In Defense of the $500 Stroller

Listen to this 'Talk of the Nation' topic

Stroller shopping.

hide captionStroller shopping.

Source: a_laubner

Tip of the day: don't admit to the office what you pay for baby gear. Yes, I dropped almost $500 on a stroller (mostly with gift cash and cards from the baby shower, if that's any excuse); and, yes, it shot through the office faster than news of the latest celebrity sex tape scandal. Here's the thing: baby stuff is expensive! I figured I could use hand-me downs for the kid, but anyone with half a clue tells me that's a bad idea. Apparently, safety standards change faster than a newborn wets his diaper; and, besides, you never know if that stroller, crib, or car seat was maintained properly (It's amazing we survived childhood at all!). So, instead of raiding my cousins/parents/aunts/uncles/in-laws' basements and eBay for leftover gear, I'm heading to Buy Buy Baby and Babies-R-Us. And have you been there lately? It's like they shook all the price labels and got the decimal point to move one place to the right. You can pay over $1000 for a stroller in some stores (I said YOU can, even I have my limits). The price of a crib is now the size of a new car down payment, strollers cost more than some flat panel TVs, and of course you're supposed to buy a glider (a chair, not a small, engine-less plane), changing table, and a small country's GDP worth of diapers (or unscented Tide if you go with cloth diapers). And that's before the kid is even born!

Yes, I do have a point with this rant... We're talking with the author of a new book on the show today: Pamela Paul wrote, 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. Whether you're a parent or not, has the baby biz gone a little overboard? What's the most expensive thing you ever bought for a newborn? Was it worth it?

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When I lived in Brookline, MA, it was impossible to walk down the street without colliding into a $750 Bugaboo stroller. You'd also see the $20 umbrella strollers from CVS. Neither made sense to me. We went with a Graco when our daughter was born, and then upgraded to a MacLaren when she was older - neither of which broke the bank. Both worked like a charm, passed safety tests swimmingly, and allowed us to take the $600 we would have additionally spent on a single Bugaboo and start her college savings account. :-)

Sent by andy carvin, npr | 2:41 PM | 4-7-2008

This same person/subject was reported on and the person interviewed on another NPR show recently. Most NPR listeners I've talked to listen all the time and would have heard this, please find new things to "talk" about in the future.

Sent by Rob Thomson | 3:06 PM | 4-7-2008

The biggest problem we had as new parents was finding a happy medium between "quality" and "grossly overpriced". My wife and I spent nearly $120 on a new high chair for our daughter, which my parents (and grandparents) thought was grossly overpriced.

Of course, that $120 chair (complete with padding and harness system) is nearly completely worn out while my parents pulled out the early 1970s vintage stainless steel high chair that they bought when I was born, did a little repadding and polished up the stainless steel - and it's as good as new.

Plus, have you ever had to remove mashed carrots with a toothbrush from the nooks and crannies of the harness system?

Sent by Chad Thompson | 3:08 PM | 4-7-2008

Boutique strollers and baby gear in a time when people are losing their homes, have no insurance, find it hard to feed their kids a good meal...is gauche.

Sent by Steve brothers | 3:09 PM | 4-7-2008

Emotions were running high when my wife and me had our first baby. We were so excited that we went on a crazy shopping spree thinking everything we bought for our baby was all fair and part of our parental obligations. We ended up buying useless small AND big items that we never used for our baby!

I think baby products companies are exploiting that emotional time period when new parents think the love for their baby is worth buying everything in the world.

Sent by HS | 3:10 PM | 4-7-2008

Just like every other consumer goods class, strollers are an item to display status, allowing people to show off under a thin veil of caring for your child. How shallow can people be?

Sent by Rory | 3:10 PM | 4-7-2008

We bought a Learning Tower for about $170 that allows our child to be at counter height safely. The Learning Tower is functional and practical to engage them with activities at the counter (in our kitchen) whether it be eating, coloring/drawing, prepping food and baking. The tower's platform adjusts as the child gets taller. We thought we were splurging but in the end this has been a wonderful piece of furniture that doubles for puppetry with the cloth that is draped over the top of it.

Sent by Angie Meara | 3:17 PM | 4-7-2008

Somehow, I have had five children, used two strollers, one of which was given to us for our first child 11 years ago, and an umbrella stroller that we used when shopping. I would rather have second hand goods for my baby, mostly because I know they are going to be used for such a short period of time. Sure, lots of stuff is cute, but too much is just too much.

Sent by Amy Mallison-Austin | 3:18 PM | 4-7-2008

it amazes me that parents are so fearful that they do not feel that they have the skills to parent, i.e. the need for trainers and the like.

Sent by K. Wager | 3:24 PM | 4-7-2008

Just an FYI to the host, that baby toupees already exist! http://www.babytoupee.com/

Sent by Beverly | 12:28 AM | 4-10-2008

We can put to rest the canard that buying used baby gear is always a crapshoot.

It is very simple (very simple) to critically examine used baby equipment for damage that would render it unsafe or unusable.

Don't let people with vested interests tell you otherwise. We buy used cars (and have our mechanic check it out to tell us it's safe.) We buy used houses (and have our home inspector tell us it's safe.) We buy used clothes, sports equipment, bicycles, and thousands of other things, and in each case are not intimidated by the fact that we need to exercise some judgment in order to judge the worth of the item we seek to purchase.

So, yes, it's absolutely safe to buy used baby equipment. Just proceed with your normal good sense and caution.

(My husband and I bought a used crib, stroller, car seat, and high chair for our first child. We used the same equipment for our second child.

Our third child was born some eight years after our second, so we chose to replace the used car seat and crib with another (more recent) car seat and crib.

Our two sons and daughter have had zero problems with the used furniture we bought for them.

Sent by Alice R. Ness | 9:36 PM | 4-12-2008

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