Tuesday 1 December 2009

Infancy insolvency

‘I’d like a cake please.’

‘Ok sir, that’ll be €100. When would you like it?’

‘Well, the wedding is on…’

‘Oh, wait, I’m sorry, it’s a wedding cake, then that will be €850.’

Same story the world over, businesses squeezing multiple times the value of something out of poor Paddy Soap because it’s for a ‘special’ occasion.

It seems that opportunistic bastardism is in full swing in the world of baby supplies too.

Leaving aside the large items like a buggy, crib, furniture etc, babies don’t need a whole lot. To be kept warm is just about enough. This, we humans achieve by making sure the child is wearing a few scraps of cloth, and is perhaps wrapped in a few larger scraps of cloth.

A few metres of cotton, cut into a few different shapes, with the occasional bunny rabbit printed on.

Simple enough.

How on earth can less than one square metre of a cotton sheet and blanket be peddled to the public for €60? You need at least two of course, and that is at least two for the crib, and the pram, and the Moses basket.

So, to put the kid to bed we are looking at €360 and a futile hope that bedding doesn’t need to be changed more than once a day. If you don’t want to wash and dry them every bloody day you can throw a grand out the window and pawn the cat , just so the kid can catch a few Zs.

If you want avoid fumigating the house on a weekly basis you may also want to clean the child. One option is to buy back the pawned cat and train it to lick the child clean, just don’t mention that you want it for baby licking or the price will quadruple.

The other option is to do it yourself. Clean it, not lick it, I mean.

This of course means mo’money. Those delightful flannel hooded things which are basically regular towels with the hems sewn by epileptics are going for €40 a pop. Why does a facecloth cost 99 cents unless you buy it in a baby store where you have to pay €20 for a pack of 3?

When did flannel become pricier than a human kidney on the black market?

I’m not even going to start on the obscenity that is baby clothing. Socks that couldn’t hide a malteser, a hat similar akin to a golf ball warmer, and mittens that are heresy to practicality. Paying €15 for mittens for a baby that is hardly going to be driving a bloody snow plough makes my face ache.

For its first Christmas next year, this kid is getting an invoice.


Ms. Moon said...

You have barely scratched the surface. NO ONE in this world can afford a child. Ever. And yet...it works out.

Erin said...

Okay, I know this will be hard to resist being a first-time parent and all, but don't get the fancy baby towels. Just don't. The baby will only fit into them for 5 minutes, then you'll be using grown up towels to keep all the damp limbs in check.

However, we received as a gift a towel with a facecloth sewn on to one side into the shape of a little hood, and that works just as well if not better because it's bigger. And cheaper.

Angie [A Whole Lot of Nothing] said...

This is just the beginning.

Like Patrick used to (still does) tell me, "You asked for it."


Jenni said...

You're so right - it's a total racket.

It's funny that you mention keeping the baby warm because I always obsess over my kids and if they are dressed weather appropriate.

Anonymous said...

I bet the kid will think the invoice is tasty, too!

Russ said...

Don't worry, you will still be doing laundry every day (or ET will, one). Mind you, you don't need to get the 500 thread count sheets for Lil Fitz, the 150's will do. (Don't forget the mattress condom! You don't want bodily fluids invading baby's mattress.)

Oh and mobile. And the ...

Betty said...

Wouldn't it be possible to just use hand-towels instead of baby towels?

€60 for a baby's bed-sheet? I'm asking for a sewing machine as a wedding present.

Kori said...

Well, you don't actually HAVE to buy the stuff that costs so much. Believe me, those stupid towles with the hoods? Waste of money-regualr old towels and washcloths work just fine. Just throwing that out there.

Gina said...

If we knew what the baby was we could all pass on hand me downs, JUST SAYING!!!

Anonymous said...

Most of the stuff sold for babies is rubbish, you don't need the half of it and it will only clutter up your house. In teh US there's a book called Baby Bargains, it's like the consumer report for baby gear, tells you what you really need and which is the best most cost effective brand. I'd also recommend buying second hand, babies go through things so quickly they don't have time to wear them out so 2nd hand baby stuff is usually very good quality. It's tempting to go daft and buy tons of crap, don't give in to the temptation!

Boliath xx

Mwa said...

Dude! One word: HEMA!!!
How do you think anyone around here can afford a baby? Hema!
My kids sleep in, poop in, bathe in, vomit in HEMA!!!
(And it's really good stuff.)

I originally bought some really expensive sheets, and then for the same price got three sets from Hema which I can wash all I like.

Really. Dude. HEMA!

Mwa said...

Oh, yeah, and the baby towels? May as well take them back. They're really not so necessary. A plain towel and a flannel cloth (from Hema) does the trick just as well.

