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Don't go shopping for baby items without this guide!
on March 22, 2011
The 9th edition (2011) of "Baby Bargains" is the must-buy guide to help you pick the best baby products available in the market today. Signifantly better than previous editions, it is full of product reviews, ratings, side-by-side comparisons and recommendations that will save you tons of time, money and frustration when shopping for baby items or drawing up your baby registry. Parent feedback, recall information, marketing gimmicks, and pros and cons are all explained and taken into account - simply said, no other source has this much up-to-date information at your fingertips.
New for this edition is an extensive section on the many new car seats, strollers and carriers available. The sections on individual car seats (rated by brand and model) is excellent. For strollers, however, it's worth noting that they are only rated by manufacturer. Most models usually have a one-paragraph descriptions that include price, weight and parent feedback, so if you're looking for detailed reviews on individual models (for example the City Mini vs. City Select strollers), you won't find that here - probably because there's simply way too many (Maclaren alone has nine models).
What really matters though is their analysis of overall quality for the brand, their customer service, recalls and pros/cons, all very useful if you're trying to pick between two different brands. For example, if overall quality and customer service for one brand is not be great, this will be reflected in the rating and the authors may point you to a better option for the same price.
That said, I do have some small gripes - although the book mentions many new items, it also includes some products that are no longer sold at retail, like the Chicco Twin Trevi stroller which was discontinued last year. Not bad if you're buying second-hand but not great if you want to buy new. There is also about a one-year lag in terms of the products mentioned in categories other than strollers, carriers and car seats - I couldn't find popular products that work well for travel or small spaces (a big missing category) such as the Phil & Teds Traveller Crib that's a lot smaller than the Baby Bjorn travel crib they recommend, the FlexiBath Infant Bath Tub that folds flat for small spaces and can be used to age 4 (unlike the tubs they mention that are for babies younger than 6 months or huge to store), and the Kidco Go-Pod portable activity seat that folds to 30" x 8" x 8". Hopefully they will be included in the new edition.
Likewise, the authors sometimes skim over product descriptions - an Ergo Performance carrier is simply described as having a special lighterweight fabric when in fact it has a completely different fit and design when compared to the original Ergo. This doesn't happen too often though.
In terms of what you'll find - chapters include nursery essentials (cribs, bassinets, dressers, mattresses, gliders, changing tables etc.), baby bedding, baby clothes, diapers, maternity & nursing clothes, feeding (nursing, bottles, formula, baby food, high chairs), gear for around the house (monitors, gates, diaper pails, swings, potty seats, bouncers, playards, etc), car seats, strollers (singles & doubles), bike trailers and seats, diaper bags, plus an extensive section on carriers. Throughout the book, you'll find money-saving tips, wastes of money, features to look for in a product and best places to buy.
Other chapters include a reality check on costs for the first year (average vs a Baby Bargains budget), new safety rules (cribs, etc), organic baby items, what you need when, an appendix with a sample baby registry and another appendix with multiples advice (twins and more) which unfortunately is just 2 pages long and woefully inadequate (a dowload they suggest on their site from a reader contains a high chair they gave a C+ raing to - did they even read it?).
Besides the book, the authors also run the baby bargains dot com website (easy to find, google "baby bargains") where you will find a very detailed table of contents and tons of bonus material not found in the book. This includes crib maker reviews, in-depth advice on bottles and supplies, humidifiers, toys, baby proofing tips, baby announcements, mail order sources, archive of old reviews, extra stroller reviews, and advice on introducing baby to your pets. Also, it has a handy chart that lists stroller models with one-hand folds and/or height-adjustable handles and travel tips for flying with your child.
With the average cost of raising a baby at about $7,000 for the first year alone, this book will save you around $3,000 if you follow all the tips and suggestions in the book. If it doesn't save you at least $250, the publisher will give you a full refund on the cost of the book, no questions asked - details of their guarantee are in back. Even with a few faults here and there it's still an excellent book - I'm glad to say I've never had to take them up on this offer.