I thought I’d make a separate post to respond to some of the comments I’ve had about my Useless Baby Product posts.

You’re so judgemental!

Yes, well you’d be the best judge of that. (I say this with humour because irony is funny!)

Having opinions and making judgements are a good way of figuring out one’s values and what’s important to us. Certainly judgements can turn unproductively personal but more often than I’m sure we’d all like to admit, they look ugly because someone feels defensive in their choice to do something different than the “judger” would.

Even outwardly unproductive judgements can be productive if they’re used as red flags for unmet needs.

Don’t underestimate the leash. It gives a wandering child a sense of freedom while keeping them near and dear. <snip> My son was able to walk and wander as aimlessly as I let him. Like I said, he has autism and I have other children. I suppose I could have kept him strapped into a stroller when we went on walks to keep him safely restrained….

This brings up a good point. What about children with disabilities?

I don’t have children with disabilities which probably explains why I don’t write about them. I was talking to a friend (who does have children with disabilities) last week about an autistic child who purposely hits his head repeatedly on concrete outside if it’s available. He may be a prime candidate for a helmet like the one I wrote about in my first post. I’m not sure how the silly little ears on top of the helmet are of any purpose but who am I to say.

The point is, perhaps there is usefulness to some of these products but not when it comes to most people, most children, most families and certainly not to anyone interested in parenting in a more natural or unrefined way and yet these products are all marketed to the general public for everyday use.

In my not so humble opinion (it is my blog anyway), a more natural approach to parenting would never look for a way to “restrain” a child unless in the case of using Protective Use of Force. In my opinion, it’s worth finding ways for children to be free and use their natural curiosities whether they have disabilities or not. It would be a sad life indeed if you only ever got to experience it from the end of a leash or strapped into a stroller. Certainly it must be more work to find ways to give disabled children the opportunity to live without restraint but it would be well worth it- in my opinion, of course.

the crib tent can be helpful as a tool to keep pets out of the crib (it’s not simply a way to keep a child in). my brother & SiL had their children in the crib from day 1 and used the crib tent to both keep the cats out and the kids in.

Crib cage/tent is useless because cribs are completely unnecessary. Babies are meant to be close to mom and are better off for it. Babies can easily nap on a bed with or without mom beside them. The key is whether or not mom is present, literally, intellectually and emotionally. If she is than the kind of “safety” a baby needs changes drastically. You don’t have to rely on *stuff* to take responsibility for your dear child.

Night time parenting is a hot topic. There are many parents out there that struggle with the idea that our children are not gadgets to switch off or be trained to have their needs ignored when the sun goes down. Babies and young children will most probably need to nurse every couple hours (at least) and even more so when they have growth spurts. They will need to nurse often when they are teething or sick. They may wake because they have to pee or are in a wet diaper. These are all facts that many parents seem to want to ignore. Parenting your child at night doesn’t have to be as difficult as so many parents make it. It’s much more satisfying for everyone involved to take a relaxed, no pressure, no agenda, compassionate stance and meet your small child’s needs and not do cio and other baby training to your child.

It’s a choice to buy into the birth/baby/child industry and buy any of these baby products you do not need and your baby is undoubtedly better without. I don’t get it but there’s no question it’s “normal” in the world we live in today to want to amass stuff. This stuff, that stuff, new stuff, old stuff, the latest stuff, the stuff we see famous people amassing.

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23 Responses to The Fine Print

  1. Lise says:

    I’m glad you’re “judgemental.” I think far too many parents accept what our society tells us we “need” without thinking and judging for themselves whether or not any of it is necessary, respectful, harmful to the planet, whatever. I’ve had many a discussion with parents in my early childhood program about stuff v. people keeping us safe. I prefer to emphasize relationships and trust over any of that stuff. I am very “judgemental,” and proud of it.

