Too Many Choices!

My husband and I recently had the pleasure of creating a gift registry for our first baby. Exciting, right? More like paralyzing! There were just too many choices!
I’m a big fan of having options. What a boring world we would live in if our choices were limited. Can you imagine if, when buying a new car, there were only 3 models to choose from? That would get really boring really fast.
But what to do when the number of options is simply overwhelming? When we walked in to “scout” to prepare for our registry, the first thing we were confronted with was an entire wall of baby bottles: glass ones, plastic ones, “organic” ones, different shapes, different sizes - all claiming to have some amazing feature or benefit that a new parent just can’t live without. And don’t even get me started on the number of strollers and car seats that are available. I’ve tried to do my homework - reading reviews, talking to other parents, but when there are so many different styles and brands, it becomes truly overwhelming.
Now, I’ve shopped in these “baby-specific” stores before - mostly to buy shower gifts for my friends. But shopping for someone else who has already made their choices is a LOT different than having to make those decisions for yourself. When we walked out of that store after our first trip, I was literally speechless. My husband was not much better.

Silly us… we had expected the trip to be fun. After all, we were picking out the things we need and want for our first child. But it didn’t take long for us to become completely overwhelmed by the process. My husband reminded me of the phenomenon of choice paralysis, in which information overload can lead to the inability to make any decision at all. That’s pretty much what happened to us: we left that store, had a bite to eat so that I could regain the power of speech, and then traveled to another store. In fairness, the second store probably had as many options available as the first, but for some reason, it was a little less overwhelming the second time around.

I’m not suggesting that some unknown force should limit the amount of choices we have. I do think that manufacturers and marketers would be wise to consider carefully before they add another product to an already crowded category. I do find it hard to believe that the many brands and styles of baby bottles all have sustainable sales: but maybe I’m naive.

I spoke with my mother and mother-in-law, who had significantly fewer choices of baby gear when raising their families. And all of their kids still have all their arms and legs, so I guess having fewer options worked out just fine for them.

Feb 19, 2010

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