May 5, 2005

Impressionable Suckers R Us

In the Washington Post today, staff writer and dad-to-be Jeff Turrentine writes about the paralyzing horror of outfitting buying everything you need for the nursery.

He first writes about conspicuous consumption as a factor, but since he's really only shopping at generally middle-market, big box stores--Buy Buy Baby, Babies R Us--bling turns out not to be the problem, it's just the sheer volume of stuff new parents are told they "need."

"There will always be those who don't mind using their children to broadcast their wealth, but for the most part, America's $6 billion-a-year baby gear industry thrives on two seemingly incompatible mindsets that tend to coexist in new parents: terror and schmaltz."

Even though Turrentine is aware of this manipulation, I'm betting they've overstuffed their nursery anyway. Just wait, his "Wow, you can sell useless baby junk on ebay!" article will come out in a few months.

Blinging up Baby [washpost, reg. req., via DT reader XDM]


My favorite kind of trickery into consumption. You know you're being tricked or marketed into overconsuming, yet you still cannot help yourself. I have to admit the Products Editor for Babytalk would be the last person I would ask what should be on my must have list. We did buy a carseat, we didn't buy a stroller until Sophia was almost 10 months old, the Baby Bjorn worked just fine in Vermont winter (and we still don't use the stroller but prefer her Kelty backpack) and bought a used crib. So far she seems to have made it through her first 20 months just fine. Of course our weakness is the over 2 shelves of board books and other preschooler books.

I am proud to say that my son slept in a laundry basket for the first month of his life. Never-the-less, I confess to stroller envy and way too much $$ spent at baby gap.

Lee, love the laundry basket story... pure gold. I know someone who bought one of those big plastic Rubbermaid storage bins from Walmart and is using it for a baby bath, but your story beats that. :)

"Anyway, you'd never catch me wasting money on anything the baby doesn't need ... [quietly shuffles semi-pricey Italian stroller into closet] :)"

Seriously, whenever I go into Babies'R'Us, I get the overwhelming feeling that damn, there's a lot of plastic colorfully printed crap out there. (And conversely, when I go into the local high-end baby goods store, I get the impression that there's a lot of precious wooden overpriced crap out there as well.)

Living in a 560sq.ft. one-bedroom really does wonders to cure the urge to buy piles of useless baby stuff, though. I'm counting the days until we can put the Fisher Price swing and baby tub (bought as a set for $30) back up on ebay, and trim back even more of the baby-goods "fat"...

By the time the kid is 6, if you live your life right, the amount of brightly colored plastic crap in your life goes way, way, down. Sure, there are the random small toys but the kid's sitting in normal chairs, no more plastic adaptations of toilets or tubs are around, and they're too big to have indoor swings.

And then -- surprise! -- another baby and you start the cycle over again.

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