Baby Gear Boom

You're about to become a new parent and you're in the market for a stroller or crib for your newborn, but you want to avoid the countrified aesthetic your in-laws are pushing. Don't despair. There are more options than ever before. Just don't be surprised by sticker shock -- baby accessories have become high-priced, highly designed gear and furniture.

Type in "baby gear" on Google and you will get more than 36 million results. Try "cool baby gear" and you'll retrieve more than 5 million pages. If you're still desperate, try searching "hip baby gear" and you'll have more than 2 million pages for the choosing.

The market for baby gear has more than quadrupled in the last 20 years -- the industry had more than $7.3 billion in sales last year -- and it does not appear to be a waning trend.

After a few minutes browsing the net or shopping at the various baby boutiques, which have cropped up from Los Angeles to Chicago to New York in the last five years, new parents might think that they'll only be able to have cribs for their child if they wear barrels for clothes for the first five years of parenthood.

If you're obsessing about really needing a $600 Finnish bassinet, a Moderne $1,600 crib with matching $1,500 changing station, or the Dutch-designed Bugaboo stroller that will run you a grand (there's currently a $4,000 Maclaren on the market if you're desperate) don't fret. Strollers, cribs, and high chairs can still be purchased for under $100, but it's just as easy to find the items that cost over a $1,000 these days.

Nyro Murphy owns Bump, a maternity and baby boutique in Seattle and believes designer baby gear is just starting to reach its potential: "There are new products being created every day. It's a huge market, a booming market, and there's a lot of competition within the marketplace."

The reason she believes new parents are willing to spend more than $300 on high chairs and $500 on an organic mattress -- cache? "It's definitely status driven. People are marketing new high end products as status symbols."

According to American Baby magazine, the average new parent spends between $500 and $7,000 in the baby's first year. Some parents spend much more than that.

"I have a Bugaboo, I have a Maclaren, I have Snap and Go, and I have a Phil and Ted's," said Manhattan mother Danielle Reilly as she lists off the manufacturers of her four strollers. She has two children and they have tons of gear.

"I have every dumb thing that anyone could buy. I mean all the things they tell you that you don't need -- I have," she continued. "I like the outrageous stuff, the more bells and whistles the better. I just think it's more fun for the kids."

Industry observers see the boom as a reflection of the changing demographics of parenthood in the United States and, in many quarters, growth of personal wealth.

"The consumer has changed. People are now having children at a point in their lives where they are financially stable," Heather Ross, the founder of the Munki Munki line of children's clothes, told ABC News. Ross has seen the emergence of the lavish changing tables, strollers and cribs firsthand.

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