Parenting Tools

The business of baby.

I occasionally covet the shoes of my co-workers. I've been known to drool over an iPhone or two. Yeah, sure, you got me, I want a deck. But keeping my "wants vs. needs" in check is relatively easy. Add in a baby and that distinction gets a whole lot murkier right quick.

Early learning classes, the best car seat, that $800 stroller everyone loves to pick on ... any mom or dad with the slightest ability to justify a purchase can suddenly make a case for almost anything related to Junior. Madison Avenue must be doing back flips through their oh-so-modern offices. Could this button be any easier to push?

Enter Pamela Paul. Mom, journalist and consumer. Her new book, Parents, Inc. takes readers through an eye-opening tour of the raising baby business and how this nation-wide craze for more might be getting just a tad out of hand. Like the "follow-the-money" books that have come before her, her message seems to be one of less is more saying that time, attention and patty-cake will get you pretty far.

But is it strange to think they are mutually exclusive? I know many Great Mothers pushing around that stroller people like to pick on. Those same moms might have kids in private school or have taught their little one to sign before they could talk. Baby-centered consumerism doesn't seem to be the downfall of mindful parenting. But. But! I think we've all seen examples of it being more about the Jones' or more about making up for never turning the cell phone off than it is high quality baby gear or a jump start on school readiness.

For those interested in the debate - NPR has a book excerpt and a podcast of her appearance today on Talk of the Nation. Click here to follow the link.

NPR has asked the question regarding the merit of baby wipe warmers or, of course, Bugaboo strollers. We'd love to hear your thoughts over in our little neck of the www, too.

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