Big Smile, No Teeth: RM120 for a shirt for an infant? Why are baby products so expensive?


Why are things for babies so expensive?! RM120 for a shirt he'll outgrow in a few weeks? Come on! -123rf.com

Our little baby boy turned one in March 2021. One whole year old. Born into a pandemic. And my biggest takeaway? There is a whole industry of overpriced baby stuff.

These items come in roughly two categories. The overpriced items that are overpriced because you want your baby to look cute and companies know you’ll pay a premium. And the overpriced items that are overpriced because companies know new parents have next to no idea how to care for their new bundle of joy so they’re desperate enough to think that throwing money at something must mean quality.

This happened the first time I stepped into a baby store and wasn’t too tired to pay attention to the prices. A nursing pillow costs about RM600. A tummy time pillow for our little guy – which we needed because tummy time at that early stage just meant him laying on his face and screaming – was about half that price at RM300. Not that that’s any better.

To be clear, a nursing pillow, a tummy time pillow, these are just pillows. Sure, there is a happy little baby guy on the tummy time pillow package smiling instead of faceplanting into the mattress like our little guy, and that was encouraging, but at the end of the day that really was all the manufacturer was selling: the promise of happy tummy time. Because the pillow wasn’t some super, Elon Musk-designed one that revolutionised tummy time. It was just a slender pillow.

We have a thousand of those. At home. On the couch. Ask my wife why.

Then there’s his stroller. Which from the price tag you’d think is capable of interstellar travel. Sure, it does fold up quite quickly and neatly, which is a definite plus that you pay for, but god help us if any of the parts break and we need to order a replacement. New wheels on that thing cost more than replacing a tire on a car.

Or all the teething toys that we bought to help our little guy through his teething pains – and he constantly returns to chewing on the baking spoon. Teething toys. Useless.

Then there are the baby clothes. Little golf shirts with tiny little collars to pop. Tiny khaki pants so we could dress him up like a hedge fund manager, and cute little shoes with real laces no baby has any chance of tying. My wife was gobbling it all up at first, picturing our little baby guy in his golf stuff and hedge fund pants (presumably still screaming while face down on the mattress at tummy time – at least he would be well dressed).

But then I saw the price of said cute clothes and though the clothes were tiny, the pricing was not. RM120 for the golf shirt. RM100 for the khaki pants. And, honestly, putting him in khakis would mostly be just so we could laugh at him looking like some kind of finance douche bag. None of it was worth the price.

Luckily, my wife, having grown up in Communist-era Romania, is even cheaper than I am and saw no value in spending hundreds of dollars dressing our baby when there were perfectly good potato sacks we could cut arm and leg holes in. I vetoed the potato sack clothing scheme, though, if only because I thought it would cause our baby to chafe and didn’t want to deal with the ensuing crying.

It’s a good thing there are hand-me-downs. We have lots of friends willing to give us the baby stuff they no longer need, including an assortment of cute clothes and various unnecessary baby items that ultimately served no purpose. At the end of the day, all the baby clothes were barely worn because ... they’re baby clothes. Babies exist in their onesies for much of the first year anyway. I mean, it’s not like your baby is going to wear out the tread on his shoes.

It’s a good thing we have great friends to help mitigate the cost of clothing our little guy and save him the humiliation of appearing in a potato sack in the majority of his baby photos. Because if not for the great friends, he really would be wearing some manner of sack.


Big Smile, No Teeth columnist Jason Godfrey – who once was told to give the camera a ‘big smile, no teeth’ – has worked internationally for two decades in fashion and continues to work in dramas, documentaries, and lifestyle programming. Write to him at lifestyle@thestar.com.my and check out his stuff at jasongodfrey.co. The views expressed here are entirely the writer's own.

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infant , budget , family , expenses

   

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