Over the weekend, the wife and I went out a registered at a Target and Babies 'R Us. Since we're going to wait until the delivery to find out what we're having, we ended up picking out a lot of stuff in greens & yellows. I realize now one reason so many people decide to find out the sex of the baby; much easier to register. But the thing that really struck me during these trips was how totally consumer-oriented this type of registry has become. Baby has become big business, and it is evident the moment the staff person hands you the checklist of things you'll "need" and "should" register for. The checklist contains dozens of items. You actually need, and I mean need in the conventional sense of stuff you actually require, maybe a third of them. Things like clothes, bottles, diapers, a crib, car seat - the basic stuff. But the list also includes no fewer than three different pieces of sleep furniture (crib, bassinet and portable bassinet) and their various linen requirements, as well as a long list of other items that the baby will likely outgrow within a few months. Knowing that most couples do not have more than 2 children, these items will have a short half-life in most families, ultimately heading for the landfill or the garage sale.
What was most disturbing is how easily we started getting into adding to our list, and this with a mother-to-be who has spent ample time around small children and has a good idea of their actual needs. All these items of convenience just seem so, well, convenient. Which points to a sad reality that many people in this country seem to be looking at their children as either accessories or time-management problems. Which is why so many of the wares in these stores are geared towards fashion & decorating and child-warehousing. Your kid starts to bug you, put 'em in their bouncy seat, fashionably colored to match your existing decor. After we got home, we started mentally reviewing what we registered for and realized we probably didn't need most of it or that what it was ridiculously overpriced. How would a young mother or couple with no experience know you don't need some of this stuff or that its a waste of money? For me, the takeaway here is that its never too early to start teaching your children lessons about what's important in life, and it surely is not a $250 crib bedding set.