I Can't Believe I Wasted Money on These Baby "Must Haves"
When I was in my third trimester, I found myself in my nesting phase and scrolling around Taobao for baby gadgets that "I just needed to have." I ended up buying so much stuff for the baby — clothes, electronics, you name it — that I never even ended up using.
So, without further ado, here are the top useless "baby essentials" that I purchased, used and regretted wasting my money on.
I follow a few mommy bloggers on Douyin and when one of them recommended this product, I thought it was genius. This is essentially a waterproof pad with a little plate and cutlery printed on it. It sticks to the table and you can put food on it for your kid while you are out at a restaurant.
Why it sucked: Let's not even go into how it's a complete waste of plastic and that I was contributing to more waste for no reason at all. The stickies on the bottoms aren't that sticky and babies can easily rip the mats off the table. Then there's the fact that when you're at a restaurant, most baby chairs come with a table attached to them and these mats are too big for them. So if you're really interested in a placement to take around town with you, there's a reusable silicone alternative that does the trick just as well. This also goes for single-use bibs.
Mini Dumpling Molds
These make the cutest little dumplings and are pretty simple to use. They're essentially tiny cookie cutters meant for making dumplings for babies when they're first introduced to food.
Why it sucked: We used it about three or four times because it quickly became clear that simply making the dumplings a little bit smaller was a much more efficient alternative.
When I was pregnant, every Pinterest baby room had one of these in it so I got one too. What's a diaper pail? It's essentially a trashcan for diapers. They're designed to trap the smell better than a regular trash can and they're expensive! Mine cost a whopping RMB300 just so I could have something to hold my baby's shit...
Why it sucked: Some brands of diaper pails use trash bags that are specifically designed for them. So not only do you spend a lot of money on a trash can, you need to keep spending money on the bags. And babies go through a lot of diapers... The amount of plastic waste you generate is quite intense.
Another issue: since the bin only holds diapers and you empty it when it's full, then said emptying might not happen every day. If left unattended, the smell could knock you out when you finally decide to empty it. I retired mine a couple of months ago but it didn't occur to me to mention it to my husband who continued to use it and didn't realize that it wasn't being emptied.
They really do trap the smell really well. When I finally got around to tossing my diaper pail out I found it surprisingly heavy. I opened it and my eyes instantly started to water. Do you know what a two month old diaper smells like? Unfortunately, I do... Gross!
Suction Toys for High Chairs
These were another thing I bought because the mommy bloggers on Douyin made it look awesome. A little silicone teething toy that sticks to the high chair table and will keep my baby entertained while I eat? Shut up and take my money!
Why it sucked: On Douyin, every mommy blogger made a point to tug on these suction toys to show how strong they are. But it doesn't work like that in real life. Adults pull up because we're tall and that's what's most natural to us. A sitting baby will pull this thing toward them and that's exactly how you get a suction toy to release itself from the surface. So while parents have a hard time pulling this thing off the table, it's no trouble at all for babies.
Portable Food Blender
I don't even know what I was thinking when I bought this. I thought it would be a convenient gadget to take around to chop up food for my daughter to eat in restaurants.
Why it sucked: Not only are these portable food blenders difficult to clean, they also take up unnecessary space in your bag. I used mine exactly twice before it was retired. A knife or a pair of food scissors will do the exact same thing for less money and less space.
Diaper Changing Pad
These looked like a must-have necessity when my daughter was tiny and to be fair, there are plenty of moms who use them and love them.
Why it sucked: It took up way too much space in my bag and I found that a Ziploc bag with disposable pads and diapers worked just as well.
Reusable Food Bags
This final entry is actually the opposite of a useless baby gadget. It's a must-have that I wish more parents would adopt using!
My daughter loves her yogurt and purees, but each time she snacks on one I can't help but be bothered by how much plastic waste it's contributing to the environment. Most baby food pouches are convenient for babies but the hard plastic top will take hundreds of years to biodegrade. So, instead of single-use purees and yogurts, I found these reusable food pouches on Taobao. They're a bit more of a hassle to clean and sanitize each time, but knowing that my kid can snack without me feeling the environmental guilt is worth the extra two minutes of cleaning.
Images: Mina Yan, Taobao