From the moment a pregnancy is confirmed to the day the new baby is welcomed home, parents (and grandparents, sisters, friends...) embark on a shopping frenzy that outspends most previous shopping sprees. The baby-product industry generates $23 billion in sales each year but do we really need all that cute stuff? Industry insiders say we don't but they're glad we buy it anyway.
Here are 10 secrets of the industry you may want to consider the next time you’re tempted to splurge on just one more item that is totally irresistible (or useful, functional, protective, or perfect in any way).
- You Probably Don't Need It
You will need diapers, a car seat, something safe for the baby to sleep on, bottles to feed it, and things like that. Wipe warmers? Not likely. Insiders say hold off on purchases such as swings till your child shows interest in another baby's swing.
- Forget Fancy Toys
Babies learn by initiating play. Toys bedecked with bells, whistles, whirligigs, and other extras eliminate the need to initiate. Forget the fancy and go for the tried-and-true: books, dolls, puzzles, and wooden blocks.
- Listen to Your Gut
Your parental instincts become sharper during pregnancy and grow even sharper once the baby's born. Relying too heavily on the advice of others can undermine self-confidence.
- Teething is Normal
But there are miles of aisles selling teething remedies and aids. Teething causes more itch than pain. Avoid drugs and gimmicks. Let the baby chew on a cool, wet washcloth instead.
- Formula is Easy
Annual US sales of baby formula reach $5 billion and samples are in most hospital discharge bags. Coincidence? Give breastfeeding an honest chance before switching to formula.
- Organic is Only Organic on the Farm
The organic baby food industry is booming. Organic labels on milk and baby foods only mean the original ingredients (milk, carrots, etc.) were produced organically. The definition of organic varies so widely it's impossible to know what it means. Once those items leave the farm, there are no production standards that separate organically grown from the rest of the stuff out there. No worries, though. The most strict production standards in the US are for baby foods. All baby foods.
- The Industry Loves Blogging Mommies
New mothers love blogging mommies, too. Baby product manufacturers, including producers of baby food products, send all the latest gadgets and gizmos to moms who blog so they can write about how wonderful these free products are. Moms trust other moms so moms buy what other mothers blog about.
- Safety Isn't Always a Priority
Think soft cushy crib bumpers, baby monitor batteries that leak, car seats with faulty buckles. We expect safety to be a priority with products manufactured for babies and kids but a continuous stream of product recalls suggest a need for caution. Baby walkers, for example, can tilt and roll down stairs, causing injury but they do nothing at all to help a baby learn to walk and parents love them.
- Baby Apps Are For Parents
"Learning" apps, TV shows, and videos don't stimulate intellectual development and may impair a child's emotional development. Parents teach children, electronic devices don’t. Parents who rely too heavily on babysitting with electronic gadgets risk distancing themselves emotionally from the baby.
- Apps Don't Prepare Kids for School
Parents do. Real life with nurturing attentive parents does prepare children for school. Remove marketing companies from your child’s life. More than anything in the world, the child needs you.
Source: O'Brien, Elizabeth. "10 things the baby-product industry won't tell you." Market Watch / The Wall Street Journal. MarketWatch, Inc. Apr 15, 2014. Web. Apr 29, 2014.