The Best Influencers Are Babies

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Any old influencer can market tea-toxes or gummies that claim to give you better hair, but not everyone with 100,000 loyal followers on Instagram happens to be pregnant. “If you’re a baby company or if you’re putting out a product for a mother that’s about to have a baby or if you’re currently pregnant, you’re kind of limited in the amount of influencers out there to work with,” he explains. “So, as you can imagine just for supply and demand, it makes you a lot more valuable because the pool of talent is very limited.”

And then there’s the fact that many of these moms are American millennials selling to other American millennials, all of whom are well acquainted with the act of making a purchase on their phones. Instagram shopping in general has boomed, in part thanks to a new class of brands existing mostly or entirely on the platform.

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Is it a boy? Is it a girl? How Pinterest gave birth to the gender reveal party

Gender reveal party

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Since January 2014, the number of “gender reveal” pins have increased by 224%, according to a spokeswoman at Pinterest. On the BabyCenter, a popular website for new parents, the number of posts about the gatherings has increased from 280 in 2011 to 14,000 in 2015. Now that actors, hipsters and even men like Johnny have embraced the fad, it could just become the next staple of Baby Celebration Inc.

The parties all follow a similar formula: after a sonogram, the couple hands their sealed envelope to someone trusty and waits in agony until the dramatic reveal. One of the most popular (and cheapest) ways to discover the sex is via balloon-filled cardboard box. Others slice into a cake filled with either pink or blue icing. But the options are endless, and range from confetti in a piñata to pink- or blue-colored “lava” from a plastic bottle modeled into a volcano.

Online, “reveals” are mostly still dominated by pregnant women who revel in tacky pink and blue-themed decorations. There are straws, napkins, banners and mini-water coolers filled with pink lemonade and blue punch. Hershey bar packages are colored in to highlight “she” or “he”. Most parties also include interactive ways to guess the baby’s sex: think pins for the cardboard “staches” or “lashes”, painted clothespins or marking your vote on a chalkboard under a headline like “Guns” or “Glitter”.

Six Things Google Remembers About My Parenting That I’d Almost Forgotten

Illustration by Abigail Gray Swartz

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Google remembers. Over those six years (and even before they fully began) Google was my parenting manual and my “What to Expect When You’re Expecting.” That means that if I want to know what I was worried about in those first weeks, months and years, I have only to open my search history. Thus, the Internet version of “This Is Your Life:”

Searches about eating, peeing and pooping dominated in the first year or two of my children’s lives: “what’s in formula”; “toddler is picky eater”; “can a pull-up hold poop”; “potty training in three days” (Ha!)…

Sleep was also a major issue…

Some things never change. Our challenges with picky eating have continued, leading to a (fruitless) search for “children’s multivitamins only cherry.” Sleep issues also persist, albeit in more sophisticated forms. A search for “night fears” was somewhat addressed by a related one for “Dora night light.” Perhaps the most persistent problem is my children’s general, er, demeanor. On a particularly bad day recently, I asked Google: “Why are my kids so annoying?”

Learning to Love the Babies of Instagram

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…At the beginning, I was very self-conscious about it. I still held on to the hope of being the parent who “gets it.” I wrote funny or at least very honest captions under all my photos; I only posted one truly great baby photo every few days; I tried to intersperse photos of other things, too, as if to remind everyone that I still lived in the world, even if I didn’t see much of it.

I remember early on feeling as if I had to earn my one baby photo by posting a photo of something else. I’d look around my house. Something else, something else. Hmmm. What did I take photos of before? Funny signs? Nature? Cute corners of my apartment? Things I baked?

…I don’t post photos of my kid to Instagram to show off my great reproductive prize, to brag that I ran through the finish line of society’s great mandate for women. I post photos of him to Instagram because I am bored and he is always around and at times I feel certain that all I have to offer my friends and followers are adorable photos of him.

Making Facebook Less Infantile

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BRANDY CASWELL, 28, turns to Facebook to keep up with her friends. But in the last year or so, she found that her newsfeed was being overrun with baby photos, documenting everything from nap times to diaper changes.

“I don’t need a play-by-play of a typical day with your kid,” said Ms. Caswell, an administrative assistant in Austin, Tex.

She won’t have that problem anymore, thanks to a new Web tool called Unbaby.me, which replaces the baby pictures on Facebook feeds with things that people prefer to see, like photos of cats, sunsets and bacon.

Science Says: The Baby Madness on Your Facebook Feed Is an Illusion

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Meredith Ringel Morris—a computer scientist at Microsoft Research—gathered data on what new moms actually do online. She persuaded more than 200 of them to let her scrape their Facebook accounts and found the precise opposite of the UnBaby.Me libel. After a child is born, Morris discovered, new mothers post less than half as often. When they do post, fewer than 30 percent of the updates mention the baby by name early on, plummeting to not quite 10 percent by the end of the first year. Photos grow as a chunk of all postings, sure—but since new moms are so much less active on Facebook, it hardly matters. New moms aren’t oversharers. Indeed, they’re probably undersharers. “The total quantity of Facebook posting is lower,” Morris says.

And therein lies an interesting lesson about our supposed age of oversharing. If new moms don’t actually deluge the Internet with baby talk, why does it seem to so many of us that they do? Morris thinks algorithms explain some of it. Her research also found that viewers disproportionately “like” postings that mention new babies. This, she says, could result in Facebook ranking those postings more prominently in the News Feed, making mothers look more baby-obsessed.