- Toby Melville/Reuters
- Some wealthy millennials are using their kids as status symbols.
- Raising a child is already an expensive endeavor, costing six figures around the world.
- On top of that, the elite have been known to buy their children pricey accessories, invest in high-end childcare and education, and give them unique names.
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Raising kids is expensive, no matter where you are.
To raise a child to age 18 in the US, it’ll cost parents an average of $230,000, according to Merrill Lynch’s “The Financial Journey of Modern Parenting: Joy, Complexity, and Sacrifice” report. Meanwhile, in the UK, the average cost of raising one child is $323,000.
But the elite, especially millennial parents, have no problem spending beyond those six-figure estimates. In the age of social media, it’s easier than ever to show off your children to others, and if they’re wearing designer clothes and living in swanky nurseries in those images, it helps flaunt your wealth – and your status.
It’s not just about material goods, though, or how much you spend: Investing in intangible goods like high-end childcare and education creates the same effect, as can the number of kids you have and the names you give them.
Here are eight ways millennial parents are using their kids as status symbols.
They’re paying up to six figures for Instagram-worthy baby nurseries.
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Some New York-based parents are spending upwards of $100,000 on nurseries for their babies, from hiring top-tier interior designers to investing in eye-catching aesthetics, Meira Gebel previously reported, citing a report by the New York Post. Think $6,000 24-karat cribs and $4,000 custom wall patterns.
“Everyone is excited to show off their space – and their personalities via their space – more than ever before,” Malorie Goldberg, copresident of Noa Blake Design in Marlboro, NJ, told the Post. She said it’s likely because parents want the nurseries to look good on Instagram.
Zoya Bograd, a Murray Hill-based interior designer, told the Post her clients spend an estimated $10,000 to $100,000 decorating their child’s nursery.
They’re dropping money on designer kids clothes and customized shopping experiences.
- Michael Dodge/Getty Images
Instagram is also influencing millennial parents to invest in luxury clothes for their children, reported Grace Cook for Business of Fashion. Social media makes it easier for parents to share images of their children, and kid influencers like North West are in part driving the trend, she wrote. The luxury category within the childrenswear market has nearly tripled since 2016, according to data from Edited.
Designers are meeting the demand – Givenchy and Balenciaga both launched childrenswear lines in the past few years, according to Cook.
“Young parents with kids don’t want to sacrifice their own aesthetic choices for the sake of dressing their children,” Moschino creative director Jeremy Scott told Cook. “They want them to look cool, like an extension of themselves.”
Look no further than Collective Child, a personalized shopping service for luxury childrenswear, to see the shift in millennial moms’ shopping habits – the company hand-curates designer kids clothes in monthly subscription boxes and has had a 1,500-person waitlist for nearly two years.
According to its website, nearly half of its members spend more than $200 a month on the service. The top 10% of its clientele are spending $400 per month and VIP clients spend more than $750 a month.
They push their kids around in thousand-dollar strollers.
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Buggies previously addressed parents’ affordability and safety concerns, she said.
“But the new generation of buggies appealed to a deeper existential anxiety in modern parents: ‘Who am I going to be after this baby comes?'” Rodriguez McRobbie wrote. “The answer, these objects said, was that you’d be the same person you always were, the kind of person who is interested in design, travel, style – albeit with a new and much needier co-pilot.”
She credits Bugaboo for spurring the rise of this “practical luxury.” Along with its competitors, the brand has become an “emblem of a new kind of parent,” she wrote.
Celebrities like Gwyneth Paltrow have been spotted with the Bugaboo – products range from $799 to $1,905 – and Kate Middleton has been seen pushing Prince George and Prince Charlotte in Silver Cross prams, which can cost as much as $2,276.
They carry their kids’ stuff in designer diaper bags.
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Millennial moms and dads are elevating the designer bag, swapping out luxury purses for high-end diaper bags. One mother told Glamour that Kate Spade New York was her first fancy designer purse – and as a mother, she now has a KSNY diaper bag.
