How much stuff do you really need to buy if you have children?

Posted by Saraline , Saturday, September 6, 2008 1:24 PM

Do you need to be a millionaire to have kids?

Potential parents need to be able to not only afford daycare (which in Vancouver is around $1200 a month, if you can get a place) or a nanny, expensive kid gear like strollers and fashionable baby clothes and the keys to their own house. There's a growing expectation that one parent will take a year off work, and given the cost of living and housing, that means an even higher level of affluence is required.
I guess I'm lucky to be living in Quebec where we have seven dollar a day daycare, although it is difficult to find a spot.

In our society, we have a "necessary consumerism" complex. We think that we need things that are completely unnecessary. Baby formula is not necessary when we have breast milk and breast milk is healthier. The other day I saw an ad in a magazine for baby sleeping bags. You can put your baby in one of these bags so that she doesn't keep herself awake by waving her hands around. You can achieve the same effect by swaddling your baby in a good old fashioned receiving blanket.

Fashionable baby clothes are also unnecessary. Babies grow so fast that it makes more sense to get used clothes if you can. People sometimes place ads on websites like craigslist selling bags of baby clothes for a set price. Friends and relatives with babies and young children pass on hand-me-down clothes to each other. Babies don't care whether their sleepers were designed by Versace or by grandma, or if another child wore them once before they outgrew them.

It is unlikely that new parents will have to buy everything that they need. Relatives and friends get excited about new babies too and are eager to help out. They may throw a baby shower for the mom and dad to be or they may pass on things that their children have outgrown that can still be used. Accepting help from loved ones may be a more realistic option than becoming a millionaire for people who would like to have children.

You can't spoil a child with too much love, but you can spoil a child with too much stuff. The opinion piece that I linked to focuses on teenagers on television shows who have rich parents. These shows are hardly a reflection of reality. Sure, teenagers care more about their clothes than babies do and they want all kinds of expensive stuff. However, it is the parents' job to feed, clothe (not necessarily with designer clothes), and provide shelter for them. It is not the parents' job to give them everything that they want. I'm not saying that giving them a few nice things is wrong, but if they want more than what their parents can or are willing to provide, then they can get after-school jobs.

Of course, this "necessary consumerism" complex is not restricted to people with children. Do we really need dog masseuses and cable TV?

1 Response to "How much stuff do you really need to buy if you have children?"

Misha Says:

I'd recommend reading "Born To Buy" for an interesting take on "why" people end up buying so much stuff for their kids.