Baby Items You Don't Need 2021 | Dr. Amna Husain
Dr. Amna Husain: Hi, everybody. I'm Dr. Amna Husain, board-certified pediatrician, board-certified lactation consultant, and mom. Today we're going to be talking about baby items that I personally think you don't need.
If you follow me on Instagram, you'll see that this weekend I was... I guess technically the term is nesting, but I've never really been a big fan of that term. I don't know why, it just kind of rubs me weird; I think it's odd. But I was getting ready for baby number two, going through all the old baby clothes. Luckily I'm having a girl this time around, too, so that was pretty easy, so I have a lot of girl clothes. But going through bottles and all these different baby items, and I started thinking, "This would be really great, to talk about what baby items you need and don't need."
Well, we are going to put a pediatric spin on this, because, again, as a pediatrician, I am an infant and child health expert. So we can go through what's safe, what's actually not safe or medically indicated, in this episode when it comes to baby items. And then I'll let you guys know when it's actually something that I just practically don't think is really something needed or something that was useful when I had my little one.
So what I get asked right off the bat is something that I actually did not invest in, because I feel so strongly about this as a pediatrician. It's the Owlet. Now, if you're not familiar with the Owlet, it's actually a little sock, sort of a sock-like device that you would attach to your baby's foot, and it's able to check baby's heart rate, their temperature, their breathing, their oxygen levels. Sounds really great, right?
Well, in general, I find that parents treat these like medical devices, and they're not. For example, when we often send home babies from the NICU, depending on how premature the infant is and if they're potentially going home with apnea prematurity... Which is something I explain in my premature baby video. I will link it right here, you guys can check it out. Definitely recommend that you do.
But sometimes we send babies home with a hospital grade device, a hospital grade monitor, something that parents are taught about how to interpret the oxygen levels and the heart rate. Some parents also then invest in an Owlet, and a lot of parents have weighed in and said, "You know what? There's definitely indiscrepancies, because the Owlet will potentially read low oxygen levels, and this hospital grade device is reading completely normal heart rates and oxygen levels." Or vice versa, where the hospital grade one will pick up on something that the Owlet was reading as normal. So again, these are not medical grade devices.
Second, they're not FDA regulated. If they're not regulated, they're basically hitting the shelves without any pre-marketing approval. So whatever their claims are, they've not really been staunchly vetted. And so I find that for a child and for an infant in particular, in a new parent, this is putting your faith into something that's really not highly regulated.
Lastly, even if you're a parent who's not in the medical field, or some parents who I know who are physicians in the medical field, purchase Owlets. These do increase parental anxiety a lot, because you do have these readings that come back to you and you're not sure what to think. Are they reading high or are they reading low? Is this accurate? What do you do with this information? I find that they increase parental anxiety significantly.
Now, that being said, I 100% understand that there are parents out there who have said the Owlet picked up on a low oxygen reading, and we brought it up to the pediatrician or we went to the ER and we were able to find or discover this defect in the baby's heart. Or something, an event that happened to the baby for some reason, an arrhythmia, something that potentially caused the baby to have an abnormal reading. And that is wonderful. That is an incredible success story. In general, though, this is most pediatricians' standing about Owlets, and also my standing and opinion on it as well. So I would say this is something I would probably pass on.
Second item, baby item that I don't think you need, is a bottle sterilizer. Now, I'll explain. When you first buy bottles, it's definitely important to sterilize them, but thereafter that they don't need to be sterilized after every use. This was something that was recommended many years ago, probably like we're talking 10 to 20 years ago, but isn't really necessary anymore.
For starters, yes, you should always wash your hands before preparing your baby's bottle or their formula. If you are using bottles, you still absolutely need to inspect them beforehand and make sure they're clean. But how do you go about cleaning them if you're not sterilizing? Well, first of all, there is a difference between cleaning and sterilization, and I'll explain that in just a minute.
