KID STUFF / by Micaela

It has become apparent to me in the past 15 months of motherhood that those in the business of creating, designing, and/or manufacturing anything for children or their parents has never actually had a child of their own. Ever. As mom to both a special needs child and a normally developing child I can also tell you that this incompetence appears in everything from socks to nebulizers. I don't know how this has happened. I can only hazard to guess that companies assign all children's products to recent product design grads or medical students who are too young to even think of asking parents for their input.

So, I thought that some unsolicited advice was in order.


1. Everything has to be made so that the parent can use or operate any product with one hand. THIS IS MANDATORY. Parents never have two free hands and to require us to figure out how to put something down before doing something else sabotages our amazing multitasking capabilities. If by some miracle we are not holding a child or a dirty diaper we are holding a large cup of coffee. Products that have failed in this task include cans of formula, wipe dispensers, diaper pails, bottles, car seats, and most of all, strollers. This also includes all medical apparatuses such as nebulizers, suctions, oxygen masks and especially feeding pumps, which pretty much require three hands.

2. Anything that might be used at night should be glow-in-the-dark. Any nobs, switches, buttons, closures, or clasps especially. I am still amazed that the genius who designed my daughters tiny fussy g-tube didn't think to turn the lights off in his office and give it a whirl. Hooking her up at night is akin to threading a one centimeter jellyfish tentacle through the eye of a needle in the dark.

3. Wipe warmers are bullshit. Stop trying to market them to us.

4. Somebody in the pharmaceutical industry had better come up with a cold medicine that we are allowed to give babies and an idiot proof way of dispensing it. I am not looking forward to another winter of colds when all I can do is sit in a steamy bathroom with a miserably stuffy kid.

5. 1950 has come and gone. So why must everything still be Pepto Bismol pink for girls and Viagra blue for boys? I'm not talking about bespoke wooden toys from Park Slope. High end designers got the memo on this years ago. I'm talking to you Buy Buy Baby. Nor does everything have to look like the jungle threw up all over it either. Chill on the monkey graphics.

6. Anything battery operated should automatically come with the batteries and if you sadistically decide to add four insanely small screws that need to be undone please include a screw driver that can be stored on the product somewhere.

7. Enough with the "Mommy Thinks I'm the Best" and "I Brake for Bottles" t-shirts. First person miming for babies is very "Look Who's Talking". It's creepy. Cut it out.

8. Anything that comes with a cover (car seat, high chair, bouncy chair etc) should automatically include at least one other cover. Much like a dog, a child knows when something is brand new and will instinctively mark it's territory by puking or shitting on it immediately. Cover number two should last the wash cycle on cover number one before another eruption.

9. Don't even bother designing toys anymore. My son has toys up to his eyeballs and all he wants to play with is the broom and Sam's keys (it's hilarious, btw, he looks like a janitor).

10. If you insist on designing toys and, even worse, design toys with flashing lights and mind numbing sounds please include a mute button so the child can play with the toy without driving mommy to take a sledgehammer to it.

Designers, I hope these are helpful tips. I expect to see these in effect STAT!