Even if a mom (or soon-to-be-mom) tells herself she’ll only buy the bare essentials, it can be quite tempting to click on this and that, and quickly have a cartful of items all set to be delivered.
That’s, in a sense, how it went for me! I was having my first baby on a budget, to be sure. Some way, somehow, I was going to make it work, but my carefully crafted game plan involved lots of hand-me-downs, only buying the basics, and not ever going overboard on anything unnecessary.
But, for the same reason we sometimes shop for ourselves, moms of course sometimes like to shop for their little ones, as well.
There are toys, clothes, and teething necklaces (oooh, that one really got me…), mealtime tools, fancy pieces of furniture, sensational-looking strollers and so, so much more out there that can be quite tempting.
Perhaps we hope that this or that item will make our baby happier or more comfortable. Products may claim to magically make a little one sleep better (that really draws parents in…).
Everything from nursing to exercising to playtime: There’s a product to make it better, or so they say.
After 4 years as a mom, with two little ones in my household, and some research thrown in to boot, I’ve put together a list you might view as a collection of cautionary tales: If mom bought any of these 20 products, she might want a refund.
As a brand-new mom, I suddenly very fully came to appreciate the value of bras and tops that would actually completely clip down and away, leaving a fully exposed breast from which a newborn baby could feed from.
I also really liked that such tops could be left down for a while to let (sometimes stinging and very sore) newly breastfeeding nipples air out for a while.
And so I went online and ordered an entire wardrobe’s worth of nursing tanks, not the most expensive, as I’d seen at the local posh baby boutique (upwards of $60), but still about $20 or $30+ apiece.
Some of the Motherhood (Motherhood.com) tanks I then received fit OK, but half of them were very oddly proportioned, with the chests being far too small (and I have very regular sizing everywhere else I’ve shopped) and the fabric being far too flimsy to properly stay in place.
They had looked very pretty in the pictures, but they provided no support and I barely ended up using them — nursing bras (necessarily) worn underneath would have been half-exposed, too.
I have never before in all my mom shopping encountered a stroller that cost less than a couple hundred dollars — at LEAST.
So I would be suspicious of one that cost all of $55 at Amazon.com, as was reported at SheKnows.com, where The First Years Jet Stroller, City Chic, was described as tending to “swallow up little children like a Venus fly trap.”
"This stroller has now three times collapsed with my son inside it,” one parent shared. “The first two times, I thought it was my fault — that I maybe did not push the metal open all of the way when unfolding it. WRONG. We hit a bump on the sidewalk, and it completely folded with my son in the seat."
I grew up in a time during which those sparkly plastic shoes commonly known as jellies were just THE coolest.
I remember trying over and over again to wear one hand-me-down pair we had, even though the sides, like, cut into your feet.
Some much slicker styles have come out these days, and they even — no joke — seem to somehow saturate the plastic material with some sort of delightfully yummy scent (perhaps so they won’t so quickly smell like sweaty feet?).
I could not resist picking up a tiny pink pair for my baby from Old Navy (https://oldnavy.gap.com) when she was still very small.
But then, though they looked adorable sitting in her closet, we never used them, not once.
In my experience, babies don’t even need shoes (and they would just be an extra hassle) until they start walking, and even those shoes should probably be something much more comfortable, and much lest plastic.
A crib’s job is fairly simple, and very, very important: Give the baby a safe place to sleep.
How about these multiple reviews warning of the platform that supports the Dream On Me crib mattress giving way…! Yikes.
"I laid my 7-month-old baby in the bed for a nap. I heard a scream like I never heard before. I rushed in and found my baby on the floor. The platform that holds the mattress broke, and my infant was on the floor pinned by the platform and mattress,” shared one shocked customer.
And that’s not all… "My daughter still used it up until recently. She was under the weight limit, and the bottom cracked. Thankfully, she was not hurt."
During my first pregnancy, I started off with the attitude that I would make as many clothes as I could (that I already had) work, rather than purchasing a bunch of maternity wear. But then I discovered that there are some very posh and trendy lines of clothes for the pregnant set out there, and I just had to splurge on some items, which I hoped would also make my experience being pregnant all the more comfortable and fun.
Some of the dresses and tanks I got were so comfy and well-made that I still wear them, quite some time after being pregnant.
And then there were the gray Seraphine maternity skinny jeans I decided to splurge for. They cost what other designer jeans would, so not at all cheap.
Although they fit me properly, not at all too tight, the seams were so poorly sewn that I found myself with a wide gaping hole in the crotch the second time I put them on.
One mom at SheKnows.com confessed that she actually really wanted to get one of these hats. But it was not, in fact, the practicality of it that she desired. No, no… It was the sheer comedy.
“Confession: I always wanted to put my baby in one of these head-umbrella contraptions for the sheer comedic relief,” she shared, “but I never got around to buying one.”
