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Nine things new parents think they need and the more practical alternatives.

No, you actually don't need a 'pee pee teepee.'

new parents; baby; newborn; baby items
Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash

Things new parents think they need but don't.

There's nothing like preparing for a new baby. The excitement and anticipation take hold and before you know what's happening, your baby registry is five pages long full of things you've probably never heard of. I've been there before, and now, four kids later, I can tell you with absolute certainty that there are tons of things you actually don't need. It's easy to get carried away when everything is so tiny and cute, especially 'cause marketing around baby stuff is bananas. The following offers some alternative items to the ones you'll likely only use a limited number of times before practicality takes over.


Many of us have been there, standing in the baby aisle looking like we're smuggling an oddly shaped beach ball under our now-too-small maternity shirt contemplating between the many styles of pacifiers and different types of bottles. You'd be forgiven for spending an insane amount of money on bottles shaped like a deflated spaceship that guarantee your baby will never burp, when two weeks after they're born you find out your baby actually prefers the $0.98 ones from Walmart. Figuring out what you really need is tricky enough, so let me help you out. Hold on to your bellies or shiny new babies folks, this list might blow your mind.

Baby wipes.

Baby wipes from Amazon

1. Put the Pee Pee Teepee down and back away slowly.

Aside from the word "teepee" being highly inappropriate for non-Indigenous people to use, you can go ahead and take this bad boy off your baby registry. If you're not familiar with a "pee pee teepee," it's a cone-shaped item that goes on top of your little guy's business so he doesn't accidentally pee in his eyes or on the unsuspecting diaper changer. Here's the thing, baby wipes or a baby washcloth work just as well. When my boys were little I'd just throw a wipe over their baby business while I changed the diaper, and once the dirty diaper was off, it's easy to toss the used wipe in before trashing the diaper. Easy peasy and it's one less thing to put on your list.

Disposable diaper bags.

Disposable diaper bags from Amazon

2. Diaper Genies are unnecessary and it's easy to forget they exist.

I had such high hopes for my Diaper Genie as a first-time mom. They're so cool, you shove a dirty diaper in there and twist. That's it. It locks in the odor and makes a weird-looking segmented snake of dirty diapers. Alas, when your diaper pail is in one room and you're changing a diaper on a wiggly baby in another, most times the diaper just winds up in the closest trash can. So just buy some small cheap trash cans to put in different rooms and then empty them at the end of the day. There's only so much odor a diaper genie can hold and they only take special expensive trash bags. Save your money. Get some small trash cans and those little smell good bags to toss the smelly diapers.

Receiving blankets.

Receiving blankets from Amazon

3. You can buy a swaddler but you don't actually need it.

I know this might be a controversial statement, but honestly those swaddlers are really expensive and babies quickly outgrow them. You can do the perfect swaddle with a receiving blanket for a fraction of the price and just as much energy. You know how babies come all bundled up when the nurse brings them in from the nursery? Yeah, that's a really good swaddle that will give your snuggle bug the same coziness as an expensive swaddler.

Portable baby formula dispenser.

Portable baby formula dispenser from Amazon

4. You don't have to be fancy and get a Baby Brezza.

Honestly, I had never heard of a Baby Brezza until I had my youngest, so I'm assuming its a newer invention. They're certainly cool and also really expensive and unnecessary. These little doodads are like baby Keurigs but for formula. They hold powdered formula and water, you press a button and it supposedly perfectly mixes up a warm bottle of sustenance. The price tag on these things are about the same as a larger much more needed baby item, like a car seat-stroller combo. There have also been some concerns raised by pediatricians due to some bottles not getting enough formula added.

Take the guesswork out of it and just fill the bottles by hand. You can even put water in the bottles in advance and leave them out at room temperature and use a portable formula container to put premeasured scoops in. I know it's no Baby Brezza, but you'll be $200 richer and know exactly how much formula is going into your baby's bottle.

Bottle drying rack.

Bottle drying rack from Amazon

5. Your baby doesn't need fake grass to dry their bottles on.

Don't laugh, a fake grass bottle dryer is something that actually once sat on my kitchen counter. That's about all it did because I dang sure didn't use it for more than the first week. When you're sleep deprived, you want the easiest thing available and oftentimes that's the top rack of the dishwasher or the dish rack that's already on your countertop. The things we get suckered into buying is laughable sometimes. Besides it being esthetically pleasing, you don't actually need it and a regular bottle rack, in fact, works better because there are no removable trees holding the nipples.