Oh, and can I just say buy more of the flannel tetra cloths than the cotton, because babies=soft.

(I know I'm interfering - you left the comments on.)

Oh, and one more thing:

Lance said...

Have twins. While you may get a 10% discount you still have to buy more than twice the crap.

geeks in rome said...

Just think how for millennia babies did just fine with a boob and snuggling against someone's warm skin (ok, and wrapped in lion's hide)...

But really, you can make do with very little. Canvas your colleagues for their kids' used clothes. I don't know if you have thrift stores or "garage sales" over there, but if you network now you might discover there are clothing exchanges (sometimes organized at schools?) check out the expat forums in your city.

For sheets I went to a fabric store and bought yards and yards of flannel and just cut them into sheet sizes. Plus I made smaller squares to fold and use as breast pads (for leaks).
Regular towels work fine for babies.

Save your money for the important stuff: like heading home to see the family who will shower you with the new stuff :)

AnnD said...

I have found myself not using more than a few pairs of socks. You have to do laundry every day because they poop and pee through so much. I also have an excess of blankets. You seriously on need 2 or 3 blankets! People buy them and buy them and we have a TON of them!

Also, I ended up having washed and dried a ton of baby sheets thinking I would be changing crib sheets all the time. Never happened. My child never spit up at all. So, now I have tons of crib sheets that will never be used...

Anonymous said...

Ok. Either you are shopping in the wrong places or Europe is ridiculously expensive. Seriously, I agree baby stuff is way overpriced, but I haven't seen prices like that outside of an L.A. baby boutique on Rodeo Drive. My word!

Not From Lapland said...

ha ha, all too true! and it's all completly useless after 3 months!

Susanica said...

Sounds like you need a benefactor X-Box. You know, those wonderful people who hand down great stuff. Then when you don't need your stuff anymore you become a benefactor to some other family just starting out.

Some of Danny's cutest clothes are from friends at church who bring us boxes of their bigger boy's "like new" stuff from time to time. Once the new baby (who is our last), outgrows things we will get to be the benefactors. And not just Max's nice stuff but lots of other nice stuff Danny got (mostly as gifts). Ah, collectivism! -M

frogpondsrock said...

I went to buy a tutu the other day for Amy it was over $70. 70 freaking dollars for some scrunched up tuille.Needless to say I am still recovering from the shock and I didn't buy the tutu. That's the problem with children, they cost a bloody fortune then they grow up and give you grandchildren who are twice as expensive to spoil umm clothe properly.

Anonymous said...

Darlin==we have ALL been waiting to send you and ET stuff for the baby...call in your markers, man! Your readers will help, I have no doubt and I can assure you that even with the dollar weak against the euro, I can do much better on those wash cloths and other things! Just send me an address and it will be on the way!

Anonymous said...

learning to sew will solve the problem or haven't you some loving aunts who sew. plus.. bubs soon outgrow their clothes. i'm eating a corned beef, cheese and mango chutney sanger in hot humid queensland. australia. here we just put them in a 2nd hand cot, a disposable nappy on bub and a mosquito net over the lot...... the little buggers thrive. main thing is.... don't let your baby get overheated... dangerous.
and the rellies usually come good with some pressies..specially if you have competing in-laws. lol


Tanya said...

Everyone will have money saving tips for the new baby, and a lot of the things you buy you find you can do without, but for the first baby everyone still likes to buy all of those 'baby' things.

Things we found we didn't really need; baby towels, a baby bath, (you can buy a special chair to fit in the normal bathtub) 10 different kinds of baby wash and moisturisers, a change table, (we use a change mat on the floor or bed) baby cotton buds, baby medicine applicator, thin wraps, (baby Emily hated being wrapped up)

and lots more...

You wont know what you actually need until the little one is here.

I found I got lazy in winter and used a thick all in one suit for her to wear when we went out, that saved dressing her and wrapping her in blankets.

Also, if you buy everything new when baby is finished with it you can sell it all on Ebay and use the money to buy new things for the baby.

'Murgdan' said...

I'm planning on dressing mine in a pillow case. Flannel for winter...cotton for summer. Also, he/she will sleep in one of my dresser drawers--because GAWD...the price of cribs is ridiculous!

darcie said...

The thing is - you are ahead of the game for realizing all of this ahead of time! It takes some people (AHEM! she says looking around!) until their second baby to realize this!
It's up to you to outsmart those baby manufacturers and remind ET that you'd rather save your $$$ to take your son on a trip to the states to meet all of his adoring fans! Plus, we can buy him all that crap when you come and visit!

Proseaholics said...

