The Real Reason Assembling Baby Gear Is So Darn Hard!

Jenny Benjamin

black cribThis weekend, my husband and I rolled up our sleeves, got out the toolbox, and went to work assembling the crib, putting in car seats, screwing down the changing pad, and all the other stuff we need to do before our twins arrive. Actually, I should be a bit more honest about that: my husband did all of the work. But, I was VERY good at giving moral support, and was super helpful when it came to reading the instruction manual or saying things like, "Wow, you did such a great job! Did you bring the box out to recycling?"

In the end, it was a success, evidenced by the fact that we now have a sturdy crib in our nursery, two car seats firmly latched into our backseat, and a dresser with changer top, ready to welcome its first poopy diaper! Looking back, it really wasn't so bad (says me). In the moment though, we kept asking each other, "Is there a reason they make baby gear assembly so hard?"

Okay, so my husband and I aren't exactly Mr. and Mrs. Tool-time, but we're no dummies! We've assembled bookshelves and coffee tables, hooked up elaborate entertainment systems -- I mean, for God's sake, my husband works in computers! Still, I'd say every single instruction manual was missing at least one essential step or word of explanation, leaving my husband and I sitting there, scratching our heads, spare parts in hand, wondering if perhaps a trained monkey would have better luck.

We started with the changer top, which should have been the easy part! Well, after reading the three-step instructions and scouring the Internet, we finally realized that we'd need a power drill just to screw two fabric tabs into a wooden tray. Really? Then, we had to secure the changing tray to the dresser, which was much easier, except for one problem: a couple of the diagrammed holes weren't there, so once again, there we were with the power tools. (And I say "we" because I did, in fact, plug things in.) 

Thankfully, the crib assembly instructions were much more straightforward, which is the least they can do, considering the fact that you probably need octo-arms to assemble it. Had I known, I would have skipped my yoga class and stayed home to help, because it ended up taking my husband a few hours as he tried to hold the sides together, using both arms, both legs and his chin. Oh, and again, a screw hole was missing! But he did get the job done all on his own (because I would have been so much help), and I could see the pride on his face when he showed me where our little ones would be sleeping together for the first couple months of their lives.

The next day, he got to work on the car seats, and this time, I was there to help ... from the couch. You'd think that between the instruction manual, the directions on the side of the box, and the 20 bajillion "Warning" stickers, in three different languages, all over the seats, this would all be fairly self-explanatory. Well, it took us about fifteen minutes to figure out how to pop the carseat out of the base! We were pushing every orange plastic button we could find -- the seat rose up like a hooptie, the bar went down and up, the restraint system went lax. Ultimately, we did figure it out, and my husband had an easy time getting those suckers latched into our car. But those "duh" moments we spent, trying to unsnap the seats from their base, may continue to haunt us.

So, after three days of (witnessing) baby gear assembly, I've come to a conclusion: I think the manufacturers are intentionally messing with our minds. It's like they skip a step on the instructions on purpose, or maybe mean to forget a hole, as a lesson in parenting. My guess is that The Baby Gear League, secretly met and decided together that they would make assembly of their products just a wee bit fuzzy -- not so much that the average Mama and Papa Joe couldn't put together their own crib, but enough to leave them scratching their heads a bit. The result: we, the expectant parents, are forced to take a deep breath, trust our instincts, use common sense, work together, and adapt when things aren't going according to plan. After all, aren't these all essential lessons in parenting?

Are you finding baby gear assembly as confusing as we did? What gave you the biggest sense of accomplishment?

Image via jencu/Flickr

Read More