Make it stop: Professional baby planners

The new trend in overparenting is like a wedding planner, but more disturbing.


Kate Harding
May 16, 2008 10:20PM (UTC)

From the Department of You've Got to Be Kidding Me comes this ABC News story about women hiring baby planners -- like wedding planners, only more disturbing.

Baby planners will help expectant couples set up a baby registry, decorate a nursery, find "doulas, lactation specialists, personal trainers, nutritionists and personal maternity shoppers" -- personal maternity shoppers! -- and, most important, find a reliable nanny. They'll also find "mother's assistants" who will take care of sending out baby announcements and "returning the amount of presents" (seriously). All for a mere $100 an hour.

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Now, I suppose I can see the appeal of using a baby planner, if one were tremendously busy and ludicrously wealthy. As baby planner client Jennifer Rein says, "It's extremely overwhelming ... I just had no idea what to expect, there are so many different marketing messages out there about all of these products that you need, and the way to do things. And, at this point, you don't know what to believe."

I totally hear that, but it just makes me sad that more people don't have (or don't choose to use) free resources to help them sort through all this. I mean, didn't "personal maternity shoppers" and "mother's assistants" used to be called sisters, aunties, girlfriends and Grandma? Once upon a time, couldn't you get the kid's dad to at least go return the extra breast pumps you were given? And waaaaay back when, didn't people write their own friggin' baby announcements and thank you notes? (Oh wait, the article didn't actually say anything about thank you notes, just about returning gifts. Sigh.)

Besides which, understandably overwhelmed women aren't even necessarily the target market for baby planners. Carla Roney, editor in chief of TheNestBaby.com, "says that as professional urban women start to have babies later in life, they have more disposable income and are going all-out to make the arrival of the baby an over-the-top, special event."

I'm sorry, but isn't the arrival of a new baby pretty much the definition of an "over-the-top, special event," all by itself? Or is that kind of thinking passé, too?


Kate Harding

Kate Harding is the author of Asking For It: The Alarming Rise of Rape Culture--and What We Can Do About It, available from Da Capo Press in August 2015. Previously, she collaborated with Anna Holmes, Amanda Hess, and a cast of thousands on The Book of Jezebel, and with Marianne Kirby on Lessons from the Fat-o-Sphere. You might also remember her as the founding editor of Shapely Prose (2007-2010). Kate's essays have appeared in the anthologies Madonna & Me, Yes Means Yes, Feed Me, and Airmail: Women of Letters. She holds an M.F.A. in fiction from Vermont College of Fine Arts and a B.A. in English from University of Toronto, and is currently at work on a Ph.D. in creative writing from Bath Spa University

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