Parenting 10 Things Parents Should Stop Wasting Their Money On

Millie asked 10 moms to share their biggest money wasters, with suggestions on how you can get similar—and just as useful—items on a budget.

By Millie Staff
PUBLISHED 01/04/2024 | 9 MINUTES

You want the best for your kids, which means even before they’re born, you start buying them the best—read: often expensive—products you think they’ll need. But in the process, you often end up wasting a lot of money.

“The way these products are promoted and marketed makes you think your life will be easier if you have them,” says Andrea Woroch, a budgeting expert. But they often don’t live up to that promise. “At the end of the day, you can’t predict what will work for your baby until you live with him or her,” she notes.

Woroch says that the money new parents spend on high-ticket items could be put to better use in college or trust funds. “There’s a lot of pressure from social media and other families to create this Pinterest-perfect nursery,” she says. “But your kids will appreciate college tuition so much more than the crib they slept in.” 

Below, we ask 10 moms to share their biggest money wasters, with suggestions on how you can get similar—and just as useful—items on a budget.

Name: Rebecca

Location: San Francisco

Biggest money waster: Eight sessions of a natural birthing class, $500+

Why it’s a waste: “The focus of the class was how to have a successful natural birth, but when I went into labor, there were no rooms available at the hospital and I had to labor for hours in triage behind a thin curtain and under the bright lights,” Rebecca says. “I felt like I brought a knife to a gun fight. And I paid a lot for that knife.”

Budget solution: Most hospitals and health insurance providers offer free birthing classes, Woroch notes. Save the money you would have spent on this class for a parent-baby bonding activity, like a postnatal music or yoga class. “If nothing else, they’ll get you out of the house,” Woroch says.

Name: Ali

Location: Long Island, NY

Biggest money waster: Designer diaper bag, $250+ 

Why it’s a waste: “Anything that takes up an entire shoulder or arm will become cumbersome quickly, especially with multiple children,” says Ali, the mother of two young children.

Budget solution: “Before you [buy] a high-ticket item like a diaper bag, ask a friend or family member if you can borrow one of theirs, to see if you actually use it when the baby comes,” Woroch suggests. What also works as a diaper bag? A backpack you already have in your closet. “Hands-free is the way to be!” Ali says. 

Name: Laura

Location: London

Biggest money waster: Full-sized stroller with accessories, $500+

Why it’s a waste: “The stroller we bought came with a sun umbrella, coffee cup holder and sheepskin lining,” Laura says. “In the end, it was too heavy and large to bring into the house to store, so we shifted to a lighter, thinner model of stroller that was good on public transport.” 

Budget solution: Consider renting before you buy. By using sites like BabyQuip and Baby’s Away, you can find out how well you’ll function with a heavy, full-sized stroller in real life. 

Name: Emily

Location: Charlotte, NC

Biggest money waster: Fancy 0-6 months baby clothes, $30+ per outfit

Why it’s a waste: “It’s true what they say—all babies do is eat, sleep and poop,” Emily says. She notes that the most important aspect of an outfit is being able to change it quickly before your baby ruins it. She recommends pajamas with magnets or zippers—not buttons or snaps. “It doesn’t even matter what season it is,” Emily notes. “I had a July baby in the South, and she was pretty much always in footie pajamas.” 

Budget solution: “If you want a cute outfit for a photograph, buy one used on a site like thredUP or eBay,” Woroch recommends. “Otherwise, all you need is pajamas and onesies.” 

Name: Tiffany

Location: Redwood City, CA

Biggest money waster: Jogging stroller, $200+

Why it’s a waste: “Our baby couldn’t really go into the jogging stroller for the first several months because he didn’t have enough head control,” Tiffany notes. “We left the stroller in a box in our garage, and forgot about it until we moved into a neighborhood too hilly for jogging!”

Budget solution: “Take a poll from your friends who have kids, and ask them what they absolutely cannot live without,” Woroch suggests. If you find you want a jogging stroller six months in, ask a friend who already has one if you can borrow it.

Name: Lauren

Location: Brooklyn, NY

Biggest money waster: Designer crib, $400+

Why it’s a waste: “It’s gorgeous … and I get sad when I think about how my kids never really slept in it,” Lauren says, noting that both of her kids co-slept until they were toddlers.

Budget solution: “For items like a crib or car seat, which you want to ensure are super safe, try to get one passed down from a trusted family member, so that you know it’s in good condition,” Woroch says. 

Name: Jennifer

Location: Hong Kong

Biggest money waster: Fancy bassinet, $200+

Why it’s a waste: “It does help with sleep, but I am wondering why the darn thing isn’t bigger as my baby outgrew it by six months,” Jennifer says.

Budget solution: “Buy a travel crib that comes with a bassinet attachment,” Woroch recommends. That way, you pay one price for two things you’ll need for only a limited time.

Name: Sarah

Location: Washington, DC

Biggest money waster: Baby monitor that tracks vital signs, $150+

Why it’s a waste: “My husband thought the monitor looked uncomfortable when our newborn wore it, and our son slept next to me until he was 13 months old,” Sarah says. “We just use a regular video monitor now.”

Budget solution: Don’t fall for the bells and whistles. Experts say that most kids don’t need their vital signs tracked at every turn. Use browser plug-ins like Rakuten and Honey to find the best possible deals on baby monitors, Woroch suggests. 

Name: Julie

Location: Jersey City, NJ

Biggest money waster: Baby food maker, $60+

Why it’s a waste: “It was much faster for me to steam vegetables using the steam basket and pan I already owned, and then to purée them in the blender or food processor—both of which I already owned, too,” Julie notes.   

Budget solution: Add a steam basket or microwave-safe bowl to your registry if you don’t have one already. Then, Woroch notes, you can use it even after the short baby food phase is over. 

Name: Dania 

Location: New York, NY

Biggest money waster: Electronic baby swing, $220+

Why it’s a waste: “This item should come with a disclaimer: entirely useless, waste of space that increases frustration,” Dania says. “My infant daughter instantly screams in the chair nonstop, and my toddler uses the chair’s built-in mobile as a weapon against her.”  

Budget solution: Every baby is different. If you suspect yours might love a bouncing chair, try to find one used on a local Facebook group for moms. Or if you prefer to buy one new, Woroch recommends using an app like Fetch rewards, which allows you to scan your receipts, download coupons and earn points toward gift cards. Use those gift cards for one or two special items for your nursery.

Millie content is licensed from Dotdash Meredith, publisher of Millie, Real Simple, InStyle, Investopedia, The Balance and more.

Brienne Walsh is a writer based in Savannah, Ga. She contributes to Forbes, Rangefinder and MarketWatch, among other publications.


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