Read Parenting, Inc.: How the Billion-Dollar Baby Business Has Changed the Way We Raise Our Children by Pamela Paul Online


A leading social critic goes inside the billion-dollar baby business to expose the marketing and the myths, helping parents determine what’s worth their money—and what’s a waste Parenting coaches, ergonomic strollers, music classes, sleep consultants, luxury diaper creams, a never-ending rotation of DVDs that will make a baby smarter, socially adept, and bilingual before aA leading social critic goes inside the billion-dollar baby business to expose the marketing and the myths, helping parents determine what’s worth their money—and what’s a waste Parenting coaches, ergonomic strollers, music classes, sleep consultants, luxury diaper creams, a never-ending rotation of DVDs that will make a baby smarter, socially adept, and bilingual before age three. Time-strapped, anxious parents hoping to provide the best for their baby are the perfect mark for the “parenting” industry. In Parenting, Inc., Pamela Paul investigates the whirligig of marketing hype, peer pressure, and easy consumerism that spins parents into purchasing overpriced products and raising overprotected, overstimulated, and over-provided-for children. Paul shows how the parenting industry has persuaded parents that they cannot trust their children’s health, happiness, and success to themselves. She offers a behind-the-scenes look at the baby business so that any parent can decode the claims—and discover shockingly unuseful products and surprisingly effective services. And she interviews educators, psychologists, and parents to reveal why the best thing for a baby is to break the cycle of self-recrimination and indulgence that feeds into overspending. Paul’s book leads the way for every parent who wants to escape the spiral of fear, guilt, competition, and consumption that characterizes modern American parenthood....

Title : Parenting, Inc.: How the Billion-Dollar Baby Business Has Changed the Way We Raise Our Children
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9780805082494
Format Type : Hardcover
Number of Pages : 320 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

Parenting, Inc.: How the Billion-Dollar Baby Business Has Changed the Way We Raise Our Children Reviews

  • Megan
    2019-01-26 20:01

    This book drove me crazy, if only because it cemented the fact that we are a bunch of morons. I guess that's not very specific. Let me begin again: This book seems to be written for people who haven't yet grasped the fact that there is more to being a human being than buying things. The other assumption made by this book is that all parents want their children to be members of some strange wealthy elite by turning them into driven early intellectuals and pitting them against other children to get into programs run by people who exploit this desire. In other words, the audience for this book resides on the Upper East Side and would be devastated if any child received anything less than an Ivy League education. So, this book goes on to list all the billions of items that you must buy to be this parent, and then describes (over and over) how all the marketing is, gasp!, a ploy to get your money! Shocking!If you don't already know that parenting has the absolute most to do with spending time with your children in real life, and wanting them to be happy and kind above all else, than this book is for you. If, somehow, you aren't completely idiotically blinded by consumerism and have somehow managed to think on your own, then skip it. Because it's redundant and depressing and I just feel disgust at the parents and marketers and sorrow for the poor kids who have these sorts of expectations thrust upon them. I want my children to love learning. I want them to get into a good college. But I don't think anything I buy is going to get them there. Reading them bedtime stories and letting them play in the dirt is more up my alley. I know I'm opinionated about this. But here is my list of products essential for baby care: (1) boobs and (2) a sling. Everything else is mostly crap. Once they get older, add books and some kind of ball to that list. The end.

