What Is the Most Useless Baby Product of All?

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Not long after starting to raise a child (or three), you begin to realize that you don’t need a lot of the stuff baby stores try to convince parents to buy.

The marketing onslaught that new parents face is right up there with the wedding industrial machine targeting brides-to-be. The implicit (sometimes explicit) message presented is: How could you not do everything possible for your baby (or your marriage)? New parents are clueless and weak, easy prey to get suckered into buying even the silliest products that claim to make a baby safer or happier, or in any way make a parent’s job easier.

Veteran parents know better. Through trial and experience, they know what babies need and what they truly don’t need. With that in mind, I’ve rounded up some of the most useless baby products out there, along with comments from parents and parenting experts. The unofficial co-winners (meaning I found parents griping about them the most) are the Diaper Genie and the Wipe Warmer. The list also contains items you might not think of as useless, such as shoes—but how many babies do you know that walk? Some thoughts on these and other products that parents simply don’t need:

Crib Bedding Sets, via Christie Silvers:

You walk through the baby stores and there are many, many cute matching bed sets for your baby’s crib. They all come with the cute sheets, bumper pads, dust ruffles and comforter. Everything perfectly coordinated and just gorgeous. You spend a small fortune on your favorite one, only to see on television once you get home that you should not be using a bumper pad in your crib or cover your infant with the comforter. Both of these items can pose a suffucation hazard for little ones. So what’s the point in spending all of that money to buy a whole matching crib set when you can’t even use half of it?

The Zaky, via Babble:

The Zaky is a beanbag doll shaped like a forearm and hand that’s designed to cuddle with your baby when flesh and blood are not available. To make it seem more like a human limb, parents can warm the Zaky in a dryer and scent it by wrapping it around their own necks for several hours.

The Wipe Warmer, via Cheaper than Therapy:

um, yes, tell me again why this is necessary. are wipes really THAT cold?

Baby Powder, via Christie Silvers:

Baby powder is on every baby aisle. It smells good, it’s right next to the baby shampoo and you remember hearing your mother talking about putting powder on your little baby behind when you were and infant. So why is it a useless baby product when it seems like the natural thing to buy when shopping for baby supplies? Because it is recommended that parents do not use baby powder on their babies any longer. It’s easily inhaled by your little one if you use it, which can cause respiratory problems. Plus if you do use it on your baby’s bottom then it’s just going to get all clumpy and yucky as soon as they wet their diaper the first time. It’s best to stick to baby lotion and forget about the powder.

Steam Sterilizer, via Jackie L.:

At about $50, this is one of the most useless baby products ever. You might as well grab a $50 bill and light it on fire. Sure, you want your baby’s bottles and pacifiers to be clean, but do they need to be steam sterilized? Um, no. Have a dishwasher? How about a sink, Palmolive, and a hot water heater? Then you’re just fine. Take that $50 and buy a $3 bottle brush. Spend the remaining $47 on heavily caffeinated beverages — something you’ll actually need.

Pee-Pee Teepee, via From Here to Paternity:

So they (by “they,” I mean the evil baby product marketeers) have this product you can buy that looks like a little paper cone. They call it a Pee-Pee Teepee [1]. Its purpose is to prevent a warm stream of your son’s urine from shooting you in the eye like a cruel joke. The ones shown in the picture here are in the style of the “Wild West,” according to the company that makes them, as if this is the OK Corral and your only hope to prevent a gunfight (of pee) is to buy these.

Pee-Pee Teepees come in a pack of five for $12. We use something similar. It’s called a paper towel. You can get a roll of them for about a buck.

Diaper Genie, via Jackie L.:

They don’t keep the smell any better contained than regular trash cans — trust me. A regular diaper pail costs about $15 (not too much more than the cost of a regular trash can with a lid), and like most trash cans, it more or less keeps the diaper stench in- until you open the lid. Same with the Diaper Genie- but the Diaper Genie costs about $25, and the bag refills cost about $6 per refill cartridge. And the Diaper Genie isn’t a piece of cake to use- lots of unnecessary effort and expense, many will tell you. Instead, do what my daycare does: use the plastic grocery bags you paid nothing for, put each dirty diaper in one, tie it off, and drop it in the regular trash can. Take out your trash at least once daily. This works surprisingly well, and you won’t have to deal with cleaning out an absolutely wretchedly stinky diaper pail, ever.

Temperature Bath Ducky, via GrowingYourBaby.com:

This duck has a panel on the bottom that tells you if the water is too hot. We have 2 of these silly things. You do not need a duck to tell you the water is hot. If you put your hand in and it feels too warm than it probably is. The water needs to just be lukewarm.

Video Monitor, via FreeShipping.org:

Can we say 1984? We are spied on enough in the day and age; give the baby a break. I understand how nerve-racking it can be to bring home your first little bundle and to be hyper-concerned about her health those first few days. However, a video monitor will only increase your lack of sleep and make you even more of a basket-case those first long week.

Shopping-Cart Cover, via Consumer Reports:

There is no evidence that they reduce the incidence of colds and flu, and getting sick when you’re a kid is part of the job description.

Shoes, via From Here to Paternity:

Is your baby walking?

“No, but he looks soooo cute in those shoes.”

That’s true. Maybe you should strap a pair of Speedo goggles on his face and stick a Wilson glove on his hand. After all, he doesn’t know how to swim or play baseball yet, but gosh darn, he looks so cute when he’s wearing them. Or maybe you can just carry your baby around without any shoes, just like you would carry your baby around with shoes.

So what products and purchases do you really need when baby comes? Read here.