Receiving blankets.

Receiving blankets from Amazon

6. Side eye anyone that says you need embroidered burp cloths.

Don't fall for it. Yes, purpose-made burp cloths can be super cute but they're literally used to catch baby puke. These things are too small to cover the area needed to prevent your back and shoulder from becoming a casualty of a little guy eating too fast. Remember those receiving blankets we talked about earlier? Yeah, they are much more absorbent and cover more of your body to spare you having to change clothes. Those flannel blankets are versatile. You can use them for swaddling, to cover a car seat or stroller, for burp cloths or even a clean area to change the baby on. There's no such thing as too many receiving blankets. I'll make it easy for you, grab a pack here.

NoseFrida.

NoseFrida from Amazon

7. Skip the bulb syringe and splurge on the NoseFrida.

The hospital will give you a useless bulb syringe that only the nurses know how to work, because I swear no matter how hard you squeeze the bulb you barely get anything out. Bulb syringes even come with many newborn essential sets. I'm sure they work, but they seem to take way too much effort for the little bit of mucus they pull out. Get the NoseFrida—yes, it's a little more expensive but it's worth it, even though it seems gross. I promise the hygiene filter that goes in the tube will spare you from getting baby boogers in your mouth. You can literally use that thing well into the toddler years until your little one learns to blow their nose. Can't speak highly enough of this thing and here's a link to it here.

Pack 'n' Play

Basic Pack 'n' Play from Amazon

8. Do you really need a Pack 'n' Play that turns into a rocket ship?

OK, maybe it doesn't turn into a rocket ship but some of those things are so outrageous that you might need to be a rocket scientist to put it together. Pack 'n' Plays are really convenient and a great investment for new parents, especially if you like to travel or have family out of state. You can use it so your baby can sleep in your bedroom until you're ready for the switch to sleeping away from your little one. Just try not to get distracted by all the bells and whistles and stick to the basics. A Pack 'n' Play with a bassinet is really all you need. It's much cheaper and you'll use the bassinet piece much longer than the ones that come with other parts.

Teething rings.

Teething rings from Amazon

9. Expensive teething jewelry is overrated.

Fancy teething jewelry is cute and has become quite popular lately, but babies don't really need it. They are perfectly happy with the normal water-filled teething rings or rubber ones that can be thrown in any diaper bag. They're tried and true, plus they're designed specifically for teething. While the jewelry is marketed for teething babies, doctors have warned that they're not safe enough to use for that purpose. Besides, having a baby is expensive enough, no need to add to it when you can pick up teething rings at just about any store for a reasonable price.

The idea that everything for babies has to be the most expensive top-of-the-line things is just marketing. When it comes down to it, babies need very basic things: a safe place to sleep, food, diapers and lots of love. Everything else is extra and you can be as extra as you'd like but it should never feel like it's a necessity. Your baby will love you whether you have the Baby Brezza or mix their bottles by hand, promise.


This article originally appeared on 9.16.22

Education

Someone criticized a middle school teacher's behavior. Her comeback was an A+.

When a person commented, "your a teacher act like it," Amy Allen hilariously took the advice to heart.

A rude commenter got a lesson from Ms. Allen.

Being a teacher isn't easy. Teaching middle school students is especially not easy. Teaching middle school students who spent several of their formative years going through a global pandemic in the age of smartphones, social media and a youth mental health crisis is downright heroic.

If you haven't spent time in a middle school classroom, you may not fully grasp the intensity of it on every level, from the awkwardness to the body odor to the delightful hilarity that tweens bring to the table. When you connect with your students, it can be incredibly rewarding, and when you don't…well, we all read "Lord of the Flies," right?

Skilled teachers bring out the best in young people, and that can be done in many different ways. For Amy Allen, it's by making her middle school classroom a fun, welcoming place to learn and by bonding with her students.


"I love teaching middle schoolers because they are awkward, and I’m awkward, so we get along," Allen tells Upworthy.

