Dear Brand New Mom,
Do you think that all this baby gear is OVERWHELMING!!? As you prepare for your new arrival, new parents are faced with decisions of “what do we need vs. want” coupled with “what can we afford”? The options seem endless. Then the baby arrives and you put all that stuff to use. Or do you? Do you feel like you have to use it because someone gave it to you or you thought it was something you needed? It’s easy to get caught up in the latest trends in baby gear, a multi- billion-dollar industry.
At the risk of sounding like an old fuddy-duddy and saying “back in my day….” (which, for the record, was less than 9 years ago), I do have to say that some of the products I see today are a result of marketing hype. New parents may be drawn in to the idea that they need ALL OF THE THINGS: wipes warmer, pee pee cover (for boys), interchangeable high chair cover pads, a unique pitcher for hair washing in the tub, a specialized grape cutter tool… and the list goes on.
Some of the new products meet a specific need and are very useful (especially with regard to safety advances), but I feel like the perceived needs have gotten out of hand.
Someone shared a story that really impacted me: An expectant mother was in the baby monitor aisle and was talking to her partner [presumably] on the phone. She was asking which one they should buy: the more expensive video monitor was probably the best, right? It had all the bells and whistles. She said, “I think we should just get this one; we can pay our electric bill late I guess.” Baby gear (and not *essentials*) vs. standard of living necessities. Is this what we are choosing between?
I don’t believe this mom’s story is an isolated case. But even for families with the ability to buy whatever they want, it’s easy to get overwhelmed by the hype. Our houses fill with gear. Our diaper bags fill with stuff. Our kids’ rooms fill with toys they don’t play with. Our dressers and closets overflow with clothes they might wear five times before they outgrow them.
- I propose that you keep it simple.
- Focus on the basics and avoid being overwhelmed.
- Do you need a specialized product when something else would suffice?
- Could you wait to see if your child really would like something like a rocker or bouncy seat, or need something like colic relief?
- Can you trade baby gear that didn’t work for you or your child with a friend?
- Many children in many countries (including our own) successfully grow up without the most trendy or current gadget that’s pulling you in.
In retrospect, I can say I wish I’d bought less. Ultimately, you need very little to raise a happy, healthy child.
A Mom Who’s Been There (and who was sucked into buying unnecessary stuff)
Jen Winckler is a Newborn PEPS leader in Snohomish County. She is a stay at home mom (aka. Volunteeraholic) to two boys, ages 11 and 9, and is still trying to navigate the constant curve balls that parenting dishes out. She used to dread the minivan driving soccer mom title, but has come to love watching her boys play their hearts out (and did sell the minivan as soon as they could open their own doors without banging the car in the next stall).