The Big Business of Babyhood
Updated: May 7
Written by Jess Raubenheimer-Free
Just one week after I found out I was pregnant, the ads started. On Facebook, Instagram and Google I was being targeted with ads for prams, sleep sacks, carseats and sleep consultants/sleep programs. Babyhood is big business.
Call me a cynic, but it's big business because it preys on our anxieties as new parents. We've brought home this little human we're now expected to not only keep alive, but raise into a thriving child. And we have ABSOLUTELY NO IDEA how we are supposed to do that.
I remember the day we took our daughter home from the hospital, I was terrified. I had to figure out when and how to breastfeed her, when and how to put her to sleep, how many layers of clothing she needed, why she was crying. I quickly learned that for every problem, there is a corresponding product.
No idea how to swaddle a baby properly? No problem, there are swaddle bags for that. Worried about your baby rolling over and sleeping on their tummy? Buy this thing. Worried about baby crying a lot? Buy these gas drops, or this colic remedy. Worried your milk supply is dwindling? Buy these lactation cookies.
It's a small miracle we all grew up into successful humans before all these products were invented!
Of course in this world we live in there are always going to be clever people offering products to plug a gap in the market. And a lot of these products are truly useful and make having a baby so much easier for a lot of people. But you can end up spending a whole lot of money on things you probably don't really need if you let yourself get sucked in by the anxiety parasites.
Early on I spent quite a lot of money buying things that I thought would be miracle products for my daughter. Homeopathic colic remedies with eye-watering pricetags, every different swaddle bag product I could lay my hands on (seriously, I had so many - I've since gifted some!), Ollie the Owl (from Gro) for white noise (to be fair this one has been pretty great), and more. Every morning when I woke up from a broken sleep I'd consider buying a sleep program or getting a sleep consultant.
I started to realise the marketing machine was sucking me in, and I started doing more research and thinking harder about what I bought. I am in the privileged position to be able to buy my daughter things, and so I do still get her things that can be expensive. But they're much more considered purchases, like her Woolbabe duvet weight bag (it's currently 16 degrees in our bedroom and I am relaxed knowing she is cosy in her Woolbabe PJ suit and sleeping bag).
I've been lucky enough that my daughter's sleep is pretty well on track and we're all sleeping pretty well. So the constant visits to the sleep program websites have ceased. That being said, if getting a sleep consultant or buying a sleep program works for you, then go for it. I'm not here to judge anyone's decisions for what they do.
I'm just here to look out for you, and tell you that the number one purpose of ALL of these businesses is to make money! Naturally. So consider carefully before you let your natural anxieties be preyed upon.