Truly, I must admit, a lot of this comes from personal experience. See, a handful of years ago now, I was eagerly expecting my first baby, on a seriously tight budget. But it felt like the right time, and it seemed that it was this way or no way, and so we bravely embarked on that journey called parenthood.
I told myself I would — I HAD to — do everything as frugally as possible. All of the baby’s clothes would be handed down from family and friends who had started their families before us. If it wasn’t a product that was absolutely vital, our hard-earned cash would not be shelled out for it; nor would the precious little space in our small home be given over to it.
And still — STILL — this thing can happen where new moms find themselves fairly obsessed with providing the very best of everything for their babies, and for themselves as they navigate the brave new world of being a mommy for the very first time.
Like, swear: I had never once used Amazon until I became a parent. That’s when ordering stuff I felt that I desperately needed online in the middle of the night (while nursing a newborn) felt absolutely necessary.
And so, here we have it, from the frugal to the frivolous, the outdated to the extravagant: It’s 2019, and here are 20 things U.S. moms are still wasting their money on.
Did anyone else get a bit swept up in that whole baby moccasin craze that began a few years back now? Although you can now find knock-offs everywhere, from the big-box store down the street to the adorable baby boutique downtown, it was the brand Freshly Picked that really (ahem) picked up on the ready and willing consumer group of young moms out there super ready and willing to pay as much (or more) than they would for their own shoes for a somewhat flimsy pair of soft-soled leather mocs — before their baby was even old enough to stand or walk on their own.
You know that thing where if it wasn’t posted to social media, it didn’t really happen? Even in this day of high-quality cameras on every smartphone, still — STILL — it seems that many believe that the only way to really be pregnant or have babies is to dress up in a flowing sheer gown you would never normally wear, go stand in a field, and pay someone hundreds of dollars to take pictures of you doing it. But it’s not so you have keepsake prints for the family hearth or album. It’s so you can post said pics for everyone you know to be totally jelly of. Am I wrong?
When I was shopping for my own first baby’s bedding a few years ago now, the set including the linens and decorations and so based on that, I decided I also wanted a crib bumper. Because it was included in the marketing pictures for the set, I thought for a moment that it was probably something that I needed to have — to complete the set, of course.
Oh wait, NO: Crib bumpers are a thing of the past. The American Academy of Pediatrics, which you’ll commonly see referred to as “the AAP,” states that “crib bumpers contribute to an unsafe sleep environment for infants and should be banned.”
Oh, shopping in grocery stores. So many enticing and colorful packages! So many claims about how great the products in mass-produced boxes, cans, and canisters are for you and your precious family.
And if you walk down the baby aisle, or look around at the moms in your own life, you may notice a few things I’d personally call baby junk food still commonly being consumed. You know those rice wafers marketed toward babies who are teething or just learning to eat solids? The ones that easily dissolve in the mouth? They come in small boxes, each containing a bunch of individual packets that contain only two surfboard-shaped crackers each. That’s a lot of trash.
And, ever checked the sugar content on those “cereal puffs”?
I guess it was that I had gotten used to seeing them when I was growing up. You know what I mean: The classic ones were yellow and looked like small cartoonish version of road signs, which could be suction-cupped to the rear window of your family car.
I even went in search of one, myself, when I was pregnant, somehow hoping that posting a small sign that said “baby on board” would make all those crazy drivers out there treat me with a little more care and consideration.
It was the opposite: The seemed to think, “Oh, so you’re going to drive really slow? That means I should whiz around and dangerously pass you.”
I didn’t buy one, but I was handed down one, and I readily accepted it. The ones that have remained fairly common have adjustable neck straps that function sort of like the necks of adjustable kitchen aprons. Then there’s a piece of patterned fabric that can be draped down over your chest and a nursing little baby.
Now, whether or not someone wants to attempt this type of cover is purely personal preference. The times that I tried it, I was working in a shared office where, well, let’s just say there was some extreme pressure to not feel free to just do what worked as far as breastfeeding.
The problem? Once baby was 3 months old, that patterned cover became a distraction from feeding.
Name brand ones are everywhere. They come in bold and trendy patterns, and sometimes you can buy matching wallets, nursing covers, handbags, and beyond. I told myself I’d surely be able to use one of the many large totes already collecting dust in my closet, but then, as the pregnancy progressed, I felt the need to have at least one specialized, trendy diaper bag. Would a backpack work? Yep. And a roomy tote or handbag? Sure, that’d do it. But it seems like the name-brand diaper bag is one statement that’s getting maybe even more important to moms than ever.
I don’t think a month has gone by during my handful of years as a mom so far in which at least one story about the bad ingredients potentially found in mass-produced name-brand baby food hasn’t come by in my social media feed. But they are still making it, and moms are still buying it. Even in a community where fresh, local, and environmentally friendly were pretty much invented and are still clear markers of status, privilege, and assumed intelligence, even, moms all around are busting out the jarred stuff in those early months of staring “solids” — because it’s just so easy.
From bulk boxes of the things at Costco to plenty pricey pouches on the shelves of your local “health food” store, plastic or foil packets of mushy baby food with a little built-in straw at the top certainly don’t seem to be going anywhere any times soon.
There are pouches of apple sauce or other fruits and veggies. Some even replicate more closely that mushy stuff commonly sold in tiny little jars, with meats and other foods on the ingredients list.
Throw it in the diaper bag, hand it to your kid, and call it a meal… or something…
Okay, so the idea of having your baby resting in a separate room is to give you both that time apart, right? The little one learns to drift off to dreamland on their own, and the mom gets to rest or get something done or hey, maybe even get some sleep herself, right?
