As much as it bothered me, I loved knowing about baby gear. It’s nice to know my wife introduced me to baby gear. And I found, to my surprise, that learning about baby gear was forcing me to learn about the kids themselves—what they like, what they dislike, what age they grow to be and certain behaviors. are out of. As the due date approached, I felt more prepared and less helpless than many of the other expected first-time dads I met in my birthing classes, many of whom outsourced gear decisions to their wives.
And when my wife went into labor three weeks ago, I was ready. I drove him to the hospital confidently, with bags well-stocked in tow, without worrying about whether the car seat was installed properly.
Since the birth of our son, I’ve found that my interest in his gear has made me a better, more capable parent. I can keep up with their pediatrician’s questions about formula type and nipple size without breaking a sweat, and I know how many diapers to pack for a three-day trip. I’ve read user manuals and watched YouTube tutorials, and I can operate, clean, and adjust most of my baby gear without any help. (No weaponized incompetence here!)
I am also well versed in what gear No To buy. I’m a staunch believer that parents should spend as little money as possible on baby clothes, for example, and absolutely no money on things that are designed to be pooped, pooped, vomited, or spilled. Including bibs and burp cloth. (An old dish towel works fine.) I wouldn’t buy the fancy, Montessori-style wooden toys that are all the rage in Brooklyn and Berkeley these days. And while I’m not begging anyone to make convenience a priority, I think any parent who pays $300 for the Baby Brezza Formula Pro Advanced—a Wi-Fi-enabled, Keurig-style Key machine that mixes and heats formula bottles for you. Press a button – their taxes should be increased.
Gear can’t solve every parenting problem. It can’t calm a colicky baby, teach a baby to walk, or help a picky eater clean her plate. And families that can’t afford a lot of gear, or choose to spend their money in other ways, will no doubt be born perfectly healthy, happy kids without it.
But there’s something satisfying about giving in to the gear itch, just a little bit. Because the gear, frankly, is overwhelming. It represents our progress as a species – each pacifier, diaper pail and bottle brushed off an expression of the Promethean itch to harness technology to bring order to a chaotic universe. And for new parents—the group with a lot of chaos in their lives—having the right gear can help us feel more in control, less at the mercy of fate.