Two words: college fund.
So you're pregnant - congratulations! You probably just can't wait to hit the shops and start stocking up on all those items that everyone tells you are must-haves once your little one is born.
Teeny-tiny socks to keep miniscule digits warm, a state-of-the-art stroller that has a vibrating pad which lulls your baby to sleep... oh, there are so many 'essentials' that just shout at parents-to-be, "pick me! pick ME!".
But here's the thing. Babies need just a few things to flourish and thrive (the main two being your love forever, and breasts initially).
I spoke to some experienced parents and together, we identified the following baby products as being both a waste of your money and a waste of your physical space when you just don't find yourself using them:
1. Fancy feeding chairs
They are ergonomically designed, well-padded, have wheels, brakes and designer bamboo-silk covers... and are a complete waste of money and space (I learned this the hard way with my first child).
Babies, when they start eating solids, have absolutely no table manners. Food will be splattered and smeared on every imaginable surface (hair, skin, floor, dog, ceiling...) with the feeding chair of course not being spared.
Those plush, padded surfaces covered with delicate fabric will be tinged with food and un-removable stinky stains in a flash. Soon, your bright, shiny and very expensive feeding chair will be drab, smelly and probably unused as you turn to more practical ways of feeding your child.
Alternative: Go for an inexpensive, easy-to-clean, no-frills feeding chair. Mums around the world love the ANTILOP high chair by IKEA. It has safety straps, a detachable tray and can be easily shifted around the house (it's really light).
It can also be hosed clean (with or without baby in it, up to you).
2. Too many newborn clothes
Tiny little newborn outfits are absolutely adorable and it's so tempting to buy a heap of them at one go. But remember that babies grow really fast. Chances are that your little one won't wear even half of those 20 brand new items because he'll outgrow them that rapidly.
Alternative: Get a few onesies in NB size. Vary the sizings for the rest so that you're not constantly running to the shops to buy bigger clothes. And as cute as that teeny frilly skirt and top are, they are just not practical for a very young baby. The more practical option when it comes to baby clothes are onesies, both long and short.
3. Newborn socks and hats
I remember buying packs of newborn socks when I was pregnant with my first baby because they were just so darn cute. My little boy didn't even wear one pair though, because most onesies have foot covers built into them!
The same goes with hats, but for a different reason. New research shows that putting a hat on a newborn can interfere with the mum-baby bonding process. Read about this here.
4. A fancy changing table
They can cost hundreds of dollars and can fast turn into a complete waste of money and space. What's the point in spending so much on an item that can only be used for one purpose and will become obsolete soon?
Alternative: Buy a change mat/pad (look for one with elevated sides for safety) and use this to change your little one on the bed or floor. If you are worried about your back with all the leaning over you have to do, use a dresser or another piece of furniture that is the correct height.
Do remember: NEVER leave your baby alone - even for a second - on a change mat or table, regardless of in-built safety features.
5. Knee pads
These gadgets are meant to protect baby's knees when he starts crawling, but are really absolutely unnecessary and a waste of money.
A baby's knees are perfectly adapted to suit the purpose of crawling, when the time comes. Plus, when your baby is a preschooler, his knees will probably be covered in scabs and bruises anyway.
Alternative: If you are really worried about your baby's skin when he starts crawling, dress him in lightweight cotton tights.
The idea of keeping your boisterous bub in a small confined space where he is surrounded by flashing lights and beeping noises (i.e. a traditional walker) to keep him occupied is certainly inviting. At the same time, the promise that the walker will help teach your bub to walk is also nice.
But, traditional walkers are associated with a multitude of risks, which you can read about here.
In a nutshell, your child will walk when he is developmentally ready for it, and placing him in an object that propels him forward without the necessary concurrent development of muscles, sense of balance and coordination skills, could be very dangerous.
Alternatives: (a) A push walker; (b) your child's own feet.
7. Newborn/ infant shoes
As irresistibly cute as they are, these tiny creations are completely pointless (unless you want to jazz up an outfit for a special occasion).
Shoes on a newborn or infant will just make his little feet all hot and sweaty, and are really unnecessary until he walks. Even then, some experts argue that going barefoot is better for a child when he takes those first steps.
8. Bottle warmer
There's really no need to heat up milk in a bottle warmer when all you need to do is either bring it to room temperature, or place the bottle in warm water until it heats up to the required temperature.
Test the milk with a clean finger, or a splash on your wrist, and it's good to go.
9. Cot bedding
It may make your baby's cot look like something out of a home decor magazine, but pillows, cot bumpers, quilts, blankets and the like are not only unnecessary but downright dangerous, too.
Numerous studies have pointed out the high risk of SIDS that using such bedding items brings.
Alternatives: A simple, fitted cotton sheet is all your baby needs as far as bedding goes. Control the temperature in the room with an air-conditioner or a fan and keep your bub snug with proper, age-appropriate sleepwear.
10. Stuffed toys
They are cute, cuddly and associated with all things baby. But huge, fluffy, teddy bears and other stuffed toys could actually harbour millions of not-so-cute dust mites, causing allergies and other annoying conditions.
Get just a couple if you must, and ensure that they are washed regularly to keep them dust-free. Also, never place them in your baby's cot, since they could topple onto a sleeping baby's face, putting him at risk of suffocation.
Mums and dads to-be, we know you don't think twice when it comes to spending on your little baby. But trust us, when it comes to the items in this article, you're better off putting the money that you would have spent on them in your child's college fund.
Also, don't be shy to consider preloved baby items too. They can save you a heap of money and you can pass them on once you're done with them.
Got an item to add to this list? Tell us what it is in a comment below!