She plays games with students, gets rambunctious with them and creates opportunities for them to expend some of that intense pre-and-early-teen energy in healthy ways. For instance, she shared a video of a game of "grudgeball," an active trivia game that makes reviewing for a quiz or test fun and competitive, and you can see how high-energy her classroom is:

@_queenoftheclassroom

If this looks like fun to you, pick up my grudgeball template (🔗 in bio) #qotc #grudgeball #10outof10recommend @Amy Allen ☀️ @Amy Allen ☀️ @Amy Allen ☀️

"I think for teachers, we always want to create moments for our students that are beyond the standard reading, writing, memorizing, quiz, 'traditional learning,'" Allen says. "Games are a great way to incorporate fun in the classroom."

Allen clearly enjoyed the game as much as her students—"I love the chaos!" she says— and there's absolutely nothing wrong with that. Fun keeps teachers sane, too. But one person took issue with her classroom behavior and commented, "your a teacher act like it." (Not my typo—that's exactly what the person wrote, only with no period.)

Allen addressed the comment in another video in the most perfect way possible—by acting exactly like a teacher.

Watch:

@_queenoftheclassroom

Replying to @كل الكلبات تريد مني Come see me if you have any further questions. #qotc #iteachmiddleschool #weDEFINITELYdonthavefuninhere @Amy Allen ☀️ @Amy Allen ☀️ @Amy Allen ☀️ #Inverted

There are two solid ways to handle a rude comment without making things worse—you can ignore it or you can craft a response that makes the person look like a fool without being cruel or rude yourself. Allen's grammar lesson response was A+ work, right down to the "Come see me if you have any further questions" caption.

In fact, the person apparently went back and deleted their comment after the comeback video went viral, which makes it all the more hilarious. The video currently has more than 4 million views on TikTok and over 18 million views on YouTube.

"What’s funny is I left my correction on the board accidentally, and the next day, students asked me what that was all about," Allen says. "When I explained it, they thought it was cool because 'why would anyone go after Ms. Allen'? At that point, the video had maybe 10,000 views. I never imagined the video would go viral."

Two days later, as the video was creeping toward a million views, she upped the stakes. "Some of my students are my ultimate hype people, and they were tracking it harder than I was," she says. "I made a 'deal' with my fifth period if it reached 1 million during their class, they could sit wherever they wanted the entire week. During lunch, I checked, and it reached 1 million. So when they came back from recess, I announced it, and it was like I was a rockstar. They screamed and cheered for me. It was an incredible moment for me."

The irony, of course, is that Allen was acting like a teacher in her grudgeball video—an engaged teacher with engaged students who are actively participating in the learning process. Just because it doesn't look like serious study doesn't mean it's not learning, and for some kids, this kind of activity might be far more effective at helping them remember things they've learned (in this case, vocabulary words) than less energetic ways of reviewing.

Allen has her thumb on the pulse of her students and goes out of her way to meet them where they are. Last year, for instance, she created a "mental health day" for her students. "I could tell they were getting burnt out from all the state tests, regular homework, and personal life extracurricular activities that many of my students participate in," she says. "We went to my school library for 'fireside reading,' solved a murder mystery, built blanket forts, watched the World Cup, colored, and completed sudokus. Is it part of the curriculum? No. Is it worth spending one class period doing something mentally rewarding for students? Absolutely."

Teaching middle school requires a lot of different skills, but perhaps the most important one is to connect with students, partly because it's far easier to teach someone actually wants to be in your classroom and partly because effective teaching is about so much more than just academics. A teacher might be the most caring, stable, trustworthy adult in some students' lives. What looks like silly fun and games in a classroom can actually help students feel safe and welcomed and valued, knowing that a teacher cares enough to try to make learning as enjoyable as possible. Plus, shared laughter in a classroom helps build a community of engaged learners, which is exactly what a classroom should be.

Keep up the awesome work, Ms. Allen, both in the classroom and in the comment section.

You can follow Amy Allen on TikTok and YouTube.

89Stocker and cottonbro studios|Canva

Mom makes case for getting life insurance on child's other parent

Nobody wants to think about what happens if their child's other parent dies unexpectedly. It's not a pleasant topic but unfortunately it is something that happens sometimes and parents have to do their best to pick up the pieces after such a tragic loss. One mom, had the unfortunate experience of living through this tragedy and she took to social media to explain the steps she took to prepare for this day.

