I read an editorial in a local paper last week about “infant safety hats.” And they weren't talking about bike helmets—but extra noggin padding for youngsters learning how to walk. My first thought? Seriously, babies have been learning to walk helmet-less for thousands of years. My second—isn't falling (and sometimes getting hurt) and getting back up part of learning how to walk? But my third thought was that there are hundred of products out there whose marketing teams target women in the emotional hormonal throes of pregnancy and early motherhood with products that are unnecessary for most infants.
It has taken all of my willpower not to buy baby clothes until we find out boy or girl next month (especially when early pregnancy symptoms had me needing a cute reminder of the reason for all the puking). And I have a feeling that I'm going to need a list of nursery must haves so that I don't over shop just because something is cute or promises to make my child the next Einstein.
Working with kids as a volunteer at my church nursery, I know a lot about what is necessary and what is just really nice to have, but I don't know the entire list (after all, I can't claim to know everything). That's going to be where my mother and mother-in-law come in. And of course, P&N Mag has a great product review section and baby registry checklist.
When I took a child psychology class in college, we discussed some of the products marketed for pregnancy, infancy and childhood that can't really achieve all that they promise. One-year-olds do not have the brain development necessary to learn how to read (though they can learn to love reading by sharing books with mom or dad and catch on that you read from left to right, but you don't need a $200 program to do that). At a certain point, infants can recognize their mother's voice while still in the womb (which probably means you don't need headphones for your belly to play music to the baby). At certain developmental stages though, many toys (you don't need a certain one) help babies learn to grasp objects, learn that things are still there even when you can't see them and develop hand-eye coordination.
The bigger encompassing question, and one that I will undoubtably be looking at time and time again as parenting approaches, is where to draw the line. Baby gates should probably block off the stairs and other areas when falls could be particularly disastrous, walking practiced on carpet and away from hard furniture corners when possible and tipsy tots should be watched carefully, but I think I'm going to drawn the line before the $50 helmet, that is until my child decides to try bike riding or rollerskating.