It can be pretty daunting when it comes time to buy those big things that all parents want for their babies. The problem is choosing which is better.
Heather Maclean is a mother of three who has recently written a book, The Baby Gizmo Buying Guide, and runs a website, Baby Gizmo, on helping parents decide what is the best option without feeling the need to over spend or buy everything they come across.
Just because baby superstores have products stacked to the ceilings doesn’t mean most of what they stock is worth buying. In fact, parents should pass by much of it.
That’s the advice coming from Heather Maclean, who has made a business of cutting through the clutter of baby merchandise. The mother of three’s new book, “The Baby Gizmo Buying Guide,” doesn’t list branded items but guides parents through what kind of merchandise to buy to handle everything from sleepless nights to playtime during their child’s first years.
Here are some excerpts from an interview with Maclean, who also helps run the Baby Gizmo website:
Q: Baby superstores are mazes, with thousands of products. What’s the best game plan for how to shop?
A: The stores are great at distractions on purpose. I liken them to Las Vegas casinos, with the lights, end caps and lack of windows so that you are walking in circles for hours, and that leads you to spend more.
That’s why you need to be prepared before you walk into the store. Read a book before you go to learn about categories, products and some of the crazy baby (products) terminology. Then search on the Internet for patterns and prices, and make a list with what to buy. Take that to the store with you.
But make sure you break your baby shopping into small chunks by zeroing in on three things per visit.
Q: In your book, you talk about the “bad baby-product buying cycle.” What does that mean?
A: Many times, parents are driven to buy a product because of the intense need for quiet and calm in their house, but once you get to the store, it’s noisy, overwhelming, and there are so many similar choices, that you end up just grabbing everything.
You might buy six different activity centre or swings. You overbuy products and bring them home – only to then realize it is hideous, ugly, the music is driving you nuts or your baby hates it. But there is no way you can or want to take it back, so it sits in your house and you secretly seethe with hatred every time you walk past it.
A simple way to avoid some of that torture is to take batteries to the store. I have no problem having a salesperson come over, open the box and put batteries in so I can listen to the music before I buy it.
Logo from Baby Gizmo.