There are certain baby products that are deemed a waste of money to some moms, but considered lifesavers to others. In this edition of the Swarm, the Bees chime in on whether they think you should buy or skip some of the most commonly debated baby items:

1) video monitor; 2) pack n play; 3) swing/bouncer; 4) infant car seat; 5) wipes warmer; 6) bottle warmer; 7) baby shoes; 8) jumperoo/exersaucer; 9) bottle sterilizer; 10) receiving blankets; 11) Bumbo; 12) diaper pail; 13) baby food maker


1) pack n play: buy (for traveling)
2) wipes warmer: skip (we don’t warm wipes)
3) bottle warmer: skip (cup of hot tap water)
4) swing/bouncer: buy (look for hand me down!)
5) bumbo: skip (look for hand me down!)
6) exersaucer/jumperoo: buy (look for hand me down!)
7) infant car seat: buy (we live in the ‘burbs)
8) baby food maker: skip (we have a Magic Bullet)
9) baby monitor: buy
10) diaper pail: skip
11) baby shoes: buy
12) receiving blankets: skip (or just buy or register for a couple)
13) bottle sterilizer: skip (we use Medela quick clean bags)

1) pack n play: buy (for traveling or if you need to nap in another room)
2) wipes warmer: skip
3) bottle warmer: skip
4) swing/bouncer: buy (I got ours secondhand, but we used both with both girls)
5) bumbo: buy (secondhand; you don’t use it long but it’s handy)
6) exersaucer/jumperoo: buy (if you have space; handy but not essential)
7) infant car seat: buy (if you drive?)
8) baby food maker: skip (we did baby-led weaning)
9) baby monitor: skip (small house)
10) diaper pail: skip (we used a wet bag with cloth diapers)
11) baby shoes: skip (not essential until they are a bit older)
12) receiving blankets: skip (very useful, but you will probably get lots as gifts)
13) bottle sterilizer: skip (we barely used bottles, so we just boiled them occasionally)

1) pack n play – skip (unless you need a second crib that you will NOT travel with a lot, like for grandma’s. Otherwise, get a better travel crib)
2) wipes warmer – skip
3) bottle warmer – skip
4) swing/bouncer – buy, or get secondhand
5) bumbo – skip, or get secondhand
6) exersaucer/jumperoo – buy, or get secondhand
7) infant car seat – buy
8) baby food maker – skip (normal food processor is fine)
9) baby monitor – buy
10) diaper pail – buy (assuming you use disposables and don’t want to take out the trash every day)
11) baby shoes – skip (assuming we’re talking about nonwalkers)
12) receiving blankets – skip, people will get them for you
13) bottle sterilizer – skip

1) pack n play – skip unless you travel a lot, in which case I’d also get the mamadoo extra mattress for it.
2) wipes warmer – skip even in the dead cold of winter in Maine
3) bottle warmer – skip, use a mug of water in the microwave unless you have a kitchen the size of Dallas with lots of extra counter space
4) swing/bouncer – buy used or borrow – I had a Graco swing/bouncer combo that was a great space saver
5) bumbo – buy used for no more than $5 or borrow or pick it off the street corner on recycling day like I did
6) exersaucer/jumperoo – jumperoo was hands-down Little M’s favorite for months. Buy used.
7) infant car seat – Eeuh, I like our Maxi Cosi Pria 70 with tiny fit convertible car seat and in hindsight wouldn’t have spent money on the infant seat, but I can see the convenience of an infant seat. If possible, borrow from a friend
8) baby food maker – skip – if you’re doing purees, steam in a microwave and buy a nice food processor that you can continue to use (or use the one you got for your wedding, finally!) Baby food makers don’t hold a lot, so they’re less useful for blending stuff like oatmeal, etc. when you’re trying to blend foods to up the nutrition content later on
9) baby monitor – buy (with video)
10) diaper pail – buy if you’re cloth diapering otherwise just drop diaps in the kitchen trash so they go out often
11) baby shoes – buy, but only if we’re talking about early walker shoes; otherwise skip.
12) receiving blankets – buy – A+A linen blankets in the larger size
13) bottle sterilizer – skip and use Medela quick clean bags in the microwave if you think your dishwasher/water isn’t hot enough

I also used our baby carrier (the Ergo) a lot. I wish I’d bought a Gemini instead since I used a Moby to do an outward facing hold for a long time. If I’d just had the Gemini from the start I wouldn’t have needed to buy the Ergo infant insert or the Moby.