  2. Kika says:

    My husband and I bought almost no ‘baby furniture/stuff’ for our three children. I also see most of it as useless or perhaps certain items are useful for a (very) short period of time but then, why spend the money on them?! Anyways, I couldn’t believe it when I recently visited my little sister who’d just had her first child. The house was FULL of stuff… every gadget and piece of equipment imaginable. No one child could ever use or need all that stuff. Yikes. Just a marketing ploy. How many children were raised with a breast and a sling (or pair of arms)? Of course, there are many families being selective as consumers and parents but many people are just brainwashed into thinking you must have all this stuff – which leads them to believe that you have to be rich or have a big house (etc.) to have a family…

  3. Genevieve says:

    Again, great post! Why shouldn’t you be judgemental? Isn’t expressing your ideas part of having your own blog? Plus, if people care, why are they bothering to read it? I agree that under certain circumstances such as the autism case certain tools may be necessary for the safety of the child and parents. The problem is that the marketing of the gadgets you mentioned aims to make them appear to be necessary. Frugality, minimalism and attachment parenting are becoming “radical” methods of parenting and are being overtaken by toxic/plastic toys and gadgets to keep people’s children “busy” while parents can have their own lives back… why have children in the first place? Parenting is not about convenience. Parenting is about being present.

  4. Beth says:

    “The key is whether or not mom is present, literally, intellectually and emotionally. If she is than the kind of “safety” a baby needs changes drastically. You don’t have to rely on *stuff* to take responsibility for your dear child.”


  5. Kyrie says:

    I’ve heard that leash argument over and over.

    I like to think of ways to help everyone get their needs met (including a family with several children/children with disabilities). When I was pregnant with Fearghus, Abhy went through a very scary bolting phase. I was unable to chase him very far/quickly, and yelling “STOP!” was hit and miss. Of course this phase coincided with a wear-me-not ohase. The leash was tempting, but there were so many other options. What I did instead: Limited trips to my own neighbourhood, went to fenced parks or places with few ‘escape routes’, brought a friend capable of catching my kid, spent more time in my backyard, played ‘stop/go’ games, becmae more mindful of my toddler’s precise location wrt my own body (lots of small touches, running my hand in his hair, holding hands if he would allow it).

    But you know what? All those things take tiiime and effort and mindfulness. Sometimes when I hear parent’s say “I can’t because…” I think they mean “I don’t want to.” And all these products support that attitude. It *would* have been easier for me to tie Abh to a leash. What I really wish is that these parent could say “My need is x. I want to find a way to help you explore that also meets my need for x.” Instead of “You must wear this leash because of my unmet needs.” Of course it wouldn’t come out like that, but that’s what I hear.

  6. Julie says:

    Yes, yes and yes, I agree with all that! Thanks for that post. We didn’t buy any gadget for our baby – except a Babybjorn chair so I could rest my back once in a while, and a stroller for the same reason (long walks). We cosleep, so no crib! We wore her in a sling/mei-tai/wrap most of the time. I breastfed (and still do – she is now 2.5 yo). We bought a minimal amount of natural wooden toys, and I make a lot myself. We always took baths and showers with her, so no plastic bath or other device to hold a baby in the tub. Just be present, available, and use your arms and heart! :0)

  7. Debbie says:

    Annie, I love your honesty and your “no holds bar” way of expressing your opinions. I tend to be very opinionated when it comes to my parenting style and my family thinks I’m completely judgmental. Let’s just say I parent VERY differently from them.
    Marketing is a billion (maybe more) dollar industry. Of course, it’s never going to go away; but since when have people lost their sense of adequacy? How much is enough? Is this really necessary? It seems the further along we get in our “evolution” the more people feel they need. Funny how so many off us are returning (perhaps we never left) to a natural way of living. This consumeristic society just doesn’t appeal to our sense of family. My family lives in a 900 sq. ft. house and love doing so. We don’t feel we need more “stuff” (in fact, we need less) and definitely we don’t need more space. I personally have never bought into “bigger = better” and I definitely didn’t start when I had a child. Thanks for an inspiring post…as usual. xo

