Baby Purchases, Reevaluated

Screenshot 2014-07-30 20.59.03

There is something about reproducing that makes you an expert in buying shit you never cared or thought about before. Our child is eight weeks old and we are no exception.



Ikea activity gym

Actual price: $29.99

Dustin:Is this the thing that dangles the toys above his head? This thing is great. Good price. There are so many of these out there for like 100 dollars or more. But it turns out 30 bucks (and probably the welfare of Siberian forests where this wood was poached) is what I’m willing to pay for baby brain development. Not a cent more, ganglia, so stop asking!

Meaghan: He thinks these things are typically $100 because I almost bought a $100 foldable stick off of Etsy — you think I’m kidding?

I would pay maybe even double $30 to have this aesthetically pleasing thing that our child will scream at all by himself for at least two minutes while we wolf down cereal.



Screenshot 2014-07-30 21.46.22NoseFrida nasal aspirator

Actual price: $15.19

Dustin: This is like asking what I’d pay Prometheus for the gift of fire. “Hey Dustin, what would you give me for the written word over here?” How do you quantify something at the very core of what you are as a species? Is any price too great?

And don’t forget, it comes with extra sponges to catch some (not all, I repeat, NOT ALL) of the snot before it hits your mouth, so okay, 15 bucks.

Meaghan: No price too high for discovering my new-found passion for extracting boogers from our son’s nose. AND THEY SAY MOTHERHOOD CRUSHES YOUR DREAMS??! Seriously, this is literally a cylinder with a tube attached and the force of your own inhalations sucks snot and booger from another person’s nose (or your own!). Everyone should experience it once.

I would pay upwards of $60 for this on the black market.



Babyletto “Skip” Dresser / changing table

Actual price: $389.99

Dustin: That price seems expensive, considering I had to put it together myself in our living room. But the real value of this thing is that it lofts our kid up to about chest height, so that he can more readily pee on our faces. I imagine getting someone to pee on your face while you rub coconut oil on their sphincter might be pretty expensive on the open market, so maybe this is a steal?

Meaghan: After sobbing in Ikea because our child wouldn’t have a proper nursery with his name spelled out with pillow letters or whatever, I went home and spent way too much money on this dresser. Half the price would have been palatable, but this is admittedly ridiculous.

Our own dresser was $20 from a stoop sale. Maybe it all balances out?



dustin & baby decidedly NOT picturedBeco Gemini baby carrier

Actual price: $129

Dustin: I’m satisfied with the price of this, and not just because it was a gift to us (thanks Piper!) I’ve paid more than this for a bag before, and those bags weren’t meant to carry the fruit of my loins. We’ve talked about how the parenting world is just a mirror image of an REI store, full of overpriced absurdly specialized and aesthetically baffling gear. Parents, like people about to climb a fucking mountain for 20 years, know they need Functional Things. They’re an easy market. So, although we have 300 tote bags, we bought a diaper bag, because we planned to carry diapers. It’s like buying different sleeping bags for different seasons. By the standards of that world this thing is not too expensive, it makes a lot of sense, and it hasn’t killed the kid yet, so again, okay, good price.

Meaghan: I fucking hate that it takes two hands to unbuckle it, but I also hate that most things in life require two hands and when you’re holding a baby you basically can’t participate in the world. $129 for being able to put a napkin over your kid’s head and eat your dinner? All on board. Though I think we both know that the true price of this thing is having to check if he’s breathing every 30 seconds.



Oxo wipes dispenser

Actual price: $19.99

Dustin: I mocked this when you wanted to get it, Meaghan. I play at being the dissident from mall culture. I hate seeing the Target boxes show up at our door. They embarrass me in front of, who, our neighbors, the neighbors I hate? It’s shitty of me. And so let me apologize. This twenty dollar plastic box in which to keep the wipes for our kid’s smeary butthole is, in fact great. A+ purchase. Worth the price. I’m sorry and I love you and I love this stupid thing.

Meaghan: Ester told me her wipe warmer was her best indulgent baby purchase she ever made, but I knew there was no way in hell you would stand for bringing a wipe warmer into our home. I asked if you would object to having a plain old DISPENSER, and yes, you bristled. “THE WIPES COME IN DISPENSERS!” says the man who spends minutes cursing and shaking the bag of wipes in the air trying to pull one out with one hand. We have to change approximately 15 diapers a day. I bought it despite your protests and I knew you would eat your words. VICTORY IS MINE.



