucked into it. For exceptionally stinky diapers, just bring them out to your trash and be done with it. It might be an extra step to take some trash out nightly, but the cost of the refills for the Diaper Genie ($20+ dollars for 3 refill rings) coupled with the fact that they’re just kind of “meh” really makes a compelling argument against them.

"Necessary" Baby Items and Their Thifty (Just as Useful!) Alternatives!

May not need a Diaper Genie, definitely need a bouncy dragon.


This is obviously not an exhaustive list, but after 2 babies, I feel like we’ve got a great handle on what we couldn’t do without versus what kind of just takes up space or would be better if it were any other object.

Oh and be sure to check out what must-have baby items we do recommend!

thrifty replacement

What item(s) were you certain you’d need for baby…until you actually had the baby?

Let us know in the comments below!

Baby Must-Haves (That No One Told Me About!)

Baby Must-Haves (That No One Told Me About!)

Ask a mom about her must haves for baby and the list will almost always be different from any other mom you ask.

Some like cloth diapers while others find ways to save on disposable diapers.

Some insist on an automatic bottle warmer while others find it to be a completely overrated baby product.

So even though every mom will have a different response as to her own top ten baby must haves, here are the ones that I believe will be on most experienced moms list!

Must Haves for Baby

baby must haves new mom

Disclosure: The links in this post contain affiliate links and I will receive a small commission at no additional cost to you if you make a purchase after clicking on my link. My affiliations in no way affect my suggestions or recommendations.


This one is obvious, yeah? But don’t just stop at “I need diapers.”

First, make sure you get yourself a full-on diaper stash. Trust me when I say you will go through these faster than you think and if you don’t stock up, you will run out after a huge blowup at 3 a.m.

Second, whether you plan to cloth diaper or not, pick up a pack or two. Those things make for the BEST burp rags!

Check out the ones I recommend!

Sanity Savers

Invest in a white noise machine. Nothing wakes a baby faster than the creaking of a floorboard.

I’d also very much recommend a rock ‘n play. Forget the bassinet, this will be a sanity saver! It helps baby feel enclosed and safe, which means you might get more than 20 minutes to do something other than tend to baby. Maybe.

 See on Amazon

Feeding Baby

A milky saver (if the baby will be breast fed) is an absolute must. This thing saved me well over two ounces a day that would’ve otherwise been absorbed into a breast pad.

If you plan to formula feed, I definitely recommend investing in a water cooler. Don’t waste money on buying individual jugs of “nursery water.” Buy a water dispenser with hot/cold options and you won’t need a bottle warmer either!

Health and Wellness

Buy a NoseFrida. Seriously. If you take away nothing else from this post, know that a NoseFrida is a MUST.

Yes, sucking snot is gross…but your baby going to kiss you and spewing boogers in your face is worse. And have you ever cut open one of those bulbs the hospital gives you? Talk about unsanitary!

NoseFrida on Amazon

Stocking up on mittens is also a must. It doesn’t matter how many you buy, you will lose them. Nevertheless, they are very much needed to keep baby from scratching his face!

Top 10 Baby Must-Haves (That No One Told Me About!)

She’s just waiting for you to look away and those mittens will be long gone!

Tech for Baby

Invest in a high-tech tracker for feedings and growth. The hospital will probably give you a paper to track feedings, wet diapers, etc. for the first few days (or weeks) of your child’s life.

And then that paper will be spit up on, left at the hospital, or lost in the diaper bag.

Download an app instead! I loved my Feed Baby – Baby Tracker app and still use it years later to keep track of both kids’ growth.

Another “duh” but don’t forget the baby monitor. That said – don’t splurge on a high tech video model! I get it, you want to see Baby sleep and make sure she’s okay, but believe me when I say the lower tech ones work just fine. We found ours at a garage sale for $10 and it lasted us two years!

Along those lines, though, I will admit we did splurge on the Owlet Smart Sock. After getting up 10x/night to make sure baby was breathing, I felt like the money was well worth a decent night’s sleep.

Top 10 Baby Must-Haves (That No One Told Me About!)

Don’t worry, she’ll wake up soon enough!


Lastly, find a baby carrier you can actually use. This is one where you should definitely poll the audience and ask your mom friends which ones they liked best.

I was desperate for a Moby Wrap when I was pregnant for my first but I didn’t think to try it out before he was born. 16 feet of fabric + screaming newborn + sleep-deprived mom = lots of tears and maybe a few curse words. I bought an Evenflo carrier for my second child and it’s amazing, even a year later!

What is the number one item you recommend to new parents?

Tell us in the comments below!