1) pack n play – We used ours a lot, especially for travel. She’s almost 16 months now and it’s still not quite packed away yet.
2) wipes warmer – Skip. Never bought one. We don’t warm wipes.
3) bottle warmer – Skip. We used Playtex drop in liners and they cannot be used with a bottle warmer.
4) swing/bouncer – Buy used or borrow; We were gifted a mamaroo that we were excited to use but Chloe hated from day 1.
5) bumbo – Loved so much we bought two, one for at home and one for grammy’s house! Great for feeding, too.
6) exersaucer/jumperoo – A Jumperoo was definitely a favorite in our household from months 5-8!
7) infant car seat – Buy new
8) baby food maker – Skip; If you plan on making your own, you can always use a blender (which you probably already have). There isn’t anything you can’t put in a blender and pulverize!
9) baby monitor – Buy
10) diaper pail – Buy; we love ours! It contains the smell much better than our kitchen trash can does (and we empty it daily), though as she gets older it holds fewer and fewer diapers (making the refills more expensive)
11) baby shoes – Buy “the first pair” then skip until they’re ready to walk. Then make sure you get a good pair that fits them correctly!
12) receiving blankets – There is no such thing as too many receiving blankets!
13) bottle sterilizer – Skip and handwash/dishwasher/microwave/boil your bottles/pump/parts

1. pack and play: yes we had two at Grammy and Grandpa’s house plus the one we carried with us. Three babies, three pack and plays.
2. wipes warmer: skip — sorry babies its going to be cold wipes on that bum forever; suck it up — the less you wiggle the quicker I will be done.
3. bottle warmer: yes and no. This was great for my twins; it did it really fast and when they would both start screaming every second mattered. With my singleton I never touched it.
4. Swing and bouncer: absolutely; I used ones with all my kids. Hand me downs or used ones are great.
5. Bumbo: depends. I would try your kiddo out in a friend’s first to see if they like it. My sons loved them. My daughter hated it and had chunky thighs so she just screamed her head off. Now they like to use them for dolly seats.
6. Excersaucer/ jumperoo. Buy used. It was nice especially with twins to be able to put them in something and run to the bathroom.
7. Infant car seat: buy. I thought they were well worth the money. I could get them all buckled in their seats then head out to the car instead of juggling three babies.
8. baby food maker: skip; I know I won’t win any mommy of the year awards but I could not fathom making my own. Gerber was my friend.
9. baby monitor: buy, but I never bought a video one.
10 diaper pail: buy. When all four were in diapers, I used one that didn’t have inserts so I could just buy trash bags.
11. Baby shoes: not until they walk. Mine just pulled them off anyway.
12. receiving blankets. Yes, lots of them.
13. bottle sterilizer: skip; dishwasher or boiling worked just fine.

1) pack n play: buy! But maybe secondhand to offset the cost.
2) wipes warmer: skip
3) bottle warmer: skip – running a bottle under hot water or putting in a bowl of water works just as well!
4) swing/bouncer: buy but only secondhand because you never know if your baby will like them!
5) bumbo: skip, unless you can get it cheap secondhand.
6) exersaucer/jumperoo: buy, but secondhand as well!
7) infant car seat: buy
8) baby food maker: skip. Go for something versatile that you will use past babyhood – like an immersion blender.
9) baby monitor: buy
10) diaper pail: skip
11) baby shoes: for 6 months+, buy. Unless the baby is born in the winter!
12) receiving blankets: skip. Go for high-quality swaddle blankets like A&A instead
13) bottle sterilizer: skip

