It honestly amazes me how well manufacturers are at duping new parents into thinking they NEED to buy very specific--and expensive--things for their babies. Of course we all want to make sure we are doing everything right when it comes to our little ones, so obviously we are super-susceptible to the influence of the marketing that is pushed on us on a daily basis. But, I'm here to tell you that while some things are great for convenience and perfectly fine if you just WANT to have them, there are several baby items that you 100 percent DO NOT have to buy just because it comes with the "baby" label. Here are five products that you can save money on by purchasing them outside of the baby aisle:

1. Baby powder. I'll start off by saying there is really no necessity for baby powder at all, and you should never use talcum baby powder on a baby--it is a respiratory hazard. It's fine to use baby powder that is made from pure cornstarch, but you can actually just use straight up corn starch. Yes, the stuff in the yellow box in the baking section. It's the exact same thing that you'll find in the baby powder bottle, minus the fragrance and the jacked up price tag. And since most fragrances are chemical concoctions, the cheaper, baking aise option is also a healthier one.

2. Yogurt. I implore you to stay far, far away from the "baby" yogurt. First off, the price is astronomical and secondly, this stuff usually contains added sugar and flavorings that your baby just doesn't need. It's perfectly and even preferable to start your little one off on plain Greek or regular yogurt with no added flavorings. Though my son takes the unflavored stuff without a problem, we'll often add in some of his homemade purees to give it some oomph. You can do the same if you use store-bought baby food. Just be sure to look for full-fat yogurt as it has the most nutrition.

3. Juice. I simply do not understand why it's necessary to only offer your baby juice that is specifically for babies. It's the exact same stuff you'll find in the regular juice aisle, except it comes in a much smaller bottle with a much higher price tag. Just buy a big jug of 100 percent, no-sweetener added juice and dilute it. You should dilute the "baby" stuff too, so there isn't even any extra work involved.

4. Laundry detergent. You know that tiny pink and white bottle of laundry detergent that you paid an arm and a leg for? It's actually not good for your baby's skin. It's full of chemicals and artificial fragrances. Ages ago when there weren't greener options available, it may have been the best thing to use, but that's just not the case any more. Instead, just switch the whole family to a detergent that is free of harsh chemicals, dyes and fragrances. Chances are, your favorite brand makes one and sells it for close to the same price as the standard stuff.

5. Snacks. The snacks you find in the baby food aisle are certainly convenient and with the tons of organic and all-natural options you'll find lining the shelves these days, there's really nothing wrong with them. However, if you spend most of your days at home or your budget is really tight, there are other options. I recently discovered that a giant family-size box of plain Cheerios costs less than the tiny container of puffs I bought that lasted only a week. You can also pull some of your dinner veggies aside, cut them into sticks and steam or roast them and store them in an airtight container in the fridge for a few day's worth of healthy snacks. You can even feed your baby freeze dried fruit from the regular snack aisle. Just make sure it's the kind with no added sweeteners. 

Image via .michael.newman./Flickr

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About the author

Shayne Rodriguez Thompson is a full-time wife, full-time mom, and freelance journalist trying to balance it all and looking forward to exploring the world with her son and husband. In her rare spare moments, she's a pop culture junkie and kitchen devotee who makes a mean cupcake!

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