  • Liz B
    2019-01-30 19:06

    Oh, woe, woe, woooooooooooe is the urban, upper middle-class mother! The pressure! The expectations!The subtitle of this books is "How We Are Sold on $800 Strollers, Fetal Education, Baby Sign Language, Sleeping Coaches, Toddler Couture, and Diaper Wipe Warmers and What It Means for Our Children." And my response, after reading the book, is "we? We who?" Full disclosure: I did talk my mother into buying me a diaper wipe warmer. In my defense, I was less than a week post-partum and my premature son was still in the NICU. It seemed like a good idea at the time. And also, it was $15. I don't think it compares to, for example, the Bugaboo (that's the $800+ stroller).For the rest of it: Are you serious? I don't think I'm alone in not finding these temptations even part of my world. (Paul focuses on educational toys and videos, classes for babies, luxury items for babies, and outsourcing parenting.) Yeah, I have a few muticolored plastic things around the house that sing the alphabet, and we definitely log some time with Elmo; we try to make it to (free) storytime at the library most weeks, and...well, I can't really think of anything that approaches being a "luxury" item. I bought him an outfit at Gymboree one time that wasn't on sale. Does that count?My point is this: I don't think I'm especially abstemious or unusual. Paul tries over and over to make the point that the high levels of pressure (to get your child into the right preschool!) and consumption in L.A. and Manhattan are trickling down to other areas of the U.S. Then she cites places like The Woodlands, Texas, and Bethesda, MD--i.e., wealthy bedroom communities for other urban areas. She's as out of touch as Hanna Rosin, who complained in the Atlantic about how much pressure there is to breastfeed. I have no doubt that there are some circles where all of this is true--where you feel horrible for giving your baby formula, for not buying organic cotton onesies, or for buying a cheap Graco stroller. But--here's the catch, Pamela and Hanna--these circles are not [i:]representative[/i:].I dunno. The book was interesting enough that I kept reading, probably at least in part because it made me feel smug. "Well, I certainly don't do that! I always thought Baby Einstein sounded stupid. Ha! My baby sleeps fine, and I never had to hire a specialist!" I agree with and like Paul's ultimate point: Trust yourself as a parent to help your child and to know what is right; don't spoil your kids; remember that your parents can probably offer you some decent advice. I this ultimate point really necessary? Are there really that many parents out there who don't have this kind of common sense? Reading a few of the Amazon reviews...I guess so.Sad.

  • Julie
    2019-02-03 21:20

    I skimmed and skipped through this because a lot of the context was completely nuts and relevant only to wealthy middle-aged Manhattanites. However, it was reassuring to hear someone preach against the rampant consumerism promoted by the parenting industry. I learned a few things. And I feel less guilty now about Peter not having many toys.

  • Diana
    2019-02-22 20:26

    The author does a great job of cutting through the hype and showing parents the machine behind the baby product industry. What she doesn't do is present much of an alternative. I felt that the book was out of balance - 90% is "isn't this horrible, bad, unnecessary" and 10% is "here's what's good." I would've liked to see more of the good.

  • Heather
    2019-02-19 18:12

    Full disclosure: I am not pregnant and we don't have kids. This was a really interesting twist on the topic of consumerism (or ueber-consumerism?). People think it is justified to spend money, lots of it, on their kids, because it is "not for them". And the more they spend, the more they are "proving their love" for them. Whether it's classes for babies, superfluous safety equipment, designer strollers, or over-the-top birthday parties, this book shows that thinking this way influences the children as they grow up, making them ueber-consumers themselves. The irony is that this is really a version of "keeping up with the Joneses", and that some kids are just being used as pawns as a way of broadcasting wealth/success. For example, do you really need a $1000 stroller because it is the same one that Gwyneth Paltrow uses (nothing against her specifically, but this was the example used in the chapter on celebrity influence...)? Are you really buying it for the quality, or for the bragging rights? And although I already kind of felt that way before reading the book, I will never again buy a battery-powered toy for a stifles their creativity and social development. And I would never buy "edutainment" CDs, at least with the expectation that it will do anything beyond merely entertaining them.Updated review (2014):I just reread this book for the second time, now that we are expecting our first baby. It was a great sanity check regarding parental consumerism and it re-energized me to minimize accumulating piles of useless crap. When I look at my prior review about the $1000 stroller, I am reminded of a recent experience at a local Buy Buy Baby store, where a stroller saleslady tried to convince me that we couldn't survive in life without a $1200 stroller (the average stroller there seemed to cost around $200). Sadly, plenty of Americans buy into the hype that just because something is more expensive means that it is better quality or a better purchase, regardless of their financial circumstances. Luckily, my spouse and I are not stupid enough to fall for that "keeping up with the Jones" consumerism brainwashing and will make informed, pragmatic choices based on what is right for us.

  • Sarah
    2019-01-28 18:01

    Do you have a baby? Do you ever want a baby? Do you know anyone who has or will ever have a baby? Yeah, you need to run, not walk, to get this book. The author and her writing style can be grating at times, but the information in this book is invaluable. Just like people are sold wedding crap because "OMG Special day!!", people are sold baby crap (and it truly is crap) because "OMG your baby is special" combined with an extra dollop of "if you don't buy this product for your baby, your kid will never go to college and will die homeless on the street!!" guilt. The part of this that really sucker punched me was the chapters on educational toys and videos for babies. Because prior to reading this book, that is totally the kind of shit I would have fallen for. Everyone wants their kid to be smart and get into a good school, but Paul shows pretty conclusively in this book that most educational toys for babies don't teach shit (or are actually harmful) and that the only thing children learn from most of these products is how to be good little consumers. Baby Einstein doesn't teach your kid anything more then how to watch TV -- and for infants that can't control their receptiveness to stimuli, they are spellbound to the TV because they biologically can't look away, not because they love it. Likewise all these toys that teach babies to read, count, etc actually prohibit children from learning developmentally appropriate skills in favor of their parents literally buying a lie that children who read at age two do better in school later in life (they don't). So liberate yourself from expensive crap toys, challenge what you see in the celebrity media, and most of all, read this book!