1) pack n play: buy. We used this so much with Jack jack and didn’t have one with LJ.
2) wipes warmer: skip, big time!
3) bottle warmer: skip, we taught M early on that milk comes room temperature.
4) swing/bouncer: skip. Neither girl liked them!
5) bumbo: I believe these delay core muscle development so we skipped it. Plus, you only use it for such a short period of time. Both girls were sitting at 4 months on their own.
6) exersaucer/jumperoo: yes to exersaucer. Great place to entertain baby while cooking dinner!
7) infant car seat: yes. It’s so easy to haul around while the baby is asleep and easier for flying trips.
8) baby food maker: we just cooked our baby food stove top.
9) baby monitor: we don’t use ours, but it does feel good to know I have it if I need it.
10) diaper pail: essential for cutting down on stink with paper diaps. With cloth we used a big wet bag in a trash can.
11) baby shoes: meh. I never put them on except for very rare occasions.
12) receiving blankets: we used these a lot!
13) bottle sterilizer: skip. No need to sterilize!

1) pack n play – Buy. I have used mine as a crib for 6 months, will use it as a travel crib, and also a ball pit/play yard for outdoors once he is sitting up, etc.
2) wipes warmer. Skip.
3) bottle warmer. Skip that mess! That’s what a cup with some warm water was invented for.
4) swing/bouncer. Buy! Scribble napped in this as a newborn and then played with the toy bar when he got a little older. It was a lifesaver around dinner time before he could support himself in a jumperoo/exersaucer.
5) bumbo. Skip. I feel like there’s just such a small window between the bouncer and the jumparoo. We borrowed one (a Super Seat with a ton of toys attached) and have barely used it. We just got his high chair a few days ago and I think it is just as useful to help him learn to sit up as an infant seat.
6) exersaucer/jumperoo. Love ours. We have both, but he’s still a little too small for the exersaucer. He loves the jumperoo so much, but we knew he would because he fusses when he is not standing and loves to kick (maybe all babies are like this?). I’d definitely buy used since they’re basically just plastic.
7) infant car seat. We have one and of course as a first-time parent I can’t help but feel that anything that makes travel safer is a definite buy. I love that I can just grab him up and snap him in his caddy without disturbing his sleep, etc. We exclusively use a car seat caddy as our stroller and are planning to get an umbrella stroller after he “graduates” from the caddy, which helps to justify the expense of the infant seat. I would look at your lifestyle– if you’re more of a car family, then yes it is probably the best choice. If you aren’t as car-centric, maybe you’d be ok with a convertible and a sling.
8) baby food maker. We aren’t planning to use one.
9) baby monitor. I say get used/the cheapest one possible. We use ours a lot now that we are sleep training, and we use it when we travel (so we can spend time with family/friends while baby sleeps).
10) diaper pail. Skip. We just have a trashcan with a step-operated lid. We’ve never had an odor issue. We use a bucket for cloth diapers.
11) baby shoes. I must say….my mom got Scribble a pair of Robeez and I adore them. We wear them every time he goes out. Booties and socks don’t stay on, and little old ladies give me the stink eye if I bring my kid into the grocery store without something on his feet. Plus, hey, it is January and his feet get cold! I wouldn’t put him in anything that was likely to shape his feet. I would go for soft non-structures. The Robeez are great because they are warmer than booties/socks but not structured like shoes.
12) receiving blankets. Yeah, buy em up! Get the flannel ones and get ones with pretty patterns because you’ll be seeing them a lot: first to mop up milk and spit up, then for drool. Now we use them as pads for the changing table and we also use them as a barrier during Scribble’s daily naked time. The flannel ones are useless for swaddling. For swaddling we actually used three: one to bind his arms (this one was flannel actually), one stretchy one to wrap around him, and then a muslin to wrap around the other way.
13) bottle sterilizer: Huh? That’s what my hands/dishwasher is for!