Screenshot 2014-07-30 21.01.31Soothie Pacifiers (2-pack)
Actual price: $3.39

Dustin: I would fight wolves to keep these. Just me and Liam Neeson in an arctic gloaming, punching wolf after wolf to make sure my son can suck on a silicon nipple shape during his worst moments. If I had one of these in my hand and a wolf bit down on that hand, I know, as clearly as I’ve ever known anything, that I would not let go of that pacifier. I’d just start punching the other wolves with that first wolf, a sort of live wolf boxing glove. Liam Neeson would give me a late career leading man grizzled sort of nod and we’d brace our backs against each other and keep on wolf punching.

Meaghan: The La Leche League and its concomitant do not advocate the use of pacifiers under six weeks or whatever because of NIPPLE CONFUSION but I’ll tell you what, this baby could use some nipple confusion in his life. I think before we brought him home I had some notion of not giving him a pacifier but HA HA HA. Nope. He can barely keep these damn Soothies in his mouth and for the first month or so our life consisted of picking a pacifier back up and putting it in his mouth again, every two minutes forever, but also my nipples stopped bleeding so…YOU WIN SOME YOU LOSE SOME.



Chicco Keyfit Carseat

Actual price: $189.99

Dustin: This is one of those ‘what would you pay to ransom your child’s very life?’ products. Maybe they could manufacture them for like seven bucks, but would you want to pay that? No, this thing is important life saving equipment, hidden under an inch of warning labels on all sides. As it turns out, I haven’t spent a lot of time testing the crash physics of car seats, so the only guide I have for what’s safest is price. When I buy bike helmets for myself I just get the cheapest styrofoam nerd crown I can find, basically a cooler turned upside down on my head, but for for my son’s safety equipment I’d like to get the Very Best. Or, more practically, Not the Worst. So, sure, I guess this seems right.

Meaghan: I am still bitter about this because the day after this was delivered and we threw away the box, two different people asked me if we wanted their infant car seat. I’d bought it around 25 weeks because I figured if the baby came early the one thing we’d absolutely need is a car seat to get home. Then at the hospital the nurse was like, “What? This is New York City, of course we don’t require you to have a car seat to leave the hospital! You don’t even have to have a car seat in taxi cabs!” UGGGGGH. Though cut to me taking the subway home after giving birth, cradling a newborn just to save a buck? No.



Pacifier clip, handmade from ridiculously overpriced neighborhood baby store

Actual price: $15

Dustin: I can’t believe this was 15 dollars. That seems like a lot if you consider that it’s exactly one sixteenth of a suspender. But consider that pacifiers are Wolf Punch Precious. Consider, too, that this thing keeps me from having to convince myself that somehow the powerful alchemy of Wiping Things Off on My T Shirt is enough to make a Brooklyn-street-dropped pacifier safe to suck on. How much am I willing to pay to avoid that uncomfortable act of self-delusion? 15 bucks sounds about right.

Meaghan: I was very embarrassed to pay what is probably my hourly wage for this, but it’s black and white striped and has no pastel ducks or cars or monkeys on it. Also another purchase you thought was insane and now could not live without, so every time I look at it I feel smug and superior and well-prepared to handle the challenges of life, which begin and end with a baby spitting out his pacifier while he’s crying. So yes, $15.


Meaghan is your trusty associate editor. Dustin changes 90% of the diapers.


44 Comments / Post A Comment

EmilyStarr (#4,035)

Ah, the Soothie… those things turn your baby’s mouth into a black hole. Which is about right.

samburger (#5,489)

I could read these ALL DAY. I am not and have no interest in being a parent? but man do I love a good story about new parents. Dustin’s review of the pacifier is A+.


Allison (#4,509)

@samburger that review is a work of art.

@samburger came down to here say this very same thing.

potatopotato (#5,255)

@samburger: Doesn’t even need to be baby stuff. I want these guys to review blades of grass. Anything, really.

gyip (#4,192)

I was pretty fascinated when I learned about the NoseFrida. What I know now is that all parents who know about it LOVE IT TO BITS.

It does make sense when you realize baby nostrils are the tiniest things ever and next to them, even your pinky finger is like a comically giant sausage a clown would eat.

I would fight Liam Neeson and all the wolves in the forest for my Boppy Pillow. I hate even going to the grocery store without knowing it is within my reach. Who are these women who can nurse their babies freestyle?

And I agree on the Nosefrida, too! That thing revolutionized snot removal in my house.

I also have a craft fair paci holder to stop my husband from “blowing” the germs off the paci when it fell on the floor of the airport. GROSS. But I HATE the soothie. My son’s fell out so often, I went into a terrible rage, threw it out the window and put a Nuk paci in his mouth without even sterilizing it first.

@xtinamartinson Oh yes, my boppy! It was like a floatation device, securely fastened around me at all times, especially during those first six months.

Meaghano (#529)

@Ester Bloom guys I forgot about the Boppy. How could I?!?!

cryptolect (#1,135)

Am I the only person who hates the snotsucker? Besides my husband? The baby squirms and wails and flails and would so much rather be snotty that we just let him.

