Winnie the Pooh is hideous no matter how decoratively you stitch him. In books? Adorable. On nursery walls? Not for me, but cute enough. But on my baby's onesie? Never. Maybe it's just me but I hate cartoons on my kids' clothing. I've always been this way; everything from Barbie to Transformers to Spongebob rankles me. Why wear a tacky Superman t-shirt when you could put a cape and red underpants on your child and have an adorable little Superman of your own? Don't just advertise for the superhero, be the superhero!
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But my aesthetic reservations aside, Disney characters are about to become even more a part of your child's life, starting with the day they are born.
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The New York Times reports a marketing push by Disney to give away 200,000 free "Cuddly Bodysuits" from their new Disney Baby line to brand-new babies and their wallet-holding parents right in the hospital. While the onesies are free, parents are encouraged to sign up at Disneybaby.com and are treated to a "bedside demonstration" of the items. (Who needs a bedside demonstration on how to use a onesie?)
I don't know about you but after hours of labor, the delivery of the cutest bowling ball ever and a bottom more reminiscent of a baboon's butt than a human being, I might punch someone if they tried to sell me baby clothes at my bedside. Then again, I might just roll over and go to sleep. Hard to tell with all those crashing hormones.
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Marketing to new parents in the hospital is hardly new. You remember the door-to-door baby's first picture machine? Plus parents are inundated with free diaper bags, changing pads, wipes, formula samples, binkies, diapers and books all branded prominently with a particular company's logo before they sign the birth certificate. Moreover, the marketing works. When my last baby was born, I got a free Halo sleep sack, which I liked so much I ended up buying three more after we got out of the hospital.
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So why is the Disney initiative any more objectionable than the Enfamil "breast feeding kit" (that comes with a can of formula and coupons for more)? For me, I think it is because all of the other stuff is marketed to the parents. Sure we use it on our kids, but I don't think anyone would argue that a baby forms a life-long bond with their Pampers. But the Disney merchandise is specifically geared to our children. I don't love the Disney cartoons, but my kids sure do. Isn't it hard enough to be born? Must we start turning our babies into consumers before we even count their fingers and toes?
How do you feel about cartoon characters on your kid's clothing? Would you take the free Disney baby clothes?
Charlotte Hilton Andersen is the author of The Great Fitness Experiment: One Year of Trying Everything
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