Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Parenting, Inc.: How the Billion-Dollar Baby Business Has Changed the Way We Raise Our Children” as Want to Read:
Parenting, Inc.: How the Billion-Dollar Baby Business Has Changed the Way We Raise Our Children
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Parenting, Inc.: How the Billion-Dollar Baby Business Has Changed the Way We Raise Our Children

3.46  ·  Rating Details ·  372 Ratings  ·  122 Reviews
A leading social critic goes inside the billion-dollar baby business to expose the marketing and the myths, helping parents determine what’s worth their money—and what’s a waste

Parenting coaches, ergonomic strollers, music classes, sleep consultants, luxury diaper creams, a never-ending rotation of DVDs that will make a baby smarter, socially adept, and bilingual before ag
Hardcover, 320 pages
Published April 1st 2008 by Times Books
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Parenting, Inc., please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Parenting, Inc.

This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 686)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  Rating Details
Jun 30, 2008 Megan rated it it was ok
This book drove me crazy, if only because it cemented the fact that we are a bunch of morons. I guess that's not very specific. Let me begin again:
This book seems to be written for people who haven't yet grasped the fact that there is more to being a human being than buying things. The other assumption made by this book is that all parents want their children to be members of some strange wealthy elite by turning them into driven early intellectuals and pitting them against other children to ge
Liz B
Feb 11, 2010 Liz B rated it liked it
Shelves: nonfiction
Oh, woe, woe, woooooooooooe is the urban, upper middle-class mother! The pressure! The expectations!

The subtitle of this books is "How We Are Sold on $800 Strollers, Fetal Education, Baby Sign Language, Sleeping Coaches, Toddler Couture, and Diaper Wipe Warmers and What It Means for Our Children." And my response, after reading the book, is "we? We who?" Full disclosure: I did talk my mother into buying me a diaper wipe warmer. In my defense, I was less than a week post-partum and my premature s
Apr 30, 2008 Julie rated it it was ok
I skimmed and skipped through this because a lot of the context was completely nuts and relevant only to wealthy middle-aged Manhattanites. However, it was reassuring to hear someone preach against the rampant consumerism promoted by the parenting industry. I learned a few things. And I feel less guilty now about Peter not having many toys.
Mar 05, 2015 Cleokatra rated it liked it
Shelves: 2015
I note that this book was published in early 2008. I wonder if the recession that began later that year had an impact on the crazy, extravagant spending patterns noted in this book.

In any case, most of the author's discussion seems to be focused on New York and Los Angeles. People who live in those cities may see themselves as trend setters, but those of us in the rest of the country are less impressed with them than they may want to believe. I note that the author lives in New York. That expla
Jul 21, 2015 Brittany rated it it was ok
I ended up skim-reading this book because it was pretty repetitive and boring. It rambled off a bunch of statistics and information about products, companies and services that I don't care about.

The book reinforced a lot of things I already know:

*Kids don't need a lot of toys, clothes and things - especially not expensive brand name things

*A lot of the electronic educational toys out there are not tested and researched. Products like the Baby Einstein DVDs are overstimulating and can be damagi
Do you have a baby? Do you ever want a baby? Do you know anyone who has or will ever have a baby? Yeah, you need to run, not walk, to get this book. The author and her writing style can be grating at times, but the information in this book is invaluable. Just like people are sold wedding crap because "OMG Special day!!", people are sold baby crap (and it truly is crap) because "OMG your baby is special" combined with an extra dollop of "if you don't buy this product for your baby, your kid will ...more
Nov 08, 2014 Heather rated it it was amazing
Full disclosure: I am not pregnant and we don't have kids.

