child alert

The Funky Baby and the Ethical Gift – Why Mum and Dad Haven’t Gone to the Big Name Store!

The ethical shopper is no longer a rare breed. Thanks in part to the radically different way we share information these days – social media tells it like it is, even when some don’t want you to listen – we’ve got a much better idea of what goes on behind the factory doors of some of the biggest brands on earth. Where our wallets can stand it, we seem more ready to move away from the mass-produced; more inclined to think about what we buy, where we buy it from and why.

There’s something else at work here too – and that’s the idea that finding more local, or more handmade, goods gives you more originality. To a degree that’s quite true. Mass production automatically devalues the originality of any item, be it ever so well made: when you buy from smaller stores, or smaller manufacturers, you’re buying into the fact that not so many people own what you own.

For the funky parent, this means avenues to explore where ethical gifts – anything that’s been made sustainably by people on a fair wage, in other words – become more common. Organic materials; original ideas; they’re all easier to find as the pendulum swings away from the shelves of the supermarket and back towards the interesting little store – the one that stocks handmade cuddly toys, or baby clothes designed by people who have children themselves.

It used to be difficult to find anything for baby that wasn’t either pink or blue. These days, funky baby clothes, changing mats, toys and other accessories give parents a range of choice: from choices of different patterns and styles to choices of materials.

Baby clothes get grown out of quickly, of course, particularly in the first few months. That’s not necessarily a reason to stick to the “classic” (read “traditional”) pink and blue, though. As long as the clothes go on somewhere else afterwards, it doesn’t really matter what they look like.

Baby certainly doesn’t care – unless on some deep psychological level the use of specific colours and patterns in the surroundings of a very young child translate to thoughts and feelings later in life of course. Even if this were to be the case (there are discussions to be had about the role that specific colours or associations with colour and form may have on gender perception), there’s no specifically right answer about what a baby “should” and “shouldn’t” wear beyond something capable of keeping it comfortable.

There’s something to be said, though, for the idea that patterned baby clothes might have less of a direct effect on subconscious gender perceptions. Plus, of course, if you don’t buy baby clothes coloured with a traditionally gender-specific colour, then you can pass them on as hand me downs to babies of either sex – whether they are born into your family or into the families of your friends.

The idea of re-use is quite important for all baby clothes – it’s good to know something you pay for isn’t only to be used for a month!

Michael Mason sells Funky baby clothes, baby gifts and baby products online. Through his online forum he has discovered that new parents seem to overlook the same products again and again.


Leave a Reply