‘Men are crazy about gadgets.’ Especially about gadgets for their young kids

Brookline, MA - 06/15/2018 Ross Chehayeb poses for a portrait while taking his daughters out for an evening stroll. Ross is is part of a trend of new fathers who have been investing much of their time into researching and buying high-tech baby gear. Erin Clark for The Boston Globe (metro) reporter: Beth Teitell Mandl
Erin Clark for The Boston Globe
“A friend said it looks like a stroller a rap star would have,” Ross Chehayeb proudly says of this stroller.

In the months before his first child was born, Evan Perlin, of Somerville, would disappear for huge chunks of the weekend. But he was hardly sneaking in last-minute bro time.

“I would spend five hours a day looking at baby products,” said Perlin, 37, a software consultant.

By the time his baby arrived, Perlin was fully outfitted. Diaper Dude backpack in manly black? Check. Intensively researched baby monitor? Check.


But also: A wife who didn’t quite understand or share his obsession.

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“When I bought the [wearable] baby carrier, she had to come with me because she needed to try it on,” said Perlin, the father of a 19-month-old and a 4-year-old.

It was probably inevitable that the happy trend of men getting more involved in parenting would lead to a certain type of father. Call him Dadzilla.

He may be dropping big bucks on strollers that cost what for some people is a month’s rent, or scouring baby swaps for deals, but one thing’s for sure: You can find him holding forth at birthday parties — dadsplaining wipes warmers to newer parents. He’s on dads’ (and moms’) forums chatting about high chairs. He’s on Craigslist looking for deals on cribs, and, at baby supply stores, voicing his OPINION.

“The dads are so much more into fashion than the moms,” said Eli Gurock, cofounder of Magic Beans, a small, locally owned chain.


Paternal interest is particularly intense around strollers, he observed, an item that can easily cost $1,500 or more.

“They view them as little cars,” Gurock said, noting that high-end strollers can come with custom wheel caps, hand-sewn leather handlebars, and four-wheel independent suspension. “The dads are living the dream.”

The amount spent on juvenile products in the United States for the 12 months ending in April 2018 has been calculated, and it’s a huge figure — $6.3 billion, according to the NPD Group/Retail Tracking Service.

But here’s what no one has tallied: the (literal) man hours spent researching all those products.

In Brookline, Ross Chehayeb, 30, a product manager at a tech company, devoted more time to choosing a stroller than to his Subaru Forester.


There were road tests to perform. Turning radiuses to check. Durability to assess. He bought — and then resold — strollers from Craigslist before finding his dream stroller, an UPPAbaby, on sale for about $800. Be still his beating heart.

It has a white canvas top and brown leather handle. “A friend said it looks like a stroller a rap star would have,” he said proudly.

There are lots of studies showing the benefits enjoyed by children with involved dads. These typically center on health and well-being. But considering the amount of time fathers devote to research, the benefits extend to better products, too.

“People say your life as you know it is over when you have a baby,” said Dan Limor, 31, a systems engineer at a tech firm. But he’s hardly noticed a difference — other than how his son has affected the products he’s researching.

The newest phone and laptop models have given way to reading reviews of DockATot, a portable crib, and, of course, strollers.

“Look at how this handles,” he said, urging a reporter to take the wheel, or handlebar of little Max’s stroller, a $500 Baby Jogger, as he cruised through Coolidge Corner.

Matt Coyne, the author of “Man vs. Baby: The Chaos and Comedy of Real-Life Parenting,” says that fatherhood is just another arena where men go nuts gear-wise.

“Men are crazy about gadgets,” he e-mailed the Globe. “It’s why I was once in an argument with another expectant dad about which was the best breast pump currently on the market.”

Underneath the jokes are real fears. “I think dealing with this practical stuff is our safe, happy place,” he wrote. “Modern dads are frontiersmen. We don’t really know what we’re doing. But when it comes to gadgets and gear, that sort of thing, we are on much firmer ground. This feels like more our domain.”

Brookline, MA - 06/15/2018 Ross Chehayeb and his wife Britni CQ laugh with their daughter, age one-and-half, after taking their children out for an evening stroll. Ross is is part of a trend of new fathers who have been investing much of their time into researching and buying high-tech baby gear. Erin Clark for The Boston Globe (metro) reporter: Beth Teitell Mandl
Erin Clark for The Boston Globe
Ross Chehayeb has spent hours researching gear to help him and his wife, Britni, take care of their two daughters.

But for some dads, the baby is not the only thing that’s overwhelming — the gear can be, too.

“A simple bib is no longer a simple bib,” said Sean Duane, 28, a software engineer from Medford whose baby is due in late October.

Indeed, the on-trend bib needs to be: dishwasher safe, cozy, come with a pocket to catch falling food, and fashion forward.

“There are so many options,” he said, his thoughts spiraling into the numerous versions of pacifiers and everything else in the baby world.

“At the end of the day you can choose the simple version and you’ll be fine,” he said, “but maybe there’s a reason why the other one is better. Maybe the kid will have more fun or love it more, or maybe it will give guidance, or make my life better. Trying to figure out what to get can be confusing.”

Meanwhile, as much as parents who have older children love to poke fun at all the gear the current generation is buying, there’s remorse, too.

Dan Zevin, the author of “Dan Gets a Minivan,” and the forthcoming “Very Modern Mantras: Daily Affirmations for Daily Aggravations,” wishes today’s stroller technology was commonly available when his children, now 12 and 15, were babies, or that there was something he could buy now.

“They should make gear for fathers of teenagers,” he said.

A safe room?

Beth Teitell can be reached at