Parent Marketeering- Insane Baby Products That Make Every Parent Feel Guilty

Yes that’s right, I’m creating a new word. It’s a combination of “marketing” and “racketeering,” on the belief that marketers are leveraging our parental anxiety to sell products. A lot of the marketer’s strategy hinges on overstating a problem. This is dangerous because your doctor should be the consultant, not a baby product. Racketeering is defined as “a service that is fraudulently offered to solve a problem, such as a problem that does not actually exist, that will not be put into effect, or that would not otherwise exist if the racket were not to exist.” – Wikipedia

Baby and parent marketing is starting to resemble a racket. They read our “mommy” blogs and use our community to create focus groups or understand product reviews. They listen to our anxiety. They extort our cash for a false sense of security.

I’ve found some examples of this searching the internet.

Stokke Stroller: $1,249

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“The Stokke Crusi Stroller is a multitalented connection stroller. Stokke Crusi lifts your child closer to you helping you explore together and grows with your child. The Stokke Crusi stroller’s multiple talents include a durable chassis with soft suspension that transforms into the widest range of stroller options using the following interchangeable Stokke quality components: Stokke Xplory & Crusi Seat, Stokke Crusi Carry Cot (sold separately), and Stokke Crusi Sibling Seat (sold separately).

The Stokke Crusi Stroller Features:

  • 2 way rear and front facing seat and 5 seat positions from resting to upright high chair position
  • You can adapt the foot rest position as the child grows
  • Highest quality textiles with opening for ventilation of the hood to prevent your child overheating

My analysis: Okay, you don’t NEED a $1200 stroller. There are great products for $300 and below that do similar things. Pay close attention to the keywords: multi-talented, lifts your child closer to you, and prevention of overheating. This description communicates safety and bonding with your child. And, AHHHHH the dreaded overheating! It makes the careful parent cringe at the term in light of the media bonanza on HLN with car overheating deaths.

Tortle Repositioning Beanie: $19.99

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“Tortle is an FDA cleared knit beanie that helps prevent and treat mild to moderate Flat Head Syndrome. Tortle makes the job of repositioning newborns safe and easy. It is recommended that all newborns wear a Tortle for the first 6 months of life to support healthy development. Tortle works by gently deflecting your baby’s head from side to side while they are lying on the back of their head.”

My analysis: Flat Head Syndrome sounds AWFUL and SCARY! But FDA-approved? I’m in! What they don’t tell you is that this is completely normal and resolves within about six weeks. It’s not PROVEN that this product will resolve fat heads. “It is recommended” by whom? A doctor? The FDA? The Tortle product development team? There are some flat heads out there that need more than a silly beanie that makes your baby look like he/she is ready for a hair treatment. There must have been a ton of flat heads walking around in the 1800’s because I’m pretty positive they were unaware of “treatment” for this “syndrome.” As always, consult your doctor first. My son had a slight misshapen head from birth and I never had to employ repositioning treatment. As he grew, this was not permanent. Simple repositioning during nap time can help.

“Many vaginally delivered babies are born with an oddly shaped head caused by the pressure of passing through the birth canal. This usually corrects itself within about six weeks. But if your baby’s head hasn’t rounded out by age 6 weeks – or if you first notice that your baby has a flat spot on her skull after 6 weeks of age – it’s probably a case of positional plagiocephaly.” http://www.babycenter.com/0_plagiocephaly-flat-head-syndrome_1187981.bc

Tommee Tippe Bottle Warmer: $39.99

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“Heat everything from breast milk to baby food while preserving essential nutrients with the tommee tippee Closer to Nature Electric Bottle and Food Warmer. Just place your bottle or food jar (sold separately) in the warmer and adjust the temperature dial according to the included guidelines.”
My analysis: You’re a new parent and you clearly cannot be trusted to warm a bottle naturally without burning your poor baby. Doing so will also ROB your baby from the nutrients they need. Pay close attention to the guidelines… we know you need the help! Good job on the Closer to Nature moniker… nature requires more bottle warmers and less breastfeeding…
Summer Infant Lil Luxieries with Whirlpool Spa: $64.99
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“Give your precious little one a relaxing bath with the Summer Infant Lil’ Luxuries Whirlpool, Bubbling Spa and Shower. The motorized water jet helps make bath time fun by creating vibrations and bubbles, while the ergonomic shower handle provides a gentle flow of water and is easy to hold. The large, double-walled tub is insulated to help keep water at the right temperature. Suction cups allow the removable spa/shower unit to attach to a tub wall for extended use, and the newborn cradling sling with a plush bolster can be used in the infant tub or in an adult tub or sink to help make bathing your bundle of joy simple and safe.
My analysis: When you think babies, you think spa! Duh! Full disclosure, I have this tub, given to me from a well-intentioned relative. Truth is, Andrew could care less if there was a whirlpool. The only person getting a kick out of this contraption is me. In fact, it really should be marketed as a foot massage. Andrew loves to make bubbles and splash, so this Lil Luxury was completely lost on him. In his little mind, I’m sure he’s thinking that the fun is when he creates the bubbles. Nobody needs to do it for him.
RaZbaby BPA Free Keep-it-Kleen Pacifier: $4.99
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“Keep-It-Kleen Pacifier closes when dropped! Nipple stays clean. It’s true design genius- stylish, comfortable and ultra functional. The closing shields are attached to the pacifier, no more lost pacifier covers
My analysis: Oh the dreaded, linty pacifier! It evades the best baby wipes and soap cleaning (BTW baby wipes for boogers do the same job as normal baby wipes).  BPA? Oh-my-gosh-BPA-causes-cancer-right?
“The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has said that BPA is safe at the very low levels that occur in some foods. This assessment is based on review of hundreds of studies.”
BPA fear mongering kind of upsets me. Until we have a concrete, scientific study or test that tells us what’s going on, don’t profit from our ignorance or scare us silly. That’s just mean.
Also, what’s with marketing departments incessant phonetic-spelling of products? Do they think it makes the product “smarter” because it resembles baby-speak? Parents want to feel connected to the English language after 24/7 “babba” babble. You don’t need to pander.
So, my favorite marketeers, you don’t need to overstate safety, hygiene, or scare us with your marketing ploys for us to buy your products. We are already alert and terrified enough. The smart parent, who is probably a loyal follower if you play your cards right, will stick to a smart product. If you’re looking to market to overzealous grandparents however, then keep on keepin’ on! That’s a different post altogether.
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