Dear Amazon – where did you start going wrong with our babies?
This week I attended Amazon’s Christmas in July event – the annual extravaganza where Amazon (like so many brands in the summer months) lay out what they are predicting will be the big hitters in the seasonal frenzy.
It’s a great way to get a sneak preview of the new stuff hitting our shelves this autumn, especially with a place like Amazon which is so vast in its contents that it’s impossible to see what there is to see without some kind of filtering. So having them pick out the best and brightest for us to see and try out is a great exercise.
Or so the theory goes.
But on Tuesday I came away feeling… really a bit saddened. Not by Amazon and their PR staff – oh no, they were unfailingly helpful, welcoming and chatty.
But what they were showing?
Oh woe is me.
The very first section I arrived in – Baby & Family – was the very place I wanted to start.
Skipping around the crowd at the pushchairs for now (fret not, we’ll certainly be returning to them…), I faced the first set of shelves. What was I faced with?
Is this the best offering that Amazon have on the interactive toys front this year? Vtech’s latest creations – one pink and one blue?
I do understand that Amazon aren’t making these toys – but someone at Amazon has decided which items will be the best ones to promote this Christmas., and whilst these are by Vtech and no doubt great for their type of toy (interactive soft toys are always fun) WHY must we persist in the whole ghastly pink-for-girls-and-blue-for-boys thing?
Leapfrog manage it perfectly with their green and purple versions, after all.
I did see some good products on the baby shelves though(I’ll cover those in another post), so having chatted about those for a while, I turned back to the pushchairs.
First up I tried out the newest kid on the block – The Foppapedretti Myo Tronic Stroller. It’s soldly built, has a lovely chunky feel, a comfortable height handle, super-easy handling. The seat can be rear or forward-facing, the folding is easy (though you have to remove the seat to do so), and the air tyres make it a smooth and comfortable ride. I really liked it.
Then I saw the price.
£1700 (all but a few squids).
Shuddering in horror, I asked why…
This baby comes with a “battery powered electric motor which eliminates the effort of pushing”.
£1700, just to relieve me of the effort of pushing my child? Reassuringly, the battery will run for ‘many hours’, and will cope with hills of up to 20% gradient.
Come. On. Is it me?
I know it’s been 5 years since I pushed a stroller regularly, but honestly – having raised four children, not once have I ever said “gosh, pushing the pushchair is SO exhausting, I wish it was motorised”. Unless of course I’d loaded it up with 6 bags of shopping.
Oh, and that’s the other thing. Do note how *cough* practical the shopping basket is.
Probably big enough to hold a purse. Not for a baby changing bag – and certainly not large enough for a pack of nappies.
Swiftly moving on, I eyed up the bright new Cosatto instead.
Far more normal looking, thought I.
Now there’s a practical pushchair, thought I.
It’s a great looking umbrella fold – roomy seat, high handles, strong wheels and axles, free-standing when folded, lies flat… all was going swimmingly.
Until I was brightly informed that the “totally best feature is that in the hood there’s a waterproof protective pocket for your tablet”.
Why on earth would I want to watch my tablet while out walking my child? I wondered aloud.
“Oh nooooo! Not for you! It’s for your child to watch!”
*silence crashes through my brain*
This isn’t just silly, like a motorised pushchair. This is outright angry-making.
You want me to take my child out in the fresh air, where all the stimulation of the wide world is… and then place them in front of a screen?
Frankly I moved away from that section pretty smartly, feeling my inner temper starting to rise. Again, not Amazon’s fault – but why ere these things being MADE? Surely, the environment in which the child’s stroller is moving through is all the stimulation it needs? Are we not concerned enough about screen time for young developing minds? I can’t think of anything more horrific. Oh no, actually, I can. Bceause I moved on ten feet to the next section…
(wait for it)
Look what was immediately in front of me when I turned from the horror of the tablet-equipped pushchair.
The iPhone Apptivity Gym.
I kid you not.
Dear old Fisher Price. Creating a baby toy with the sole purpose of placing a screen in front of your young baby to entertain it?
They’ve been thoughtful and provide 36 Fisher Price Apps to go with it though – all baby firendly. And as one reviewer on Amazon states, their baby can be entertained up to an hour under there…
Someone tell me this isn’t just me screaming in horror?
I love the digital age. I genuinely do. I love that my children are immersed and native inside it.
But there’s a tipping point. And placing screens in front of tiny developing minds as a form of entertainment is a trend that not only makes me sad, but also fills me with genuine dread of the damage that is being done.
Bad enough that the manufacturers are making this stuff. But for Amazon to be actively promoting it as the product of the year?
As for the rest of the things Amazon had on display… there were some genuinely good items in there, if you looked for them (or asked, as I did). But they were rather buried amongst the noise of poor product choices. For example I saw a brilliant toy train set for toddlers – but soon discovered that it was battery operated, and that you couldn’t turn the sound off; instantly guaranteed to bore a child in 5 minutes if they can’t push it around themselves – but no worries, because Mum’ll never get it out as the repetitive noise will drive her to the brink of insanity.
Who picks your products for the show, Amazon? Please – next year, why not get a team of experienced parents to choose? You sell such an incredibly amazing array of products, why aren’t you stepping away from the whizz-bang-flashy obvious, and showcasing the genuinely brilliant stuff?