1) pack n play – Buy. Only if you plan on traveling or staying overnight somewhere. I wouldn’t get the bulky pack ‘n play with bassinet though. I have the Baby Bjorn travel crib, which is much easier to assemble and store. It also doubled as a playpen for when she could roll, but couldn’t quite crawl yet.
2) wipes warmer – Skip. She never minded cold wipes
3) bottle warmer – Skip. We didn’t even register for this, but my MIL bought one anyone. I thought sticking bottles in a bowl of hot water worked just as well.
4) Swing/bouncer – Skip. This is really up to the baby, but N didn’t like either of them. Get it second-hand.
5) Bumbo – Skip. This was a hand-me-down and her thighs always got stuck, her posture was always slouchy, and I didn’t like it at all. We used it for a little bit when she started solids, but transitioned quickly to the Fisher-Price Healthy Care Deluxe Booster Seat.
6) Exersaucer/jumperoo – Buy.It has a short life span so get it secondhand! It saved my sanity for the 2-3 months that it was used though because she could easily bounce around in her Jumperoo for 30-40 minutes at a time.
7) Infant car seat – Buy. Easy to transport.
8) Baby food maker – Skip. Easier to make purees in bulk with a steamer basket and blender.
9) Baby monitor – Buy. Gave us peace of mind.
10) Diaper pail – Buy (only if you’re using disposables) Contained the smells so much better than regular trashcans!
11) Baby shoes – Skip
12) Receiving blankets – Buy. A&A are the best, but the other ones worked well as burp cloths and changing pad covers too.
13) Bottle sterilizer – Skip. We just tossed everything in a big stockpot and boiled it if we really felt the need to sterilize.

1) pack n play – buy (I don’t use it often but it’s great when you go places)
2) wipes warmer – skip
3) bottle warmer – skip
4) swing/bouncer – borrow
5) bumbo – skip (both my kids didn’t love it)
6) exersaucer/jumperoo – buy (but you can go for a used one since it doesn’t last super long)
7) infant car seat – buy (I live in the suburbs so it’s a must)
8) baby food maker – skip (I used my magic bullet)
9) baby monitor – buy (but no need for video)
10) diaper pail – buy. I love our Diaper Genie.
11) baby shoes – skip
12) receiving blankets – buy (I never got A&As but wish I did because the ones I got were so tiny. )
13) bottle sterilizer – skip

1) pack n play – We used ours as a bassinet, but haven’t used it since Liam was 4 months old. If we traveled somewhere that didn’t have one or a crib, we would bring it. I’m torn on this one…
2) wipes warmer – Skip.
3) bottle warmer – Skip. We give him breastmilk at room temperature and just use warm water from the sink in a bowl.
4) swing/bouncer – We never had a swing, but we did have a bouncer. I think one or the other is good to have, but both might not be necessary.
5) bumbo – We used ours a handful of times, but I could see using it more if I had two children or using it as a high chair at the beginning. I wouldn’t say it is totally necessary, though.
6) exersaucer/jumperoo – We have a doorway jumperoo and love it, but it isn’t something I couldn’t live without. It is nice to have somewhere to put him where he can’t get into things, though.
7) infant car seat – Buy. I loved the convenience of this when Liam was tiny. Once he could sit up, he started to hate the car seat because it is slightly reclined, but we are still using it (we just leave it in the car now).
8) baby food maker – Skip. I hear that they usually don’t make enough food and it’s better to use a blender or food processor for big batches and freeze.
9) baby monitor – Buy!!! I am completely addicted to our video monitor. I’m terrified it will break one day and I won’t be able to get a replacement before bed time!
10) diaper pail – Not really sure about this one because we cloth diaper and use a wet bag, but when we do use disposables we just throw them in the trash.
11) baby shoes – Skip. I just recently started putting flexible pre-walkers on Liam for when he’s in his jumperoo outside, but I know it’s better for him to be barefoot indoors.
12) receiving blankets – Buy. We loved the A + A swaddle blankets when he was little.
13) bottle sterilizer – Skip. I put everything in the dishwasher and I’ve never had a problem.

