Parents pay up for baby bling
New mom Paola Canahuati didn't bat an eyelash when forking over nearly $1,000 for her Bugaboo stroller.
That's because she believes certain high-end baby gear is worth the price, particularly when the baby is her own precious, albeit oblivious, 13-day-old Aristotles.
"For baby clothes, I've tried to be more economical," says Canahuati, 23, who is currently on maternity leave from her position as a proofreader at the United Nations in New York City. "But when it comes to strollers, changing stations and cribs, I'm willing to spend more. I'm going to be using this stuff for two or three years, and I want the best for my baby boy."
Canahuati isn't alone. Heidi Klum's got a Stokke Xplory stroller (most models run around $999), and Michelle Soudry, founder of personalized baby gear Web site ItsMyBinky.com, sent Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie a $17,000 diamond-encrusted pacifier upon the birth last year of their daughter, Shiloh Nouvel Jolie-Pitt.
Up next? A-list actresses such as Julia Roberts, Naomi Watts and Keri Russell are expecting children in the next few months. Baby showers thrown by well-heeled friends means lots of baby baubles.
Kariz Favis, editor-in-chief of Baby Couture magazine, which focuses on high fashion for little ones, says that celebrity has certainly fueled the current rage for over-the-top kinder loot.
"I think it's largely attributable to the better and wider choices that are available in children's fashion and gear," says Favis. "When celebrity parents bought these items, their validation opened up a whole new market for high-end baby gear."
So while not everyone will be springing for a white Hermes Birkin bag (which can cost upward of $20,000) to store bottles and wipes, as model Kate Moss famously did after the birth of her daughter Lila Grace in 2002, you might see some posh moms with Goyard's made-to-order diaper bag, which can cost in the area of $3,000.
Other popular baby brands include Maclaren, the British company known for its prams — including a $4,000 limited edition leather stroller with nine-karat gold accents — and luxury fashion house Gucci, which produces everything from baby blankets to carriers, all with the signature GG print. Dior makes baby booties.
Expensive, no doubt. As such, says Milton Pedraza, CEO of the Luxury Institute, a New York City research firm that evaluates the purchasing power of high-net worth individuals, these purchases aren't made in haste.
"There's no question that wealthy baby boomers take as much time to research and buy luxury baby gear as they do automobiles," he says. "Superior quality is a requirement of a luxury good, and that's a major driver. But once you get past the functional benefit, it really is about having the equivalent of Ferraris and Maseratis for your kids."
However, high-end kinder candy might be less about showing off for your friends and more about lifting your spirits.
Lorena Bendinskas, co-founder of entertainment marketing company The Silver Spoon, which organizes the annual Dog and Baby Hollywood Buffet charity event, says postpartum purchases make moms feel good. "Buying a nice diaper bag or personalized pacifier,” she says, “makes moms who aren't feeling 100 percent ... focus on something more positive.”
Others say it has to do more with owning something completely original — or at least highly coveted. “Parents love to be able to make their child's belonging's unique," says Soudry. "There's definitely a craze for personalization."
Yet, even for extreme spenders, it still comes down to the well-being of baby.
Her $1,000 stroller aside, Canahuati's must-have purchase? "Right now," she says, "my biggest concern is choosing the right breast pump."
Now she just has to decide, is it going to be $40 or $400? Good thing there's a not a platinum version.