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Baby Bargains: Secrets to Saving 20% to 50% on baby cribs, car seats, strollers, high chairs and much, much more! 2017 update! Paperback – April 18, 2017
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1. This book is definitely aimed at middle class and upper middle class parents, singing the praises of mainly high end brands. In a previous edition I owned, this did not seem to be quite as much the case. Sure, they attack the Bugaboo stroller for being overpriced, but they highly recommend the only slightly cheaper Uppababy Vista. The authors do state at the beginning of the book that they want you to get good value for your money and so they don't just recommend the cheapest items. I understand that and I happen agree with that, but they don't seem to weigh cost as a terribly important factor in their ratings for individual products, which is odd for a book named "Baby Bargains." At the end of the of the book they provide an overall comparison budget to show you how much you save by going with their recommendations - but those savings are not for the products they rave about throughout the book, that's only if you go for their "good" choices, vs. "better" or "best." This book is really about shopping smarter, not necessarily about spending less. (They did tell me not to buy a diaper stacker - no problem, I won't.)
2. There are many other minor issues with reviews besides price, mainly due to inconsistent updating. For one example, in their picks for audio baby monitors, they state, "Here are our picks for audio baby monitors, with one BIG caveat: how well a monitor will work in your home depends on interference sources" - and then they go on to say that they will only recommend newer DECT monitors which don't cause interference. This seems like a small thing, but it goes on throughout the book and this sloppy updating really got on my nerves after a while. If I got free updated editions, I'd let it slide, but since I'm paying full price for the latest edition, I'd like it to be fully updated.
3. This edition needs serious copy editing. "Waste belt," anyone? There are also lots of incomplete sentences and parentheses are severely overused throughout. I'm not particularly picky about grammar and usage, so if I notice it, I think it must be bad enough to be distracting for a lot of other readers, too. My previous edition did not seem as poorly edited. And I think that you only should get to use the phrase "800 pound gorilla" once in a single book, thank you.
4. The book feels outdated at times. Parents' fears about products made in China seems pretty marginal in today's globalized world (compared to price in today's economy), but the authors still address this in this edition as a major concern parents supposedly have in their specific reviews of nursery furniture. The authors seem to be a bit prejudiced against modern nursery furniture - given the cost of $1000 cribs made of MDF, I see their point - but some of the comments about simple nursery furniture styles being "plain vanilla" seem to reflect a preference for an earlier aesthetic, aside from price.
None of these issues really detracts from the book's usefulness, but I think BB is starting to show its age a bit. I think instead of cutting and pasting new products in haphazardly, the next edition could use a refresh.
With all of that being said, I really learned a tremendous amount from both editions of this book, and would still buy another edition down the road if needed. The authors do a terrific job of considering the ways that parents use products and discussing the relevant factors. They take into account various lifestyles, family sizes, and special situations like travel. You could just read the end of each section for the top recommendations, but I think the best way to use this book is to read it thoroughly and learn about the different features and decide which ones are important to you. This book helped us plan way beyond what to buy and register for - I decided I did want a fancy stroller, but had no use for a baby monitor, for example. I felt like I became an expert as a result of reading this book and can decide to spend money in a way that really makes life easier with baby. To borrow an oft-repeated phrase from the authors, bottom line: this is extremely valuable information for new parents.
This book has dramatically cut back on the categories and number of products it reviews (280 pages versus 596). It only provides guidance on the 'top' recommendations whereas the 2015 version provided in-depth reviews on the bestsellers within the industry. Instead, this version directs you to the baby bargains website for full reviews of more products. Unfortunately, the website is terrible. And regardless - I bought this book largely BECAUSE I have an infant and want a one-stop resource in book format - I don't have time to navigate between tangible book and webpage. I'd also like to see this book address recent innovations in the market such as the Keekaroo Peanut diaper changer (i.e. is it a bargain?). And finally, this book really needed a copy editor because there are way too many distracting typos.
I really, really hope the writers take this feedback into account because this series has been such an important resource to so many new and soon-to-be families. I will continue to recommend this brand because it fills an important niche in the market for first time parents. However, it can do better.