As annoying as it was, I loved knowing the baby gear. My wife liked that I knew about baby gear. And, to my surprise, I found that learning about baby gear made me learn about babies themselves—what they like, what they don’t like, at what age they grow and develop certain behaviors. As the due date approached, I felt more prepared and less miserable than many of the other fathers-to-be I met for the first time in our birthing classes, many of whom passed the decisions on to their wives.
And when my wife finally went into labor three weeks early, I was ready. I drove him confidently to the hospital, with bags well packed, never once worrying about whether the car seat was installed correctly.
Since the birth of our son, I’ve found that his interest in gear has made me a better, more capable parent. I can ask her pediatrician questions about formula types and nipple sizes without breaking a sweat, and I know exactly how many diapers to pack for a three-day trip. I’ve read the user manuals and watched YouTube tutorials and can operate, clean and adjust most of our baby gear without assistance. (No armed incompetence here!)
I also got to know the mechanism well No buy I believe that parents should spend as little money as possible on baby clothes, for example, and should not spend any money at all on items that are intended for vomit, vomit or spills, including bibs and wipes. (An old dishtowel works great.) I won’t be buying those fancy, Montessori-style wooden toys that are common in Brooklyn and Berkeley these days. And while I don’t begrudge anyone prioritizing convenience, I think any parent paying $300 for the Baby Brezza Formula Pro Advanced — a Wi-Fi-enabled, Keurig-style machine that mixes and heats for you bottles of formula. At the push of a button – their taxes should increase.
The Gear won’t solve every parenting problem, of course. He can’t soothe a colicky baby, teach a toddler to walk, or help a picky eater clean his plate. And families who can’t afford tons of equipment, or choose to spend their money in other ways, will no doubt raise perfectly healthy, happy children without it.
But there’s something satisfying about the gear itch, at least. Because the gear is, frankly, huge. It represents our progress as a species—each pacifier, diaper pail, and bottle brush is an expression of Prometheus’ itch to use technology to bring order to a chaotic world. And for new parents—a group with plenty of chaos in their lives—having the right gear can help us feel more in control, less at the mercy of fate.