Buying Baby Products

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Shopping for Baby

Congratulations! Whether this is your first or fifth child, having a baby is exciting. A new baby means love, joy and a whole new world of responsibilities. Babies also require some special gear, though what they need and how much you should spend on it is a seemingly endless debate. Luckily, the Web can help you determine what is best for your family and where to get it.

Buying Baby Products

Baby gear comes with a whole vocabulary of its own: forward facing, umbrella stroller, travel system, bumpers, crib wedge, sleep sack, teething rail and drop side are just a few of the terms out there. It can be confusing, especially if it’s your first child. A number of stores and organizations have created buying guides to introduce you to the gear, and help you determine what works best for your little one.

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  • You probably won’t find one stroller that can be used for all stages of your baby’s development. Though umbrella strollers will sound like a cheap and convenient option, they can’t be used with newborns, because the seats don’t provide enough support when the babies can’t hold up their own heads. Be prepared to buy a couple of different strollers as your child gets older, and as more children arrive. Luckily, good strollers don’t have to be that expensive.
  • You may find it helpful to visit a brick-and-mortar store to help narrow down your choices for items like car seats, strollers and cribs. It’s a good idea to visit a store that carries a large selection of products. When you find something you like, go home and get online. Invariably you’ll find better prices and often free shipping on that perfect crib you saw.
  • While shopping for gear, take into consideration how long you’ll use a particular product: for example, you’ll use your infant car seat for about six to 12 months, whereas you may use your toddler car seat for four or five years.

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Baby Gear Reviews

After you’ve done your research, looked at your lifestyle and decided what types of baby gear you want to buy, how do you sort through the assorted makes and models? Many parents will tell you that talking to other families can be helpful in choosing, say, one crib over another. But if you don’t know anyone who has had a baby recently, don’t worry. Many parents have posted thousands of reviews online.

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  • When looking at a product’s overall ratings, keep an eye on how many reviews it is based on. A high rating based on a few reviews may not be as reliable as a high rating based on several reviews.
  • Remember to keep your individual needs in mind. What works for someone in a small town may not work so well if you’re in an urban setting, and vice versa. Many neighborhoods have listservs for parents—you may find it helpful to join one so you can find advice from parents in a situation similar to yours.

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Where to Buy Baby Stuff

Baby gear is found almost anywhere, from small local boutiques to large national retailers, and many of these stores are online. You could stock your entire nursery without leaving the couch.

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  • If you come upon a site and aren’t sure whether it’s trustworthy, visit the Better Business Bureau, which allows you to search for a company by its name or Web address. Not every company has a record with the bureau, but many do.
  • If after reading the buying guides and product reviews you don’t know which brand or model of stroller to select, visit Peppy Parents. It’s an online baby gear shop started by a couple with two children who were dissatisfied with large stores and small boutiques alike. This site has a Stroller 411 custom help tool that asks 10 questions, such as your child’s age, and how it would be used (public transportation, at the beach, running errands, jogging). Someone from the store e-mails you with recommendations based on your responses. Unlike other stroller custom help tools, Peppy Parents actually sent suggestions.
  • If you find a product you like, type the full product name into a Google search engine, and make sure you’re getting it for the lowest price. Many sites will offer free shipping on larger-ticket items.
  • And if you’re getting tired of shopping for gear, take a fun side trip to some online toy stores. Our findingDulcinea Toys Web Guide is chock full of information on buying age-appropriate toys, toy safety and more.

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Buying a Baby Gift

When a new baby arrives, so too do the gifts. Baby gifts run the gamut from practical to sentimental, and may be as inexpensive as a stuffed animal or as expensive as a crib. If you find yourself wondering what to buy for new or expecting parents, or where to find it, visit some of the sites we’ve selected and let them do the legwork for you.

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  • Be sure to see if the expectant parents have a gift registry with a specific retailer. This can help you take the mystery out of what to get them, especially if you haven’t had much experience with babies. Registries from the larger retail stores are usually available on the Web.
  • If you’re a parent but are unsure what to get for someone’s new baby, consider buying a few things that made your experience as a first-time parent easier, such as that bottle brush that worked wonders or the toy your child couldn’t live without.
  • If you’re buying clothing, it’s okay and sometimes preferred to buy clothing a size or two bigger than newborn, but don’t forget to keep the season in mind. A cozy winter bunting won’t see much wear if the baby grows into it during the summer.

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