If you’re expecting a baby and you feel like your to-do list is a mile long, we have some very helpful news for you. Ready? Skip the baby nursery. No, we’re not kidding. Just skip it. Don’t decorate the room, and don’t buy all that baby stuff.
For starters, consider that the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that infants share their parents’ bedroom for at least the first six months—ideally, for the first year. And here’s another big truth: Tiny infants don’t need a big ol’ room all to themselves, let alone one that’s been decorated top to bottom.
We know most of you are going to decorate up the wazoo anyway. But in case even some small part of our entreaty hits home, ponder these common nursery items listed below that you can totally skip. Trust us (or at least trust the three pediatricians we spoke with)—you’ll be glad you saved the time and pocketed the cash instead.
Brace yourself, pregnant mamas. The baby registry stores are going to try to sell you all of their adorable bedding sets. So cute! But all a baby really needs in the crib is a fitted sheet and something warm to sleep in. For crib safety, blankets, crib bumpers, pillows, and soft toys are not recommended.
Dr. Charles I. Shubin of Mercy Medical Center in Baltimore reiterates this warning about bedding for babies: “Crib bumpers, stuffed animals, blankets, and pillows for the baby’s crib are not only unnecessary but dangerous!”
Down, down, down the rabbit hole of nursery decor we go. Companies are eager to sell you everything you never needed for baby’s room, from nursery lamps and decorative pillows to night lights and wall clocks. Seriously, people? Babies can’t tell time! Keep moving past this section—because if you buy even a single woodland creature light switch cover, you’re going to have to buy the matching mobile. It’s a trap.
We’re not saying you’re not going to need a place to change baby. We’re just saying you don’t need a separate piece of furniture on which to do so.
“Honestly, having a changing table can be more dangerous since it provides a nice high surface for a baby to tumble off,” says Dr. Julia Michie Bruckner, instructor of pediatrics at the University of Colorado School of Medicine.
You can change baby on a bed, on the floor, on the couch, even by the shore. You get where we’re going with this, right? Instead of a full-size changing table, buy a comfy, contoured changing pad you can use anywhere—or a few wipe-clean, fold-up changing pads you can keep around the place.
Fancy diaper disposal system
There used to be diaper pails. Now there are elite diaper “systems,” complete with special bags. No one needs an elite system to do away with dirty diapers. No one. A garbage pail with a lid can work. Or make it even simpler: Each and every day just walk the pee diapers outside to the garbage can once you have a few—or whenever there’s a doozy one that simply must go out.
“It’s important to change [any diaper pail] frequently to reduce the spread of bacteria that can be spread through poop. Urine is usually sterile so that is less concerning,” Bruckner says. “A nice shake of baking soda in the bottom of the can helps reduce odors. [Odors are] just bothersome, not a health risk.”
Sweet, little woven bassinets are irresistible. They’re like tiny baby cocoons made of seagrass or woven palm leaf. Sometimes they’re called “Moses baskets,” to tempt you to buy one. Here’s the thing, though. Bassinets are not cheap, and babies fit in one for only a few short months—and some babies may refuse to sleep in them.
Bruckner also warns that “many bassinets are actually unsafe sleep surfaces—they have fluffy bumpers, soft bedding, or ruffled covers that can block a baby’s airway.” So go ahead and step away from the cute bassinet.
Fancy baby monitor
Baby monitors come with all kinds of bells and whistles: video coverage, lullabies, temperature readers, talk-back features, etc. Unless you have an east/west wing situation going on at your palace, you just don’t need all this hoopla. In fact, depending on the size of your house, you may not need a baby monitor at all. Even for houses with multiple stories, a simple, affordable audio monitor that alerts you when baby is awake after a nap is just fine.
Of course, all the baby registries will have you feeling apprehensive about forgoing the baby monitor. Bruckner assures us, however, there are no health risks caused by the absence of a baby monitor.
“Teething toys are not necessary,” says Dr. Lisa Lewis of Kid Care Pediatrics in Fort Worth, TX. “A baby will be happy chewing on any object that is not a choking hazard.”
And they certainly don’t need “educational” toys for quite a while. Of course, we’d never know this by the aisles and aisles of baby block sets and piles of plush toys in the stores. Honestly, though, most little ones are happy playing with a spoon and bowl and teething on a burp cloth for a good long time, so don’t rush to fill your home with baby toys. The time will come soon enough.
Top and tail bowls
Top and tail bowls—essentially a dish with two compartments where you can place warm water to wash baby’s “top” (head) and “tail” (bottom)—are the must-have baby item of the moment. But we’re here to tell you that you don’t need one.
“These are silly,” Bruckner says.
If you need to wipe down baby’s face and bottom on a nonbath day, any clean bowls in the house will work. You do not need a designated bowl for this. Unless you’re planning on getting a dog next. In that case, that top and tail bowl might make a good dog dish.
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