  • Cleokatra
    2019-02-12 18:01

    I note that this book was published in early 2008. I wonder if the recession that began later that year had an impact on the crazy, extravagant spending patterns noted in this book. In any case, most of the author's discussion seems to be focused on New York and Los Angeles. People who live in those cities may see themselves as trend setters, but those of us in the rest of the country are less impressed with them than they may want to believe. I note that the author lives in New York. That explains a lot, IMO. If she lived in Lincoln or Boise, I doubt that this book would even exist. Recession or no, I'm not convinced that normal parents elsewhere in the US (or in other countries, for that matter) have ever or would ever spend kilobucks on baby furniture or clothing or on "classes" that their children won't even remember or understand. I really just see this as the province of overindulged yuppies in large cities on the coasts, who are desperately trying to impress one another. I guess that is the target demographic of this book, but the rest of us are laughing at their materialism and misplaced priorities. Aside from all that, the book is extremely repetitive. If you read the first 50 pages, you've read enough to get the general idea, which is that wealthy parents in Manhattan and LA spend lots of money on stupid products and services for their kids. Still, I'm giving it 3 stars, because I enjoy reading about misguided people making poor choices.

  • Brittany
    2019-01-31 16:04

    I ended up skim-reading this book because it was pretty repetitive and boring. It rambled off a bunch of statistics and information about products, companies and services that I don't care about. The book reinforced a lot of things I already know:*Kids don't need a lot of toys, clothes and things - especially not expensive brand name things *A lot of the electronic educational toys out there are not tested and researched. Products like the Baby Einstein DVDs are overstimulating and can be damaging to the developing mind. *The best toys are the ones children have played for generations: Blocks, building materials, art supplies, balls, pretend play props, puppets, etc. The simpler the better because there are more opportunities for varied play experiences. *In order for a baby to learn a foreign language, a foreign-language-speaking human being needs to be present. You can't simply turn on language tapes.*Parents place too much emphasis on less valuable forms of play, such as flash cards, educational television and computer activities and not enough attention on the connection between physical play and intellectual development*The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends no television viewing before the age of two.After reading this book, it does make me think twice before I buy something. It inspires me to buy less - especially since we live in a small apartment with not a lot of storage space.

  • Donna Linklater
    2019-02-04 16:11

    I feel like the parents who will be most interested in reading this book will be disappointed. Paul skims over the gender profiling of the garment industry and the sugary, salty, processed foods of the baby food industry and instead zooms in on urban baby classes. (Speaking as an early childhood music educator, yes, there's a lot of crap, and maybe there's one millionaire out there, but by and large there's a growing body of evidence to support it's usefulness and sure as heck don't know anyone who's making a killing off of it.) I also don't get her hard line on wooden, organic toys as opposed to the legions of plastic crap purchased at Wal-Mart. And she brings the same tired old logic to the increasing baby safety gear market: "well, we survived, didn't we?" Yes, but the children who didn't aren't around to argue with her.

  • Kiandra Haaf
    2019-02-10 20:22

    Fascinating. I feel like a better parent now. I'm in the wrong profession- I could be a professional baby namer for $400 a kid. Or an infant psychiatrist, at $100-$300 a session. Reading this gave me more confidence in my decisions to have low-key (or no) birthday parties for my kids, not buying them bath toys (they use plastic bowls and soda cups), and buying the cheapest stroller that functions perfectly well. Now if only I hadn't bought in to the Baby Einstein phenom, I could win mother of the year. At least my younger daughter doesn't watch anything.

  • Angie
    2019-02-05 15:24

    I admit I have a weakness for "rage against The Man" types of nonfiction, but I guess I was hoping this would be more of an aide and less of a rant. Parents spoil their children, I get it. Maybe if the footnotes had been better I would feel a little less preached at... Anyway, "Parenting, Inc" opened my eyes to the many ways businesses manipulate parental guilt, paranoia, and competitiveness to increase sales. That said, I'm still considering getting a diaper wipe warmer.

