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Parents' 10 least useful baby products

By Anna Studman

Don’t waste money on baby products you won’t use. Read our list to find out which products parents think they could actually do without.

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Parents-to-be often end up spending a lot of money on baby products that get left in the cupboard gathering dust. 

We wanted to find out which are the worst offenders, so we asked  2,000 parents with children under the age of five about baby products they’d bought but hadn't found useful. That way, you can think twice before buying the same items.

Of course, some parents do find these products useful, but it’s worth carefully considering whether or not they are right for you before you buy. 

We've calculated that avoiding these products could save you up to £340, for which price you could get a Best Buy pushchair or Best Buy car seat with more than £100 left over.

And don’t feel you have to buy everything before your child is born. Often it's better to wait and try out products with your baby to make sure you get the right ones.

Take a look at our list of essential baby products for a round-up of the products you and your baby wouldn't want to be without.

1. Cot mobile

Cot mobiles can be handy if your baby is having trouble sleeping, as many of them play some kind of soothing music. Some parents like to use them to help settle their child in when moving from a moses basket to a full-sized cot or cot bed.

However, a lot of parents find them to be a hindrance rather than help. As advice on how to get your baby to sleep includes avoiding distracting, loud mobiles, fewer parents seem to be finding use for them in their nurseries.

For advice on creating a safe sleeping environment for your baby, and tips on assembling your cot bed, read our guide on using cot beds safely.

2. Door baby bouncer

Door baby bouncers come with a plastic or fabric seat, and usually cost between £20 and £30. Although some babies love the sensation of bouncing up and down, our parents' ratings show they are clearly not for everyone. Baby bouncer chairs, on the other hand, are much more popular, and feature in our list of top 10 most useful baby products.

Find out what parents rate as the best baby bouncer brands.

3. Baby washing (top-and-tail) bowls

Baby washing ‘top-and-tail' bowls have two compartments to keep water and flannels separate when washing your baby’s top half and their bottom.

They’re not particularly expensive – costing around £3 to £10 – but two small plastic bowls would do just as well, although make sure you haven't used anything harmful in them before.

4. Nappy disposal bin

Nappy disposal bins typically cost from around £10 to more than £50 (plus more on top for replacement bin liners). They're designed to hygienically wrap individual nappies to lock away germs and odours. However, many of the parents we asked who bought one said they weren't that useful. You can get a similar effect and save money simply by placing your nappy in a disposable nappy bag or in a bucket with a lid.

5. Swaddling blanket

Swaddling blankets are specially designed blankets to help you wrap your baby tightly, which can help comfort and soothe them, and should help them get to sleep and stop them crying. They cost between £10 and £25. However, you can also just use an ordinary cellular blanket or muslin to wrap around your baby.

Swaddling blankets weren't very popular with the parents we asked. If you're thinking of buying one, bear in mind that not all babies will enjoy being swaddled.  

If you do go for a swaddling blanket, it's important to make sure you use it correctly, as wrapping your baby too tightly or without allowing their legs and hips to move may hinder development. The NCT website has more information on how to swaddle a baby correctly.

6. Manual breast pump

When you're breastfeeding, a manual or electric breast pump can be handy, as it allows you to store breastmilk for later on so a partner or relative can feed your baby. Manual breast pumps range from around £10 to more than £80, depending on what accessories you get.

Although manual breast pumps can be more tiring to use, they're cheaper than electric ones, which cost around £40 to £120. But it's also quite a personal choice – interestingly, only manual breast pumps appeared in our top 10 least-useful list – they were less popular than electric breast pumps.

If you're thinking of getting a breast pump, our guides to electric breast pumps and manual breast pumps will help you decide. Once you've chosen the type, our breast pump reviews will help you find the best.

7. Nappy stacker

Nappy stackers are designed to be convenient and stylish holders in which to store your nappies. In reality, though, many parents we surveyed who had bought one didn't find them very useful.

Nappy stackers cost between £5 and £20. But most modern nappy boxes and bags are designed to dispense nappies one at a time in a tidy and convenient way – and it can be much less hassle just to take your nappies straight from the box.

8. Bumbo seat

Bumbo seats are designed for babies at the age when they can't sit unsupported. They are made from a lightweight material which the manufacturer claims is fairly easy to wipe and clean. They usually cost between £30 and £40, depending on whether or not you decide to buy a 'play tray' to go with it.

There have been some safety concerns in the past related to Bumbo seats, and a safety alert was issued in the US in 2012, following a number of babies being injured using them. If you decide to buy a Bumbo seat for your child, make sure you don't place it on any high or uneven surfaces, always use the restraint belt, and make sure you stay with your baby at all times.

9. Baby carrier/fabric sling

Baby carriers and fabric slings can cost anything from £15 to £80, and it’s important that you choose one that's comfortable for you and your child.

Some parents swear by baby carriers, but not everyone finds them comfortable. Carrying your baby in a carrier all day can be tiring work, and you might find it tricky to get your baby in and out quickly.

If possible, you should aim to try out a baby carrier you're considering – ideally with your baby – before you buy. See our guide to choosing a sling or baby carrier for more buying advice.

10. Baby reins

Intended for overactive little wanderers and parents' peace of mind, baby reins can allow your little one to run around without you losing track of them. But, evidently, they're not for everyone. This could be down to a matter of personal taste, your child's personality, and your parenting style.

Our research

In August 2016, Which? asked 2,000 parents of children aged five and under about the baby products they have bought or used. We asked them to rate products on a scale of 1 to 10 for usefulness, excluding three core products: pushchairs, car seats and high chairs.

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