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Buying into Baby

There’s so much Stuff to buy for your kid!! Welcome to the pressure I’ve felt for the last 7 months. And I’m not talking on my bladder. No. Some people call it ‘nesting’. I call it a prime opportunity for our consumer culture to hoist a bunch of unnecessary crap your way. Short term crap, most of it. With an expiration date of a few years, if not months or even weeks in the the case of those newborn clothes. This is stuff you gotta have. At least some of it, but we ain’t talking life and death and heirlooms here. Oh, I’m sure I’ll tuck away a couple outfits and blankets for posterity. When it comes to breast pumps, nursing pillows, and pack-n-plays though, what do I much care?

The problem is people get a little nutty about baby stuff.

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Exhibit A: Our car seat. Confession: It is second hand.

Crash. Boom. Bang. Gasp. Shoes dropping. Worlds ending. Indignant mothers ACTIVATE!

Dont I KNOW car seats can’t be second hand!? What if they’ve been in an accident? They have expiration dates FOR A REASON. Apparently, if past those dates the seat could completely disintegrate at ANY MOMENT! Car accidents happen! My child could be IN DANGER!

CALL PROTECTIVE SERVICES! STAT! This IS life and death!

Take a deep breath. Put down the phone. Disengage the IP tracking and photo identification in an attempt to locate the woman doing her unborn child a grave disservice. Hear me out.

The car seat came from my BFF, with whom I am in almost constant contact. If there is anyone on the planet earth who I would know has or has not been in a car accident, she is in the top two. In recent history, with or without the car seat, she has not. Then there’s the issue of that expiration date. Another fear not. This seat is less than 2 years old. Further, for at least the last 6 months of that, it has not been exposed to the major temperature swings that degrade the plastic as a result of living in car.

This car seat is fine. I am 100% not worried about it. It cost me $0. It is infant ready, which is more than I can say for the rest of our lives.

Yet, the reactions listed above aren’t actually much of an exaggeration from what I’ve experienced. I quickly learned not to mention used car seats. Except, ya know, here. It’s right up there with co-sleeping, vaccines, circumcision and breast feeding. A hot button issue, who knew? Guaranteed moral indignation. Lectures ensue. Common sense (and courtesy) seem to leave the building. Rapidly.

I get it. We all want to protect babies. Small, helpless, squalling, pudgy buddhas, incapable of looking out for themselves in any way. They are worthy of our protection. The worthiest even. We are programmed for this. Somewhere along the way though, that’s gotten a little mixed up. Reason has been stricken from the equation. Let’s just throw more money at it. Let’s buy shiny and new everything, because thats better. It must be safer, otherwise they wouldn’t make it. To the detriment of our planet and our pocket books. That is, our kids future. Just in case that car seat spontaneously disintegrates.

Never mind, everything recalled was new once upon a time. Pay no attention to the mounds of toys, swings, onesies, wipe warmers, disposable diapers, boppy pillows, and bassinets clogging up our Goodwills, consignment stores or, even worse, not rotting in our landfills. To justify not spending money at the risk of ‘endangering a child’ is wrong. Who can argue that? I wouldn’t. If I actually felt I was endangering my child. Instead of making smart use of the resources available to me. And not feeding into the culture of fear. The culture of fear that carefully feeds the culture of consumerism. Buy it for safety. Buy it just in case. Buy it because its the only baby you will ever have and you don’t want to fuck them up. Fight depravity as you keep that kid safe.

I’m not advocating for second hand car seats. There are concerns. Real ones, that despite the tongue in my cheek, do prominently feature life and death. My freebie second hand number addresses all those more than adequately, while still being both free and second hand. I am advocating thinking for yourself. That is, outside the box, beyond the lists of ‘have to’s’ and ‘musts’. If it doesn’t apply to you, then it doesn’t actually apply to you. Disregard. Trust yourself. Tuck that money away for a time when your kid really does need it.

But for God sakes, don’t bring it up in mixed company.

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Comments

Jenny
Reply

Haha. It’s so amazing the kinds of things other mothers will raise their eyebrows at in general conversation – and I’m sure I’ve done it, too. I’ve learned to just keep my mouth shut when it comes to anything remotely controversial. I know that I have my child’s (soon to be children’s) best interest at heart, and that I would never intentionally place my child in a harmful situation. Lord knows once they hit 2, they do that well enough themselves. And the same thing can be said for most of my friends when it comes to their own children, even if I disagree with their particular methods.

There is absolutely nothing wrong with using a previously-loved carseat when you know the history of said carseat. In fact, it seems a waste to let such a perfectly usable and expensive piece of baby necessity collect dust when it can go on to see another day.

I would say, to start off, all you really must have is a safe carseat, diapers, clothes and blankets, and a safe place to put baby down when you’re sleeping. And something to feed them, whatever that may be. A lot of the “stuff” can wait until you decide you need it. Every baby/parent combo is different and what I identified as “needs” with my first will probably not be the same as you. For example, I’ve heard people say boppy pillows are a waste of money, but I could not have made it without mine.

Alicia
Reply

How the heck could I have breast fed hands free while playing on the interwebs without my boppy! :) KimW sent me a home made Eskimo sling and we had some clothes and a vibrating bouncy seat thing that allowed me to take a shower every day.. All the other stuff got piled up in the un used crib.

