Parents have to wait a long time for car seats and other baby items

No sooner had Eryn Yates survived her first trimester of pregnancy last spring than she started shopping for her dream nursery.

But getting the things she wanted turned into a nightmare.

The crib she ordered from Crate & Barrel arrived within weeks, but the Pottery Barn Kids rocking chair was reordered for months and then got lost somewhere in the transit. Delivery of the dresser she wanted to use as a changing table was repeatedly postponed until West Elm announced it would be delivered in late April or May 2022 – more than six months after their daughter was born.

“I definitely thought we were ahead of the game because we started ordering everything so early,” said Ms. Yates, 27, a healthcare worker in Winter Garden, Florida. “I was wrong.”

Global supply chain disruptions caused by the pandemic have disrupted the supply of items as diverse as medical devices, toys and grape seeds. But perhaps no delays in the past two years have aroused more family anxiety than those with baby items.

Unlike many products that travel down the supply chain, things like cribs, car seats, and newborn strollers have an implacable deadline in the form of a due date. And some expectant parents, either superstitious or just reluctant, are reluctant to purchase baby items well in advance. That brings them into conflict with the turmoil in the supply chain that has sometimes made it necessary to purchase items weeks or months in advance.

“On the other hand, when a person is born for the first time, that’s a different game,” says Sylvana Ward Durrett, CEO and founder of Maisonette, an online marketplace for baby and children’s products.

Demand is unlikely to decrease. Despite falling birth rates, there were more than 3.6 million births in the United States in 2020.

The result of the upheaval in baby care was – in addition to higher prices and a constantly bustling junk market – an injection of new stress and uncertainty into an already emotionally sensitive time. Expectant parents strive to get items before they bring their babies home, and retailers and manufacturers try to reassure them their goods are coming and come up with hasty solutions when they don’t. Message boards on websites for new parents are teeming with complaints about back orders and repeated delivery delays. Retailers have grown used to reassuring anxious parents-to-be.

“These are pregnant women who are all having their babies,” said Lauren Logan, owner of the Juvenile Shop, a family-run baby retailer in the Sherman Oaks neighborhood of Los Angeles. “They’re hormonal, but they’re pregnant – they want their things. I am not blaming you. I want their things for them. “

Delivery times for furniture and other items made in Asia, Europe, and the United States are “longer than ever,” said Ms. Logan, who has worked at the Juvenile Shop since 1979, now taking 18 to 20 weeks to arrive Weeks, with potential hooks along the entire supply chain.

To help new parents, Ms. Logan has borrowed floor models and products from the store’s warehouse, a workaround that has eased the pressure but also cost her business money.

“We give out rental furniture, rental chairs, rental seats, whatever it takes,” she said. “When people have their babies, they need something.”

Maisonette, which works with nearly 1,000 vendors, said the majority of the products facing the delays came from Asia, along with Peru, which makes pima cotton for baby clothing and pajamas. Babylist, a registration site, said retailers are having a particularly hard time keeping stocks of hot branded items like the Doona stroller, Snoo bassinet, Keekaroo changing mat, and Elvie pump.

Sellers point out numerous problems in the supply chain, including parts and shipping container availability, backlogs in ports, lack of truckers, and even logistical challenges once items finally arrive at warehouses or distribution facilities.

One continuously sold item typically took 45 to 60 days to produce, and then it took 12 days to travel across the ocean to California, said Joe Shamie, president of Delta Children, a large family-run retailer of cots and furniture for children are sold including Walmart and Pottery Barn. Now it only takes a few more months to get the items to the US.

Freight costs for importing products have also skyrocketed, from under $ 2,000 to $ 15,000, or $ 20,000 per container, which the company has largely absorbed so far, Shamie said. A typical container can hold around 300 cribs, he said.

“We’ve had situations where we had a hot product and rushed to buy things – that’s not what it is,” he said. “This is a case where the real system breaks down.”

These types of challenges have led some sellers to diversify their supply chains and focus on the best selling products.

Million Dollar Baby, whose brands include Babyletto and DaVinci, has increased the number of freight forwarders and freight forwarders it works with to clean up the shipping backlog, said Teddy Fong, CEO. It has also made the Babyletto Hudson and Lolly cribs, which are among the most popular items, a priority in making in Taiwan.

About 35 percent of Million Dollar Baby’s items are out of stock at any point in time, although they typically become available again in two to three weeks, said Mr. Fong, whose parents started the company in Los Angeles in 1990.

“It’s all sorts of these stories and seemingly new bottlenecks that pop up every week,” he said. “It’s very frustrating because there is no clear view of what needs to be done to get us out of the situation.”

On the receiving end there are customers who do not need any further source of fear. First-time parents often do extensive research before choosing strollers, cribs, car seats, and other merchandise. And out of stock items can squeeze registers; Babylist says new parents often pick 100 to 200 items.

After Gina Catallo-Kokoletsos, 33, and her husband finally agreed on a Pottery Barn Kids crib, her father placed the order as a gift in July. Originally, the crib was supposed to be shipped in October, so there was just enough time for the couple’s baby to be born in November. But when Ms. Catallo-Kokoletsos checked in September, she found that the shipping date had been postponed to January.

“I called them and they said, ‘Oh yes, it will be delayed.’ And I said, ‘Well, my baby will be born first,’ ”said Ms. Catallo-Kokoletsos, who lives and works at an animal shelter in Chico, California. In the end, she canceled the order and chose a crib from a small company she had never heard of. The cot arrived on time, but other items on her baby list, including a rocking chair, sold out before she could get it.

“I knew none of this was the end of the world,” she said. “It just gets frustrating after a while.”

Compounding some expectant parents also have ingrained beliefs about buying and receiving items before their babies are born.

Joelle Fox, 35, a naturopathic doctor in Scottsdale, Arizona who is expecting a baby boy in January, said she was cautious about ordering because it is the custom for many Jewish people not to have baby supplies at home until the evening baby comes.

“It’s kind of a tradition that women have, and I’ve been sticking to it,” she said, adding that she also wants to do careful research on items to make sure they’re not harmful. But the supply chain problems forced her to buy some items for kindergarten in late October, a decision that she said caused “a lot of emotion”.

Still, she said, the dresser she ordered from Wayfair won’t be shipped until mid-January. “That definitely dampened everything a bit because I can’t completely furnish the room,” she said.

In Florida, 36 weeks pregnant, whose daughter was born in October, gave up the West Elm dresser and bought one from Ikea. She cut off his legs and replaced them with metal ones that matched the crib she had bought.

She was less fortunate with her Pottery Barn Kids chair, which she ordered in June. After it didn’t arrive, she was so desperate that she emailed corporate customer service and copied the manager. When she was told in October that the chair had been lost, the color and fabric she wanted were no longer available. The company finally sent her a loan chair in a different color, “so that I could at least have something for myself in the room.”

Ms. Yates said she sympathized with the corporations’ struggles but still moved to tears from the ordeal.

“I wasn’t a very emotional pregnant woman – I was more quick-tempered than a screamer,” she said. “But I cried a lot in the nursery because I had exactly this picture I wanted and then it just felt like one thing at a time.”

About Christine Geisler

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