But when you are cleaning a bottle after it's used, my advice is to just use hot soapy water and make sure you clean relatively soon after the bottle has been used. So I wouldn't let these bottles sit for too long of periods of time, especially with formula. Even though we know that after two hours typically you should discard the used formula. If you continue to let it sit, you're basically just allowing a higher likelihood for bacteria to grow. Even though I know you're going to discard that formula, but just go ahead and discard the formula, rinse out the bottle, let it dry, but make sure you're using hot, soapy water. You can also put them in the dishwasher that uses hot water in a hot dry cycle. That's also really useful, especially if you're washing a ton of bottles. So make sure you keep those items in mind.
But let's go back to what's the difference between cleaning and sterilization. So cleaning is that process that I just mentioned, using hot, soapy water to clean an object. So for example, this is what we say about pump parts, making sure that you're cleaning them, or at least rinsing them in between uses and storing them in a place where they can actually adequately dry. Sanitizing is an extra step that we would use to kill any germs that might have been exposed to on the surface.
So there's certain times where sanitizing can be useful. So for example, if your baby is born prematurely, if your baby is possibly less than three-months-old or has a weakened immune system. For example, if they are unfortunately undergoing chemotherapy treatment for cancer or immunocompromised, perhaps an infant that might have HIV, then that's a time I would recommend sanitizing.
But in general, you can just get by with cleaning your bottles with hot soapy water, and then remember to clean the brushes as well. So whatever brush that you're using to clean your baby's bottle, now that, at least once a week or at least every few days, I recommend that you sanitize that. So you can put it through the dishwasher, because the brush can certainly harbor some bacteria. So be conscious of what you're using to clean the bottles, but you don't necessarily need to buy a bottle sterilizer. That was something that we recommended back in the day, but not really necessary for every baby now.
All right, on that note, bottle warmers. So this one I'm not putting my pediatrician hat on, I'm actually just talking to you guys like a mom. It's really not necessary. One thing that you can definitely do to warm up breast milk or heat up a bottle of formula is you can actually just take a measuring cup, fill it with water, microwave the water one minute, maybe even less, and then put the bottle within that cup of warm water. So don't microwave the breast milk, do not microwave the formula. We do not recommend that. That would not be safe, but you can absolutely put them within warm water. And the warm water can be heated up very easily in a microwave, if you have access to those items. That's just one less device that you have that you have to store or find room for on your countertops that just isn't necessary.
What about wipe warmers? I feel like, you know, we talked about bottle warmers, and wipe warmers now. Now, I'll be really honest. As a pediatrician, I don't really care if you have a wipe warmer, but mom to mom, I don't really think wipe warmers are that useful. And I had a winter baby, my daughter was born in December. I'll be really honest. We just didn't invest in it, because you know what? I realized that we're going to be changing her diapers sometimes in the car. We're going to be changing her diapers sometimes in possibly restaurants or airports or wherever I might be. So I'm going to eventually have to use wipes that are not warm. So why invest in something when it's not really going to be available in every setting? And it's not really essential.
So in general, in terms of safety with wipe warmers, too, you have to realize that these are electrical devices, so some of them actually use battery operation and you can turn them on a little bit beforehand. And side note, I do think it takes a little bit of time for them to even heat through the wipes. Sometimes maybe they don't even evenly distribute the heat, to be honest. But if it has a wire, for example, you might be a little nervous to put that on your changing table. Understandably so, right? You know, babies can pull and yank, get things. Especially as they get older, they might pull or yank at a wire, so if you had the wipes on a separate surface, then you got to realize if you're doing a diaper change by yourself, who's holding the baby while you go try to run and grab the wipes, and is it really worth the investment then? So in general, for me, I think it sounds like it's a great idea, but probably not that useful and not worth the investment.
Now, I mentioned changing tables. Well, pediatrician me is kind of nervous about changing tables, because I've seen a lot of babies fall off of changing tables from even the best, most attentive parents. Newborns can not be trusted. So even though they're not technically supposed to be rolling, they may just turn their leg, kick their leg, and their whole body weight follows and they can fall from a very high height, and then that can be very distressing. It can lead to injuries as well for the baby.