Erica / Northwest Edible Life
Reply

“circumcision” Oh God, that’s about me. Sorry about that. /**damned intactivist

Anyway, this is maybe your best post ever. I totally love it. “The culture of fear that carefully feeds the culture of consumerism” is 100% accurate and very well said.

Jenny
Reply

Haha, “intactivist.” I love it. My opinion on circumcision is that whatever dad says goes. In my case, dad said it goes, so it went.

Tracy
Reply

I have had 2 babies. 1 in 1989 & 1 in 1998. Same parents. Just waited a little while between :)
Baby #1 did not have anything new. We were so poor that we couldn’t buy bumper pads for the borrowed bed, used cloth diapers and I had no choice but to breastfeed. Baby #2 had everything new. I still breastfed her but ditched the cloth (don’t judge me). Both girls are almost grown. They are beautiful, bright, funny young ladies. What I am getting at is that the stuff makes no difference at all. It’s just stuff. We get so caught up in the trappings of baby gadgets that we forget it’s the baby we are excited about not all the junk.
By the way are you going to share in pictures of the baby bump?

Miser Mom
Reply

Ah, this is just the beginning of good advice you get from supposed well-wishers! The warnings and such will continue all through those young years up to teenage times: we’ve recently had people horrified that we don’t buy our kids video games (ironically, the worry is we’d be stunting their social development, because all their friends have video games).

Glad to know you’re using good sense early on; you’ll get to practice this for a few decades yet!

prapc
Reply

Well said Misermom :) As you can already tell, opinions are like… everyone has them :)

>But for God sakes, don’t bring it up in mixed company.

Heheh.. as the great Jack Donaghy said, “What do people not want to talk about? Soccer, jazz, infidelity.”

Add to that circumcision, car seat safety and parenting :)

Nesting is REAL, I promise you! Sometime in the next month you’ll be compulsively pre-washing diapers 10x before folding them neatly into little baskets with your washed and folded cloth wipes. You’ll paint your entire house, doors and trim, and then be scrubbing your baseboards while 40 weeks pregnant in May ;)

Nesting is a shot of insane hormones and adrenaline that gives you the not-so-subtle hint that it’s a baby time bomb revving up for the ultimate baby birthing experience. It gets your s*** together before baby. Pretty smart biology!

I think the whole consumerism stuff might be more due to boredom ;) Being pregnant sucks! We’re rooting for you in the home stretch ;)

Almost there! Almost there!

nicoleandmaggie
Reply

Hm, we gave away our infant carseat after DC1 grew out of it. It lasts maybe a year and is good for 5 years, seems silly for someone else not to get use out of it. I suppose I should ask my pregnant coworker if she wants DC2’s.

We will probably buy new bigger carseats and toss out the current ones– DC1 is 6 and there’s no way DC2 will get the full use out of them before they expire. It’s really tempting just to keep using them though.

Agreed with Miser mom. Once you even think about having kids all of a sudden all of your business is everybody else’s business.

It is amazing how much stuff you don’t actually need. We got some things that everybody gets but never used or only used once. The baby bath was a good example… baby was so slippery and so difficult to bathe in that thing compared to the sink or sharing a bath with parents.

We’d planned on just using a PnP and buying a crib when the baby grew out of it, but ended up cosleeping and never actually getting that crib.

The cloth diapers for birth cloths got a LOT of use for DC1. Some use for DC2 but not anywhere near as much. Some babies are spittier than others.

nicoleandmaggie
Reply

BURP cloths, not birth clothes.

Not sure what my fingers were thinking there.

Anne
Reply

My sisters-in-law passed the baby carseats around. Thing is, a lot of babies size out of the infant car seats in under a year. As long as you know the history of said product and it is under the expiration date, more power to you. The biggest safety issue with a carseat is getting it properly installed and then properly installing the baby; if you don’t do those things right, then even a brand new car seat is dangerous.

Diedra B
Reply

so, theoretically speaking, if a car seat had been in an accident and was no longer safe for one’s child to travel in, wouldn’t it look seriously jacked up?

Erica / Northwest Edible Life
Reply

No, because microscopic stress fractures to the plastic and foam could sufficiently weaken the carseat without visible changes to the seat. The risk then is that, in any subsequent accident, the carseat would be unable to fully protect baby. Standard advice with bike helmets, carseats, etc is to replace them after any substantial impact. I was in a car accident that totalled my car. My son’s carseat looked fine afterward but we replaced it.

prapc
Reply

My insurance carrier will replace our car *and* booster seats after any collision, pretty nice!

Ivy
Reply

For our first kid we got a peg perego infant car seat from a co-worker who had used it for her 2 kids. Once ours outgrew it we passed it to a friend for her baby, then a year later took it back and gave it to another friend for her baby, then promptly took it back for our second kid. And once he was done it, our babysitter took it for a friend of hers. 6 kids in 7 years and moving to the next one – that’s good utilization. I do agree that you have to have some assurance it hasn’t been in an accident

Cassi
Reply

I don’t see the problem with used car seats if you know that the seat is fine, but I also am not a mother and don’t plan on being one for a while. I also didn’t realize that this was a problem until this article. Useful information for the future!

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