  • Char
    2019-02-11 16:16

    Okay, so I barely read it--skimmed about 4 chapters, just to see if it was what I thought it was about...and it was. I didn't really need someone to write a book to tell me how much parenting has become a market, and this book actually had a slim audience to me, since it was really focused on the richest people who have children: nannies, high end preschools, baby signing classes, etc. nice to know you're not the only one w/ eyeballs attached to a brain, but nothing new revealed

  • Margaret
    2019-01-25 19:29

    I started to read this, but just could not get through it. I think the premise is fine - that having a baby has become a "business" that parents easily get sucked into, but I feel it's a bit condescending. I truly believe that parents, as adults, have the capability to sort through the crap and decided what "things" and "stuff" they need and what they don't. I don't need a book telling me how to do this.

  • Melissa
    2019-02-09 16:25

    I really liked this book, and thought it presented a well-researched overview of how the "billion-dollar baby business" advertises unnecessary child-related products to parents. It was interesting to learn how much babies *don't* need, and this will be really helpful to me as a first-time parent this summer.Interesting quotes:1) "The truth is, most babies don't even need baby cream, powder, or lotion; unless they have a dermatological condition, their skin is naturally soft and supple." (p. 33)2) "New products continue to wend their way from trade show novelty to consumer ubiquity" -- like the Baby Bjorn. (p. 37)3) "It's hard to ignore that intrinsic desire to make our babies happy ... But children necessarily go through moments, even hours, and sometimes days when they are not happy -- and there isn't necessarily anything wrong with that. It's when they're *not* happy that they learn what they need to do to content themselves. Children are remarkably resilient -- if we allow them to be." (p. 47)4) "The following generation, the Millennials or Generation Y, who are entering their late twenties, is also poised for all-consuming parenthood, with near-zero resistance to consumerism." (p. 82)5) "Whereas in the past, a grandparent might buy a toy based on functionality or durability, she said, the new grandparents will research the toy's comparative merits and purchase it based on its perceived educational value, environmental quality, and ability to engage." (p. 85)6) "The smartest toys, according to educators, are the ones children have played with for generations ... the best toys are 90 percent child, 10 percent toy." (p. 106)7) "Instead of developing resourcefulness, children with loads of 'smart' toys become passive absorbers; instead of honing their ability to focus, they develop impatience ... 'We tend to think of creativity in a narrow sense -- the ability to write a story or draw a picture -- but it's also about flexibility.'" (p. 110)8) "A study of 96 babies ... shows that emotional intelligence (EQ) is just as important as IQ." (p. 113)9) "'The Mozart Effect is just nonsense ... It's just not supported by neuroscience." (p. 122)10) "They found that for each additional hour of daily TV viewing before age 3, the chances of having attentional problems increased 10 percent ... 'The more TV babies watch, the more likely they are to have attentional problems later in life.'" (p. 131)11) "Not surprisingly, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends no television viewing before age 2." (p. 132)12) "Curiosity about computers and other powerful technologies is not a sign that a child is developmentally ready to operate the real thing ... 'Computers are part of our environment, but so are microwaves, and we don't put them in a crib.'" (p. 143)13) "Learning, he emphasized, is not being a passive recipient of teaching, but allowing kids to have some control over their experiences. 'Children do *not* thrive when they are overprogrammed." (p. 171)14) "There are additional benefits to children taking part in ordinary household routines -- the very activities many parents dismiss as being less worthwhile than classes. Children take pride in a job well done. They learn to cooperate with parents, caretakers, and siblings. They learn an early version of the all-important work ethic. Perhaps most important, they learn the value of family obligation." (p. 176)15) "Today, children are the coolest thing any celebrity could have. For better or for worse, parenthood is the coolest it's ever been." (p. 201)16) "That motherhood and fatherhood alike are currently celebrated in popular culture is a positive step ... Yet many Americans have started to fetishize children and family in ways that aren't particularly healthy." (p. 210)17) "'Underneath this consumerism, I believe, is a pervasive sense of anxiety and helplessness in a world rife with problems ... If I can just this stuff, if I can just have my child do this thing, then everything's going to be OK.'" (p. 213)18) "But while we can all use assistance from time to time, raising children shouldn't require a special skill set." (p. 255)

