6 Things You Don't Really Need to Keep Your Kid Safe

Oct 10, 2018 at 8:00 a.m. ET
Fruits and vegetables and baby food on a wooden table.
Image: SarapulSar38/Getty Images.

We all know that there are products we need to absolutely buy in order to keep our kids safe. Items such as car seats are vital to our children's health, but one look through a baby aisle in any store anywhere, and you'll find there are oodles of products that you don't really need. As it turns out, anxious new parents who want to do everything in their power to keep their children safe and healthy will buy products they would never otherwise consider purchasing. Here's an inside look into what types of products parents don't really need to plunk down money for. 

Organic food

Organic food is grown without the use of conventional pesticides. It generally costs more at the grocery store, and it can make you feel like you're buying better food for your kids if you go the organic route. However, studies, like this one out of Stanford University, have shown that organic foods aren't necessarily healthier for you, nor do they always carry fewer health risks. While people will be exposed to more pesticides if they eat conventionally grown foods, these studies have also shown that organic foods aren't always free of pesticides. 

Specific products for washing produce

On that note, it's always a good idea to wash your fruits and vegetables before eating them, whether they're organic or not — and even if you plan to peel them. However, you don't need to spend money on specific products that are designed to wash your produce. The most important points to remember are that you should thoroughly wash and dry your hands before and after preparing food and make sure the items you'll use (cutting boards and utensils) are clean. The only thing that's really required for washing food is water — just clean cold water. 

Items to help you prepare baby formula

You can buy baby formula in a number of different ways, but the most common and least expensive is powered. Powdered baby formula requires the parent or caregiver to measure a specific amount and add it to clean water — it's actually a health risk if it isn't done properly according to the World Health Organization. While there are products that will measure, add and mix your powdered formula for you, it's definitely not necessary and can actually be dangerous if there is an error on the part of the product. 

Actual baby food

You know the drill — once you (and/or your baby's doctor) determine that your child might be ready to try actual food, you find yourself checking out the jars of baby food at the grocery store (keep in mind that the World Health Organization says to wait until your child is at least 6 months of age).

Sure, baby food can be cheap, but when compared to feeding them little bits of what you're eating at mealtime, it's not a smart financial choice. You can look into baby-led weaning, which is when parents give their infants whole foods from the family meal. Babies weren't fed puréed infant food before, and they were able to self-regulate and scrape off food they wouldn't choke on, so it's a viable option for modern parents too. You can also pop some veggies in the blender and make your own baby food. (Top tip: freeze it in an ice cube tray for preportioned meals.) 

Portable playpens

We admit portable playpens can be convenient — after all, it's a safe space to set your baby down if you're out camping, for example, or need to get in the shower. However, they're not a required purchase by any means. As Crystal, mom of two, says, "Your baby does not need to sit in some kind of apparatus every second of every day. They can be perfectly content laying on a blanket with a dog toy — 'cause let's be honest, that's what they are gonna go for anyway."

Cell phones

OK, by the time a kid is in high school, they will probably find a cell phone very useful. Teachers often use apps to send reminders to their students (and their parents), and if your kid is in any activity away from home — or driving — cell phones are pretty much a must, as pay phones aren't really a thing any more. Also, parents who are no longer living together often start cell phone use earlier so their child can contact them while they're away from home. 

However, giving your kid a cell phone at a young age isn't always the best idea, especially if it's a smartphone, because they might not be ready for using social media (or they might lose it). While the American Academy of Pediatrics notes that there isn't a specific perfect age to give a kid a phone, it's important to consider various aspects in a child's life, including potential medical needs and emergencies as well as your family dynamics and your child's personality.

You don't have to buy the farm

While it's tempting to buy all the gizmos and gadgets when you're pregnant (and not stop until they've moved out), it's not always necessary to go to great lengths to buy all the latest gear. As long as you're keeping your child safe and healthy, you don't need a wipes warmer or a special wash to clean your veggies. You're doing just fine, Mom or Dad, and water works just well. 

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