Meaghano (#529)

@cryptolect For now our kid just kind of gets big eyes and then giggles. For now.

HelloTheFuture (#5,275)

I am very curious about how the snotsucker improves on the blue bulb nasal aspirator my mom used on my sister and me — because I can see one very obvious DE-provement and that is the part where you have to suck the snot out with your mouth. Is squeezing a bulb to create suction less good for snot removal?

gyip (#4,192)

@HelloTheFuture I think parents can control the amount of suction better, especially if the baby’s nose is sensitive.

Meaghano (#529)

@gyip Also you can SEE IT.

boogers mcgee (#4,474)

@HelloTheFuture I’m not gonna lie, reading about the snot-sucking part of that made me pretty queasy. It’s probably a really really really good thing I’m childless at this point.

Cup of T (#2,533)

@boogers mcgee Ditto. Although your screen name would suggest snot doesn’t bother you all that much…

beatrixkiddo (#226)

@HelloTheFuture I have a 1 year old and would like to educate you about the Nose Frida. It is indeed amazing. Its better than a bulb because you can keep sucking beyond what little air the bulb would suck out in one pump. You can just suck away on your baby’s nose till all the boogers come out. (While you do this your baby will squirm and cry and try to kill you, and you will think long and hard about what your life has come to, but I digress.) It is sort of gross because, boogers, but its also not gross because its a long tube and there’s a filter in it so no boogers ever even come close to your mouth.

Also, when you have a baby your definition of what’s gross completely changes, so its really neither here nor there.

Someone who is almost certainly laying on a little bit of dried puke

beatrixkiddo (#226)

@HelloTheFuture I have a 1 year old and would like to educate you about the Nose Frida. It is indeed amazing. Its better than a bulb because you can keep sucking beyond what little air the bulb would suck out in one pump. You can just suck away on your baby’s nose till all the boogers come out. (While you do this your baby will squirm and cry and try to kill you, and you will think long and hard about what your life has come to, but I digress.) It is sort of gross because, boogers, but its also not gross because its a long tube and there’s a filter in it so no boogers ever even come close to your mouth.

Also, when you have a baby your definition of what’s gross completely changes, so its really neither here nor there.

Someone who is almost certainly laying on a little bit of dried puke

beastlyburden (#6,122)

I’m kinda meh on baby-related content, but THIS WAS AWESOME, 10/10 WOULD READ AGAIN. Can we get a Meaghan/Dustin review tagteam on… everything?

moreadventurous (#4,956)

This was delightful and also makes me want to double down on my birth control methods.

Meaghano (#529)

@moreadventurous Highly recommended.

DebtOrAlive (#5,233)

@moreadventurous “Minimum age for vasectomy” google search in the next tab over? COINCIDENCE, I tell you.

RiffRandell (#4,774)

@moreadventurous Me too (*checks that I’m on the correct day’s birth control*)

iseeshiny (#6,178)

This is very relevant to my interests right now as I am at 39 weeks and starting my maternity leave as of 3:00 pm tomorrow! I will read every Billfold baby budgeting/product review you will write and what’s more, I will ENJOY it.

Meaghano (#529)

@iseeshiny “HAVE YOU HAD THE BABY YET?” Just kidding. Hang in there!

eatmoredumplings (#3,808)

@iseeshiny Me too! (At least in terms of relevance – not at 39 weeks yet, and a long time to go before leave!) This is full of things I would never have even thought of that cost at least my hourly wage, and on the one hand it’s hilariously written, but on the other it’s kind of scary – another sign that having a baby means having to spend all your money on stuff you couldn’t even imagine needing, and nowhere else on the internet even told you to get.

iseeshiny (#6,178)

@eatmoredumplings People will come out of the woodwork to give you things to help with the baby, though. And I just keep reminding myself that people raised babies for years before the invention of plastic? And also secondhand stored sell baby clothes for pennies.

@Meaghano I bought the Snoogle entirely on your advice and it was the best thing ever. Seriously.

Meaghano (#529)

@iseeshiny snoogle forever! though I will say the only thing better than the snooggle is not needing the snooggle anymore. I’m sure it’s difficult to imagine right now. but soon! you will be able to sleep like a normal person. i mean, i wake up covered in breast milk most mornings but still preferable.

and @eatmoredumplings — the truth is you don’t NEED any of this stuff listed. and these things are really almost the only things we ourselves bought. it is CRAZY how much people love buying babies things, and sending checks! plus the hand-me-downs! and food! it has been really astounding — next level generosity.

it will all work out. mostly because it has to.

Although speaking of the internet telling you what to buy, if you haven’t subscribed to Lucie’s List, it is really great!

