Sometimes I am caught unawares and I find myself staring at a wall of beautiful baby gear. The funky carriers, the new toys -- everything is so beautiful and well-designed. The consumer in me combines with the baby lover and takes over my body and I yearn to have another infant. One that I could carry around in a beautiful brocade sling with natural wooden toys, wearing environmentally-friendly bamboo clothing. Every year they come out with products that make new mommyhood seem so much easier!
But the sad truth is that most of it is useless. But wow it looks so good!
When my husband and I went to our baby classes, we were told that the only thing that you need to have a baby is "you". They can sleep in the dresser drawer, we were told. And we laughed ourselves silly (we were kind of naughty baby class attendees) imagining our darling child covered in socks and old T-shirts.
The shopping for our unborn child took days, it filled up our weekends. The urgency to find the perfect bouncy chair, the prefect linens, the change table debate was endless, and of course the hunt for the perfect stroller. The stroller that would solve all our problems, it would be light enough to fold up, it would hold the infant seat, it would soothe our baby and take us all over the world.
And then I got put on bedrest for the final two months and I didn’t get to do anything. These were the days before Internet shopping, I couldn’t pick the clothes, the diaper bag, the stroller or even the crib sheets. It was all a surprise and guess what? It was all fine.
The crib didn’t matter, our baby ended up in our bed for months sleeping with one of my T-shirts in a futile attempt to gain some separation. After months on bedrest I found that a backpack was way more comfortable than any fancy, heavy diaper bag. And buy the time I got to my third child I wasn’t carrying around anything but a diaper, some wipes and maybe a little snack. (Yes, that does mean I went out without extra toys, or diaper cream or a diaper pad and she is perfectly fine.)
The bassinet and the change table were never used, the floor is so much more convenient. If you are shopping for a baby right now, read this, everything they say is true!
And since the birth of my first child, and even since the birth of my youngest four years ago, there has been an explosion of baby products. Everything looks better and more useful, like it would simultaneously erase the burden of new parenthood while also creating a brilliant, healthy child who sleeps and poops on request.
But all it does is prey on the anxiety of new and expectant parents. Having a baby is such an incredible unknown that sometimes it feels like you can just buy your way out of it. But, the right crib won’t make your baby sleep longer, the right baby carrier won’t completely take away your back pain and the right bowls and cutlery won’t turn them into great eaters. And no stroller is perfect, you will probably end up with more than one anyways, maybe even more than two, plus a wagon.
If they really wanted to make things better for new parents someone would design an infant car seat that a parent could carry a 15 pound baby in without hurting themselves. And some kind of alarm that wakes up a the dad when the baby is crying... that would be worth the money!