One of the unanticipated lessons of last week's JPMA show: nobody reads the manuals. For anything.
As I was talking to makers of everything from carseat adapters to baby carriers to infant swings to strollers to flushable diapers, I found the same message in different forms--the only thing more annoying than manuals is the problems that come from not reading them.
Some examples: the car seat backpack maker who had the manual warnings stitched onto the straps of his product in big yellow letters ["Because you can warn people not to put a kid in there, but some knucklehead's gonna try it unless you slap a big label on it."]
gDiapers: When I mentioned a couple of people had emailed to see if I'd had problems getting the diapers to dissolve, too, and that they'd had to call the plumbers, the gDiapers lady sighed. "But they're not supposed to dissolve; it says that in the instructions. You're supposed to break them up as much as possible with this stick [pointing to the swizzle stick, which I suddenly thought would look great with a daddytypes.com logo running down the center, sort of a urinal ad for the 21st century father]" gDiapers had originally put the instructions on the cardboard sleeve [called a "hug," btw] that wraps around their award-winning packaging, but they quickly found out that not only did people not read it, they threw the hug away about 5 seconds after getting the box home. Oh well. So now they include an instruction manual.
Considering that I met two exhibitor dads who complained about nobody reading their manuals, and who use gDiapers, and who admitted their own plumbing problems arose after they didn't read the instructions, I'll just make an official daddytypes plea right now:
IF YOU USE GDIAPERS, READ AND FOLLOW THE INSTRUCTIONS.
Once they put it together, nobody reads the manual, says the Bugaboo folks. One problem that comes up a lot lately as a result: overinflated tires. [The correct pressure is 15psi, still soft enough to smush in with your thumb, and much softer than a bike tire. Turns out they've issued a separate notice and have started a Bugaboo pressure gauge distribution program in Europe as a result.
But it's all in the manual.]
And the greatest was Madamar Productions, a new line of solid maple baby gear designed by a former Kenneth Cole exec, which is designed to blend into the kind of upscale, earth-toned nesting decor, the kind that involves a lot of scented candles and deep sofas and weekends in Jackson Hole. Madamar's products are so intuitive and elemental, I was told during a demonstration of the simple peg/latch assembly, "that --and we're working with the JPMA on this--I'd love to ship them without manuals."
[update: Madamar is launching with the Victoria Staten brand. victoriastaten.com, folks.]
Previously: Kid to Dad: RTFM