  • Ann
    2019-01-26 14:07

    "We might do well to bear in mind the power of benign neglect, something that occurred quite easily when mothers were dividing their attentions between three or four little ones. The British child analyst D. W. Winnicott stressed the necessity of the child to be alone in the presence of the mother as a condition for self-creation.""Instead of developing resourcefulness, children with loads of smart toys become passive absorbers; instead of honing their ability to focus, they develop impatience; instead of learning creativity, they learn how to behave like unskilled workers on a factory line." Smart toys being battery operated/electronic, one way to play kind of toys."Educators and Child Development experts are concerned that by focusing prematurely on reading and math, parents aren't giving children the opportunity to learn what they should be learning before preschool: problem solving, imaginative play, resourcefulness, and conflict resolution."High levels of TV viewing before age three are associated with 1) subsequent bullying, 2) impaired reading and 3) impaired math proficiency. Also more TV, less creative play. "A 2005 study of 1,200 children published in Archives of Pediatrics found that children who watch TV before age 3 have lower cognitive scores at age 7."Kids who are used to having their time organized by classes and little free time are the ones more likely to complain of boredom."When the wealthy spend more on their kids, it drives everyone's costs up. The entire category of children's goods is influenced by a small number of luxury consumers."Downside of materialism:1) personal well-being: people who are more materialistic are less satisfied with their lives, less happy, experience fewer positive emotions, report more depression, anxiety, and alcohol use, and are considerably more narcissistic.2) social well-being: people who are more materialistic are less Cooperative, less likely to engage in positive social behaviors, more likely to engage in petty theft, and more manipulative.3) ecological impact: people who are more materialistic are less likely to recycle, turn off lights when they leave a room, ride a bicycle, and reuse plastic bags."Children who receive fewer material goods learn to be more patient and grateful for what they do have, qualities that benefit them as they age.""Acclimating children to getting by with less not only prepares them for a future in which they may not be able to get everything they want, but also enriches them in the present.""Sometimes, we don't need to fix a parenting snafu; it works itself out with time and dedication."

  • Amy
    2019-02-04 17:16

    The subtitle on the front cover is: How We Are Sold on $800 Strollers,Fetal Education, Baby Sign Language, Sleeping Coaches, ToddlerCouture, and Diaper Wipe Warmers---And What It Means for Our Children.As the subtitle suggests, this book delves into the current state ofthe baby business…how our culture has gone from getting a couple ofdiapers and setting up a dresser drawer for a newborn to spendingthousands of dollars on nurseries, birthday parties and babyparaphernalia.There are a lot of angles taken in exploring this topic: the evolutionof marketing to parents, how parents strapped for time assuage theirguilt by spending on their children, how this generation of parentssee children as an extension of their lifestyle and outfit themaccordingly, how a keeping-up-with-the-Joneses mentality when it comesto child-rearing has driven this market, how celebrity associationwith baby products has led to ordinary folks "needing" luxury baby goods.I found one of the most interesting topics to be how people used torely on family and friends for advice…sleeping, eating, fussy baby…butnow they often hire help. Mom's groups, sleep trainers, babyproofers,lactation consultants, the list goes on. The author is careful to notethat this is partly due to the cyclical nature of society…for example,many of our mothers did not breastfeed, and wouldn't be much help inthat department. Also, today we don't tend to live close to familywith lots of different generations to help.Another interesting topic is how marketers use parents' fear andguilt. Child safety is trotted out to sell car seats, baby proofingequipment. Parents are made to feel like they are not doing right bytheir child if they don't do or buy "X."The author treads the line between condemning the current state of theparenting industry and looking at it from an analytical perspective tohelp us see why we are where we are today. The over arching theme isthat not all baby products are bad or unnecessary, but the sheernumber of them and the way they are marketed can adversely affectchild development and undermine parental confidence. I don't think sheis suggesting that we go back to the days where we stick the kid in adrawer to sleep and give him only pots and pans to play with, but shecalls into question the excess of the age, and whether or not all theclaims of enriching your child's life are not actually doing harm.

