Posted by Fitz

I am a sucker.  Baby companies throw out a line, and I swim up to it and chomp on the hook like the most gullible fish that you can imagine.  While I’m not susceptible to the $1,000 stroller or similar big ticket items, the little ones under $20 attract me like nobody’s business (we’re not even going to talk about clothes here…I’ll save that for another post).  I have fallen prey to things that have saved me (hello, Packin’ Smart!) and to things that have sat, unopened in some cases, hardly used and unloved (sorry, white sound machine). 

Aside from coupons and pretty colors, what gets me to shell out my cash for yet another new baby product is a recommendation from a friend.  Those well-intentioned nuggets of information lead me to the store or the website almost as soon as our conversation is done.  Why, you ask?  Well, my friends are smart ladies.  They have tried certain products for their kids and have loved them – and I truly appreciate their generosity when it comes to sharing what has worked for them.  That’s what it’s all about though – it’s what has worked for them.  It’s not all necessarily going to work for my Bean.

Each of our kids is as unique as a fingerprint, and there is hardly a product that I would say works for everyone…even some diaper brands don’t work on some kids!  If I had the proverbial nickel for every time I heard  “The Bean didn’t like [insert product here]?  My little guy just couldn’t have lived without it!”, I would have no problem with my baby gadget addiction.  Alas, those nickels elude me and I still find myself on the One Step Ahead website looking at all of the products that I know I don’t need but somehow are appealing.  I think that it all boils down to this:

I will do anything to keep The Bean comfortable, happy, entertained, and engaged.  I want her to have the world at her fingertips, and have every single advantage that she can possibly have.  I don’t mean this in a creepy helicopter mother sort of way, just in a way that allows me to create an environment in which she can thrive.  I think, at this point, that I am still a little shaky on how I can make this happen – I’ve read the books, I’ve seen the research, but I haven’t lived too much life with The Bean yet, so I can’t say for sure what is going to work for her.  If this means that I hand over $9.99 for a mesh feeder that she will not deign to place near her precious little mouth, so be it.  Right?

I find that, as I gain confidence with my parenting abilities, I’m spending less on baby things that The Bean doesn’t need because I know I can give her the things that she needs the most – namely, love, clothing, food, and shelter.  I am feeling less guilty about things that I buy that she doesn’t like, especially if I can hand them over to a friend.  I am more conscious of what I buy, and and am trying to really, really think about whether The Bean needs something before I go ahead and purchase it.  I’m bringing a specific list to Babies R Us so I don’t end up with stuff we don’t need, and my budget (and husband) has thanked me for it.  These are small things, but they are making a difference.

I’m still a work in progress, but I’m trying not to be the picture on the wall of every marketing exec’s office under the title “Target Audience”.  I’ll get there eventually. 

Help me out: What are your tips for maintaining a critical eye when it comes to buying baby-related products?

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