What’s it like to shop for baby stuff…Part 1


baby registry

Baby girl is scheduled to arrive in about three months (February 2015), Christmas is just around the corner, and the baby shower is supposed to take place in January.  This means that now is the time to plunge into the abyss that I call “the baby registry”.

I thought that the wedding registry was stressful—I hate buying things that are first of all new and secondly what feels ridiculously overpriced—but this process of hunting for baby stuff is an entirely new level of overwhelming.  There is a reason why the baby industry is a multibillion dollar industry; there are literally thousands of options for every kind of baby product you can imagine.  Some parents are probably delighted by the vast ocean of choice, but for indecisive and money-conscious people like me, it is very mind-boggling…a girl can only read so many reviews!

One of my husband’s co-workers gave us an older version of the book “Baby Bargains“.  According to the almighty internet, it is a must-have piece of literature on baby products hence I purchased a used copy of the most recent edition on Amazon.  I spent the earlier part of my week reading about cribs and mattresses in the book, Amazon reviews, Babies R Us, mommy blogs, etc.  I swear my brain exploded and that explains why my living room is so gross right now.  Thankfully both my hubby and I had the day off yesterday and spent an afternoon checking products out at the baby superstores, second hand stores, and the heaven sent IKEA.  We have now beyond the crib/mattress chapter and are moving into the world of strollers and baby seats, praise the Lord.

We are relatively infantile in building our baby registry (hence the Part 1 in my blog title), but here’s what I have learned so far:

1.  Until I went to the actual store to see and touch with my bare hands these amazing gadgets they call cribs and strollers, I didn’t have a very good understanding of their functioning and what features I would like.  No matter how many reviews I read about each brand, nothing beats being able to touch the dang thing! (Yes, husband, you were right…)

2. If you are working within a budget, it makes the baby registry process 50% less painful.  Of course, you should still aim to get the biggest bang for your buck…but the bang is finite. No frilly lace, no fancy woodwork, no baby wipe warmer, just the basics.  Don’t get me wrong—the expensive products are costly for a reason.  If you choose right, the high end items typically last the longest and have very innovative and convenient features.  But if you’re a new and young working couple paying off school loans, wouldn’t you rather save that money for more important things like school and meaningful activities like dance classes and camping trips?  So what did this mean for our baby shopping excursion?  It means that when we walked into IKEA and found their very simple but sturdy cribs priced at $69-$119 (versus the $200-$300 ones we were considering buying online), we were totally sold!

3.  With some baby products, I cannot go with my usual “Let’s just get it at the thrift store or on Craigslist” approach.  My motto for being a green and frugal consumer has always been to “buy it used” particularly for furniture and high priced items.  However, with all of the concerns over product safety, there are some items that I’ve learned that you shouldn’t buy used: cribs, mattresses, and baby seats.  Don’t let me forget breast bumps, too. There are more choices now for “green” baby products, some of which are rather affordable (such as mattresses with organic cotton and less hazardous materials) and others of which are out of my price range (typically wood furniture). Unfortunately due to budget constraints, I have not been able to prioritize the environmental factor into my purchasing decisions.  The hippie in me ten years ago would have refused to give into this consumerist mindset—and likely would have refused to buy 50% of this stuff altogether—but at this time in my life, I have to primarily think about functionality and price right now. If there happens to be an affordable, eco-friendly option, then I’m totally ecstatic and even more ecstatic about the items that we are able to buy used or inherit from other parents.

Watch out for Part 2 of our baby registry adventures!