This was a really interesting twist on the topic of consumerism (or ueber-consumerism?). People think it is justified to spend money, lots of it, on their kids, because it is "not for them". And the more they spend, the more they are "proving their love" for them. Whether it's classes for babies, superfluous safety equipment, designer strollers, or over-the-top birthday parties, this book shows that thinking this way influences the child
Donna Linklater
May 28, 2016 Donna Linklater rated it it was ok
I feel like the parents who will be most interested in reading this book will be disappointed. Paul skims over the gender profiling of the garment industry and the sugary, salty, processed foods of the baby food industry and instead zooms in on urban baby classes. (Speaking as an early childhood music educator, yes, there's a lot of crap, and maybe there's one millionaire out there, but by and large there's a growing body of evidence to support it's usefulness and sure as heck don't know anyone ...more
Kiandra Haaf
Aug 10, 2008 Kiandra Haaf rated it liked it
Shelves: nonfiction
Fascinating. I feel like a better parent now. I'm in the wrong profession- I could be a professional baby namer for $400 a kid. Or an infant psychiatrist, at $100-$300 a session. Reading this gave me more confidence in my decisions to have low-key (or no) birthday parties for my kids, not buying them bath toys (they use plastic bowls and soda cups), and buying the cheapest stroller that functions perfectly well. Now if only I hadn't bought in to the Baby Einstein phenom, I could win mother of th ...more
Jul 27, 2014 Sarah rated it liked it
Shelves: books-for-mom
I feel like this book focuses so much on the urban, upper-middle class parent that it loses sight of those of us who are in-between. The parent who would never spend $25,000 on a birthday party, but takes their kid to the local kid gym for classes. The book raises some interesting points, and does present some basic facts on child development that seem to be standard among other books I've read. With that being said the overall tone is so negative and judgmental it's hard to get past that. Sure, ...more
Jan 15, 2009 Char rated it it was ok
Okay, so I barely read it--skimmed about 4 chapters, just to see if it was what I thought it was about...and it was. I didn't really need someone to write a book to tell me how much parenting has become a market, and this book actually had a slim audience to me, since it was really focused on the richest people who have children: nannies, high end preschools, baby signing classes, etc. nice to know you're not the only one w/ eyeballs attached to a brain, but nothing new revealed
Aug 11, 2014 Susan rated it it was amazing
Shelves: parenting, marketing
This is an in-depth look at the billion dollar "parenting" market. The author talks about how parents are convinced to spend thousands of dollars on everything from designer baby clothes to baby classes to experts on thumb-sucking. The point of the book is not that you can't spend money on your children or get help if you need it. It's that parental confidence is systematically being undermined by marketing experts whose job it is to convince us that our parenting instincts aren't enough, that w ...more
Jul 14, 2008 Diana rated it it was ok
The author does a great job of cutting through the hype and showing parents the machine behind the baby product industry. What she doesn't do is present much of an alternative. I felt that the book was out of balance - 90% is "isn't this horrible, bad, unnecessary" and 10% is "here's what's good." I would've liked to see more of the good.
Jan 04, 2016 E rated it liked it
Shelves: babies
I admit I grabbed this book because I had paid $800 for a stroller, and so figured I could use a wake up call at the least, or figure out what she knew that I didn't.

Important to note are that the book came out around 2006, and that its predominantly centered on New York City and its affluent parents, where the author lives, and thus is not likely applicable to many readers.

I found the beginning a little tough to get into, as we so far have a limited number of toys for our little, and we don't
Mar 14, 2011 Melissa rated it really liked it
Shelves: nonfiction
I really liked this book, and thought it presented a well-researched overview of how the "billion-dollar baby business" advertises unnecessary child-related products to parents. It was interesting to learn how much babies *don't* need, and this will be really helpful to me as a first-time parent this summer.

Interesting quotes:

1) "The truth is, most babies don't even need baby cream, powder, or lotion; unless they have a dermatological condition, their skin is naturally soft and supple." (p. 33)

Aug 02, 2008 Christina rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Current & future parents
This was a well written and researched book about modern parenting. It presented information on baby gear, baby classes, toys, videos, clothes, furniture, "parenting professionals", etc. - and basically how todays parents are falling prey to marketers and made to think they need all this stuff, all these classes, and all this professional help to be good parents and raise successful children. This is nothing many parents probably haven't already read about somewhere else, but I still really enjo ...more
god, i love books like this. sociology about all the useless crap parents get bamboozled into buying for their babies. one of my friends came over when i was reading this book & she was looking at it & was like, "wait. FETAL EDUCATION? what the fuck is that?" i was like, "yeah. i know, right?"

of course, all of these books cover the same ground, more or less. there's always a chapter about luxury strollers, there's always a chapter about baby einstein. & while the author went on &
Oct 07, 2008 Cheri rated it liked it
Recommends it for: mothers and fathers, or those getting ready
At times helpful and illuminating, this book fell apart for me because of the lack of structure.