If there’s a (in many cases high-tech, video, and audio) baby monitor placed where the baby is for the parents to keep careful watch with wherever they happen to be in the home, is that sort of going against the whole point of the set-up? Maybe I just don’t get it because our home is so small that I would never need a special device to hear that baby needed assistance.
TV, movies, games, and screen time, in general, are surely a common part of modern life, more and more so now than ever before. And yet, with all the subscriptions and streaming and Internet options upon options out there, I know for a fact that many moms still rely on cable to fill what they have decided are their family’s current entertainment needs.
Hey, whatever works for your family works. I’m just saying, maybe it’s not worth spending hundreds each and every month on having yet another way of sitting and staring at a screen, or allowing your kids to do so…
Yeah… we still live in a society that pretty much insists on producing just a ton of waste. Never has this come quite so clearly into focus for me as since I became a mom. For each and every age and stage of development, it seems that there’s like a set collection of stuff that many moms feel that they almost NEED to have for their precious little loves. Everyone else in their feed is doing it…
To name a few: the “activity” mat, the Jumperoo, the stuffed dog that sings and says rhymes when you squeeze its paws or poke its tummy, the tiny colorful scooter, the balance bike, the play house, the garish plastic slide… Maybe consider the thrift store for some of it?
A teething baby can bring up a whole new set of challenges for a new mom. That awesome sleep routine you finally established? Yeah, not so much… Mommy’s good little eater? Good luck with feeling like any amount of real eating is happening anymore in that high chair. But I think buying Sophie the Giraffe as a teething toy for your baby means more for most parents than simply offering comforting relief as teeth sprout in. I think we love it because everyone else has it. I think we adore it because it’s just so French! I think the fact that it costs as much as a really nice bottle of grown-up grape juice makes us feel that much fancier.
We grew up going through this ritual: Hair is combed just a little more carefully that day. Maybe there’s a garish bow placed around your half-pony, or even a tie clipped to the collar of your little plaid button-up shirt. You’re told to sit and smile, and so you awkwardly do, and then your parents pay a pretty penny to receive an envelope full of prints of you doing this in various sizes and backgrounds.
It’s school picture day, and if you think I or any of the fellow modern moms I know are about to miss the chance to do the same for our own kiddos, you are sorely mistaken. (And yes, we have thousands of pictures of them on our phones already.)
Sure, there are free story times at the local library many days of the week. And yeah, you could gather a group of gal pals and give your babies an empty milk jug with some beans sealed inside to shake around in a joyous jubilee. But a very high percentage of moms I’ve witnessed still feel completely compelled to shell out hundreds in the early years in order to attend (or instruct the nanny to attend) with their babies specialized baby “classes.” They are marketed as teaching music and movement, as aiding in development in this way and that. But is the real goal to show that it’s just how fancy-pants you are? Also, consider baby yoga or Spanish classes.
It depends on the lifestyle you lead, but I’ve noticed that while moms certainly can make do with two or more babies or young children by carrying or “wearing” them or letting them walk, a large crowd quite predictably uses one certain long-lived and exorbitantly priced brand of high-end jogging stroller — even though they have never once gone running with their babies.
Massive BOBs with bicycle tires, cupholders, and built-in suspension cart kids casually around the marketplace. Contraptions that can turn on a dime and withstand serious miles of intense adult exercise are purchased for hundreds (or even thousands) for simple strolls to the park.
The huge, garish hair bows of the ‘80s and ‘90s: Remember those things? Well look around at the most Pinterest-obsessed young mommies in your life, and of those who have baby girls, is there one who hasn’t at one point or another posted a handful of pics of that little love wearing a stretchy headband with a MASSIVE bow or flower front and center on the forehead?
You can pay $20, $30, even closer to $50 for a name-brand one, if you really want to. There’s just something about those big ole bows that has moms saying, “Yeah, we NEED one of those for every day of the week.”
Can you name pretty much everyone in your high school class who has gotten married and/or had a baby? Thanks (or not?) social media, for that one. And yet, with more and more huge design-your-own-stationary companies and apps online, many life events are still shared with a wide circle of friends and acquaintances via the old-school paper announcement.
The newborn baby cradled awkwardly in crisscrossed hands while sleeping? That’s a must. Wrapped up in a fuzzy blanket or sack and snoozing rump-up in a basket or wheelbarrow? Even better. And don’t forget to include the exact measurements at birth and the hour and minute at which the baby was born. That’s important.
HAD to have the matching cutesy quilt for the first baby’s nursery set. I mean, the pictures on the product’s site included the window treatments, the wall hangings, the sheet set, the diaper storage bag, and the changing pad cover, and I wasn’t about to drop the ball by not registering for the matching blanket, as well. Then, you’ve gotta hang it perfectly over the edge of the crib, and take pictures of it in the flatteringly soft morning light. And then post those pictures online. Duh!
Yeah, sure things like loose blankets aren’t safe for use until the baby is much older (so says Mayo Clinic and many other reputable sources), but still…
You know what? If you’re gonna waste your hard-earned mom money on just one thing in this silly little list, maybe it should be this: an entire library of sweet little board books for your baby’s nursery. Sure, you could easily borrow an entire new shelf full every week — for FREE — from your local library, but believe me, I understand that things like due dates and sticky covers aren’t nearly as nice as having pristine copies of the classics for your baby to flip through over and over and over again. And reading together truly is very important, even from the youngest age, so perhaps this is one splurge that’s sort of worth it. Plus, they might get chewed on.