While cute, a fancy crib bedding set that comes with coordinating sheets, a comforter, a crib skirt, and a bumper pad isn't necessary. Not only can these sets be pricey, but the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends against using any sort of soft bedding in a baby's crib. Soft materials such as blankets and bumper pads have been tied to an increased risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, or SIDS. Instead, opt for a few fitted sheets and several sleep sacks for comfort and safety.
Changing tables can be convenient but are outgrown quickly and take up valuable floor space. Moms and dads can change a baby anywhere there are diapers, wipes, and a changing pad handy. Another alternative a baby won't outgrow is a solid dresser, where a changing pad can be secured.
While some moms feel more comfortable breastfeeding with a nursing cover, there is no need to buy a specialty product. A lightweight blanket can allow the same discretion for far less money.
Most bassinets are adorable, but they're useful for only those few months before a baby can turn over, and even inexpensive models run $65 or more. Instead, get a portable play yard that includes a bassinet insert, which typically costs $80 or more but can be used for several years. When the child outgrows the bassinet insert, the portable play yard is still a perfect spot for an older baby or toddler.
A plain Boppy costs about $30, and a cute cover tacks on another $10 for a specialty item nursing moms really don't need. While the popular nursing pillows do get some excellent reviews and many women swear by them, the pillows you already have at home can provide extra support for breastfeeding.
Commercially available bottle sterilizers range in price from $15 to $70, but they're unnecessary at any price. Parents can sterilize bottle pieces and parts in water boiled in a pot on the stove.
A Diaper Genie typically costs about $35, plus the additional cost of bag refills, but this is not a nursery must-have. For parents who take out the trash every day or so, a regular trash can with a cover does the job. Worried about the smell? Solid waste can be flushed down a toilet (yes, even disposable diapers can be treated this way), and even putting the can in the corner of the room or closing it in a cupboard can make smell a non-issue.
Specialty baby food makers cost anywhere from about $30 to $200 for an elaborate model that steams, blends, warms, and defrosts. Rather than bring another small appliance into the kitchen, use a blender, food processor, or even just a fork to reduce food to a puree or easier-to-gum consistency.
Diaper stackers that match the baby's nursery certainly look cute, but they can be a pain to use, and parents often report in online reviews that the diaper stackers sold at large retailers seem to be made from cheap fabric. Save money by storing diapers in a basket or a drawer instead.
Some parents are drawn to special laundry detergent that has been designed for infants, which can be more than double the price of a standard "free and clear" version of a family's favorite. Target charges $20 for 150 ounces of Dreft newborn detergent, for example, compared with $10 for a 141-ounce container of All Free Clear. Both detergents bypass the perfumes and additives that can irritate newborn skin. (Also, remember to skip traditional fabric softener -- it can remove the fire resistance from the flame-retardant fabrics used in some children's clothing.)
Instead of dropping $150 on a device to heat, measure, and mix a bottle of formula, parents can prepare bottles the old-fashioned way -- by following the instructions on the package. A little effort can save a bundle.
Modern diaper bags can be chic but expensive. With a backpack or bag large enough to hold a few diapers, a portable wipe container, a change of baby clothes, and a snack, who needs a special diaper bag?
Many parents find that the store-brand counterparts to brand-name disposable diapers work just as well and can save a lot of cash. For example, an 88-count package of size 3 Huggies runs about $24 at Target, while nearly double that number -- 160 diapers of the same size -- costs just $22 for Target's Up & Up brand.