Stuff you don’t need: The not-buying season guide to baby products

The Pediatric Insider

© 2015 Roy Benaroch, MD

Spend spend spend—that’s the push by marketers and websites this time of year. Except from me. Here are three holiday gift things nobody needs. Save your money, or buy something else if you must, but stay away from today’s featured items:


#1: Crib bumpers

The American Academy of Pediatrics has called for banning these things since 2007, but they’re still sold. And they’re still killing babies. A November, 2015 study shows that deaths from bumpers, usually by suffocation, have about tripled over the last several years, even as “safer” options like mesh become more popular.

Bottom line: crib bumpers are unnecessary, and don’t do your baby any good. They exist only to give you (or your shower-gift buyers) something else to spend money on. You’d be safer just throwing your money out in the street.


#2: Baby walkers

Here’s a thing that delays both motor and mental development—babies in walkers walk later, and also show delays in language and problem-solving skills—and is also associated with a markedly increased risk of dangerous falls, boiling-water spills, amputations, and deaths. Canada banned them in 2004. There is absolutely no point to putting your baby in a walker, unless you want to slow his development, increase his risk of injury, and (of course) blow some money.


#3: Amber teething necklaces

I think the fad has passed anyway. But for those who missed it, you can still buy these things. Don’t. There’s no evidence or plausible reason to think they’d help. And putting a ligature or necklace around a baby’s neck is considered a Bad Thing because they can’t reach up and untangle themselves if it starts choking them. That’s why you don’t see necklaces on babies, and why those straps to prevent losing a pacifier are so short. You do not want things wrapped around your baby’s neck.


So what to do with all of the money you’ve saved? Tuck it away in the college fund. Or  spend it on yourself, on a parents’ night out. Or donate it to your favorite takes-no-industry funding blogger. Just don’t spend it on something that’s useless and might hurt your baby.


Bumper cars

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5 Comments on “Stuff you don’t need: The not-buying season guide to baby products”

  1. Erin Weber Says:

    Great tips, Roy! I am going to share these with some of my expecting friends!


  2. Megan Says:

    Tucson has apparently not got the memo on the amber necklaces. I see many babies and toddlers wearing them at library story time, and I sigh and roll my eyes every time. I even have a colleague (a critical care RN!) who swears her child is less irritable and drooly when he has his, apparently magic, necklace on.


  3. All true! As a pediatric occupational therapist, I’d like to add the Bumbo seats to the list. Sitting a very young baby in a foam seat slows development, sitting an older baby in a seat they can tumble out of is unsafe. I do home visits and routinely find one of each item (Bumbo, walker, exersaucer, jumperoo in a doorway) and explain how a child with a diagnosed developmental delay isn’t served by these devices. Parents cannot believe that a toy that looks like so much fun is contributing to the delays that keep them awake at night. Thanks for this post!


  4. Dr. Roy Says:

    Death by Amber Teething Necklace:

    You get your choice of strangulation or choking. Either is bad. Please don’t waste your money on these things; if you have one, throw it away.


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