In the end, she was glad she didn’t go for it, noting that a reviewer of the thing, which was selling at Amazon.com at the time for something like $10, commented, “You're about to buy a Styrofoam plate. Just take a Styrofoam plate and cut a hole in it, save yourself the money."
I really got a kick out of this one. In the last handful of years, a company called Freshly Picked has really exploded, by making extremely trendy leather moccasins for babies.
I think it’s sort of a status thing for moms, to take their babies out and about wearing little shoes that are about $60 and will fit for only a few months.
Imitations are everywhere, too, with that fringed ankle and everything.
Well, the Internet was abuzz not too long ago when the brand released a diaper bag, with much marketing, that was… not actually made of leather.
I remember one commenter on Facebook saying she would never spend so much for pleather, and from a company known for their leather goods.
As I recall, a rep replied carefully to explain why the material choice had been made.
Still, I’d have to agree. No thanks. After a few years, pleather tends to crack and peel, becoming worthless.
I saw how many moms were taking and posting pictures of these contraptions, little plastic seats called Bumbos, and saw them sold used for not too cheap at all on local buy, sell, trade groups online, and I am sure that there was a little while in which I was almost convinced that we needed one.
But then I didn’t totally understand the purpose, or how often we would really end up using the thing with our babies.
And, I mean, around $50 - $60 is not cheap!
A mom sharing at SheKnows.com said, “Am I the only parent who had a good experience with my Bumbo and still recommends it to all my friends? Apparently, yes.”
The thing is, as also reported on that site, the Bumbo is not recommended by experts and also not at all worth all that money, either, according to reviewers offering their two cents’ worth.
I had to have it. We had registered for and received (yay!) the matching quilt, other bedding, and wall hangings in the cutesy theme I had picked out for my first baby’s nursery.
Although it wasn’t crazy expensive or high end, it looked nice, and I liked the idea of having some of that classic matchy-mathcy stuff going on in there.
And I just couldn’t stop short of the musical mobile, cartoony woodland critters dancing happily around overhead at the twist of the wind-up knob…
I mean, it was in all the pictures with the rest of the set!
It sure looked cute while we were waiting for the baby to be born, and I liked looking lovingly at the matching set-up, but once I was actually a mom, I learned that you want your baby to associate the crib with quiet and sleep, and hopefully pretty soon being able to fall asleep on her own.
We only used it once or twice, as a toy, not for soothing night-time action, and then quickly had to remove and store it, as you can’t have anything hanging there once little ones can stand, reach, and grab.
The funny thing is that now, Amazon has the list price as about $75 whopping dollars, though with the current 20 percent markdown, it could be yours for more like 60 bucks.
But do you want something that one reviewer claims produced smoke?
SheKnows.com quoted a mother, Dawn Haddaway, from her review titled "Where there is smoke... There is UH-OH": "The 2-year-old is in the tub, and I am listening carefully as moms do. I hear the dreaded, 'SMOKE… Mommy, SMOKE.' Yes, this little number was smoking while hanging on the side of the tub." (Shouldn’t she have actually been in there while the kid was in the water, BTW?)
This was handed down to me, so I guess I can’t say I am upset about the money I spent on it or anything, but I will say that this particular product has some problems.
Maybe it’s just that it had already been used for a few years before it was passed down to us… but shouldn’t a toy last longer than that? Hmmm.
The Soft Chime Garden by Lamaze (Amazon.com) looks kind of fun, at first, and my two little ones certainly have had phases where they’re intrigued by it.
The problem? It’s a musical toy, with various settings that either play tunes constantly or make this or that chime when you move a flower around a bit.
After we’d turned the thing on only a few times, it got stuck in a terrible loop of playing the same (I can still hear it now in my head…) partial tune and then sounding like it sort of glitched out, over and over and over again…
Frustrating for them, annoying for me.
I love my Boppy pillows. I’m just gonna throw that out there, and no, nobody told me to; I’m just down to share any info that might help fellow mamas with breastfeeding success — and comfort.
Well, some moms don’t find the right one on the first try, apparently…
"I have to say that this pillow didn't really amaze me,” a reviewer shared. “I think it made the nursing process more difficult for me. Regular pillows were much more effective because I was able to prop little one up higher and closer to me. This pillow has a tendency to make you lean and slouch while nursing, which equals major discomfort and improper form."
This is another one I am glad that I didn’t actually spend my own money on. A friend handed it over when he knew I was expecting and his wife was getting rid of some of their baby gear as their kids started to grow older.
I was very appreciative to receive the cloth nursing cover at the time, which I’ve seen many moms with. It has a strap that fastens around the neck sort of like an apron.
I would need to cover up, as I’d be feeding in a shared office environment.
That, however, did not go well.
Right around the time I returned to work, my baby was 3 going on 4 months old, and that’s when she thought grabbing and waving fabric around was THE best.
So when I put the thing on, she thought it was play time, not feeding time.