  8. Jo says:

    I agree – your opinion, is YOUR opinion. Hooray for your posts!
    I have to admit to being one of those moms who did buy into a lot of that crap! I don’t know why. I’m not unintelligent, but I didn’t really educate myself about how I wanted to raise my children. I took the information that was ‘in my face’. It’s taken me almost four years to realise that this ‘information’ is directed at the lowest-common-denominator. For example, I’m sure it ISN’T safe for some mothers to co-sleep with their babies, but I don’t think I’m one of those mothers!
    I like to share this blog with my intelligent friends as a subtle hint! Even if we don’t agree with you, at least it gets us thinking!
    Thanks again Annie.

  9. Lyndsey says:

    I completely agree with the post and with Kyrie’s comment…parents buy into these marketing ploys because they just don’t want to take the TIME to respect their child’s needs and desires. I can’t say that chasing after a toddler is fun or preferable to me, but I realize that he NEEDS to learn those boundaries on his own…not to mention what he gains by exploring the world on his own terms! Tethering him to MY NEEDS with a leash is disrespectful and certainly not something our ancestors did!

    I was gifted a teddy bear when I was pregnant that would record the sound of my heartbeat. I was absolutely blown away that some mothers would RECORD their own heartbeat to soothe their child rather than give them the real thing! Is it really so hard to hold your child close to you?!

    My husband and I invested in wraps, cloth diapers, and a few baby clothes…I can’t possibly imagine a need for anything more!

  10. mary says:

    oh my. I just found your blog by mere chance… and am so glad I have. I am all about this parenting style, and yet in this podunk town I live in, I’m all alone… thanks for this site.

  11. natalie says:

    Annie, I am so glad you’re writing about ‘a more natural approach to parenting’. Parenting is such a learning curve. When I became a Mom, I knew there was another, better way I just had no idea what it was. Slowly we figured it out partly because people spoke out about how they did things. It was mostly Baby Boomers that talked to me about our cloth diapering and how they did it. Also not crying-it-out and breastfeeding. I just couldn’t find young Moms going the gentle / natural route. So glad to be able to read your words.

    This is a paradigm that doesn’t fit into our society so well. Thanks for being a mentor to me.

  12. Lindsay says:

    I find it funny how so many people think babies need so much “stuff”. People keep asking what we need for the new baby and seem flabbergasted that the only thing we plan to buy is a car seat, and I got some new cloth diapers. I never understood why people say babies are so expensive, but I guess if you buy cribs and bouncers and swings and baby cages and so on and so forth it would get expensive awfully quickly. So many of those products just seem like parent replacements to me.

    We don’t even buy things for baby proofing; I would much rather show my child how to use something properly and be present than rely on some product that could fail. For example, Meredith could pull those socket protectors out at a little over a year. Luckily, when she’d shown interest in sockets we’d show her how to plug things in properly and she has never once attempted to put anything else in one. (And of course I would never have left her alone next to a socket with keys in her hand just in case!) So many products seem to be meant solely to make life easier for the parents with no regards for the baby at all.

  13. Steph says:

    Thanks for this post.
    When my first child was born we were abroad in a small studio so we didn’t buy anything that would not fit in a suitcase. I found it very freeing to think that the only important thing was to be together. We traveled around the world (for work and pleasure), we visited friends, we went to the park or to the store and packing and getting ready was never complicated nor stressful. If we were together (with a sling as extension of my body) we were going to be fine whether it is for 30 min or 15 days.
    So many of my friends were stressed because of their reliance on stuff, I felt for them.

  14. Earth Mama says:

    It really isn’t ‘judgmental’ to not buy into every ridiculous marketing scheme out there and most baby products are just schemes as babies only really need mama and cuddles:-)

    We also don’t buy into the leash – and it is used mostly for children without disabilities but with parents who don’t want to take time to teach them not to run into the road.

