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Jenn Morgan
Published: Sunday, October 03, 2010
Jenn Morgan
Learning a lesson about brand-name products

When it comes to your baby, what brands do you trust? Johnson & Johnson? Similac? Fisher-Price? These top-performing, time-tested brands are all wildly popular among parents, yet all three have recently issued massive recalls involving children's products.

 So who do you trust?

Like most parents, safety is a No.1 priority when it comes to raising my daughter. If I could put her in a bubble and protect her from all the dangers in the world, I would. But as we all know, that is neither realistic nor a fun way to live one's life. The next best thing that I could do to safeguard my little girl is to childproof our home, provide her with the proper nourishment, and guide her to make the correct choice (draw with the crayon, rather than put it in her mouth.) When I think about childproofing our home, my mind veers straight to baby gates, fireplace guards and door locks. However I have learned that childproofing extends beyond the obvious and can be applied to medicines, food and even toys.

Companies invest substantial capital into building a brand name that resonates among consumers and stands out on the retail shelf. Often, consumers will place their trust in the brands that have established a high-profile presence in the marketplace. After the research and focus groups have been conducted and the groundwork for the brand is established, the company who pours the most money into advertising is frequently the brand that comes out on top as a name to trust.

As a consumer and new parent, I too, have followed this blind rule of thumb. When I tried to introduce my daughter to formula, Similac was the brand we chose. The pediatrician's office supplied our new family with containers of Similac, so it must be a quality brand, right? Apparently the correct answer to that question is a resounding no, as Abbott Laboratories, the maker of Similac, recently recalled many lots of the formula due to contamination from insect parts. Yes, that is correct-insect parts. In a nutritional supplement ... for your baby. I am not sure what parts of the world consider insect parts a main staple in an infant's nutrition, but I am pretty sure the U.S. is not one of those countries.

When my daughter was running a fever, I would turn to Tylenol to break the fever and help my baby feel better. In fact, Tylenol was the one and only analgesic that you would find in our medicine cabinet. I felt like I would quite possibly be a lesser parent for treating my sick daughter with a store-brand drug. This snob learned her lesson when Johnson & Johnson issued a recall for bottles of Infant's Tylenol that were tainted with a chemically-induced musty, moldy odor. This recall could not have hit at a worse time for us. My daughter was teething at the time, and the night we found out about the recall, my daughter was running a fever and crying out in pain. At 2 a.m. we found ourselves with a fussy baby and no pain reliever to speak of. The shelves at the local drugstores were bare, so my husband and I were up all night with a very unhappy baby. We were lucky to have even gotten three hours of sleep each. The next day was when I had the picture taken for my blog, so if I look exhausted in the photo, it's because I was. As soon as Target received shipments of the store brand pain reliever, my husband scooped up a few bottles. From now on, our go-to name for analgesics is Up and Up, the Target brand.

Toys. Toys are fun .... when they are safe. When you read about a massive recall that involves play items that you just bought in bulk for birthdays and Christmas, toys then become a source of stress. I recently purchased the Fisher-Price Little People Stand 'n Play Rampway for my neice's first birthday. One week later I was frantically trying to get in touch with my sister-in-law to stop her daughter from playing with the product that toy giant Mattel recalled due to a choking hazard risk. I enjoyed many hours of fun playtime with Fisher-Price toys while I was growing up. My daughter has a plethora of Fisher-Price toys to keep her entertained. Mattel has always been a tried and true trusted brand ... but obviously not without fault.

I have not lost complete confidence in the name brands that I was raised on, and that I planned to depend on while raising my daughter. Though I would like to think that these baby brands are looking out for my daughter, all companies are in it to win it and out for a profit. While they try to get a hold of my purse strings, only I truly have my daughter's best interest at heart. My daughter will still play with toys, and she will still receive pain medicine when she is sick, but I will be a lot more selective when I purchase these products and a little less stuck on the brand name.



 

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