Mainstay luxury brands like Gucci and Prada offer diaper bags for $1,390 and $1,450, respectively, but even brands solely dedicated to designer diaper bags are emerging. Look no further than EC Knox, which offers diaper bags for men ranging from $395 to $450 available online at luxury retailer Barneys New York.
“The one thing I wanted to do living in New York City was have a status symbol that showed I’m proud to be a dad, but have it be something with style,” founder Gavin Lodge told SFGate. “The options for women are endless (but) not for men.”
They spend time and money getting their kids into “Baby Ivies” that can cost more than Ivy League colleges.
- Tristan Fewings/Getty Images
Wealthy New Yorkers go to great lengths to get their children accepted into the “Baby Ivies,” prestigious private preschools and kindergartens that can cost as much as $50,000 a year, reported Suzanne Woolley and Katya Kazakina for Bloomberg.
Parents have to apply, prep, test, and interview with the Baby Ivies as part of a competitive admissions process. While many schools stay mum on acceptance details, K-12 school Trinity has revealed a 10% acceptance rate – about the same as Cornell’s, Woolley and Kazakina wrote.
To get their kids accepted, parents hire admissions advisors and test-prep consultants and take their children on vacations across the globe to make them seem worldly.
“Like the Grownup Ivies…the Baby Ivies cull the weak, interview the hopeful, and decide which lucky candidates slip past the velvet rope,” they wrote.
They’re having more than two kids in expensive cities like New York City.
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For wealthy moms in New York, where it’s particularly expensive to raise kids, having a big family is seen as the ultimate status symbol, according to Wednesday Martin, Ph.D., author of the 2015 memoir “Primates of Park Avenue.”
“Three was the new two, something you just did in this habitat. Four was the new three – previously conversation stopping, but now nothing unusual. Five was no longer crazy or religious – it just meant you were rich. And six was apparently the new town house – or Gulfstream,” Martin wrote.
According to Martin, the kids aren’t just status symbols but an opportunity for mothers to preen in front of one another and forge their own identities. Mothers on the Upper East Side, she said, wear tiny medallions engraved with their children’s initials around their necks and stacking rings – one for each child – on their fingers.
They hire high-end nannies with robust skills.
- Chris Jackson/Getty Images
Nannies for children are nothing new among wealthy parents, but millennials are taking it one step further. Childcare skills are just the minimum requirement – speaking multiple languages, being able to cook a four-course meal, and having boat skills are all bonuses when it comes to securing the ultimate nanny, reported Claire Gordon for AOL, citing a story by The New York Times.
“It’s a great status symbol too, if your nanny happens to have a degree from Harvard, or the looks of Penelope Cruz, or used to nanny Jon Bon Jovi’s brood,” she wrote. Having such extras can net New York nannies $180,000 a year.
Those who attend the prestigious nanny school Norland College in Europe are especially sought after by high-profile families around the world, to the point where they’ve become the ultimate status symbol, according to Lara Pendergrast for The Spectator.
Maria Teresa Turrion Borrallo, the royals’ live-in nanny, is a Norland College graduate.
And in Manhattan, full-time nannies, private school, and summer camp are standard expenses, reported Julie Zeveloff West for Business Insider.
They give their children unusual names.
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Parents don’t need to spend money to make their kids a status symbol. From Beyoncé naming her daughter Blue Ivy to Hilary Duff naming her daughter Banks Violet Bair, millennial moms are cementing their status by giving their kids unusual names.
“Finding a name that has authentic roots, but is completely undiscovered, is the ultimate baby name status symbol,” Pamela Redmond Satran, a founder of the site Nameberry and author of “The Nameberry Guide to Off-the-Grid Baby Names,” told Alex Williams of The New York Times.
Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner studied the significance of baby names for their book, “Freakonomics,” and noticed a particular trend, reported Emily Guy Birken for The Huffington Post.
“Once a name catches on among high-income, highly educated parents, it starts working its way down the socioeconomic ladder,” they wrote. “Amber, Heather, and Stephanie started out as high-end names. For every high-end baby given those names, however, another five lower-income girls received those names within 10 years.”