    The only thing babies need is love and time. Thank you for your post, I loved it!!

  15. Tai says:

    Well I’m just now catching up to the crazy product post and comments. I must say – I had a good laugh at all the things being sold out there. Boy I was clueless!

    I guess I never saw a need or see a need for such products but if it gives “said” parents some sort of relief or comfort in having them…then I suppose ok.

    Of all the many, many ways of raising a child, I liked what you said about parents needing to be present, literally, intellectually and emotionally…so true.

    Always enjoyable – Thanks!

  16. Krista says:

    I always frown at the “you’re so judgmental” comments where ever I hear them. It’s truly ironic. I wish people could be educated in school or somewhere to understand the blatant and crucial difference between *moralistic* judgments (you’re stupid, bad, right, wrong, arrogant, rude, selfish, narrow-minded, a bitch, boring, blah, blah…) and *value* judgments, which are vital, as you say, to tell ourselves what it is that is important to us!

    I wonder how the moralistic judgment “you’re so judgmental” could be expressed as a value judgment instead?

    I know when I catch myself thinking this about someone, I am probably feeling defensive or annoyed, (maybe even enraged!), because likely I value understanding, acceptance, compassion or to be heard.

    I so enjoy your posts about parenting, Annie, but I know when I first started reading your blog, long ago, and I didn’t know you and so didn’t yet trust that your intentions were actually very benevolent, I heard judgment when I read your posts. *I* heard it. That doesn’t mean it was there. It means I needed to know you a bit better and then I could trust that you are the loving person you are who values natural, non-coercive, peaceful parenting. The onus was on *me* to deal with my judgments about you being judgmental. Does that make sense? It didn’t take long at all to realize my judgments were all about *me*, not you. I so wish everyone in the world could realize that. We’d all be so much happier I think.

  17. Krista says:

    I’d like to add to that even if I didn’t have the opportunity to get to know you better like I did, I would still have liked to try to trust that your intentions behind your parenting posts were nothing short of benevolent.

    It goes along with the non-violent consciousness to trust that behind **any** action, no matter how horrific, disturbing, annoying or disconnecting, is a human being just doing the best they can to meet their needs. It doesn’t mean what they are choosing to do *is* meeting those needs, but it’s important to know that’s what they are trying to do – they’re not just trying to be “a jerk” or “selfish” or “arrogant” or “judgmental”.

    Are you willing to share the needs that are met for you by sharing about natural parenting, useless baby items, etc. on your blog?

  18. I never used a stroller for Fauna, rarely used one for Araina. No crib used around here, or highchair, or changing table, or bottle, HAD to use a carseat of course but felt bad for the babes in there so we didn’t do a lot of car time when they were tiny. So I’m so with you Annie and a lot of the commenters here.


  19. I loved your useless items post! I am judgemental… but in the opposite way and I don’t care who knows it. Cribs are useless and if more woman realized we have arms and breasts that are meant to be used (and not just by men and the ad industry) the world would be a happier place…

  20. Annie says:

    Thanks everyone for sharing your further thoughts!

    Kyrie- what a wonderful example! Working *with* your child to make the situation satisfactory for everyone. Being realistic about what to expect from him and getting creative. Thank you thank you for sharing.

    Jo- you bring up a good point also. I remember my second blog post after starting this blog talking about the possible difficulties in using this medium to share my thoughts. A person can have many layers of thought on one topic but in the interest of space and simplicity share what’s most important when it comes up in conversation (or when blogging). I’m certainly more than I blog about, as are my thoughts.

    You and I do some things differently and yet we are friends. We also have things in common. What’s important is do we like to spend time together? If we do than it’s easy to leave any arbitrary list of differences and similarities aside.

    Steph- ah what a wonderful existence! I would love to live so simply. I have plenty of *stuff* now I could live without…

    Krista- Thanks for reminding about assuming positive intent behind words or actions!

