Summer Vacation (still capitalizing those all-important words) included a few dark (and increasingly stifling) hours last night when a thunderstorm zapped the power on our island. Like a Fourth of July fireworks show, cheers erupted around the island from fellow vacationers braving the wind and rain to thrill to each blinding lightening flash and thunder crescendo. Through the fog-shrouded dark, headlights of courageous cars swept wide swathes of spotlights hundreds of feet into the sky.
Is There Such a Thing as a Bargain in the Baby Product Industry?
At T minus 86 days until actually becoming a parent, I feel pretty unprepared for what lies ahead. Sure, I’ve done a bit of babysitting, and I’ve got great friends around me who have kids ranging in age from four days to, um, twenty-eight years (same age as me), but as anyone will tell you, you don’t know what it’s really like until it is here. While parenting might be a bit of a question mark for me right now, there is one thing that I’ve got twenty-eight or so years of experience under my belt already. That’s right – being a consumer.
[Nathan: 28 years of consumer experience? Somehow I doubt Megan was much of an ‘active consumer’ for the first 18 to 24 months of her existence. But then again, she is pretty well adept at the ancient art of credit-card-kung-fu. Maybe she did start honing her consumer skills from day one…]
When we shared our good news with the Hendricksons, Beth quickly alluded to a gift that she had for the expecting parents – us! And since we take all advice from the Hendricksons under serious consideration – from TV series recommendations (currently hooked on the West Wing after wrapping up Arrested Development earlier this spring) to recipe referrals (Rachael Ray’s pumpkin pasta being a favorite) to baby product reviews (the Happy Baby Company TummyTub will be showing up on my registry) – we knew this gift would be a winner. Upon receiving Baby Bargains, by Denise and Alan Fields, I quickly devoured it – pretty much cover to cover (unlike my copies of What to Expect When You’re Expecting, The Girlfriends’ Guide to Pregnancy and Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth). If there was one thing I knew how to do, it was read product reviews, compare prices and achieve the thrill of finding a good bargain. I felt very at home with the book and in my consumer comfort zone.
[Nathan: Ok sure, a recommendation from James alone is certainly suspect, if not completely disregard-able without even the slightest ounce of consideration. But believe it or not, the union of ‘James-plus-Beth’ has yielded many outstanding recommendations. Clearly Beth is pulling more than her weight in this department. That said, they’re not infallible – we won’t be purchasing a Roomba or Scooba any time soon, no matter how many times they swear that we could eat off their floor…..]
In my cover to cover reading, the first section I came upon was Nursery Necessities. My new-found knowledge boosted my confidence as we headed into Babyland and USA Baby to do some comparison shopping. I could recognize brands like Bonavita, Capretti, Creations, Pali and Young America and know the ratings of each and whether we were interested in checking out their line.
[Nathan: Seriously, this kid is gonna have nicer furniture than I have EVER had. I can’t wait til it starts wetting the bed and scratching up the woodwork. Thanks, Baby Bargains……]
I continued to gain confidence as I learned to speak the baby product lingo (its kee-ko, not chee-ko) on all of the other products that will soon be filling my house – car seats, high chairs, diapers, clothes…and the list goes on.
[Nathan: Yeah, I admit it has been helpful to have such a thorough reference for what seems to be an endless list of things to buy, borrow, grow, learn, eat, and drink to get ready for Baby. It was also nice to learn that Chicco (aforementioned pronunciation: “kee-ko”) gets high ratings especially when our good friend Mitch told us he was taking a job with them in Lancaster, PA. Now we just need to get the hook-up from Mitch on a rockin’ KeyFit 30 Infant Car Seat!]
What I loved most about Baby Bargains is what it tells you NOT to buy. Bassinet – cute, but not a necessity. Crib bumpers – you don’t need them. Maternity clothes – borrow from friends and if it fits, wear it. Baby Bargains also does a good job of telling you when to shell out the money. The authors recognize that the lowest price is not always the best deal. If you’ll be replacing the item in six months, why not buy the slightly more expensive item the first time around and get a higher quality product?
[Nathan: Number of pages of what NOT to buy: 5. Number of pages of what TO buy: 540. I guess there’s just no getting out of it. This kid is gonna cost us a fortune…..]
With a little under three months to go, the pace is really beginning to pick up at our house. We’re not quite into “last minute mode”, but I am confident that when we get there we will have a perfectly dog-eared guidebook to help us cut through all of the clutter and find the hidden gems and bargain treasures. Baby Bargains is an indispensable guide for all first-time parents who want to give their baby the very best at an affordable price. In the end, its not about the high-tech gadgets, the convertible cribs or the Euro-strollers. Having a happy and healthy baby is the greatest treasure that anyone could ever ask for.
[NT: …But seeing how excited Megan is about this new adventure that we’re embarking on and knowing what an amazing mother she is going to be make me feel like a billionaire. And I’m ready to blow my entire fortune on both of them.]