  • E
    2019-01-28 16:12

    I admit I grabbed this book because I had paid $800 for a stroller, and so figured I could use a wake up call at the least, or figure out what she knew that I didn't. Important to note are that the book came out around 2006, and that its predominantly centered on New York City and its affluent parents, where the author lives, and thus is not likely applicable to many readers.I found the beginning a little tough to get into, as we so far have a limited number of toys for our little, and we don't buy that much for her and prefer the classic toys (old school fisher price, blocks vs toys with "educational purposes"), so it felt like preaching to the choir. However, the information on marketing and how products are advertised to parents was quite interesting, and helped remind me to think about what really is essential and to better evaluate think potential purchases. The section on edutainment toys and infant learning was educational for me, and I noted several resources of hers to follow up on later. I admit to being surprised about the pressures some parents put on their infants and toddlers to learn, with classes very early that aren't just for play, and the preschools that perpetuate this "need". This seems to be a big city upper class phenomenon, though, but was intriguing to read about and wonder what it may be like for those ultra-competitive parents. The book itself flows pretty well and is an easy read. Lots of professionals and people in these fields were mentioned and quoted, which I appreciated. As those who are in the group of parents she is talking about are unlikely to read the book, it's good for those parents who want a reminder that it's okay to not buy your kid everything or enroll them in everything, or who want more information about how or why there are so many expensive, fashionable baby goods out there right now. It's good at pointing out that what a baby really needs is personal interaction, and hopefully encourages parents to not try to make up for being at work with things and toys, and spend quality time together when you can get it.

  • Elyssa
    2019-02-11 18:02

    I am grateful that the author of Parenting, Inc took the time to research consumer parenting culture. It seems that parenting has shifted from a role and responsibility to a lifestyle, with required extravagant purchases and outsourcing. This book debunked many myths that contemporary parents believe. The best chapter outlined why educational and developmental toys are a waste of money. The claims on these toys are not proven and, in some cases, the advent of sophisticated toys that do everything for the child have prevented children from developing their imaginations and creativity. She cited examples of kids given "free play" time in kindergarten and not knowing what to do!She also questions to efficacy of all the classes that are supposedly "required" for ongoing academic success, i.e. baby sign language, music classes, Gymboree, etc. These classes are not necessarily harmful, but they cannot deliver the developmental gains that they promise. With some classes costing up to $1000, parents should ask if they are worth the price.The author talks about the rampant consumerism of the parenting industry: Bugaboo strollers, cashmere baby sweaters, jeweled pacfiers, etc. and the huge influence of celebrity parent purchases (which are usually free gifts from the designer to promote the product). She also talked about the huge growth of outsourced parenting services: lactation consultants, sleep experts, potty training camp, etc. Some of these are helpful for desperate parents in unique situations, but most seem excessive and are used by parents who don't want to be bothered with the messy and challenging aspects of parenting.Overall, this is a great read for parents, especially a mother like me who is trying to replicate my own relatively simple (yet fun and memorable) 1970s childhood in the face of modern and misguided parenting expectations.

  • Christina
    2019-02-05 22:28

    This was a well written and researched book about modern parenting. It presented information on baby gear, baby classes, toys, videos, clothes, furniture, "parenting professionals", etc. - and basically how todays parents are falling prey to marketers and made to think they need all this stuff, all these classes, and all this professional help to be good parents and raise successful children. This is nothing many parents probably haven't already read about somewhere else, but I still really enjoyed this book. The black and white numbers is what really got me - such as the fact that before the Bugaboo arrived the average price of a stroller in the US was $170; or the amount of money parents spend on baby classes; or the fact that the US has 4% of the worlds children and consumes 40% of the toys. Those are the only numbers I remember off the top of my head, but there were lots and lots more. The marketing dollars spent on children and parenting related items was also an eye opener. These numbers really made me think about they way in which I parent, what I want my child to remember about his childhood, and the values I hope to instill in him, etc. - not that I haven't been doing that already - but having all the research presented to you at once, chapter after chapter, really forced you to stop and think about modern parenting. The end of the book on the "professionalization of parenthood" was also really scary and that was something I had never thought about before. I agree with her overall message - our kids don't need all this stuff; past generations turned out okay without Bugaboos, car seats, and baby classes; keep it simple; turn off the TV, sing, dance, and have fun. I think this book is a good read for all current parents and future parents.

  • Jessica
    2019-01-27 15:00

    This book could have been half as long. As other reviewers mention, it felt a bit repetitive. To sum it up, parents tend to spend much more than needed in order to feel like they are successfully raising children. Maybe because they are keeping up with the Joneses, maybe because they doubt their parenting skills and think the solution is to spend more money, or maybe just in general parents don't make the most rational decisions when it comes to spending, similar to the wedding industry?At times I felt the book was a bit unorganized. For example, I thought the author was trying to make the point that parents bring in "experts" at times when it is unnecessary, but then she shares several anecdotes of how a lactation consultant and sleep expert made a big difference for her personally. Or she shared about a sleep expert who got great results, but did not share any details as to how the expert got results.There were also arguments in the book that were counter to other research I have read. For example, the author discourages teaching baby sign language. While I agree it may not make sense to spend a lot of money on sign language classes, teaching basic sign language can easily be done for free and from what I've read (and experienced myself), can be beneficial. Teaching a few basic signs allowed my daughter to express her needs to me much earlier than she was speaking, and cost me absolutely nothing.There were some interesting tidbits, but I ended up skimming quite a bit because of the repetition.

