Becoming a parent is not for the faint of heart. And unfortunately for today's parents, the normal amount of fear that comes with childbearing has only become amplified by a culture of fear that has descended on parenting.
Starting from pregnancy ("Don't eat sushi!" "Any amount of alcohol is dangerous!" "Eat only organic!") and continuing right up to first job interviews (hiring managers report parents actually interfere in the process, even trying to attend job interviews with their children), helicopter parenting is very much "in."
With this culture of fear and alarmism has naturally come a proliferation of products meant to feed and capitalize off of it. While previous generations had little in the way of “gear” outside of a place for the baby to sleep, today's parents spend thousands on products that are at best useless and at worst do nothing but make them more terrified of every tragedy that could possibly befall them, even the most remote.
These are the top five items that do nothing but promote fear, without any tangible value:
1. SIDS Monitor: For every parent, SIDS is a frightening, though extremely remote, possibility. A monitor exists for parents to place under their child's crib sheet in order to make sure they are still moving and breathing, even at night from another room. All of the known science behind SIDS indicates that while there are actions parents can take to minimize the risk of SIDS, like not smoking and placing their child to sleep on their back, there is nothing that can prevent it, like this monitor. Many of the Amazon reviews on this expensive and medically useless product indicate that it did nothing but scare most parents with false alarms at 3 a.m.
2. Electronic bottle monitor: How fast is your baby drinking and how much? Lest you actually look down and watch the contents of a bottle disappear, you can obsessively and electronically track it with this new useless gadget.
3. Bath thermometer: I didn't even know one of these existed until BuzzFeed compiled a survey of some of the top 21 baby products and polled new parents on their usefulness. Apparently this exists for parents unable to use common sense and their own instincts to determine the temperature of a bath before depositing their child into it.
4. Tracking apps and devices: When did your child last poop, sleep, or eat? The truth is, it largely doesn't matter unless there's already reason to worry, and if there were, you’d know before an iPhone app told you. But no matter: there exist dozens of baby tracking apps to monitor every single moment of your baby's day, morning to night.
5. Baby-specific detergent: Babies are against their parents' skin and clothes virtually 24/7 the first few weeks. Even if their clothes are in clothes washed in specially designed (and extremely expensive) detergent, their skin still encounters clothing that has not been, unless parents want to take the plunge and wash everything they own in this detergent as well. Another useful piece of the BuzzFeed post on baby gear was a comment from a "textile designer" who implored parents to buy the detergent anyway since it is specially designed to "protect the fire retardant finishes on baby clothes." To which another commenter rationally asked: "As long as you're not leaving flammable things around your baby and your house, who cares?"