A tits. Bed. Maybe a bottle? In the early days of my wife’s pregnancy, I naively thought that everything a newborn baby would really need. After all, all they do is eat, climb, sleep, repeat. You don’t need an arsenal of sophisticated equipment to handle this, do you?
Wrong. Our first child is expected immediately, and despite my best efforts to escape the evil paws of the baby industrial complex, our small apartment in New York is packed with strange things. Reader, I have a sopolist. This is not a euphemism ̵
I didn’t just become a snotty person. I say with horror that I have become a person who knows too much about Sleep. Snoo is a $ 1,495 (£ 1,145) powered by an artificial intelligence swing that uses algorithms to respond to a baby’s fuss and get him back to sleep. “You absolutely need Snoo,” some people told me. “It’s a huge waste of money,” others say. It’s like a marmite on baby gear. Just a hell of a lot more expensive.
Although you may need a little more than gypsies and a bed to raise a child, you don’t need an AI crib to be a good parent. In Finland, which is supposed to be the happiest country in the world, new parents are sent home from a hospital with a government cardboard box in which to sleep their babies. (In the United States, where there are the most unhappy parents in the Western world, according to a 2016 study, you are sent home from a hospital with a massive bill.) However, being a parent means being bombarded with ads accusing you of spending money unnecessarily. For example, we recently received a brochure in a publication urging us to store our newborn’s umbilical cord blood in a private bank in case it develops a condition that can be treated with its own stem cells. The chances of this happening are slim, but what if it happens? If you don’t cough, you don’t care about your child’s life. The whole thing feels predatory and disgusting. In particular, because it is much better to donate this umbilical cord blood to a public bank, where there is a greater chance to help someone.
Not only are expensive cribs and weird blood banks making your head spin, these are endless contradictory tips for your baby. Stick to a strict routine, otherwise you will become a monster! Do not stick to a schedule, otherwise they will become neurotic! If you let your child cry, he will become a sociopath who is unable to create secure attachments! If you don’t let them shout, they will never learn how to be independent!
For a hot second, I thought I should get into the baby advice business on my own; it seemed like a lucrative career move. At one point I decided to try intrauterine sleep training and then patented my amazing technique. Anyway, I’m tired of it after about five days of playing the same song to my partner’s belly before bed. Then I thought I would teach the kid the schedules while he was still in the womb. This plan was thwarted when I realized with horror that I was not sure I could remember all my time tables. Now I’ve decided that the best thing I can do to prepare for parenthood is just try not to worry too much – and maybe deal with my time tables.
Aru Mahdawi is a Guardian columnist.