Just as the global economy began its descent, a wealthy friend recounted his shock at finding his newly pregnant wife shopping online at poshtots.com for a princess baby crib - she thought she was having a girl - costing tens of thousands of dollars. In the event, she gave birth to a boy and the baby inherited the crib used by his older brother.
But the luxury market for toddlers and babies is back, according to Bloomberg Businessweek. Gwyneth Paltrow helped to fuel the revival with her website Goop, which recommends US$700 Ouef cribs.
Now the model and designer Julia Restoin Roitfeld, the wealthy daughter of the former French Vogue editor Carine Roitfeld, is at it. In March she launched a high-end website for mothers called Romy & the Bunnies.
The luxury baby market didn't really exist before the 1990s. Baby-only megastores in the US such as Buybuy Baby and Babies "R" Us - both founded in 1996 - included products at all prices and helped to stoke demand for $500 cribs and $200 baby monitors.
So did the introduction of online commerce in the early 2000s, which allowed pricier European companies such as the Italian brand Peg Perego to pick up market share with its $800 strollers.
The luxury baby market declined precipitously in 2008. Sales of baby and kids' clothing dipped 9.2 per cent during the recession, and revenue fell from $10.3 billion in 2007 to $9.4bn a year later, according to market analysis firm IbisWorld.
But the category has rebounded; by next year it is projected to grow 4.3 per cent to $10.6bn.
This return in part reflects the improvement of the economy, but also a growing number of older parents who have more disposable income. Since 1990, the number of first babies born to women older than 40 has tripled.
Experts also point to the tabloids. Many magazines have weekly sections devoted to celebrities and their children out shopping. Also, parents born between about 1970 and 1990 are particularly brand- aware.
Prices on poshtots.com seem to reflect this trend. The most expensive cot now is the $19,000 Fantasy Carriage Crib.
So the trend for buying expensive togs for kids is driven by celebrity children?
Glossy magazines regularly compile lists of tiny trendsetters. Suri Cruise usually snatches the number one spot. She is well- known for her fastidious accessorising, which includes lipstick and heels. And with a fashionista mother, it’s no surprise that Victoria Beckham’s daughter Harper is generally well turned out – although her brother Romeo got a high-profile gig starring in a Burberry advert and also made it to 26th place on GQ’s best-dressed list (10 places behind his father, David).
Apparently, there was a rush on Asda supermarket in the UK following his placement as mums shopped for the mini-Beckham look. Angelina Jolie’s daughter Shiloh also gets attention for her more singular fashion sense and was described by her mother as dressing “like a little dude”.
But there’s soon to be a new kid on the block, right?
Yes, the royal baby. The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge are expecting their first baby in July. Kate and her mother Carole Middleton were snapped this week on a shopping trip in “upmarket South Kensington”. Their first stop was Blue Almonds, which creates “magical rooms for children”. They were seen leaving the store with a £295 (Dh1,688) Moses basket. This is for an off-the-shelf model – a bespoke version of the wicker basket with frilly sheets can cost as much as £1,000.
* with Bloomberg News