So in general, I find changing tables just something that makes me a little nervous. Of course, I think as a mom, there's definitely utility to it, especially if you buy one that has maybe a dresser underneath so it actually does serve some function and purpose for you afterward. But just know that you can change a baby's diaper on the floor, too. And now, in the postpartum period, I get it, trying to sit on the floor, if you're trying to straddle or sit cross-legged, it's not really comfortable. So in that case, absolutely I understand that changing a baby from up high, where your back is not feeling it or your bottom immediately after delivery, is useful.
But you got to think about the safety aspects of a changing table, so make sure that you have everything within reach. Probably try using the strap, but even with the strap, we've seen some accidents and falls. And then lastly, just practicality. I would try, if you're going to buy a changing table, one with dressers or some storage so that you can use it later as baby gets older.
This next one might get me in trouble with the masses, but I'll tell you what it is. A bassinet. I know, a lot of people think newborns have to sleep in a bassinet, but they don't. You don't need to purchase a bassinet. Now, I'll tell you specific things about sleep. So sleep-wise, we recommend on a flat surface, fitted sheet. No pillows, no stuffed animals, no fluffy blankets, none of that. No mobiles above the crib. Really just no frills. Your baby should be sleeping on a flat surface. They should be sleeping in the room with you, but not in the bed with you. And that's just from a SID safety standpoint, so try to incorporate all safe sleep measures.
Now, for parents, I understand that having a bassinet is helpful, because some of these bassinets can allow you to pull baby close to you. They still have their own sleeping service, but you could put your hand on baby to comfort them if needed. And I think from a affordability standpoint, bassinets typically do cost less than cribs. Also from a space standpoint, bassinets certainly take up less space than a crib does.
But... Big but here... is that eventually your baby's going to outgrow that bassinet by about three months of age typically. Every baby could be a little different. Some might outgrow it earlier. Some might outgrow it a little later, maybe four to six months of age. But then you have this thing that takes up space and now you have to go buy another thing that takes up space, a crib. So I just want parents to know that it is totally okay for you to bring home your newborn baby and put them into a crib. I know it seems crazy, that you're like, "But, but, they have nothing around them, and then this little baby in this big crib." It's totally okay. They have their own separate sleeping surface. It's flat. They have a fitted sheet, that's it. But they don't necessarily need to be nestled in a bassinet. It's not something you have to buy. And that's all I'm trying to say.
So if you would like to, there's no safety hazard from my standpoint, as long as you practice those safe principles for sleep. But from a practicality mom standpoint, when I had my daughter, we lived in an apartment. It was a one bedroom apartment and it just didn't make sense to buy a crib and buy a bassinet, because we knew that well, yeah, the bassinet is going to take up less space, but then we're going to have to buy a crib while we're here. And we're still going to have the baby sleep in our room because she was still very young at that time. And then we're going to have to try to find out a place to put this bassinet. So you run into the whole accumulating too much baby stuff that may not be essential.
Now, one thing from a safety standpoint that I highly recommend not having is a Dock-a-tot. Now, we talked about some parents might think that in a crib, the baby needs some closer nestling because they're so small. You might be tempted to put your baby in something like a Dock-a-tot and then put that into the crib. Please do not do that. Dock-a-tots are not safe and they're not approved from a safe sleep standpoint. These are items that are marketed, again, as being something that's essential for a baby. And I really worry about it because, again, just like I mentioned earlier when discussing changing tables, your baby might just turn, even though yeah, newborns aren't supposed to turn early. Depending on what their position was in utero, they may be in a certain position when they like to sleep. And when they turn, they have literally almost a bumper in their face, a surface right up against their nose that they could possibly suffocate themselves with when it comes to a Dock-a-tot.
Now, I know a lot of parents say, "Well, I only use it when I'm watching them." And that's of course something that you might choose for your comfort level. In general, as a pediatrician, this is just something I recommend against. It's touted as something to be safe, but it's really not safe at all in its production, its manufacturing, and its design at any point or purpose for a newborn infant.
I know I've gone off the safety end a lot, and I told you guys I would talk to you like a mom as well. So the next one that I really recommend not even investing in is hand mittens. And again, I've told you, my little one was born in December, a little Christmas baby. And I had maybe two pairs of hand mitts that were gifted to me in a set with socks. I don't even know why I bothered, because they were off. They would just disappear. I really don't know why I even bothered with them. They were constantly being lost. They wouldn't stay on. I'm really not even sure what the purpose was. And if I wanted to put them on her hands, I could always just put a pair of newborn socks on her hands. I didn't need to go invest in mittens.