The author, Pamela Paul, catalogs the various ways parents get sucked into a buying frenzy for their kids - from lavish $800 strollers to a flurry of Mommy and Me "developmental" classes. She does a great job of exploring the various toys and gadgets and things sold to parents - in fact, sometimes too good. It honestly feels overwhelming - an avalanche of goods.

What wrecked it for me was a more clea
Apr 12, 2009 Julie rated it it was amazing
I loved this book. It got a bunch of lower reviews from other readers and I'm not sure why. It's a straightforward look about the business behind being a parent...The pressures to throw big birthday parties, enroll your infant in classes, buy fancy strollers, and many parent's quest to raise a baby genius. Since I just recently became a parent, I wrestled with a lot of these decisions. If someone else put their baby in a class, shouldn't I? If I don't, will she be 'behind'? The book discusses a ...more
Jun 27, 2008 Chalida rated it it was amazing
A must read for all parents and to be parents. I just finished this book in three days. Paul discusses how parenting has become a business from kids wearing $100+ designer jeans to parents outsourcing potty training and sleep. Her chapter on video games and tv targeted as educational tools was eye-opening. She reminds us how necessary it is to follow our intuition as parents and gives us confidence to use common sense instead of allowing the media and businesses to prey on our insecurities. She ...more
Apr 03, 2009 Amy rated it really liked it
The subtitle on the front cover is: How We Are Sold on $800 Strollers,
Fetal Education, Baby Sign Language, Sleeping Coaches, Toddler
Couture, and Diaper Wipe Warmers---And What It Means for Our Children.
As the subtitle suggests, this book delves into the current state of
the baby business…how our culture has gone from getting a couple of
diapers and setting up a dresser drawer for a newborn to spending
thousands of dollars on nurseries, birthday parties and baby

There are a lot of angle
May 13, 2008 Elyssa rated it really liked it
Shelves: parenting
I am grateful that the author of Parenting, Inc took the time to research consumer parenting culture. It seems that parenting has shifted from a role and responsibility to a lifestyle, with required extravagant purchases and outsourcing.

This book debunked many myths that contemporary parents believe. The best chapter outlined why educational and developmental toys are a waste of money. The claims on these toys are not proven and, in some cases, the advent of sophisticated toys that do everythin
Sep 17, 2008 Melissa rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: parents, expectant parents, anyone
This was a thorough overview of the baby/toddler industry that has developed. Paul provides background research on a lot of the products that are marketed to parents as educational and deemed "essential"-- not usually so. I would recommend this book to any new or expectant parent. The volume of products marketed to parents is huge and overwhelming and this book provides some insight. This book is not perfect. There are moments when Paul is snarky and rude. She ridicules parents for enrolling the ...more
AJ Conroy
Apr 09, 2010 AJ Conroy rated it really liked it
Not crazy about her other books (bit of wacko), but this one was informative and reasonable. I've already found it helpful in navigating the baby crap traps. It's like the wedding racket, only the wedding industry appeals to a brides hopes and fantasies. The baby industry preys on one's fears. The ads in baby magazines are awful-- buy our product or your baby could die, you cheapstake! There are no DIY baby books like there are for weddings. There is no virtue in rational purchasing. It's hard n ...more
Feb 20, 2012 Emily rated it liked it
I thought this book was going to tell me more about the disgusting amounts of money that some people spend on their kids (I'm lookin' at you Real Housewives of Beverly Hills and New Jersey (and all the other ones, but those two stick out the most)). It was more about the industry itself and how products get up and going. So, still interesting, but just now what I thought it was going to be.