Kelsey Pumel, a multi-hyphenate TikTok creator recently had to help her young daughter process the unexpected loss of her biological father. Pumel and Kobe's father were never married and had broken up years prior but she admits to carrying a life insurance policy on him. The topic was brought up when her viewers informed her that she should file for social security death benefits to assist with the financial responsibility of caring for Kobe.

That's when the mom of five revealed that she took out a life insurance policy on Kobe's father when she was pregnant for multiple reasons.


"I have gotten many rude comments about the life insurance and some wild accusations made but I'm going to say this and I need y'all to hear me. If you have a child with somebody, you should have life insurance one that person, period," Pumel says. "If something were to happen, you're going to get that kickback of money to help you either raise your kids or to make up for the income that is now missing."

In a follow up video she clarifies that you do need the other person's consent in order to take out the policy. Pumel also answers the question on what she's doing with the insurance money after the death of her child's father.

"When I first got the money, I did take a chunk of it and I paid off all of my student loans, now stick with me. Why did I do that? Well, I had about $95K worth of student loans, my interest was over $6K a year. I wasn't even cutting any of it down trying to pay it with that type of interest." She reveals after talking it over with her dad who was helping pay the loans.

"So we came up with a payment plan that pays the entire $95K plus interest back to Kobe, paying it monthly into a 529 Plan, which is a college fund for her. So all that money will go into that plan for her. If she doesn't go to college or doesn't use all of it, it will be kicked over in an investment account that she will be able to pull at retirement age."

@growingwithkelsey

Replying to @bossyasf83 Correct me if im wrong about SS benefits but thats what I was told. But Kobe is going to be alright! I promise you I am getting her the brightest future possible set up! ♥️🫶🏼 #lifeinsurance

Not only is Pumel making sure Kobe has money to retire with, she's taking some of the money and putting it into a high yield account for her daughter. She also plans to buy a real estate property that will go to the little girl when she turns 18. Really, Pumel has thought of everything she could to make sure her daughter is set up to be financially secure her entire life.

While no one wishes for their children to experience the death of a parent before their time, this mom proves that having a life insurance policy on a coparent is simply a smart choice. Parents in the comments are applauding her for talking about this so openly.

@growingwithkelsey

Replying to @ohitsamber84 There are so many ways to set up an financial future for your children without big chunks of money! I strongly recommend talking with a financial advisor if you have kids and seeing what options you may have to ensure them a strong future. ♥️🫶🏼

"And BOOM that is how generational wealth is made baby! Good for you mama," one person says.

"Girl your daughter may not understand now. But when she gets older she will thank you immensely," another writes.

"That's perfect! Exactly what she'll need! Car, college, house...set her up to have no debt," someone else proclaims.

There's one word you can't say on a cruise ship.

On December 10, Royal Caribbean’s Serenade of the Seas set sail on the Ultimate World Cruise—a 274-day global trek that visits 11 world wonders and over 60 countries. This incredible trip covers the Americas, Asia Pacific, Middle East, Mediterranean and Europe with a ticket price that ranges from $53,999 to $117,599 per passenger.

Aboard the Serenade to the Seas is popular TikToker Marc Sebastian, who has been sharing his experience on the platform.

In a recent video with over 4.3 million views, he revealed what he’s learned over his first few weeks aboard the ship; the biggest was the one word you’re not allowed to say: Titanic.


“Who knew that? I didn’t,” Sebastian said. “I brought it up to an entire room of people having lunch that our ship is only 100 feet longer than the Titanic — when I tell you that utensils dropped. Waiters gasped. It’s dead silent.”

@marcsebastianf

someone get whoopi on the line girl i have some goss for her #ultimateworldcruise #worldcruise #serenadeoftheseas #cruisetok #cruise #9monthcruise #titanic

After the unexpected reaction, his cruise friend told him, “You’re not allowed to talk about the Titanic.” It makes sense. Who wants to be reminded of the tragedy that killed around 1,500 people while sinking one of the most impressive engineering feats of the era? "When I went on a cruise, my mom told me saying Titanic was equivalent to screaming ‘bomb’ at an airport," Mikayla wrote in the comments.

Later in the video, Sebastian admits he was surprised to learn that cruise ships have godmothers and that the pools are filled with seawater.


This article originally appeared on 1.25.24

@inspiringbelfast/TikTok

Maybe this dose of wholesome humanity brighten your day.