And in general, during the day, if she was awake, I typically didn't really mind if she was playing with her hands. I felt like developmentally that was something appropriate for her to do. And of course, there's things that you can do to prevent them from really clawing at their face: making sure you're good about filing their nails, other factors as well. Especially if they're swaddled. Then at least they're not bringing their hands quite up to their face and then scratching themselves. But I really just don't think these were that useful.
All right, let's talk about another one. Baby water. The parenting marketing industry is insane. So baby water was really marketed in a situation where maybe tap water might not be safe for baby, but you don't necessarily need baby water to prepare your baby's formula. Not at all.
First of all, let's go back to tap water. There are definitely ways that you can test to make sure that tap water is safe. I recommend calling your local municipality, asking them what's within the water. So you can actually ask about lead levels. You can ask about fluoride levels as well. So fluoride should be typically in tap water, but in some states it may not be as high in quantity as it should be. Lead should be in lower levels within the water, but of course, depending on if your home has lead pipes. These are things you want to know about. So if you're unsure, though, and you don't know where to go to for resources or your municipality wasn't that helpful, you can absolutely just use bottled water. You don't need to go out and buy baby water or anything marketed as baby water.
Now, this especially came into prevalence actually just this year when Texas was hit with a big snow storm and their power went out and people did not have access to clean water. Families who had little infants were unsure how to prepare their baby's formula. So in general, the CDC recommends bringing cold water to a rolling boil and boiling it for one minute. Not longer than one minute, because sometimes you can cause those impurities to become concentrated. But then otherwise in general, you can absolutely do that. Or again, use bottled water. Now, I feel like this has to be said, but make sure you allow that water to cool for about 30 minutes before you use it to make your baby's formula.
Up to this point, all the items I've talked about could probably be safely said that these are mostly newborn items, right? So like the Owlet, hand mitts, changing tables, Dock-a-tots, bassinets, all of those things that you think of when you have a new baby. But this last item is something I feel really passionate about and I'm just going to throw it in there, even though I know it's kind of outside of the newborn period. Typically I see this being introduced around four to six months of age, and that's the Bumbo seat.
Now, the Bumbo seat markets itself as being designed to help babies who can't set up yet on their own to be able to sit up. And it states that as soon as a baby can really put up their own head, they can start using the Bumbo seat. So typically again, that's for most infants around three months of age.
But here's the thing. Pediatricians and pediatric PTs and OTs feel very passionate about this. This chair can actually cause incorrect posture alignment. It can cause a rounded back and the head tilting forward. It inhibits oftentimes the use of core muscles, and the way the hips are lying can actually put the pelvis in an uncomfortable, unstable sort of position.
So if you see, there's really no active control or posturing that takes place when a baby's sitting in a Bumbo. They're just being forced to sit upright by being passively placed into a position and just being locked there. There's no active control really being achieved. If you see actually the way that the seat is actually shaped, it puts the baby's pelvis in such a way that when their legs come out, their legs are a little bit higher than their pelvis, so it actually helps prevent teaching normal weightbearing activities. That actually goes exactly against the way we weight bear when we're sitting or when we're standing. So in general, that's why you'll see that many pediatricians, OTs and PTs just state that this is not worth investing in.
Guys, that's all I have for you today. I don't even know how many items we went through. I was just trying to type out a list in my head as it came to my mind, and I'm glad that we were able to hit on so many different items. Again, most of these are newborn items, so make sure you share this with a new mom or a mom who's expecting maybe another baby so that she can learn a little bit more about what things are worth it and what things aren't, not just from a mom's perspective, but from a pediatric perspective.
If you liked this video, make sure you give it a thumbs up. If you have any other items that you recommend that you think that these aren't just not worth it, make sure you leave it below in the comments. I love reading the comments and getting to see what your guys' perspective is and if this video was even helpful. So make sure you tune in next Monday for the next new video. Bye.