/ Parenting, Shopping

The baby products parents wish they hadn’t purchased

Baby asleep in sling

We’ve all bought products and gadgets we found we didn’t need, but the baby market can be particularly hard to fathom. We asked parents what they’ve found most – and least – useful. Do you agree with what they said?

As a mum of a two year old with another baby on the way, I was very keen to hear the results of our survey into which baby products parents think are most – and least – useful. And I was very surprised to read the results.

Some I’d definitely agree with. For example, not only will your little one look cute in a baby sleeping bag (the second-most useful product listed), but unlike blankets they can’t kick the bag off so won’t wake you up because they feel cold.

And I’ve no idea why you’d need a nappy stacker, the second in our list of products parents could live without, or even how it works.

‘Marmite’ baby products

But others were more controversial. Some mums I knew swore by their fabric baby slings (number one product parents didn’t need) – whereas others swore at them as they found them to be uncomfortable.

And the Bumbo, a plastic seat that helps younger babies to sit up, used to get me five minutes of peace a day, yet it came fifth in the least useful category. Five minutes may not sound like much, but if you have a very demanding baby then every second counts towards keeping you sane.

Some results I simply disagree with. Who on earth thinks you can do without a nightlight? If you’re getting up several times a night to feed the baby, not only does it stop you stubbing your toe on the cot, but it saves you turning on the main light – which will instantly make your little one think it’s morning and time to get up.

What baby purchases could you live without?

One thing was clear though – for every item that made it on to the ‘didn’t need’ list there are likely to be hoards of aggrieved parents who think they’ve wasted their money. Having a baby isn’t cheap so every penny counts, but there’s a whole market of stuff out there that we’re being told we can’t live without. How do we decide what’s worth splashing our cash on?

The most useless things I’ve seen are baby changing tables (surely the floor, a chest of drawers or a table will do?) and a device that heats up babywipes. Unless you’re storing your wipes in the freezer, then I hardly think your baby will complain if its wipes aren’t toasty warm.

Do you think there are any baby products that seem to exist just to make money? And do you agree with what the parents in our survey have told us?

Don’t miss the chance to chat with our baby product experts LIVE on 14 April – we’re offering Which? members advice and recommendations on essential baby items. Visit which.co.uk/babylive to sign up for an event email reminder – and send us your questions in advance to live@which.co.uk.

Shelley Green says:
28 March 2011

I don’t like reins. I always felt the ‘leash’ was much too short (might as well just hold their hand). I’d like to have some that were expandable like the ones for dogs (not that I see my children as animals… the resemblance is mere coincidence).
9 minutes ago · Like

Lynley says:
28 March 2011

Brilliant article. I was a total sucker! I bought just about every baby gadget or gizmo going. Now I look back and think, what on earth was I on?

The Bjorn baby carrier was brilliant. I used the moses basket but really didn’t need to. Likewise I bought one of the BabyCook things that defrosts, steams and blends. I used it (who wouldn’t for £80) but really did I need it? Another waste of cash was the steam steriliser. Just get one you can pop in the microwave. Reigns were pointless, they didn’t work and I hated using them.

I bought those trays of cube things for freezing weaning food in. Why????

I thought I was being clever getting a changing table that converted into a set of drawers from Ikea, and really it is lovely. But I’ve never used it for anything other than a set of drawers.

The Bumbo was my biggest mistake. My daughter barely sat i it – however, it held its value well and ws sold on at an NCT sale for £15. Best purchase was easily the backpack we bought for walking and also a sling I had when my daughter was very small. Anything that keeps your hands free during those early stages is a real bonus;)
Gina Ford’s Contented Baby book can only bring stress to a new parent – no-one could ever achieve that level of control over a newborn child although I found the Baby Whisperer was very good.

Charlotte says:
2 August 2011

I just got the bumbo with a little tray and am hoping to use it in the centre of our (admittedly very large) table as a budget alternative to a high chair. Is this wishful thinking mums? We like using it for baths, so it seemed like a good idea… I’ve been using my sister’s highchair until now but she needs it back for her new baby and I’m reluctant to spend the money for a short use… My little one is not a lurcher but I see that’s an issue.

