Consumer IQ

The Best and Worst Baby Buys: 12 Months Later

baby money

I gave bad advice. I’ll admit it. Back in 2011, before my daughter Lucy was born, it was easy to dismiss popular baby gear as money traps, even recommendations from veteran moms.

While friends shared their truly “essential” baby items, I smiled politely and inwardly scoffed. Ha! There’s no way I’ll buy all that stuff.

Fast forward a year and guess what my house is filled with?

Stuff. Lots and lots of baby stuff. Uh, I mean educational toys and other baby essentials.

So folks, I’m fessing up. Here’s a scorecard of where I messed up, and where I was on target.

Baby perfume

What I said: Spritz Burberry Baby Touch eau de toilette on your infant and she won’t scare friends and family away with her dirty diapers. Amazon sells a 3.3 ounce bottle for $31.90.

Scorecard: Wrong. I mocked expensive baby perfume, but I was wrong about the potential for cloth diapers to stink.

I thought a diaper sprayer and a soapy bucket would eliminate all odors, but when you walk into our bathroom, there is no mistaking the stench. It could definitely use a little spritz.

However, I’m in the market for something cheaper than Burberry.

Extra car seat base

What I said: We would be jetting around so frequently with the baby we’d need to snap her safely into both cars.

Scorecard: Wrong. Lucy was a big baby and put on the pounds quickly, so squeezing her in and out of the Mini became such a chore that we stuck to our bigger car whenever she came with us.

Infrared baby monitors

What I said:  You can figure out from a standard baby monitor – or even your own ears – if your infant is asleep, safe and sound.

Scorecard: Right…mostly. Our audio-only baby monitor served us just fine. We learned to differentiate our baby’s cries, from escalating screams for help, to quieting fusses that were the precursor to sleep.

However, last week at a friend’s house I played with her wireless infrared video monitor and it was awesome!

My husband and I ignored the conversation and stared, awestruck at our baby sleeping upstairs. You can even zoom in on the baby.

Baby food processors

What I said: If you already have a food processor, no need to spend money on a pint-sized one. If you don’t own a food processor, buy a real one that you can use for years.

Scorecard: Right, with one caveat. I made Lucy’s baby food with our plain old (very old) Oster blender, saving us $438 per year. But I purchased small plastic containers to freeze the food in baby-sized portions.

The containers cost about $20 – a hidden cost of making your own baby food. Lucy started eating adult food (with minor exceptions) at 10 months, so I’m glad I didn’t invest in a specialized baby blender.

Hopefully, I’ll get more use out of the containers with baby No. 2.

Glider chair with footrest

What I said: I couldn’t believe how many glider chairs were for sale on Craigslist. Brand new ones start at $250 and I have seen them priced in catalogs for upwards of $600.

With the plethora of used listings on the Internet, I was able to wait until I found a quality one for just $35.

Scorecard: Wrong. The used baby glider I paid $35 for turned out to be uncomfortable. When you’re nursing a baby 12 times a day for 40 minutes each time, that’s eight hours a day of discomfort!

We padded the chair with several pillows and blankets, which helped make it more comfortable, but I advise against buying a cheap glider.

And now I either have to buy a new glider, or take mine to a seamstress for new cushions.

Christmas presents

What I said (from a post on raising an anti-consumerism): My own savvy-spending sense dictates that an infant who cannot recognize its own thumb has no need for presents — unless you count an empty box or a wooden spoon as a present.

Scorecard: Wrong. There are currently five presents under the Christmas tree for Lucy. I just couldn’t resist. Her joy is my joy. If you’re a parent, you know exactly what I mean.

Julia Scott founded the money-saving coupon blog, BargainBabe.com.