It’s true what they tell new parents — you can buy your child the fanciest, most expensive toys on the market, but in the end, the kid is probably going to prefer to play with the box the toy came in. So, why shell out all that cash when simple is almost always better than complicated? What parents may not know is that this logic also applies to baby gear.
When my husband and I were expecting our daughter, I researched safety statistics and reviews on strollers, high chairs, cribs, bassinets, etc. I registered for pricey, top-notch products. Only the best for our dumpling! The gifts flowed in and I penned thank-you note after thank-you note for the bright, shiny packages that began to fill up the nursery.
I may have gone a little over the top, but it took me a few months — in one case, more than a year — to figure that out.
When Reese came home from the hospital, I put her down to sleep in her beautiful bassinet. Encircled in tiers of soft, organic cotton ruffles, the newfangled sleep station featured a retractable canopy hood, vibrated at three speeds for varying lengths of time and played assorted lullabies at different volumes. It also had height-adjustable legs, optional wheels and an attached basket for stashing blankets and other supplies.
Reese wasn’t nearly as enamored with the bassinet as I was. In fact, most of the time, the only way I could get her to sleep in it was to rock her in my arms until she drifted off and then ease her very gently and slowly into the bed. If she woke suddenly or sooner than expected, the vibrations did nothing to soothe her back to sleep.
Reese actually preferred to sleep in the simple, inexpensive baby swing my sister got me from Walmart. She saw it, thought it was cute and — even though it wasn’t on my registry — figured she’d pick one up for me.
The swing didn’t have many frills, but its secure straps and buckles and saucer shape provided a cozy, safe little environment for Reese, and once it began to slowly sway to and fro, it was only a matter of minutes before the baby was off in dreamland.
I was again reminded of the “simple is better” phenomenon when my husband and I took Reese to visit family in Tallahassee for Fourth of July weekend. While we were in town, we borrowed my sister-in-law’s high chair. She has two boys, ages 8 and 5, and is expecting a third.
The high chair was a compact booster seat with a small plastic tray and straps to attach it to a regular kitchen chair. It was a far cry from Reese’s cloth-covered, height-adjustable, free-standing high chair, which cost nearly $100 and boasts a stainless steel frame, two interchangeable trays — both of which have cup-holder slots — and removable wheels with a “braking system.”
The booster seat was a breeze to clean (no cloth!), and the smaller tray fit easily into the dishwasher. As an added bonus, the back of the booster seat folded down, allowing us to conveniently tote the compact product to restaurants. I don’t think Reese even missed the cup holders.
As soon as we returned from Tallahassee, I logged onto Amazon.com to buy a high chair just like the one we borrowed from my sister-in-law. Two days and $24 later, the seat arrived and has been in near-constant use ever since.
I’m all for things that simplify my life and free up my time. And if those marvelous finds also happen to save me money, well bring it on. After all, Reese’s college education is not going to pay for itself — and neither are my occasional wine and chocolate indulgences.