"Those delightful flannel hooded things which are basically regular towels with the hems sewn by epileptics are going for €40 a pop"

I'm assuming that's why most of those towels are never bright or flashy colored?

River said...

Buy as much stuff as you can in non-baby stores. Does your local supermarket have a "baby" aisle? Blankets etc are much cheaper there. Also, babies don't need specific wash cloths etc, buy a dozen of the 99 cent ones, and a few of the softest regular bath towels. Trust me, the baby won't know or care. Ditto sheets and other bedding. Buy single bed size and fold to fit. As the baby grows, adjust the folded items to fit the larger cot or whatever. The added bonus is that when the child moves to a bed the blanket will be very familiar and make the transition easier. Clothes are a different matter. You DO have to buy those in baby sizes, but you could probably forget the socks and mittens for a while and just use a quilted sleeping bag type thing, at least until the feet are big enough to actually fit into socks. Tights are also a good idea, warms both legs and feet. Accept any and all offers of secondhand stuff. Did you know the estimated cost of raising a child to adulthood is now $1million? Ha Ha.

Momma said...

Okay...so yeah babies are expensive but they are so worth every cent! Even if it means you never leave the house again b/c you can't afford to put gas in your car to go anywhere!

Why don't you let us blogstalkers help with some baby stuff? I would love to have a shipping address b/c we really want to send a gift for the little him or her soon to arrive! Think about it...it would save you lots of money and precious time in baby stores!!!

Martin said...

@Ms. Moon - So be it!

@Erin - Hard? Impossible.

@Angie [A Whole Lot of Nothing] - You did...

@Jenni - yep yep yep!

@babyattheend - it will get one EVERY year.

@Russ - Stop. now.

@Betty - and they were not fancy ones...

@Kori - We could shoplift it

@Gina - nice try, hard luck.

@Boliath - Easier said than done

@Mwa - I get the feeling you are trying to tell me something, but can't make out what it is

@Lance - Er, no, thanks.

@geeks in rome - The Dutch give NOTHING away.

@AnnD - Hmmmmm.

@myndful - That was in a baby warehouse type place, yeah it is pricey.

@Heather - oh great!

@Susanica - nada, nothing here, we are on our tod!

@frogpondsrock - er, a tutu?

@hotmamamia - watch this space

@dell - all abroad unfortunately!

@Tanya - I'm guessing a LOT could get sold

@Murgdan - A M E N!

@darcie - Any fans in Barbados?

@Monty - Ba dum dum tish!

@River - I could, but the boots would be too big.

@Momma - easy does it ;-)

Bonnie B. said...

Oh my goodness, you must be just loads of fun to shop with!! (poor ET) Ya know........for someone who was anxiety ridden for 2 years about getting pregnant in the first place, one would think you wouldn't be quite so...um....Grinch-like in the buying of baby stuff.

But I agree with everyone else - buy the "people" stuff instead of the "baby" stuff when you can and GIVE US AN ADDRESS DAMMIT AND WE WILL BE HAPPY TO SEND YOU TONS OF STUFF!! (sorry for the yelling)

areyoukiddingme said...

Our final straw baby shopping moment was when I wanted to buy 2 changing pad covers for $30. My husband determined that 20 year old towels would be a far better solution to keeping the changing pad from getting contaminated. Also, we had a nearly endless supply. And they were already brown, as they were from the Army. I don't believe I was actually allowed to buy any frivolous baby items. We bought the cheapest crib set he could find (Him: Why pay $200 for a comforter the baby will never use, a bumper pad, a sheet, and a bedskirt? Here's one for $60. Me: But I like the other one better. Him: The baby won't care. Me: Fine. I don't get to buy anything I want. Him: You wanted a baby. You're getting that.)

If you'd like, I can send my husband over to help you economize (ie not get anything you really like or want).

Kerry said...

Wow that is expensive - it would be cheaper to channel hop and stock up here. I think most of their sheets and blankets I got from toys'r'us or supermarkets

I'm with the others - both of our kids were too big for the corner hoodie towels about a week of getting them, bath chair to go in your bath, changing mat on the floor (and towels to keep it warm/clean). No cot bumpers for mine either :) And bags of clothes from other people is the best thing ever.

We bought the Which Guide to baby products and I thought it helped us work out the necessities from the vast range of products on offer.

WeaselMomma said...

All the more reason to sign the baby up for modeling gigs to earn their own keep.

Lorna said...

You know you are going to love spending every penny. You will find that when you go shopping, you (or ET - not sure if it just a mum thing, my husband says it is but then he rarely goes shopping) end up buying stuff for your child rather than the shoes you need yourself!!

frogpondsrock said...

Yes a tutu. For twirling and flouncing.For spinning and dancing. It is all about the 'prettyshinybeautiful' with Amy.

