Six Timeless Baby Products Way Better Than Expensive Newfangled Alternatives

Baby gowns and the Little Tikes Cozy Coupe

It’s tempting for the overwhelmed new parent, in her sleep-deprived fog, to attempt to solve every unexpected problem by buying the highest-tech, priciest product on the shelf. Keep it. These old-school products and toys do the job better than their modern equivalents. Simple, low-tech, and trusted, they are the epitome of “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”

Clipping my newborn’s nails felt a bit like defusing a bomb. After nicking his fingertips the first time, I was ready to spend any amount of money to save both of us the tears of ever having to do it again. I am clearly not alone, because Amazon is chock-full of electric nail trimmers and buffers, plus clippers that come with built-in magnifying glasses and flashlights. But the answer isn’t to add tech to your clippers—it’s to embrace nail scissors, another simple machine that is easy to maneuver and to see over, allowing for precision around those tiny fingers.

There have been a lot of developments in the world of baby diapers since our moms were changing us. Baby powder is out and cloth diapers are back in, but for irritated skin, the 90-year-old formula of Aquaphor reigns supreme. The whole family can use it for dry and chapped skin, and the clear jelly doesn’t stick to sheets, clothes, or fingers.

I was looking forward to feeding my little one cereal puffs—one for him, one for me. But a quick survey of the nutrition label on his favorite flavors showed that they had more sugar per serving than I expected. No wonder they were his favorites! Plus, each 1.5 oz. can of baby-branded puffs was $3—more than we wanted to spend on food that mostly ended up on the floor, in the ceiling fan, or inside his diaper somehow. Why spend all that money when a big box of old-fashioned Cheerios gives you weeks’ worth of easy-to-grasp, easy-to-chew O’s?

It’s a simple toy—a steering wheel, a honker, and a removable floor for when baby’s little legs can power the vehicle himself. The classic red-and-yellow Cozy Coupe leaves a lot of play to the imagination, unlike modern motor-powered cars that cost up to $400 and come with working radios, microphones, and taillights. Simplicity is a common theme among retro toys, which seem to come with less noise and fewer batteries to change.

Here’s what you don’t want to do four times a night: unwrap a swaddle, unbutton the tiny buttons on those adorable footie pajamas, change a dirty diaper, rebutton, and reswaddle. By the time you’re done, you’re both wide-awake and probably screaming. For centuries, the clothing of choice for babies of any gender was a simple gown with an open bottom. As it happens, the old-timey sleep gown makes diaper changes a breeze! You can still find them quite easily, and wouldn’t they make potty training simpler too?

Like many parents, we dismantled and threw out our baby walker when another round of headlines started circulating about their dangers. The corn popper, another simple classic, doesn’t claim to teach babies how to walk, but promotes walking in babies who are ready to do so on their own. Newer baby push toys resemble the control panels of nuclear submarines, with buttons and dials that light up and talk. The simpler Fisher-Price version allows baby to focus on walking—which, frankly, is difficult enough.

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