1) pack n play – Buy. We used this for a few months in our room after Owen had outgrown the co-sleeper but before we were ready to move him into his crib full-time. It also was useful for any overnight trips we took.
2) wipes warmer – Skip. We didn’t want the baby to get used to warm wipes at home, only to have cold wipes be an unpleasant surprise when we were out.
3) bottle warmer – Skip. We just used warm water in the sink.
4) swing/bouncer – Buy, or ideally, borrow. Owen would only nap in the swing for months. It was a lifesaver for us with him, but so far, Eloise is completely uninterested.
5) bumbo – Skip. We borrowed one, and it was handy for a few weeks, but it just has such a short lifespan that I couldn’t justify buying it.
6) exersaucer/jumperoo – Buy (or, again, borrow). Great activity for that in-between stage before they can walk but after they are content to sit on the floor.
7) infant car seat – Buy.
8) baby food maker – Buy. I think I am the only one so far who hasn’t said “skip” on this one, but we bought a Beaba Babycook off of CraigsList and I LOVED it. I know we *could* have steamed the veggies and/or fruit and then used an immersion blender, but honestly, I don’t think we would have. Having one thing that sat on the counter and that was so easy to use and dedicated just to preparing food for the little ones motivated us to actually do it. We used it long past the puree stage, and made steamed vegetables, chicken, fish, and fruit in it.
9) baby monitor – Buy, depending on the size of your house and the volume of your baby. Our place is not super big, but I always worry that I won’t hear the baby. This is especially true with Eloise, since she is pretty quiet and we have the white noise going in the background.
10) diaper pail – Skip. We put disposables in the kitchen trash, which gets emptied every day. Cloth diapers go into an Ikea trash can with a wet bag liner and a lid.
11) baby shoes – Skip.
12) receiving blankets – Buy. Smaller ones are handy as burp cloths, extra changing pad liners, etc. The larger ones (we also loved the A&A ones) can be used for swaddling, nursing covers, etc.
13) bottle sterilizer – Skip.

1) pack n play – Buy, for travel or to bring over to friends’ homes.
2) wipes warmer – Skip
3) bottle warmer – Skip
4) swing/bouncer – We skipped the bouncer, but the swing was our lifesaver for almost every sleeping moment in his first two months, and every nap until almost 5.5 months.
5) bumbo – Borrow if you can, otherwise skip. Expensive for limited use, so try it at a friend’s house before you purchase this.
6) exersaucer/jumperoo – Buy, but again, see if you can try out a friend’s equipment before you purchase.
7) infant car seat – Buy. Definitely buy. Having the option to carry a sleeping baby from the car to the house to the stroller is critical.
8) baby food maker – Skip. Look in your kitchen, and you most likely have all of the tools you need. Babies come with enough clutter.
9) baby monitor – BUY. Having the video monitor brought and continues to bring me such peace of mind, especially as a first time mom.
10) diaper pail – Buy, but with a caveat. We have the ubbi diaper pail, which will work with disposable or cloth, and just uses regular trash bags for disposable diapers. It contains even the worst of smells and only has to be emptied every five days or so.
11) baby shoes – Skip.
12) receiving blankets – Skip – only because you will get many as gifts. Swaddle blankets though, that is another story…those you should definitely buy.
13) bottle sterilizer – Skip. BUT I LOVE the Medela Quick-Clean Micro Steam Bags, both for cleaning pump parts and down the line, for cleaning bottles and nipples once I weaned Little C.

1) pack n play – BUY
2) wipes warmer – SKIP
3) bottle warmer – SKIP
4) swing/bouncer – BUY bouncer
5) bumbo – BUY
6) exersaucer/jumperoo – BUY exersaucer
7) infant car seat – BUY
8) baby food maker – SKIP
9) baby monitor – BUY
10) diaper pail – SKIP
11) baby shoes – SKIP
12) receiving blankets – SKIP
13) bottle sterilizer – BUY

Having not used much of this, I do want to say SKIP the pack n play with the attached changing table. Ours leaned in from day one and made it impossible for us diaper changing newbies to get it done. The pack n play itself is fine; just don’t spend the extra for the changing table option.

We don’t have a diaper pail and we get along fine without.

We sterilize bottles in the dishwasher.

We don’t have a wipe warmer and he hates it. I will still not get one though. He’ll get over it.