    That’s a wonderful idea about sharing more met needs around blogging. I’ve shared throughout my blogging but maybe some intentional sharing in a post would be worth doing.

    Long live simplicity. Simple is sensible after all, right?

  21. Christina says:

    Curious, do you think all time outs are bad, or just the way our modern society seems to do them (time out mat included)? I have a 22mo old and we’ve been doing time outs for about 2 months now. She doesn’t get them often, but occassionally she will stike at me or start having a meltdown. Our time outs are moving to a space (be it at home, outdoors or in public places) that takes her away from what she was just doing, is clear (or as clear as can be) from distractions, where we sit down together to cry a bit, get out any anger and calm down. At first I didn’t sit with her, but it felt more natural to stay right with her while she tried to work through the emotions. I rub her back, if she lets me, tell her it’s OK to be upset and she can let it out, then sooth her with “let’s settle down now.” It works pretty quickly and when she’s ready, she gets up, eye to eye with me, I explain what she was not supposed to do (hit mama) or what she can do (use words/signs to communicate instead of getting frustrated) and we hug it out. I know this isn’t the more common way of doing time-outs, but it works for us to take a break from whatever it is that caused the digression and then work toward a loving solution together. She is usually much more calm about telling me what she wants at that point.
    One thing we have started doing to help prevent these little scenarios it having late afternoon “down time.” Around 5pm we head to her room for a rest (not nap) where she’ll just lay there daydreaming, may grab a book, or ask me to lay with her for snuggles. She seems to need that extra break in the day without stimulation. I work most of the day, so we usually are on the go and/or playing together for the afternoon and she seems to just get worn down and cranky if I don’t give her that break. It’s nice for me too, so I can either cuddle her and reconnect or get dinner started, etc. Wow, I’ve really rambled on…but i guess I just want to feel like I’m doing right by my sweet girl, even when she’s testing me! Anyway, love your musings and recipes…keep it up!

  22. Annie says:

    This is the second time I’m writing this since my first attempt was deleted when my son clicked the page closed!

    Taking a child away from a difficult situation for comfort and reconnection is not the same as a time out. This is a really useful strategy, especially for small children.

    I don’t agree with “teaching a lesson” by withdrawing love, physically or emotionally, which is what time outs do. The lesson learned is that the child will not be loved or accepted until they change their behaviour. They have to change regardless of how they feel or what’s going on for them inside because it’s unacceptable or inconvenient for them to act how they feel. Children are immature beings and aren’t always going to have the impulse control to manage their own emotions and reactions. They shouldn’t be responsible for ours as well.

    I think it’s worth looking past the behaviour and focusing on what’s going on for the child, as well as strengthening the relationship with the child by helping them through the difficult moment- unconditionally. Being upset or angry or any of these difficult, negative emotions are valid and shouldn’t be censored. Helping them through the difficult moments with love and ease is a wonderful gift we can offer our children. Sometimes easier said than done but a worthy goal, if you ask me.

    The article I linked to is a good one: http://www.naturalchild.org/guest/peter_haiman.html

    It sounds like your “down time” is lovely and peaceful. As your daughter gets older, she’ll have her own ideas about how to spend her time. There may be a day when your daughter doesn’t want to have a quiet time, or maybe you’ll have another child that will never be willing to be still and quiet. I hope you will have the flexibility and willingness to work with your child’s wants as well as your own. I hope your children never feel like they have to accommodate your wants just to please you or to keep you from being upset.

    I don’t think children “test” adults. Children are little beings with their own feeling and needs somewhat separate from our own. “All human actions are an attempt to meet needs.” — Marshall Rosenberg I think we should always try to assume positive intent behind our children’s actions. Children, like ourselves aren’t always going to know or do what’s “right”. They’re never going to be perfect and neither are we and yet parents often hold their children up to impossible standards. I think we all need to cut each other a little slack.

  23. Christina says:

    Thanks for taking the time to respond (twice!). :)

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