Baby products and conspicuous consumption

Conspicuous consumption is spending money on items that indicate to others that you have shitloads of money to blow on ‘stuff’ – and the baby products catalog I flicked through the other week was the perfect example of this.

In Victoria child restraints are a legally mandated item for children up to 7 years of age, and have to conform to Australian and New Zealand Standard AS/NZS 1754.

Baby car seat catalog

You can find conforming child restraints from around the $150 mark, with the top of the range seat in the above catalog costing $549.

Now compare this to strollers and prams. Again any product sold in Australia must conform to minimum standards – in this case Australian Standard AS/NZS 2088.

Baby strollers and pram catalog

But you look at the price tags, the variance is massive – the bottom end starts at $100 or so, and goes up very quickly, until you find strollers that cost $1500 and upwards!

So why the difference in cost? While expensive child restraints feature additional safety features that basic models leave out, they are a product that hides away in your car and you can’t show off. Contrast this with prams and strollers – from a technical perspective weight and ease of use are the only features that distinguish models, but they are an accessory that you can show off to all and sundry at your local cafe. A fool and their money are soon parted!


It’s a boy! Last week my wife and I welcomed our first child into the world.

Marcus and Baby Wong

As for our choices in baby goods, we forked out $549 for the top of the range car seat, but only spent $250 on a mid-range pram. In the words of Bart Simpson: Safety sells, especially to lame-o’s.

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16 Responses to “Baby products and conspicuous consumption”

  1. Jennifer Williams says:

    Congratulations to you both! (Think I saw a $1500 pram in Williamstown recently).

  2. Andrew Brownlee says:

    Well done, that man! (and the wife might have played a small part in it too!)

    Congratulations on the newest little gunzel!

  3. Andrew says:

    Congratulations. A specialist shop in Malvern has the creme de la creme of prams and strollers and it has been there for a number of years, so clearly does well enough. The stroller for my now eight year old niece, who has a teacher and a doctor for parents, came from a roadside collection.

  4. Daniel says:


    Four quick things (among many) that I learnt as a parent:

    – You don’t need most of the stuff in the baby shops. Most of the things they sell have very limited application. For instance we bought a baby monitor – this is actually next to useless unless you have a huge house.

    – Secondhand gear/clothes is fine.

    – Siblings are great. They keep each other occupied. Have another!

    – And by far the most important thing: Everyone has advice for new parents. Listen to it all, nod sagely, then go and do whatever you think works best for you.

  5. Andrew Brownlee says:

    What Daniel said.

    When I first held a baby, I thought it was like fine china, and I was terrified. Then I learned – kids bounce! You don’t need to be scared – you’re not going to drop the little bloke.

    The words to new parents from Dr Spock(no, not that one) from the 1950s still hold true: “YOU KNOW MORE THAN YOU THINK”. Follow your instincts, and not the opinions of others. Question them all. Question this one!

    If you think he’s hungry, he probably is. If you think he’s sleepy, he probably is. You and your wife will know this stuff instinctively, without training, and without the well-meaning interference of others.

    Play it by ear. Learn as you go. YOU are in charge. Not well-meaning relatives and friends, and certainly not internet randoms. And, above all else, enjoy the ride.

  6. mich says:

    I think my first bike was from Malvern….

    Congratulations on the baby !

  7. Andrew says:

    Congratulations. You might have a bit less time to take photos now (of trains and technology, at least 🙂 )

    AS1754 is pretty much a low ball. There is significant variation in safety performance between car seats, and some don’t measure up well. A consortium of road organisations and automobile clubs publishes test results (, which we found useful. One safety characteristic that is not obvious is ease of use. Hard to use seats are often fitted incorrectly with consequent dire effects on safety.

    I’d absolutely agree with Daniel about secondhand clothing. Haunt the op-shops, and borrow from friends and family. Young kids grow out of clothes before the clothes wear out.

    • Marcus Wong says:

      When shopping for car seats we had a look at that government website – the trickiest part was working out which of the seats rated on that website were still available to purchase!

      As for Australian Standard 1754 and car seats, it seems to be much the same as the Australian Design Rules for cars – everything has to conform to the standards, but there is a world of extra safety features out there that you have to seek out and (usually) pay extra for.

  8. Paul Westcott says:

    Congratulations to you and your wife, Marcus. I hope it’s not too long until he makes his first PT journey 🙂

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