Hockeyman said...

I think we should start a parent loan system/service. Track all expenses and present the child with an interest bearing payment plan that they can return the money on. Or just keep track so they put is in the good home.

Anonymous said...

What everyone else said. You do not need 97% of the stuff. The baby won't like it and won't care, and will only puke on it or scream when dressed in it.

Also, baby socks and mittens are stupid. The pavements from my house to the shopping centre are littered with sad little abandoned socks and mittens. If it's cold enough for mittens, it's cold enough for a proper all-in-one suit or a nice blanket. If it's not cold enough for a blankie, it's totally not cold enough for midget socks that the baby can pull off and drop as soon as s/he works out the hand-eye coordination to grab his/her own foot.

Also, seriously, believe me on this one, but the only thing you need to clean your baby with for the first few months is warm water and cotton wool. The lotions? Bad idea. Expensive, pointless, and can cause spectacular bouts of rashes that will worry you sick.

Sadia said...

You wouldn't believe how much more we started paying towards our mortgage the month our twins suddenly decided they were done with nappies.

Jared said...

I agree man. Keep it simple. Some diapers, baby food/formula, soap, sheets, and warm PJs are about all the baby stuff you REALLY need.

Ace did not have a blanket in his bed forever. Just really warm PJs...and a heater in his room to keep it at about 70 deg F.

Those towels...I'll send you some. We got a stack of them that were barely ever used. When Ace was really little we used them, but once he figured out that his arms moved he did not want to be a burrito baby after a bath anymore. :D

James (SeattleDad) said...

We swallowed our pride and took any and all hand me downs we could get.

Anonymous said...

It is crazy expensive! What astounds me is the cost of infant TENNIS SHOES!! I mean why are they $20 to $30? It is not like they are running track or playing tennis. sheesh.

meabh said...

hey! I'm lurking here from time to time.Still no joy here after 4 IUI's & just had failed IVF but its Christmas so the Irish reaction is we'll drink our way thru the season & resume in New Year.
ANYWAY u know I have a wee guy from IUI way back when.just wanna say that next time u are on home turf the bargins in Dublin are upstairs in Guineys north Earl St at the side of Clerys. Seriously cot sheets 5 euro & they have lasted longer than the mothercare ones.It was sooo embarrassing when my Mother used to buy my stuff there when I was 15 but for babygear its good. U could always wait til lil fitz is 15 & embarrass him/her then but that would be cruel!

Silindile Ntuli said...

Children are expensive, I see it with my sister's kid and it's expensive, yet it's easy to do.

Renee said...

Let the fun begin! Welcome to parenthood =)

Martin said...

@Bonnie B. - shut up and be grateful you mean?

@areyoukiddingme - those things cost 42 euro here!

@Kerry - yeah I think it seems cheaper in the UK and Ireland because we'd be more familiar with where to get the good bargains, not really the case here.

@WeaselMomma - looking at the two of us, if the kid gets the good bits, we could be rich, if it gets the bad bits..... paper bag.

@Lorna - I don't have a shirt without a hole in the elbow....

@frogpondsrock - then shiney it should be!

@Hockeyman - PapaBank.

@nutsinmay - Aggggggggggggggh.

@Sadia - Is 6 weeks too early to toilet train?

@Jared - 'some' diapers... what, like a dozen?

@James (SeattleDad) - None to be had here!

@mybumpyjourney - Well, if you are buying 'tennis shoes' for a baby you are asking for trouble.

@meabh - Sorry to hear about the unsucessful attempts, they must really take their toll. Maybe Christmas will be a good break, come back at it in the new year.
Funny, in just a few hours we'll be on home turf, but not for long enough for shopping (thank god).

I would have said the same about guineys in Cork years ago,wouldn't be caught dead, but now, it would be great to have one here!

@Silindile Ntuli - Very easy!

@Renee - fun indeed!

Kelley @ magnetoboldtoo said...

Dude, you KNOW cats eat babies right?

And YOU are going to put your spawn in a MOSES basket?

Chuck the kid in a drawer, isn't that what your lot do anyway?

I expect answers to each of these questions in the form of a haiku, in my inbox by the morning.

Martin said...

@Kelley - Yes, a MOSES basket, not a kiddiefiddlingtwothousandyearlaterandremainprotectedbybystate basket.

Jane G said...

That's mad! I suggest you pay a visit to Dunnes when you are next home. There's no way their prices for baby stuff could be as bad as that.

Putz said...

ms.moon no it doesn't always work out, i haqd to sell three for food money just this week

Martin said...

@Jane G - good old Dunnes indeed.

@Putz - I think you'll pull through...