Baby equipment overload

I ventured gingerly into Babies R’ Us last weekend, to get an overview of what was available and to begin making a list of what we might need and want. 

Yikes.

These stores seem purposely designed to frighten or guilt you into spending WAY more money than I suspect you would ever need to. The sheer number of things — and varieties of each of those said things — is astounding.

I mean, there are infant car seats. Infant car seats, detachable from their bases, that double as carriers. Spare bases. Car seat undermats. Extra padding support. Regular car seats. Convertible car seats. Car seats that snap off their bases and attach into a stroller. At least four distinctly different types of stroller. Cribs. Convertible cribs. Cribs with attached changing tables. Separate changing tables. Dresser drawers the double as changing tables. Plain bouncers. Fancy bouncers. Bouncers that bounce themselves. Swings. Swings that swing themselves. Activity mats. Activity seats. Activity centers. Single baby gates. Baby gate systems. Baby gates that can also transform into play yards/baby jails. Ugly padding for every edged surface in your home. Playpens. Bassinets. Rearview mirrors. Nursing footstools. Wipe warmers (seriously!).

And that doesn’t even begin to get into the toy section (fun toys, learning toys, teething toys, plastic toys, plush toys, wooden toys, probably-toxic toys) or the baby care section (really? a separate bathtub for a baby?), the diaper pail section (do we really need something that uses expensive proprietary bags?), milk pumping and bottles, or the baby clothes, or the crib linens, or the room decor… 

None of this overwhelmed feeling is alleviated by the baby store employees, who oh-so-helpfully greet you with an enormous packet of carefully designed marketing materials, outlining what is utterly ESSENTIAL to purchase for your new baby if you really love it. If you really love your baby, you apparently need to buy everything I mentioned above and then some.

Could it be that they are trying to guilt and confuse you into emptying your bank account into their coffers? Could it be that they prey on the ignorance and excitement of new parents, suggesting that we buy a whole lot of crap that we don’t need?

As my friend Brandie said, all you really need is boobies, diapers, and blankets.

Aquaman is kicking me right now, as if to say “Brandie’s right, that’s all I need, Mom!”

7 Comments

  1. Laura

    I think whenever the time comes for us; I’ll take mom along and she can be my brain. I will be too overwhelmed to make any decisions; I’ll just see price tags and nothing else.

  2. Silvershoes

    I have avoided Babies R Us for that very reason – it is certainly overwhelming. (We did go in there once to look at furniture.) One other thing for your “must” list – you do have to have a car seat to get the baby home from the hospital. 🙂

  3. Anonymous

    Yes, get the baby bath tub! You’ll thank me. Little ones are very slippery when wet and being able to lay them down on a sloped (and or padded) surface while bathing is invaluable.

  4. Anonymous

    Agreed. Women have been raising children for thousands of years without all the expensive items listed and the human race managed to move forward!

    There is also the toy trap and the manufacturers try to guilt and pressure you at every turn. And then there is the “But Mommy I waaaaannt it!” thing.

    I love the idea of after kids receive toys on their birthdays, they must collect a portion of their old toys to give to charity.
    Teaches them giving and keeps the toys from piling up.
    B

  5. joel

    I read somewhere recently, I think in Newsweek, an interview with a pediatrician who said, “You don’t need an expensive diaper-changing table. Just change your baby’s diapers on a washable blanket on the floor. It’s cheaper than furniture, easier to clean, and a lot safer, since the baby can’t fall off the floor.”

  6. Murdock Scott

    To help avoid the “Toy Trap” we are considering disconnecting “broadcast” television in our house. Approved programing for Mr. Kiddo will be on a local server and can be watched at will (after asking). So, no commercials for the first several years.

    Mommy and Daddy can get news, video, and most TV programming online. Movies can come from Netflix, iTunes, and the Sony PS3 store.

  7. Anonymous

    Babies R U$ is definitely a trap to pray on new moms. My wife (completely rational and bright) came back from her first trip there with the ‘laundry list.’ She had, by force of exposure, become convinced that we should have a baby monitor–complete with audio, video, and, yes, infrared camera (only $265!).
    Once they are 15, we will definitely want one.
    A few notes from an experienced parent. Babies go through stuff fast–consignment stores are the best ‘re-use’ opportunity around.
    The convertible car seat(front and rear facing) that clips into a storller is useful–you don’t wake ’em up on your way to the restaurant. Buy a commode or buffet or some other piece of furniture as a changing table. We found one at an antique store for $50 and store all of his stuff in it. Buy the baby bath-tub–it is much safer and easier (and wastes less soap/water).
    You have many, many years to go before you even need to start worrying about marketing to young children. Don’t cancel your cable just yet.
    Make sure you have a tupperware drawer on the very bottom. In about 9 months you’ll find that all the interactive toys in the world aren’t as good as a little tupperware.

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