From Wedding Planners to Baby Planners

June 24, 2008

When I was pregnant with my first baby five years ago, my neighbor Sheryl offered me a list of things to buy, register for and not to bother with. The list had various tidbits from “don’t buy bibs, you’ll get a million of them at your shower” to “make sure you have nipple soothies in the fridge just in case.” Just in case for what?! (I soon found out.)

I’ve since amended Sheryl’s no-frills Word doc list for my friends, adding my own insight on booster seats vs. high chairs and my research on the safest car seats (they aren’t always the most expensive). The list is now outdated again, due to the flux of designer strollers, toxic baby bottles and the much better color selection of baby linens out there.

Who knew Sheryl was onto something? On the front page of the Syracuse Post-Standard’s Life and Leisure section yesterday, there was a story on baby planners. Think wedding planner but baby planner: Someone to help you sort through the choices and register for the best stroller, car seat, crib, high chairs and feeding accessories for your lifestyle. (At the risk of sounding like a total sell-out, there are better strollers for the city vs. the ‘burbs).

Baby planners can consult on anything from selecting a pediatrician to nursery design to finding the best baby photographer. According to the article, Melissa Moog, founder of Itsabelly: Baby Concierge, found out about other baby planners via CoolMomPicks.com, which led her to form the National Baby Planner Association, comprised of 14 members.

What would you want to ask a baby planner if you had one at your disposal? (Rates start at 75 dollars for an hour phone consultation.) What are some of your favorite products? The ones you can live without?

One more tip from Sheryl: Bring a bottle of champagne to the hospital.

– Rebecca

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A Mommy’s Plea for a Better Diaper-Changing Invention

June 17, 2008

Bumbo baby seats, bottle warmers, wipee warmers, bottle drying racks: These baby products are surely useful to some. Personally, I never slow down long enough to warm wipees. And if I did have a wipee warmer, it would have been hijacked long ago by my three year old daughter so her baby doll’s bum is warm when getting changed.

from Getty Images


Baby companies have developed a “baby gadget” for nearly every purpose imaginable. If you’ve shopped at Babies ‘R Us, you know what I mean. I’ve passed on purchasing many of these “necessities” because long ago I realized I would never take the time to use them. Nor do I have space in my home. (Because I live in a small, old New England house, baby products must first have “high floor real estate value” before ever being purchased.)

In any case, as far as I can tell, baby companies still have missed one giant opportunity – to develop something that can help me contain my squirmy, wormy, active baby while I change his diaper. I realize there are changing tables and changing pads, but honestly I have not found them useful. Perhaps it’s me, but I have a hard time changing my baby’s diaper while he is at an awkward right angle to me.

So I’ve been battling my son for months with every diaper change. The scene looks like this – I place my son on his back and he immediately flips over. I then wrangle him to his back and hog-tie his feet. He arches his back and turns into a plank while becoming airborne from the head down. I then throw a diaper under him and go through 20 wipes so I can change him as quickly as possible. By now, he’s wrangled himself onto his stomach and begins to crawl away. I pick up the diaper and run after him. Once I catch him, I pick him up and diaper him. After this, he usually dons a diaper for long periods during the day because redressing him after a diaper change is like flogging myself for no reason. Repeat this process five to six times a day and you have one frustrated mom. Don’t even get me started on changing him in public.

So how about a baby product that is useful – a baby-changing contraption that would safely secure a baby so he or she lies down straight in front of you and SOMEHOW takes the above described frustration out of the diaper changing experience.

I’m not asking for the scene to be so calm that I’m apt to mistake my diaper changing experience for a day at the spa. I’m just asking for something – seemingly basic – that would keep babies somewhat immobile while I perform the task quickly.

If/when this baby product is designed – I’ll be the first one to spread word of its value. And sign me up for any focus group, interview, questionnaire and prototype testing on this new product. If there weren’t already a Diaper Genie out there, it would be the perfect name for this product because it takes magical powers to change an active baby’s diaper.

Is this invention of any interest to anyone else – or does anyone have suggestions on how to keep my 11 month old son from saying “sayonara” every time I change his diaper? Recommendations or war stories are welcome.

– Mary


Does equally shared parenting work for all families?

June 16, 2008

Picture from the New York Times online

Picture from the New York Times online

The cover story for the New York Times Magazine last weekend was, When Mom and Dad Share It All, a story about parents who share all parenting and home-related duties from laundry and meal preparation to thank-you notes and paying the bills. This is not the story of the stay-at-home dad and the high-powered career mom or the stay-at-home mom and the really involved and helpful dad; this story is about couples who are trying to shatter parenting gender stereotypes of all kinds. Both parents pull back on work hours, and discussions are about who will be home with the children, who will wash the darks and who will wash the lights, and who will plan the children’s birthday parties this year.

At its core, the story reminds us of the importance of ongoing communication with our partners and figuring out what will work best for both us and our children. As the article shows with its example families, equally shared parenting doesn’t work for everyone, and what is most important is to figure out what works for your family, regardless of what society says it should look like, which is perhaps the hardest part of all.

What does the division of labor look like in your home? Are you happy with that balance or would you change it if you could? Is there a way to be equal partners in the home without sacrificing career advancement and monetary gain? Will equally shared parenting ever be the norm?

– Karen


Nickelodeon aims to generate “word of mom” with social networking site

June 13, 2008

Viacom’s Nickelodeon group hopes to become the premier source of “word of mom” marketing with their social networking site for Web savvy parents. Launched in 2006, parentsconnect.com began by providing information and fostering discussion through online forums, Q&A and blogs.

Designed for the “first generation of ‘Nick kids’” who are now starting families, the site targets the quickly-growing and influential young parent market. Half of the site is divided by age group and features daily blogs with activity suggestions, troubleshooting and medical advice. The other half of the site houses the more social elements, including localized recommendations, cooking tips and message boards where moms (and Dads) can post and answer questions and share experiences.

The site has provided some interesting opportunities for companies looking for word of mom: its launch was heavily integrated with the launch of Nissan’s 2007’s Quest, and Pampers sponsors the site’s LifeBooks, a multimedia baby book with videos, pictures, quotes and narrative. Parentsconnect also features a daily product recommendation targeted at the parents of each age group.

The site has changed dramatically since its original launch; reviews have been positive and its traffic has increased by almost 700 percent. Meanwhile, the network estimates that the online parent ad market is 300 to 500 million dollars and growing. In 2008, Nickelodeon purchased BabyNamesWorld.com and wikiparenting.com, further proof that the network is putting their money where the mom is.

Do you use a large site like parentsconnect.com to find tips and tricks, or do you rely on smaller bloggers for your information?