I’m excited for you guyyyyys.

ShellB (#5,868)

Gurrrl. The NosaFrieda people make these fart sticks called the Windi. It’s like a tampon applicator you stick up the baby’s butthole to get the farts out. I’m slightly afraid my daughter will be into some weird shit later in life with how often I put these things in her butt BUT THEY ARE AMAZING. Same goes for the Soothie, which couldn’t be shaped more like a penis.

Meaghano (#529)

@ShellB Oh my god. AHHHHHH.

Meaghano (#529)

@ShellB the packaging! is amazing.

shannowhamo (#845)

@ShellB What? I don’t have kids and already pretty freaked by this booger sucker but…how do you know they need to fart? Do they ever just poop when you Windi them? I am fascinated and I hope it doesn’t seem creepy!

I am going to Ikea on Saturday for the big baby stuff trip, so this is PERSONAL and HARD HITTING.

Meaghano (#529)

@JNC Musings Factory Oh man, hope it went well today. That late pregnancy Ikea trip I will truly never forget. Ha! I think I cried 3x. Ran away from Dustin twice. Bonded with another pregnant woman in the night light section. And we left the store with like, one $2 baby toy (a package of plush vegetables?! which are adorable though). OH and it might be too late, but if you buy the $3 wooden spice rack, it is a perfect baby book shelf. Look, ha:

garysixpack (#4,263)

NoseFrida nasal aspirator

We just used Q-tips. A specialized tool would have been better, but we bought the baby Q-tips on clearance at Babies-r-us.

Changing table

My old office desk with a changing pad on top. Worked fine, and the kid was basically toilet trained about the same time he outgrew the desk.

Wipes dispenser

We had one, and I never understood the point of it. We live in California, and the kid’s room was always heated to a balmy 65 anyway.

Srslythough (#2,483)

I agree with all this (my baby is 5 months old). Wipes dispenser- the weight inside is worth the $20 by itself. One-handed wipe grab is highly underrated and useful. And we happen to have the Beco Gemini too; you will definitely stop having to check for life. I believe we stopped around 3 months. (But you’re not crazy, we checked every few minutes until then.)

As for the NoseFrida, we have one but have never used it. I’m dying to (super love picking at things), but I can’t figure out when to use it. My daughter hasn’t ever been sick. Are there boogers hiding in there that I just can’t see? Should I just try it even though she’s not visibly snotty?

Marvelous. Dustin needs to write more things for The Billfold (also Meaghan, but she already does!).

Pro-tip: when you drop the pacifier somewhere of questionable cleanliness and you really want to delude yourself into thinking you are taking good care of your child, CLEAN THE PACIFIER WITH YOUR OWN MOUTH. Does this seem gross and probably not effective? Yes. But really, it’s like washing it off in the sink + suction + the parental martyr feeling of exposing yourself to all the pestilence from which you wish to shield your beloved infant. Do not underestimate the value of parental martyr feeling. It will carry you through long nights.

readyornot (#816)

This write-up is perfect. So much so I don’t even know what to say. I read it on my phone in the uber on the way to the airport yesterday afternoon, and then I made my husband read it immediately. He literally laughed out loud several times and then said, “that’s the best thing I’ve read in a long time.” Then he said, “I guess even though you’re 26 weeks and the baby would be viable we don’t have to run out and get the car seat.”

KristenM (#7,364)

I want you to know that I have zero children and this was the best thing I’ve read all week. Nerd crown that’s basically an upside-down cooler?? Are you kidding me?? Beautiful from start to finish. Also, that booger sucker is horrifying…maybe creating life would make me more willing to use my mouth suction to get boogers out of an infant’s nose?

frenz.lo (#455)

Timely! I’m due tomorrow. I don’t have most of these in any version, but I do have a bunch of crazy crap that relatives and co-workers have given to me. Baby’s gonna have to learn that we can’t have nice things.
Thanks to my parents and a terrifying and excellent local personage called The Carseat Lady, we do have an extremely high-tech and relatively easy to install car seat, which the Carseat Lady nonethless showed us how to install and told her about for well over an hour. (Part of the time was spent watching her give the what-for to another client, who had foolishly not heeded the Carseat Lady’s advice in carseat purchasing.)

ThatJenn (#916)

Oh god, I’m yet another happily-childless person who is so glad she clicked through to read this. Y’all are the best.

MeGaspar (#7,377)

We started with the Soothies with our now 4.5 month old, and got incredibly tired of constantly putting it back in. So I tried a Nuk we got as a baby shower gift, and ta-da! It stayed put! Life improved about 1000% shortly thereafter.

And you’ll love the Beco soon enough, when his head is strong enough to hold itself up and he’s decided that he hates facing inwards.

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