The Checkout

The Business of Parenting

Last Saturday, we launched an occasional series on the business of parenting. The first installment was about how entrepreneurs and retailers are trying to serve the growing number of parents who are spooked by the potentially negative health effects of chemicals in everyday household items. Last year's recalls of lead-laced toys, not to mention Aqua Dots--the craft toy that when swallowed put several kids in comas--has heightened awareness and concern over the chemical components of everything, not just toys.

One thing that came up in reporting was the high price that parents are paying for "peace of mind" of buying toys, clothing, furniture, etc. that are chemical free. For example, many parents cannot afford an $18 glass baby bottle and a $300 crib mattress made of organic cotton.

Obviously, just because you can't afford some of these alternative products doesn't mean you are any less interested in keeping your kids safe.

The manufacturers and retailers of these products say their higher prices reflect higher material and production costs. They argue that just as people are willing to pay more for organic produce, they will pay for organic bedding or baby food.

That may be true, but vast numbers of people can't afford to spend more on organic produce and don't.

What are your thoughts about this? Should retailers and manufacturers of these alternative products do more to make them more affordable? Or do you think some of these concerns are overblown?

Just an FYI: future installments of the series are going to touch on services for harried parents and the availability of quality child care. Any ideas or experiences you want to share that relate to those topics are welcome, as well as any ideas for future stories.

By Annys Shin |  March 4, 2008; 11:44 AM ET Consumer News
Previous: Where's the beef addendum | Next: Parenting Inc. Part Deux

Comments

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One way to lower the cost of raising a baby while providing only the best is by making homemade baby food! You carefully select the ingredients, either Organic or non, and ensure that what you are feeding your baby is only the best! Do baby food companies put that much love and care into their products? Check out www.wholesomebabyfood.com to learn more! Making your own baby food is also green in many ways - keeping glass and plastic out of the landfill and while keeping green in your pockets. It's a win-win for you and your baby! And who knows, your own eating habits might just change for the better too!

Posted by: Maggie | March 4, 2008 12:40 PM

We already have two parenting blogs that touch on these topics. Why not cover other consumer issues? Say politics over science at the CPSC, EPA, and FDA?

Posted by: Anonymous | March 4, 2008 12:47 PM

"Should retailers... make them more affordable?"

How do you attach a moral imperative to pricing? I see nothing to prevent the free market from choosing the optimal price for these products. Moral outrage over high prices of commodity goods is economically depraved.

Posted by: Jeremy Stein | March 5, 2008 2:00 PM

"Should retailers... make them more affordable?"

No. They should take as much money as anxious, cowable parents will give them.

Posted by: relaxed mom | March 5, 2008 10:25 PM

I don't wish to address the baby angle, only the 'highest priced item' is best angle.

That is quite simply untrue.

Just this week a study was released by a MIT behavioral economics reseacher looking at the pharmaceutical field. He tested 81 subjects who were given the exact same placebo/sugar pills but one group was told that their pill cost 10 cents and the other group was told that their pill cost $2.50.

He then tested them.

You guessed it, the group that took the higher priced pill rated its effectiveness significantly higher than the other group rated their pill's effectiveness.

This is not news to anyone who studies Advertising and or Marketing.

The lesson here, imo, is to not be fooled into thinking higher prices mean better quality -- for anything.

A real world example you may easily remember: Are Tiffany's diamonds any better than JCPenney's?

Nope, they came out of the same mines in South Africa and were resold sold through the same wholesale dealers. But they do come in a pretty turquoise box.

Do not despair young mother, if you search for value you will find it.

Posted by: im1dc | March 6, 2008 11:47 AM

I don't wish to address the baby angle, only the 'highest priced item' is best angle.

That is quite simply untrue.

Just this week a study was released by a MIT behavioral economics reseacher looking at the pharmaceutical field. He tested 81 subjects who were given the exact same placebo/sugar pills but one group was told that their pill cost 10 cents and the other group was told that their pill cost $2.50.

He then tested them.

You guessed it, the group that took the higher priced pill rated its effectiveness significantly higher than the other group rated their pill's effectiveness.

This is not news to anyone who studies Advertising and or Marketing.

The lesson here, imo, is to not be fooled into thinking higher prices mean better quality -- for anything.

A real world example you may easily remember: Are Tiffany's diamonds any better than JCPenney's?

Nope, they came out of the same mines in South Africa and were resold sold through the same wholesale dealers. But they do come in a pretty turquoise box.

Do not despair young mother, if you search for value you will find it.

Posted by: im1dc | March 6, 2008 11:49 AM

Very interested in stories of stay-at-home moms who've returned to work. So many myths and misconceptions about how hard it is.

If you've done it, please share your story in a brief survey, Moms At Work. The link ishttp://www.surveymonkey.com/s.aspx?sm=MGKrtmhhg2AUepXCZErkaA_3d_3d

Thanks!

Leslie Morgan Steiner
www.mommywars.net
www.washingtonpost.com/onbalance

Posted by: leslie4 | March 10, 2008 8:16 AM

If you want to know more email me at herbgura@lake.org

Posted by: Herb Gura | April 5, 2008 10:24 PM

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