I really liked the chapter about educational toys. Seriously! Why must every toy educate? Why can't out ki
Oct 22, 2008 Sara rated it liked it
Recommends it for: expectant parents, new parents
This book tells us that marketers prey upon parents' desires to prove the best opportunities for our children in order to sell us more stuff. The toys, DVDs and products that increasingly fill our over-crowded homes are often purchases made from the mistaken belief that these things will make our babies smarter and thus better able to "get into a good college." In contrast to the ads, Pamela Paul shows us that scientists contend that toys that "do things" interfere with our child's imagination, ...more
Apr 27, 2008 CMLiffengren rated it really liked it
bottom line: Your kids don't need all those expensive educational toys and baby gadgets. We live in an extremely consumer-driven world and an age of parental anxiety. We want the best for our kids, but sometimes it translates into material and sensory overload for our children. Parents need to start trusting their instincts again and parents need to become savvy in a culture that bombards us with marketing. So much marketing sends the message that parents not good enough and your child will suff ...more
Apr 14, 2008 Debbie rated it did not like it
I read this book as I'm currently in the process of researching & buying items for the baby I'm expecting in late summer. As I've been in this itense buying mode, I can feel myself getting swept up in the rampant consumer culture around parenting/babies. I bought this book in hopes it would provide some perspective on my current buying spree. Unfortunately, all I really found it offered was a whiney polemic againt parents buying so much. Although the author included some top line research, i ...more
I found this book to be rather obnoxious. I enjoyed the introductory chapters, but after a while I realized that it doesn't take a genius or a journalist to point out that the extent of marketing towards parents is pretty out of hand. After a while I got sick of reading about how idiotic we all are for falling for unnecessary products and lessons.

The places where the author really lost me were where she'd criticizing something like a special class for babies and then devote page after page to d
Laura Mallard
Aug 15, 2009 Laura Mallard rated it liked it
Good book but it shows that most of the things that we are told we need to be good parents are just meaningless expenses. I'll definately change what things and why I buy them when it comes to shopping for my children. I also like the point the author makes re:experts and what we buy- they are teaching us to ignore our instincts and buy into the fear that if we don't buy tons of items or enroll our children in classes for each day of the week we are depriving them of opportunities and future suc ...more
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 22 23 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • Diaper-Free Before 3: The Healthier Way to Toilet Train and Help Your Child Out of Diapers Sooner
  • What to Read When: The Books and Stories to Read with Your Child--and All the Best Times to Read Them
  • The Complete Organic Pregnancy
  • The Mommy Myth: The Idealization of Motherhood and How It Has Undermined All Women
  • Living Simply with Children: A Voluntary Simplicity Guide for Moms, Dads, and Kids Who Want to Reclaim the Bliss of Childhood and the Joy of Parenting
  • Afterbirth: Stories You Won't Read in a Parenting Magazine
  • One Perfect Day: The Selling of the American Wedding
  • Clean: A History of Personal Hygiene and Purity
  • Wifework: What Marriage Really Means for Women
  • The Diaper-Free Baby: The Natural Toilet Training Alternative
  • Consuming Kids: The Hostile Takeover of Childhood
  • Our Babies, Ourselves: How Biology and Culture Shape the Way We Parent
  • Breeder: Real-Life Stories from the New Generation of Mothers
  • Renaissance 2.0: Carnival of Characters, Crusades, and Causes
  • Reading Magic: Why Reading Aloud to Our Children Will Change Their Lives Forever
  • Power of Play: How Spontaneous, Imaginative Activities Lead to Happier, Healthier Children
  • The People's Songs: The Story of Modern Britain in 50 Records
  • Be Prepared: A Practical Handbook for New Dads
Pamela Paul is the editor of The New York Times Book Review and the author of Parenting, Inc., Pornified, and The Starter Marriage and the Future of Matrimony. Prior to joining the Times, Paul was a contributor to Time magazine and The Economist, and her work has appeared in The Atlantic, The Washington Post, and Vogue. She and her family live in New York.
More about Pamela Paul...

Share This Book