When this rather expensive item (it looks like it currently retails for more than $70: Amazon.com) was handed down to our family, the generous giver said with a knowing look, “if you want it…”
Pianos are NOISY. And yeah, babies don’t actually know how to play pianos. And very small toy ones aren’t really even properly tuned.
Think loud, discordant fun for them, headaches for you.
I couldn’t bring myself to throw it away or otherwise get rid of the thing, so I’ve instead made it very clear that there are certain times that Mommy is NOT okay with the toddlers “playing” the piano.
Sure is cute, though.
I have never personally tried a high chair that hooks onto the edge of a table. Hmm, sounds a bit complicated. I’ve had stand-alone varieties, as well as a favorite very simple plastic one that you strap onto an existing dining room chair.
This one is by popular brand Chicco (I’ve had car seats and strollers by them that were just fine, especially the jogging stroller), selling at Amazon.com, apparently presented some safety concerns for one mom.
Of the $75 (according to SheKnows.com) seat, she wrote that after two months of use, during which she really liked it, “My 6-month-old daughter got her finger stuck in one of the three circular metal hoop tabs on the front of the seat. Thankfully, I didn't just grab her out of the seat when I noticed her screaming in pain…”
I was so excited, a lifelong musician of sorts myself, to get some little rhythm instruments for my baby to enjoy. She would explore sounds, movement, and more as she shook, rattled, and rolled with the tools at her disposal once she was gifted for Christmas her very own “Band in a Box,” by Melissa & Doug, which makes those classically cute and incredibly high-quality wooden toys.
What I hadn’t quite considered was that she would be getting it at that age during which toddlers take a lot of tumbles, and the box itself had such sharp corners that I almost immediately just stashed it away in the closet. I just knew a bad cut or small puncture wound would happen otherwise.
Also, though percussion is pleasant if you’re the one creating the sound, spectators have to be ready for quite the racket…
I have not always been one to carefully read the reviews before purchasing a product, but I guess I am more and more these days, the more people I have in my family to buy stuff for.
We try, generally, to get most of our toys as hand-me-downs. But every now and then, there’s something my little ones get super into that I wanted to buy new for them.
We were given a tiny, furry hedgehog toy that we were all enjoying, so I looked online (a birthday was coming up) until I found that it was a “Calico Critter,” a line of various tiny animals small enough to fit in your palm and great fun for imagination play.
And coming up in the search results were little play sets in which said tiny animals could fit! Super cute.
One $40 one with a bright cartoony toadstool really caught my eye (Amazon.com), but before I clicked to buy, I read the reviews.
Was it cute? Sure, reviewers said. But moms said, essentially, that if they had to hook that little swing back on one more time…
Some added not to be fooled, too: Standard Calico Critters wouldn’t fit, only a different “baby” variety.
Ah, the amber teething necklace. As I understand it, amber is that stuff, way-hardened tree sap, that the mosquito was suspended in during the start of the original Jurassic Park movie, from which they then extracted that “dino DNA.”
Well living in a town where moms buy this, that, and everything else for their babies and young kids, I’ve seen plenty of tiny tykes wearing these necklaces, with beads made from the natural material.
Quick question: Is that not a strangulation hazard? Also, how is this actually supposed to help with the teething process at all?
Moms I know have said that it doesn’t, but that they figured they might as well let their little ones wear the necklace since they already had it.
One currently available at Amazon.com for just under $20, as noted at SheKnows.com, inspired one reviewer to write, "…this necklace looks more like plastic beads… If it had actually come with the certificate of authenticity, as advertised, I would be more satisfied, but I purchased two necklaces, and none of them came with the certificate. Very upset and would return if I could."
Ah, the breast pump. It can be so essential… so frustrating… so very, very time-consuming.
But many of us end up spending quite a bit of time hooked up to one. I didn’t think I would, seeing as how I didn’t even bottle feed, but even I had to put in some serious pumping hours, to be sure, with both of my babes so far.
At SheKnows.com, it was noted that someone who had purchased and tried one particular pump wrote at Amazon.com, "Sucks and not the way it should! I'd have given it zero stars if I could. This thing is a piece of absolute junk. My pump died, and I bought this one to replace it. It worked for a total of four pumping sessions."
There’s about $40 - $50 not well spent!
Has anyone out there dappled in cloth diapering at all? Maybe you’ll appreciate the fervor with which one reviewer hated on some Gerber ones that are sold at Amazon.com in a pack of 10 that costs around $15…
A mom scoping out B.S. baby products at SheKnows.com described the reviewer as “irate.”
"NOT A DIAPER!!!" the customer wrote, giving the product one star. "IT SHOULD BE ILLEGAL TO CALL THIS A DIAPER. It was bought as a gift for my newborn great-grandson's parents, and when I saw it, I was ashamed of myself for buying it. It is of poor quality, just thin gauze, and I have no idea as to how it could be used," the reviewer fumed.
References: SheKnows.com, Amazon.com, this one mom-of-two's experience