Monday, 4 February 2013
Gordon Bennett! Bonkers Is In The Daily Telegraph Again!
And following my research I found that I did indeed have something to say about the matter. In her article Bryony quotes a director of the children's charity Kidscape on the commercialisation of children generally, followed by me and a lady from the parenting website Netmums - we are both basically saying that a baby smells fine as it is. You can read the online version here:
Baby perfume? The idea stinks
LADY COCKBURN AND HER THREE ELDEST SONS - POSSIBLY SMELLING SLIGHTLY OF STALE MACAW
This time round I submitted my comments by email, and was not aware of the overall slant / tenor of the article, but it seems that I was very much in step with the journalist herself and the other contributors.
So here are some of my other thoughts on the subject:
Babies don't smell of melon
D & G say their perfume "smells of baby" yet it has notes of citrus, honey and melon. Well, babies don't naturally smell like that and if they did smell of melon, I am not sorry I didn't have one now, as that way lies L'Eau d'Issey, my "melon-scented-freshly-exited-shower-cubicle" nemesis.
The helicopter scenting angle
The baby perfumes of Bvlgari and L'Occitane are predicated on mums and babies wearing the same fragrance. This strikes me as twee at best, and at worst as the olfactory equivalent of helicopter parenting. Let the baby have its own scent and identity, rather than imposing a mum and baby uniformity like those goofy couples who wear matching jumpers. I mean, you wouldn't catch a mother wearing a babygrow to be like her offspring. Hold on, that's a onesie, so maybe she would at that!
Maclaren buggy syndrome
At the higher end I think snobbery may also play into this: witness the blurb on an ad by Le Labo for its baby version of Ambrette 9:
"A baby perfumed by Le Labo? How cool can you get!" (this one costs a cool 110 euros for 50ml I note).
And of course that baby will be about eight and on its fourth iPad before it uses up 50ml of scent, though that probably isn't an issue to the mother who is happy to drop that much money on such an item.
A recent survey found that it costs well over £200k to bring up a child from 0-21 (without private schooling). So if what is after all a relatively expensive item was to become a must-have accessory, this would imply that unfragranced babies are in some way less acceptable, just adding to parents' financial burdens. So for me baby perfume is an example of gratuitous product segmentation that plays into the fact that modern parents are more of a soft sell than in my youth. For instead of today's Chelsea tractor buggies for offroading to nursery, we were just stuck in prams in the snow, for anyone to pinch us who was so minded.
The safety angle
As far as any safety issue is concerned, I don't doubt that these perfumes will have been made to the same exacting standards as any other baby product - using a non-alcohol formula. And you could argue that there are already numerous scented functional products on the market for babies, but I still don't like the idea of spritzing a very tiny baby with perfume.
I am, however, all for small children developing an appreciation for fragrance (of any kind indeed) at an early age, so if companies are going to target the very young, I'd say at least wait until they are old enough to say no.
Are you a mother? How does your baby smell? (When freshly washed, obviously.) And where do you stand on the baby perfume issue?
NB The keen-eyed reader may spot that in this latest article, I am described as a "fragrance expert" as well as a blogger. I would just like to point out that I didn't describe myself in those terms, but that the newspaper kindly saw fit to award me a titular upgrade.
Photo of Dolce & Gabbana baby perfume from refinery29.com, photo of Joshua Reynolds painting from Wikimedia Commons, photo of L'Eau d'Issey from Ebay, photo of coordinated mother and baby from footstepclothing.com, photo of McClaren buggy from f1rejects.com