You can't always buy happiness
As a new parent, you are no doubt faced with purchasing many products you have no clue about. TV commercials and specialist magazines overload you with adverts of products that every ‘loving’ and ‘responsible’ parent must get for their new born child.
Let’s face the facts. On a regular basis, we are bombarded by advertising of many everyday products that we actually don’t need. What changes in the case of baby products is that all these adverts suggest that we need to have this stuff to be ‘good’ parents. Playing on our emotions and sense of responsibility, they try to get us to open our wallets. And it usually works…
Don't believe the hype
As it is in life though, it is not always the quantity that matters, but rather the quality of material items we surround ourselves with. We end up irritated with having overloaded closets filled with gimmicks and stuff we don’t even use, and later wonder what happen to all of our money. Even though there are probably millions of baby products out there, of which probably a lot of very helpful ones, some are probably just a waste of space and money. Do yourself and your child a favor and resist the urge to buy just anything the commercials tell you to. You may be better off paying that cash into your kid’s college fund!
So what does a baby really need?
Luckily, Mother Nature has thought of that and has equipped women with milk giving breasts. What’s so great about breast milk is that it’s a custom made, all-in-one nutritious potion for your baby. It has just the right balance of nutrients to make your baby grow. Even better, breasts continue to produce more and more milk as the babies stomach grows, so they assure accurate portion control as well! That solves the problem of feeding a child for at least the first six months of their life, if all goes smoothly.
Unfortunately, some mothers and babies are not as lucky, and are not able to breastfeed due to medical conditions or simply a lack of milk. In this case, parents have no choice and must search for alternative ways to feed their baby. But, there are also many mothers who consciously decide to stop breastfeeding for other reasons. Sadly, it is easy to find new moms not breastfeeding because of convenience – it either caused them too much pain and trouble, or they want to return to their less healthy lifestyle from before their pregnancy.
Lucky for the baby food industry! Just as adults opt for bad choices in the supermarket and select ‘kant en klaar’ [ready to go ] meals, some also get caught for the ease of ready to go meals for babies and toddlers. Recall the TV commercials with cute, happy babies so grateful to their mommy for buying them a certain type of yummy formula, you know, the type with a bear or other sweet creature on it? It may be convenient, and it may come in really pretty packaging, but it’s all PROCESSED food!
Love and Attention
Mother Nature strikes again! Yes, most moms have a built-in caring instinct and special hormones helping them cope with pregnancy and caring for a baby post-birth. Plus, babies are ‘designed’ to be really cute to awaken all those loving feeling in people!
Love does not come in a box, bottle or with any type of service. Love and Attention are actually some of the most important factors for a child’s growth, helping them learn, express feelings, develop social skills and behaviors, but also to build self esteem and courage to take on the world! Luckily, no major company is able to offer love and attention, though many try to make us believe that purchasing a certain product will give your baby a feeling of being loved. What rubbish!
Care / Hygiene
Clearly, a baby needs to be washed and changed. Often! Babies also need hygienic products and cosmetics to wash and moisturize their hair, skin and bottoms. But, as like with regular, adult cosmetics, there are hundreds of varieties on the market. Commercials will tell you that you need various butt-wiping cloths, tissues and creams, but the truth is that you probably don’t need to have all of them. While it’s all good to experiment on yourself by trying different skin creams, masks and treatments, it’s probably not the best idea to experiment on your babies skin, even if the producer promises the smoothest bum in the world. If you care about what you put on your baby’s body, try some basic, natural cosmetics. Pure Natural Cosmetics has a special line for babies. Many mommies swear by using organic virgin coconut oil for their babies - from a fully body massage, applying on wet skin after bath time, to treating diaper rash and cradle cap!
Another essential element regarding baby’s hygiene, and this one is so important that it earned itself its own section! They are unavoidable until the little person learns to use a potty. Till then, it’s up to the parents to choose a way to select the type and make. You have a choice of using manufactured diapers from a large brand name that are no doubt convenient and easy to use, but clearly horrible for our environment. To make things worse, one baby uses more than 12 diapers a day, which is not only painful for Mother Earth, but also for your budget!
Second option: biodegradable diapers, purchased from eco shops. Even though their makers have the best of intentions (we hope), there have been some scary press articles claiming that this type are just as bad for the environment, and in some cases cause allergies and other problems for babies…The jury is still out whether these type of diapers are the way to go.
Last option: Cheap but messy... cloth diapers have been used for hundreds of years, because they work. They do require a lot of cleaning in order to be reused, but are certainly the most eco-friendly and affordable option if you have the time and energy to use them!
Warmth and Safety
Keeping your baby warm and safe is a necessity. You are also obliged by law to care for the wellbeing of your infant. Baby car seats are required by law, but also come in various options and price variations. These are unavoidable, if you transport your offspring in a car, but they are also one of these products that are fine to buy second hand. Strangely enough, in a country like the Netherlands where the majority of babies are transported by bicycle, baby helmets are not required by law! Seems short-sighted, doesn't it?
Another item required to keep a baby protected are baby buggies and strollers. But, their purpose is mainly to move your little one around, so you don’t really have to own the top of the line model that folds automatically, and costs up to thousands of Euros. They ARE pretty cool and the ones equipped with solar powered lights seem to increase safety. But apart from stroking daddy’s ego, you probably don’t need to spend a few paychecks on this type of gadget.
Now these are loved by many parents, because they allow to monitor what the baby is doing (sleeping or not) when they are not in a direct proximity. They also come in many price ranges and versions, and can be very handy if you need to tend to, well, anything except from your baby! Yet another useful product you can probably live without…
Children need toys to develop certain motoric skills and to have fun. Parents need toys to keep their kids happy and busy!
But, a baby doesn’t really need as many toys as manufacturers make us think they do! We believe that it is better to invest in a few simple and responsible toys for your little one, instead of buying tons of items mass-produced in China. You want to make sure that the products the toys are made using safe, non-toxic plastics, and eco-friendly textiles. Babies want to try everything, and they do it by putting things in their mouths. It’s the parent’s choice to select the safest of options to entertain their children, without bringing them into harm’s way.
There are many companies specializing in safe products for babies, including baby bottles and pacifiers etc. Make sure you buy the best quality, and just in case, sterilize everything before presenting it to its new owner.
What really matters when looking back?
The truth is that no one remembers the material things surrounding them when they were babies, apart from a blanky, bear or other cuddly beast that mom saved as a memory. Many people's favorite toy used to be a plastic or metal kitchen colander - now that should tell us something about kids'preferences!
All the stuff we are told we need, are really most important for us and our own convenience, not really essential for our baby!
What were the most important items to you parents out there?