It never ceases to amaze me the endless lists of paraphernalia you are apparently required to purchase in preparation for having a child. Large baby equipment retailers even publish lists of seemingly necessary equipment, and should you feel the need you can even book your own nursery advisor to ensure you set up baby’s room adequately.
I even came across a newly coined term the other day: pram envy. It seeks to convey the modern phenomenon of desiring the latest consumer goods for your offspring. Or perhaps it’s not really so much about baby as about wanting the latest designer goods to convey your own personal fashion statement of parent hood.
Sometimes, I’ve found myself caught. When I’m out walking I look at the really funky prams out there and think ‘I want one’ and at other times I feel a sense of pride that we have a second-hand pram that did everything it needed to, didn’t cost the earth, and recycled something someone else didn’t want anymore.
Perhaps if society promoted the second-hand pram as cool, there’d be more parents out there aspiring to reuse one. Babies are only little for such a short time, rarely wearing out the goods they use, if anywhere there is an area we can reuse and recycle baby goods is it. Babies don’t even need half the stuff we think they do. Newborns find their parents the best toy, and only need a safe place to sleep, a suitable car restraint (if travelling in a vehicle) and a good pram or sling for walking – the rest are trimmings. Yet our culture is all ‘buy, buy, buy’ fostered by our obsession for all things new and trendy. Society even encourages women to do this by saying they’re ‘nesting’ – an excuse for consumerist indulgences if ever I heard one. Fine, encourage women to make a nice home for their baby, but how about expressing ‘nesting’ by working to achieve the important things like having a mother or other parent who can be at home with their child in those first crucial months rather than establishing a designer nursery.
At a time when women are being encouraged to ‘have one for the nation’ so we can (supposedly) sustain our aging population, we really need to query the (excessive) resources we’re putting into our kids. More for baby or even more babies is not necessarily what we need. In the long run our preoccupation with more is only going to leave this generation of babies with more problems.
If we go on like this how many babies will our kids have to have to, and how many resources will they use, to sustain the next generation of oldies? Hopefully we can grow to be a bit more conscious of our consumerist frenzy and innovative in our social policy decisions. We must model reducing waste and using fewer resources for our kids for the sake of their future.