  • Ciara
    2019-02-03 19:03

    god, i love books like this. sociology about all the useless crap parents get bamboozled into buying for their babies. one of my friends came over when i was reading this book & she was looking at it & was like, "wait. FETAL EDUCATION? what the fuck is that?" i was like, "yeah. i know, right?"of course, all of these books cover the same ground, more or less. there's always a chapter about luxury strollers, there's always a chapter about baby einstein. & while the author went on & on in her introduction about how it is not her goal to make any parents feel bad about the choices they have made, she does get awfully snarky. i LOVE snark, but i'm not going to pretend that some parent who bought a bugaboo & a "my baby can read" video wouldn't read this book & feel a little judged. then again...the makers of the "your baby can read" videos have gone out of business after a class-action lawsuit brought by customers whose babies (wait for it) didn't actually learn how to read. this book was not so different from buy buy baby, for example. this was better though. if you only read one book this year about all the useless junk you could buy for your baby if you like being scammed, make it this one!

  • Julie
    2019-01-25 14:20

    I loved this book. It got a bunch of lower reviews from other readers and I'm not sure why. It's a straightforward look about the business behind being a parent...The pressures to throw big birthday parties, enroll your infant in classes, buy fancy strollers, and many parent's quest to raise a baby genius. Since I just recently became a parent, I wrestled with a lot of these decisions. If someone else put their baby in a class, shouldn't I? If I don't, will she be 'behind'? The book discusses a lot of different baby gear companies, well known brands, baby sleep and potty training experts -- all who have been very successful in selling their products or services to the masses. The book points out that most of these things are not necessary to raise a happy and healthy child, even though sometimes you feel they are and these companies market them in a way to make you think they are. I found it fun, interesting, informative, and enlightening. I realize that all of the fluff that is mass-marketed to me all the time doesn't really matter to my baby. All she wants is me - not some fancy toy, stroller, or baby yoga class!I would recommend it to parents of young children, especially those interested in business and marketing.

  • Cheri
    2019-02-11 19:17

    At times helpful and illuminating, this book fell apart for me because of the lack of structure. The author, Pamela Paul, catalogs the various ways parents get sucked into a buying frenzy for their kids - from lavish $800 strollers to a flurry of Mommy and Me "developmental" classes. She does a great job of exploring the various toys and gadgets and things sold to parents - in fact, sometimes too good. It honestly feels overwhelming - an avalanche of goods. What wrecked it for me was a more clear breakdown of why this isn't necessarily good. The author has access to some great studies, and has interviewed psychologists, doctors and parents to "reveal the developmental effects" of all this stuff. But her findings are almost lost in the sheer volume of products and services she catalogs. None the less, I'm taking away some great info on why electronic toys, Baby Einstein, baby sign language and the numerous baby classes might not be such a great idea for child development. I just wish she had structured the book so that these nuggets were more clear. I think a lot of people will loose them in the avalanche of reporting.

  • Sarah
    2019-02-21 18:28

    I feel like this book focuses so much on the urban, upper-middle class parent that it loses sight of those of us who are in-between. The parent who would never spend $25,000 on a birthday party, but takes their kid to the local kid gym for classes. The book raises some interesting points, and does present some basic facts on child development that seem to be standard among other books I've read. With that being said the overall tone is so negative and judgmental it's hard to get past that. Sure, many of the current generation's parents gets sucked into overdoing basically everything, but it doesn't mean that some changes and some advances aren't warranted. For example, the author basically dismisses faucet covers as unnecessary. Are they necessary? Probably not. Convenient? Yep! It's really nice not to worry about my kid hitting her head constantly on the faucet. Just because they didn't have faucet covers in the 1970s, doesn't mean we can't use them now. Hopefully this makes sense. Basically I enjoyed the book, but I felt that it focused too much on the upper end of consumerism, and had such an overwhelmingly negative tone.