I agree about the Bumbo – my daughter managed to flip herself out of it and fall of the table (yes, i know I shouldn’t have put there in the first place!) – never used it again.

Like Lynley, I also fell for the baby weaning pots – which are basically just tiny tubs – completely useless once they start eating bigger portions!

I was given a baby monitor but used it once and found it made me more paranoid so it stayed in the cupboard and I relied on my ears instead!

Agree that baby sleeping bags and changing bags are both very good buys and I also used my travel cot a lot – it’s still handy when friends with babies come to stay.

Ulla says:
30 April 2011

Actually, I have to say that most of the most useless items are actually quite important in our household. the nappy stacker is brilliant if you use reuseable, washable nappies to tidy them up all in one place, but I agree that if you use disposables nobody would find the time taking these out of the plastic bags and putting them into a nappy stacker jut because it looks a little bit tidier.
I am still finding the Bumbo seat brilliant for my little one to learn to sit upright and train his muscles and play in it.. Babies only seem to use it for a very short time though but I find it invaluable for that very short time.
And the door bouncer he just loves but I am just starting to use it now in between learning to sit and walk at 8 months. The fabric sling has the big disadvantage that you just need to spend time on learning how to use it, and then my little one does not like to ave his legs spread apart for sitting on my back, The baby carrier Baby Bjoern is very good and gives us real close- and cuddleness and the little one the feeling of being safe and secure, he never cries in it when we go out, as we do the attachment parenting.
My pram however was the worst buy, as it did not fold flat and now that he is sitting up he is unable to properly sit in it either but seems to slide around in it a lot.
As the little one sleeps in our bed the cot and the sleeping bags have been pretty useless so far, too. Advantage though is that we always have a good night sleep for at least 8- 10 hours daily, and in my opinion its more natural for the babies to sleep cuddled up with us.
The baby feeding essentials, like freezer trays, are also pretty useless in our household as we do the baby-led weaning.

Just being nosy – what pushchair did you buy?

mmg1789 says:
18 May 2012

this kind of article always makes me realise how different i am to most parents, whereas i consider myself quite normal! i agree with ulla – lots of the items on the “most useful” list i found useless (you don’t need a steriliser when you breastfeed and you don’t need a monitor in a little london house)! i also loved a lot of the items on the ‘most useless’ list, including my sling, my baby carrier the nappy stacker (for cloth nappies). i do love my buggy – it’s useful when the older child is very tired at the end of the day or it’s very cold/raining or for the younger one to have a nap when we’re out and about, but i always carry my baby in a carrier when she’s awake! so much more interactive!

jackie says:
11 November 2012

i have four children ranging in age from 3 months to 16 years, and each of them loved to spend time on their play/gym mat, they all loved their cot mirrors and cot mobiles also, these things kept them happily entertained while i got other things done. for my youngest we have been given a graco entertainer, 3 of my friends have used some version of these , 2 found them the best buy they made, and bought them again as they had other kids and the old one had been worn out. my 3rd friend said her daughter just didnt take to it, so she gave it to me. my daughter is a little young for it yet but i put her in while holding her to see if shed like it and she got so excited that i cant wait to let her in it properly. i never used my baby sling, thing was more hassle than it was worth and i was afraid id fall with baby in my arms, so i didnt feel safe either. my babys got plenty of cuddle time at home, so i didnt feel they were missing out on bonding, i used bouncers instead of the bumbo seat, much better, and i use steam steriliser that works in 3 mins, its invaluable, even if youre breast feeding you will need a steriliser at some stage. ive tried and bought everything through the years,and ended up using a smalll percentage of what is deemed “essential”, its really worth taking time to think what youll actually need before buying, on our fourth baby, we had it fine tuned and borrowed what we could, hope it helps ! sometimes a moses basket is a good buy too, but yoou pnly use it for a short time so borrow if you can