As much as it bothered me, I loved knowing about baby products.My wife liked what I knew about baby products. And to my surprise, I realized that learning about baby products forced me to learn about babies themselves. As my due date approached, I felt more prepared and less unhappy than many other pregnant first-time dads I met in birthing classes. Many of them outsourced gear decisions to her wife.
And when my wife gave birth three weeks early, I was ready. I drove her to the hospital in her confidence, with her well-stocked bag in tow, without ever worrying if the car seat was properly installed.
Since my son was born, my interest in his gear has made me a better, more capable parent. I can answer his pediatrician’s questions about formula types and nipple sizes without breaking a sweat, and know exactly how many diapers I’ll need for a three-day trip. I’ve read user manuals and watched tutorials on YouTube and can operate, clean and adjust most baby products without any help. (No Weaponized Incompetence here! )
I’ve also become familiar with what kind of gear No buy. I believe that parents should spend as little money on their baby’s clothing as possible, rather than on bibs, burp cloths, and other items that are designed to be used to pee, poop, vomit, and spill. I firmly believe you shouldn’t. (An old dishcloth works fine.) I wouldn’t buy the expensive Montessori-his style wooden toys that are all the rage these days in Brooklyn and Berkeley. And while I don’t hate anyone for prioritizing convenience, I think any parent would pay $300 for his Baby Brezza Formula Pro Advanced. With the push of a button, taxes should be raised.
Of course, Gear can’t solve all parenting problems. You can’t soothe a colic baby, teach a toddler how to walk, or help a fussy person clean the dishes. And families who can’t afford a lot of gadgets, or who choose to spend their money otherwise, are sure to raise perfectly healthy and happy babies without it.
But for just a little bit, there’s something satisfying about giving in to the gear itch. Because, frankly, the gear is a beast. It represents our progress as a species. Each pacifier, diaper bucket and bottle brush represent Prometheus’ desire to use technology to bring order to a chaotic universe. And for new parents (a group of people who have a lot of turmoil in their lives), having the right tools can give them more control and not let fate dictate them.