Imagine walking down the street, minding your own business, when a complete stranger unfurls a red carpet at your feet. What do you do? Awkwardly avoid it and continue along your route? Tell the person off for not respecting boundaries? Or do you wholeheartedly accept the impromptu invitation and strut your best stuff?

For the passersby of Belfast, option three was the only choice.

Alan Wallace, who routinely posts uplifting videos that “share the warmth” of his hometown over on TikTok, recently added a video of himself going up to random folks on the street and giving them a moment to shine. And let’s just say, they nailed it.


Folks from all walks of life—including a construction worker that could be Michael Sheen’s doppelgänger—lit up at the opportunity to catwalk, skateboard, cartwheel and even do the worm down the crimson strip.

In a mere matter of seconds, we see all that humanity has to offer—humor, free expression, joy, inclusivity, connection. Such powerful stuff shown in the simplest way.

Even if the moment wasn’t quite as spontaneous as the video makes it appear (Wallace likely asked for permission before rolling the carpet out each time) these people still agreed to play. And that’s what’s magical about it.

“Everyone understood the assignment, from young to old, it was perfect,” one viewer wrote.

@inspiringbelfast Red carpet for strangers in Belfast #inspiringbelfast #belfastcity #belfast #heartwarming ♬ Beautiful Things (Sped Up) - Benson Boone

It’s natural for most people to not want to interact with strangers. And of course there are legitimate safety reasons influencing this instinct. But a lot of the time our avoidance comes from expecting things to be unenjoyable. And yet, research shows not only that people are often pleasantly surprised by how much connection, kindness, belonging and optimism they end up experiencing.

So maybe we don’t need a red carpet to simply enjoy saying hi to someone we meet on the street and reaping the benefits. But hey, it certainly helps.

Representative Image from Canva

Every parent should know about this game. Many have experienced it as kids.

Nurse and mom Jinny Schmidt wants parents to be aware of a game that’s circulating amongst tweens right now, because it’s not a game at all.

In a PSA posted to her TikTok, Schmidt shared that her daughter informed her that boys in her class were beginning to play what she called “The Firetruck Game.”

As Schmidt begins to describe what the “game” entails, it’s easy to see why she’s concerned. All parents should be.


Here’s how the game works: a boy puts his hand on a girl’s lower thigh. And he tells her “my hand is a firetruck” as he slowly moves it up her leg. When the girl gets uncomfortable, she is supposed to say “red light.” Except for when the girl says “red light,” the boy responds with “sorry, firetrucks don’t stop for red lights.” And so they run their hand all the way up the girl’s leg, Schmidt explains, and sometimes they “touch the girl’s crotch.” Yikes.

Many viewers noted growing up with the Firetruck Game, or a version called “The Nervous Game,” or “Red Light Green Light.” Suddenly The “Squid Game” version of “Red Light Green Light” doesn’t seem so bad.

No matter what it’s called, though, it’s touching without consent, and is inappropriate on so many levels, not least of which being that it’s an excuse for sexual assault. Hence Schmidt’s alarm.

“I know that kids will be kids and kids will do some stupid shit, But we’ve got to do better teaching our boys to keep their hands off of other people and teaching our girls that it’s okay to have boundaries,” she says, before asking parents to “be aware” if they hear their kids talking about it.
@the.funny.nurse Y’all gonna see me on the 6 O’clock news. #jrhigh #kids #tween #preteen #parents #moms #momsoftiktok #dads #dadsoftiktok #teacher #teachersoftiktok #publicschool #school #firetruck #firetruckgame #firetruckgameawareness #girls #boys #game ♬ original sound - Jin-Jin

And she is, of course, absolutely right. Folks who watched her video wholeheartedly agreed that the behavior should not be tolerated, and many shared some pretty intense, although warranted, reactions to it.

“We’d be playing a game called Ambulance next,” one person wrote.

“Press charges,” said another.

“We have a game also. It’s called ‘oops I broke your finger,’” a third added.

But many also chimed in to say that they would be talking to their kids immediately about it, which is probably the best route overall. That way kids can protect themselves, and others around them.

Middle school years in general are pretty rough. They can be just as difficult to navigate for parents as they can be for the kids going through it. It’s painful to watch your still baby-faced child go through many of the same awful pains that you did, many of which are unavoidable. But some things, like terrible and abusive games, can be avoided. So make sure to have those important conversations when you can.