1) pack n play – Yes. We’ve used it as a travel crib and I think it will be staying at her grandparents’ house for naps.
2) wipes warmer – No. I don’t even know where we would plug it in.
3) bottle warmer – No. But if you plan on exclusively pumping, I would certainly consider one for frozen milk.
4) swing/bouncer – Yes. The swinging motion was very calming for LO when she was a wee baby.
5) bumbo – Yes. I would buy it used, though. Miss Kitten took well to it, some babies do not at all.
6) exersaucer/jumperoo – Yes/No. We have a doorway hanging bouncer, which is a good option if that will work in your house.
7) infant car seat – Yes. It is very convenient to carry her into places in her seat. She slept through most outings for the first 3 months.
8) baby food maker – Yes. I really like our Brezza because it steams and blends in one machine. It also works well for Miss Kitten because she likes a wide variety of food. I can make small batches quickly for her.
9) baby monitor – Yes. We didn’t buy a video monitor until she was almost 6 months; we just had an audio one. I like having the video monitor now, since she moves so much more in her sleep. It has also been very useful for sleep training purposes.
10) diaper pail Yes. We find it very convenient.
11) baby shoes No. She had one pair, and kicked them off quickly. We will have to look into more options now, though, since she is moving towards mobility.
12) receiving blankets – Yes. But only buy after your shower, if you have one. The blankets are a great size for use in the car seat. You won’t need 20, though!
13) bottle sterilizer – No. The microwave steam bags have worked well for us.

I wrote an in-depth post on this topic back in December 2011 that you can check out here.

1) pack n play – Skip unless you’re going to leave it at grandma’s house. If you need a travel crib, there are better, lighter, and easier to assemble options.
2) wipes warmer – Skip.
3) bottle warmer – Wait to buy. I’ve tried warming bottles in warm water, but it would take forever and I would constantly test the milk to see if it was warm enough. The warmer was much easier, especially for middle of the night feedings, since I exclusively pumped with Charlie, and needed to warm up refrigerated breastmilk. If you ebf or formula feed though, you can skip a bottle warmer, though we did use it to heat premixed, refrigerated formula as well.
4) swing/bouncer – Buy bouncer (used). It was an essential for both kids, but we could have lived without the swing for both kids. They both liked the swing, but we didn’t use it for naps.
5) bumbo – Skip or buy used. I bought one used for $10, lent it to a friend, used it for my second child, then sold it for the same price I paid.
6) exersaucer/jumperoo – Buy used. We had both. Charlie preferred the exersaucer and Olive preferred the jumperoo. The exersaucer was a lifesaver for the 3 months we used it because Charlie was such an early riser. If you don’t have space, a doorway jumperoo is a good option.
7) infant car seat – Buy. We live in the city and never needed to move the car seat from the car like suburban folks would. But we used it with a snap and go as our stroller for the first 6 months for both Charlie and Olive.
8) baby food maker – Skip. Buy a food processor instead.
9) baby monitor – Buy with video. One of my can’t live without products.
10) diaper pail – Skip.
11) baby shoes – Skip. Footed rompers are your friend.
12) receiving blankets – Skip the small ones and get the Aden & Anais swaddling blankets.
13) bottle sterilizer – Skip.

We’ve counted up the tally and here are the results!

1) Pack n play: 13 – Buy; 3 – Skip; 1 – Maybe
2) Wipes Warmer:  18 – Skip
3) Bottle Warmer: 16 – Skip; 1 – Maybe
4) Swing/Bouncer:  16 – Buy; 1 – Skip
5) Bumbo:  6 – Buy; 10 – Skip; 1 – Maybe
6) Exersaucer/Jumperoo:  16 – Buy; 1 – Maybe
7) Infant Car Seat:  17 – Buy
8) Baby Food Maker: 2 – Buy; 15 – Skip
9) Baby Monitor: 16 – Buy; 1 – Skip
10) Diaper Pail: 9 – Buy; 9 – Skip
11) Baby Shoes: 4- Buy; 13 – Skip
12) Receiving Blankets: 8 – Buy; 8 – Skip; 1 – Maybe
13) Bottle Sterilizer: 1 – Buy; 17 – Skip

Which of these would you buy or skip?