In 2014, the profit from sales of baby products worldwide was $47.7 billion dollars. With parents willing to spend so much, it’s no wonder that every possible baby item comes in a multitude of colors and patterns, many of which are in colors traditionally associated with a single sex– pinks and reds for girls, blues and greens for boys. And with beautifully decorated nurseries popping up in magazine spreads or on Pinterest, it can be easy to get swept up in the excitement and follow suit with a room clearly designed for a little prince or princess.
But if you get pregnant in that sweet spot where your oldest child is no longer using the pack and play, jumparoo, baby bath tub and other assorted baby gear but you haven’t gotten rid of it, there’s no reason to buy all new things because the baby you are expecting is the opposite sex. From experience with your first born, you know how quickly your baby will outgrown the baby gear. And you also know that while they are young enough to use it, the baby doesn’t know the difference between a pattern of hearts or trucks, it will spit up on both patterns equally.
In a world where future parents spend thousands of dollars to have a handcrafted, unique baby name, purchasing a sex-specific play mat doesn’t seem that unreasonable. But for those parents who are vehemently opposed to seeing their daughter in a blue bumbo seat or vice versa, if you plan on having more than one child, it would make more fiscal sense to purchase gender neutral baby gear the first time around in colors like tan, grey, yellow or green. This way you can use the items for babies of either sex without the fear that someone might accidentally think they are the opposite sex.
I’m not immune to associating specific colors with a specific gender, but I’ve recently learned these stereotypes only have as much power as we give them. Last week I headed to Target because we were out of sippy cups and binkies. When I got to the baby section, it was completely under stocked and after a few minutes on my knees trying to weed out what they had, I could only come up with one package of the right aged binkies, and they were covered in butterflies and pink polka dots. I hesitated, weighing how much I care what family members or strangers might say if they saw my son with a pink pacifier vs. how much I would like to not have to drive back out to the store in a few days in hopes that they had received a new shipment.
Convenience won out, and when I made it over to the next aisle and they only had princess sippy cups, I threw those in the cart without thinking twice. Besides a brief skirmish between the boys the other day over who got to the pink cup (which I think was more over the fact that it had more milk rather than color), no one has said anything or seems to care.
At the end of the day, people are entitled to spend their money as they please. But when it comes time to make a choice between using the blue baby bathtub you already have or buying a new one simply because it’s pink, consider that there are other things you could put that money towards which your baby may appreciate more in the long run, like a college fund.