Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

The Mother of Inventions? New and Expectant Parents in the UK Are Forking out around PS239m a Year on the Latest High-Tech Nursery Gadgets - but Are Any of Them a Necessity, Asks LISA SALMON

Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

The Mother of Inventions? New and Expectant Parents in the UK Are Forking out around PS239m a Year on the Latest High-Tech Nursery Gadgets - but Are Any of Them a Necessity, Asks LISA SALMON

Article excerpt

Byline: LISA SALMON

BRINGING a new baby home is an anxious time, and it's only natural parents want to stock the nursery with everything they might possibly need.

While once this meant cots, blankets, nappies, rattles and a few toys though, today's parents have slightly different ideas, following a growing trend for 'baby tech' - think digital thermometers, LCD video baby monitors, self-warming baby bottles, touch control lamps, baby crying analysers and iPotties (a potty with an iPod doc).

Needless to say, such gadgetry doesn't come cheap, and a recent survey by VoucherCodes.co.uk found that modern mums and dads now spend an average PS330 on these items, with one in ten splashing out more than PS500 - this all adds up to a staggering annual national total of PS239 million.

Many of those questioned (1,000 expectant parents and parents with children under two) said they were willing to fork out on these high-tech and high-price nursery gadgets because it made them feel like they were better parents, and better prepared. But baby experts suggest it may all be a very unnecessary expense.

Sarah Barrett, managing editor of BabyCentre UK, a website for new and expectant parents, says it's understandable parents want the best for their children, so it's tempting for them to splash out on nursery tech, especially for a first baby.

But she stresses: "Technology is no replacement for a mother's, or father's, instinct.

"While some tech is helpful, other things can be a waste of money. We find that parents are so in tune with their babies, they are actually the best judge of their health and wellbeing."

Siobhan Freegard, founder of the parenting site Netmums.com also points out: "Babies have thrived for thousands of years without any form of electronic gadget, but nowadays parents are made to feel they must kit out their nursery like a branch of an electronics shop to be a good parent.

"While some items undoubtedly make parents' lives easier, others are simply unnecessary and are marketed to prey on mum's and dad's fears their child won't be safe without it."

Siobhan observes it's almost always first-time parents who lavish cash on nursery tech, and adds: "Second-time-around parents realise babies can do very well with simply the most basic of items."

Annie Ashworth, co-author of The Madness of Modern Parenting (Hodder & Stoughton, PS8.99), agrees that parents could happily raise a healthy, well-adjusted baby without any of the gadgets - as people have for generations.

"Let's face it, Nobel Prize winners haven't achieved great things as a result of being spied on by their parents through an LCD video baby monitor," she says.

"The generation producing babies now are programmed to believe gadgets are the answer to everything because we're surrounded by them, and all our advice comes from Google. …

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