Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Baby Stuff I Never Needed

I read an editorial today that resonated well with me. “The way we figure it, one day our children will be grateful for what we didn’t give them – and what we did for them instead,” writes Pamela Paul, the author of “Parenting Inc.: How We Are Sold on $800 Strollers, Fetal Education, Baby Sign Language, Sleeping Coaches, Toddler Couture, and Diaper Wipe Warmers – and What it Means for our Children”.

I always read with a quizzing eyebrow estimates of how much it costs to bring up one child. And increasingly people comment on how much it must cost to raise more than two children. Recently I have read several editorials stating that having three or more children is a sign of wealth. I laugh at that, because I am middle class all the way.

But I also do not believe we need all the stuff that people seem to think is so necessary. $6,700 is now the estimated cost of all the baby equipment needed for the first year. I never spent that on all my babies in total. I had one modest baby shower, which I was extremely thankful for. (The current average is three for the first baby, with “Sprinkles” thrown for later babies.) The basic equipment was expected to last for all of my children, no matter how many I might have. Gifts and hand-me-downs supplied more than what I needed, other than food and diapers.

There is a church called St. Mary’s in Port Jefferson that picks up used clothes, primarily for the support of single mothers. About once a month, I put out several large bags of stuff, wondering, “Where on earth did all of this come from?”

I am thankful to all the friends who gave me their gently used hand-me-downs, freeing me from the burden of buying clothing for four children. Yet I am just as happy to see them go out the door. You would not believe the amount of square footage it takes to store clothes for boys and girls, sizes 0 through 14!

I cleared out the entire top shelf of the baby’s closet this morning in preparation for the next St. Mary’s pickup. They were soft goods I rarely, if ever used, and would not need if I ever had another child. Among them were:

Round padded play mat: hard to wash, and a blanket serves the same purpose.

Crib bumpers: no longer recommended; can be a suffocation hazard after the baby can roll over, and babies can climb on them.

Boppy pillow: I found this inconvenient to use for nursing, and never knew you were supposed to use it to help the baby learn to sit. All my kids learned without it.

Some other equipment I have given away in the past and never plan to use again:

Exer-saucer: a big waste of space

Bouncy baby seats: I’ll stick with my swing, one real necessity
Walkers: No longer sold in most reputable stores, abhorred by pediatric associations for risk of injuries.

I could write a whole other post on things my older kids do not need and will never have, even if I win a million dollars. Maybe I will. Yes, I definitely will. Please check in for my next post: “Things My Kids Don’t Need”.

“Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin. And yet I say unto you, That even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. Wherefore, if God so clothe the grass of the field, which today is, and tomorrow is cast into the oven, shall he not much more clothe you, O ye of little faith?”
Matth 6:28-30

Painting above by Claude Monet:
“Poplars near Argenteuil or Meadow with Poplars”

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