Book Giveaway: Parenting, Inc.

I love my kids. And I love to shop. Put the two together and you have a potential bank balance disaster. I manage to curb my spending by being very strict about separating the things my kids actually need versus the things I want them to have. But what if you can't tell the difference?

When The Pea was a baby, I remember agonizing over whether to buy a $250 Combi UltraSavvy stroller (we did). When 3Po and CleanBoy were babies, I remember agonizing over whether to buy a $550 Mountain Buggy Urban double stroller (we bought a $250 Target knockoff). Did we need it? Would we have been happy with a $60 Graco stroller? Thank goodness I don't have a baby anymore, because now I would be agonizing over whether to buy a $900 Bugaboo Chameleon.

The number of products and services related to babies and parenting has exploded in the past several years. It's out of control. Consider this: the New Parents Checklist on the Babies-R-Us website 173 items, not including organic baby products. The stroller section alone has 9 items. So what's a new parent to do?

For guidance during both my pregnancies, I turned to Denise and Alan Fields' book, Baby Bargains, a great buyer's guide with honest reviews. Here's another book that I wish I could have turned to for advice: Pamela Paul's Parenting, Inc: How We are Sold on $800 Strollers, Fetal Education, Baby Sign Language, Sleeping Coaches, Toddler Couture, and Diaper Wipe Warmers -- and What It Means for Our Children.

Everyone wants what is best for our children. This book tells us that you don't have to break the bank to do so. As such, it's a must-read for every parent who worries that forgoing Baby Einstein tapes will impede his baby's intellectual development. By tracing the development and motivation behind today's rampant parent consumerism, this book helps separate marketing from merit, benefits from b***s**t -- and ultimately, helps parents make informed decisions about the purchases they make.

I was particularly struck by one of the book's central themes, that catering to our children's every real and imagined need is not only unnecessary, it's detrimental. Just as antibacterial soaps may be robbing our bodies of the natural ability to fight germs, over-pampering children with all sorts of products impedes their ability to adapt to less-than-perfect situations. Take baby wipe warmers: if your baby can't even deal with a cold butt now, how in the world is he going to learn to cope with any sort of discomfort when he's older?

Whether you're agonizing about buying a Bugaboo Chameleon or just want a good read, you'll enjoy this book. And now here's a chance to get it for free: Just leave your comment here and tell us about the silliest baby item you have given or received, and you'll be entered to win a copy of Pamela Paul's book, Parenting Inc. I'll select a winner randomly on Wednesday, April 16 (sorry, open to US residents only). Good luck!

6 Comments, Leave yours here:

tintin on April 4, 2008 at 2:55 PM said...

I stupidly asked for a diaper genie...even after parents had already told me it's useless. I know that others wear by it but we made do with changing the bag every few days. I breastfed my baby anyway so her poopie diapers didn't smell that bad.

Anyway after wrangling with the genie a few times, trying to figure out the plastic thingiemajig, it's now in our garage sale inventory.

I really really would LOVE to have this book. She's my first baby, and as such, there seems to be no price high enough to pay for her comfort. I want to buy a Tripp Trapp, at $250+ is it worth it? Should I buy a McLaren umbrella stroller?

Where does paying for quality pay off, and where does it cross the line in becoming ridiculous? Help this mom!

tintin on April 4, 2008 at 2:56 PM said...

*others swear by it
*we made do with a regular platic pail and changed the bag everyday.


Vivien on April 4, 2008 at 3:44 PM said...

I am a First Time Mom and was overwhelmed by unsolicited advice from seemingly well-meaning friends, family and strangers. Yes, the wipe warmer did sound like a good idea at the time, however is being returned along with other unopened an unnecessary items.

I agree, we live in a society where our every whim is catered to and I go out of my way to stay out of the materialistic trap. I would love this book to find more ideas.

Love your blog!

windycindy on April 13, 2008 at 1:36 PM said...

Hello, My vote goes to the "Sleep Positioner!" First, it made me nervous, then the baby wiggles out of it. Thus, between me checking the baby and the sleep positioner, I really wasn't getting any sleep.
Thank, Cindi

Ann on April 13, 2008 at 4:21 PM said...

I got lots of things on my babyshower and was really happy to get the diaper genie but I don't use it that often. We just throw the diapers in the garbage can. Maybe in the summer I'll use it more, I don't know. Thanks for the great give away!

bonggamom on April 16, 2008 at 8:55 PM said...

... and the winner is... windycindy!! Congratulations -- if you send your mailing address to, I will get the book sent to you. Everyone, thanks for playing and hope you keep visiting this site!

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