  • Chalida
    2019-02-16 15:09

    A must read for all parents and to be parents. I just finished this book in three days. Paul discusses how parenting has become a business from kids wearing $100+ designer jeans to parents outsourcing potty training and sleep. Her chapter on video games and tv targeted as educational tools was eye-opening. She reminds us how necessary it is to follow our intuition as parents and gives us confidence to use common sense instead of allowing the media and businesses to prey on our insecurities. She reiterates to me to think about what kind of child I want to raise and what kind of skills I want him to have growing up feeling secure, safe and curious and the skills I want him to have as an adult and parent if he chooses to have children. I also found this book a tribute to my parents' generation who let us discover the world ourselves-- Mine particularly who let me play in the backyard with pots and spoons and secret hideouts and adventures exploring creeks. Also her research is thorough and the statistics are compelling.

  • Susan
    2019-01-30 21:18

    This is an in-depth look at the billion dollar "parenting" market. The author talks about how parents are convinced to spend thousands of dollars on everything from designer baby clothes to baby classes to experts on thumb-sucking. The point of the book is not that you can't spend money on your children or get help if you need it. It's that parental confidence is systematically being undermined by marketing experts whose job it is to convince us that our parenting instincts aren't enough, that we need an expert to tell us how to perform basic parenting tasks, and that spending money equals love. There was nothing really new to me in this book--it's obvious that parenting is a huge market and everybody wants to sucker somebody else to make a buck. What was eye-opening to me was the extent of the problem and the disturbing consequences of such a pressure-driven market: parents who don't believe they have what it takes to raise their own children.

  • AJ Conroy
    2019-02-04 14:12

    Not crazy about her other books (bit of wacko), but this one was informative and reasonable. I've already found it helpful in navigating the baby crap traps. It's like the wedding racket, only the wedding industry appeals to a brides hopes and fantasies. The baby industry preys on one's fears. The ads in baby magazines are awful-- buy our product or your baby could die, you cheapstake! There are no DIY baby books like there are for weddings. There is no virtue in rational purchasing. It's hard not to feel like a sucker after you realize there is no need to buy a bassinet, a pack n play and a crib like the "must have" lists direct. Don't get me started on wipe warmers. Life is cruel and sometimes your butt will be cold for a few second. Suck it up, baby. That said (or ranted), the author does point out products and services that are useful and worth the money, or that are supported by repeatable clinical results.

  • Melissa
    2019-01-25 22:26

    This was a thorough overview of the baby/toddler industry that has developed. Paul provides background research on a lot of the products that are marketed to parents as educational and deemed "essential"-- not usually so. I would recommend this book to any new or expectant parent. The volume of products marketed to parents is huge and overwhelming and this book provides some insight. This book is not perfect. There are moments when Paul is snarky and rude. She ridicules parents for enrolling their tots in music classes (some times mom just wants to get out of the house-- okay!). She criticizes, although admits to having hired, lactation consultants. Sure the "baby industry" is out of control and parents need to have more confidence in their own abilities and intuition. But parents are sucked in to buying these products and services because they want the best for their children and marketers are the devil...not because they are bad parents.

  • Emily
    2019-01-29 21:10

    I thought this book was going to tell me more about the disgusting amounts of money that some people spend on their kids (I'm lookin' at you Real Housewives of Beverly Hills and New Jersey (and all the other ones, but those two stick out the most)). It was more about the industry itself and how products get up and going. So, still interesting, but just now what I thought it was going to be. I really liked the chapter about educational toys. Seriously! Why must every toy educate? Why can't out kids just play with dirt and use their imaginations? And why does every toy have to 'do something'? My kidlet's favorite toys don't 'do' anything. They just 'are'. She has a tiny spatula. She loves that thing. She plays with it more than any of her batteried toys. I'm just sayin' we don't need to spend loads of cash to be good parents and to have intelligent and knd children.

  • Carmen
    2019-01-26 20:18

    bottom line: Your kids don't need all those expensive educational toys and baby gadgets. We live in an extremely consumer-driven world and an age of parental anxiety. We want the best for our kids, but sometimes it translates into material and sensory overload for our children. Parents need to start trusting their instincts again and parents need to become savvy in a culture that bombards us with marketing. So much marketing sends the message that parents not good enough and your child will suffer without such and such. I read this book in three days and although none of the information was groundbreaking for me, I like reading books that study the current culture. I am especially interested in parenting in an age of instant gratification, materialism and over-indulgence and what that means for our chilren.