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Potty-Training Coaches and Sleep Consultants: Outsourcing the Parenting?

by Lylah M. Alphonse  |  3974 views  |  2 comments  |        Rate this now! 

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Are new parents really this paranoid about their parenting abilities? The Washington Post recently ran an article about how baby-specific services are all the rage. Parents are ponying up money to have others show them how to do the basics -- potty training, getting the child to sleep through the night -- or paying even more to have someone else take care of the problem:

The prices for baby-specific services run the gamut: $85 for an hour with a lactation consultant, several hundred more for childproofing gear and someone to install it, $4,000 for five nights with a sleep trainer -- all before a baby is out of diapers. In all, the government estimates, middle-income households spend an average of $10,600 for a child's first year.

But why not just follow in our parents' footsteps, consult baby guru Dr. Spock, and deal with potty training on our own? The article suggests:

The appetite for baby-related services, which can be found in many big cities, sets today's parents apart from previous generations, according to historians and sociologists. Hiring someone to help with toilet training or to teach parents how to perform infant massage "is something new," said Arlie Russell Hochschild, a sociologist at the University of California at Berkeley and the author of "The Commercialization of Intimate Life."

Hochschild and others who study modern family life tick off a host of reasons why this shift has come about: luxury services trickling down to those who aren't mega-wealthy, the rise of households with two working parents, longer work hours for white-collar workers and more people living far from extended family networks.

Would you pay several thousand dollars to have someone else help your child learn to sleep through the night? What about for potty training?

2 comments so far...

  • We didn't have extra money when my kids were young. We were on our own, or looking for support the oldfashioned way from friends and family. I'm glad we did; it forged a network that couldn't happen with paid professionals.

    Flag as inappropriate Posted by Daisy on 14th April 2008

  • Boy, I'd have to be pretty desperate to get to that point. I'm all for reading books or articles online to get expert advice on such topics. But paying thousands to a consultant? Sounds extreme.

    Flag as inappropriate Posted by Susan Wenner Jackson on 12th April 2008