Saturday, July 26, 2008

So last season

There is no consumer category quite so exploitative and laden with embedded branding guilt as that for baby. I can think of no other category (except, perhaps, healthcare) where every single marketing message is tinged with the underlying message of "this will make your baby happier/safer/more clever/walk earlier/sleep better and if you don't buy it then they will become a drug addled prostitute and die in a gutter and it will all be YOUR fault". In almost all other categories messages are carefully regulated precisely to stop people being conned or guilted into buying things but if for baby then it seems perfectly acceptable.

However, it is only once you have had a baby for a few months and become hardened to all of this that you realise how much crap you have or could have bought for your child. For example, we have lots of lovely toys for Eve (less than most of my friends have for their babies, however, so much so that I often feel we are depriving her), but her favourite two toys are an empty water bottle and the cat.

We did, however, feel that we had to purchase some of the childhood essentials and, when Eve was about 4 weeks old, we purchased a mobile.

Mobiles are referred to in all the baby books, you are supposed to put them on to help your baby to go to sleep. Being modern and, as we like to think of ourselves, trendy parents we refused to get anything too brightly coloured or noisy and went for muted natural tones and fibres with a nice gentle tune with a pseudo-classical lilt. It was such a "design" piece that the animals looked quite creepy, and the zebra only had one eye. And, yes, it was a bit more expensive than the plastic ones.

The mobile has not, however, been quite the worthwhile sleep-inducing investment we hoped it would be.

Phase 1 (4-8 weeks) - the music seemed to wake Eve up so we didn't use it
Phase 2 - (2-3 months) - this was the wind-down scream phase so we used to use the mobile as a distraction technique (my mum discovered this one), but it only worked twice and then Eve went back to screaming to get to sleep and the movement of the mobile seemed to make her worse
Phase 3 (4-5 months) - Eve used to wake up in the middle of the night and talk to it, or try to grab and eat it

Then, this week, came the final straw. At 5am I awoke to hear a thud, thud noise coming from Eve's cot. Upon closer inspection Eve had managed to get the mobile down and was happily whacking it against the side of the cot as if to say "I never liked this bloody thing hanging over my cot and, aha, I have finally got rid of it!".

Top tip to new parents, don't bother with a mobile.

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