Without the worries, fears and anxious naivety of new parents, there wouldn’t be a baby products industry.
Fear sells, and the fear of accidentally damaging your own precious bundle by not owning the right stuff sells a LOT.
Cots, carriers, car seats and cuddly toys are the bread-and-butter of the baby business.
When you add bumpers, bottle warmers, bouncers, bath stands and baby monitors, parents can easily spend tens of thousands of dollars before their growing fetus has even developed a face.
When a fairly basic stroller can cost $150 and mums-to-be are willing to fork out more than 80 bucks for a single sprog-sized sleeping bag, it’s no wonder the industry is worth more than four billion dollars in Australia alone.
In a flooded market fuelled by fear, the range and variety of products are staggering. And in a staggering range of products, you’ll find some which are, frankly, ridiculous.
Baby knee pads
Are you aware of how many babies are taken to hospital emergency departments every year suffering from calloused knees?
Nevertheless, you can buy knee pads for your baby.
For a baby.
Marketers of these claim that their “technologically advanced non-slip surface” will prevent crawling loved ones from the pain and discomfort of modern flooring.
Now, babies have been crawling across all kinds of surfaces for many thousands of years.
I imagine crawling along the cobbled streets of medieval Europe or the pinecone-laden forests of colonial North America would have been pretty nasty in the knee department compared to today’s flooring materials.
Nevertheless, the human population continued to increase.
Where are the parents of these knee-padded babies planning on taking their kid?
A thumbtack factory? A broken glass field? Here’s an idea — PUT SOME NTS ON IT.
Amber teething necklaces are made from pretty beads that possess magical soothing qualities — or so the promoters would have you believe.
Spruikers of these necklaces claim that the succinic acid contained in the amber beads provides gentle, natural pain relief when it’s absorbed through baby’s skin.
Many parents like the idea of letting their baby soak up the succinic goodness rather than squirting pain medication down their throat.
But that’s all it is — an idea.
There is no evidence that the amber beads release the acid, or that it can be absorbed by contact with the skin, or that it provides any pain relief.
In fact, the Australian government issued a warning about the choking hazard associated with amber teething necklaces.
Basically, all they can really do for a miserable teething baby is decorate it.
Your baby is crying. You don’t know why. You could change her nappy, feed her, cuddle her or check her temperature, OR you could buy a ‘baby analyser’ for about $100.
These portable electronic gadgets analyse the sound of your baby’s cry and let you know, via a screen or a light display, whether she’s “hungry”, “sleepy”, “stressed”, “bored” or “annoyed”.
Does it work? I don’t know, but when I visited the website of one manufacturer it said “This domain is for sale!” so I’m gonna go with no.
To be really useful, they should add another crying setting called “Embarrassed by my gullible parents”.
I’m not going to tell new parents what to spend their money on.
If you have wads of spare cash and you’re concerned about your baby’s ability to form meaningful relationships while solving mathematic equations in a soothing environment before their first birthday, go ahead and buy wipe-warmers and male breastfeeding bras and baby flash cards.
But really, if your kids are alive and you know where they are, relax. You’re doing a good job.