Ethical baby - brand new baby
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Date: 21 July, 2005
‘I refuse to use a certain brand of baby talc that is assumed to epitomise eau de bébé.’
Charlotte Haines Lyon is trying her best to be as ethical as possible as a new mother. Easier said than done!
Sorry, sorry, sorry. A few months ago, I had a glimmer of pride on the ethical front. I recall writing ‘I seem to be the only mum without a sparkling, new four wheel drive buggy.’
Oh dear. No sooner had the words appeared on Surefish, than I bought a gleaming, ankle biting, escalator-climbing pushchair.
Yet another failure as an ethical mum! Despite the old one being perfectly adequate I became hooked onto the idea that Anya had to face me. Hence we now have a baby equivalent of an SUV where the seat turns at just about every angle.
And no, it isn’t even an ethically superior company such as Cosatto, due to me not finding a comparable product available to test drive. There was no way I was going shell out oodles on an untried pushchair.
My worry is not so much that I have used up yet more of the planet’s resources but that I have fallen foul of the pressure to have the best thing for baby.
As a parent you are continually prey to conglomerates telling you that in order for you to have a healthy, intelligent, sleeping baby you must buy their latest product. Woes betide you if you don’t.
Even though I am not swayed by “need” for the leading brand’s superior effect on Anya’s bum I keep receiving vouchers plus free samples of nappies and wipes. It is only because I am bloody minded that I haven’t used them and stick with washables, decomposable Moltex disposables and flannels.
And let’s not go there on what constitutes a clean baby. Apparently Anya doesn’t smell right, according to my mum and sister. No it is not due to her enormous poos but because I refuse to use a certain baby talc that is assumed to epitomise eau de béé.
In fact that particular brand goes as far as saying on their website that the use of it has improved the health of children and the bond between parents and baby! Well who wouldn’t use it?
If I want my child to develop well then I have to apparently buy toys from certain companies. For some reason the bright coloured pile of washing that Anya throws everywhere won’t do the job. Beans in a food container can’t compare to the brain busting qualities of a plastic rattle containing coloured bits of – yes more plastic.
Neither will good old fashioned books do, of which Anya has aplenty. (The recent library sale was too tempting.) No, I should be buying Anya plastic, noisy, battery operated pseudo books. These will, the manufacturer insists, develop Anya’s interest in reading.
I can’t see the need personally as Anya has already consumed almost every book in the house. Her slobber and happy chewing bring a whole new meaning to “enjoying a book”.
The big brands are out to acquire our custom from the earliest possibility. On my first meeting with my midwife, 14 weeks into pregnancy, I was handed a Bounty pack.
Bounty’s mission is to deliver brands to you or is it the other way round? There are samples and vouchers aplenty plus a good website which admittedly I use on a regular basis for their well presented discussion forums.
In hospital after the big delivery, there is a second delivery to all parents – another Bounty pack with yet more samples and “goodies”. Apparently I am also due another one around now too. I am afraid my moral stance waivers at free samples so I didn’t refuse the pack unlike more righteous mothers.
This huge hook into the big companies is now so much part of the institution of new parenthood, a friend ran into problems. She declined the pack only to discover three months later she had lost some child benefit as she had not received the claim form, which is now disbursed with the Bounty Pack.
As you can imagine there is no mention in the Bounty bag of reusable nappies or the fact you only need use water for the foreseeable future for cleaning of your new baby.
In case none of these methods ensnare unsuspecting parents there is another ploy. The vast majority of the big players “kindly” offer websites with advice and communities to help us manage the difficulties of parenthood.
A nice cosy atmosphere reassures members that they will get the best support to look after their precious bundle. What does it say if you aren’t a member?
I want to start the bad parents club, where the only vouchers we get are for the odd bottle of red wine or whisky.
As for the pushchair I don’t think it was motivated by brand pressure. Put it this way, I love the strange looks we get as we wander round London singing silly songs together. Rightly or wrongly Anya’s smile neutralises any guilt I feel.
Read Charlotte’s other ethical parent articles