Baby Bargains: Secrets to Saving 20% to 50% on baby furniture, gear, clothes, toys, maternity wear and much, much more! Paperback – Apr 21 2011
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"The bible for new parents," New York Times.
From the Back Cover
Wow! A baby book that actually answers the big question about having a baby: How am I going to afford all this?
With the average cost of a baby topping $7000 for just the first year alone, you need creative solutions and innovative ideas to navigate the consumer maze that confronts all parents-to-be. Baby Bargains is the answer!
Inside, you'll discover:
- The best WEB SITES that offer the biggest discounts!
- NAME BRAND REVIEWS of car seats, bedding, strollers,high chairs, diapers and more!
- FIVE wastes of money with baby clothes and the best outlet bargains.
- NINE tips to saving money on cribs, plus in-depth reviews of crib brands.
- THE TRUTH ABOUT STROLLERS—and which brands work best in the real world.
- The SEVEN MOST RIDICULOUS BABY PRODUCTS.
- Dozens of safety tips to affordably baby proof your home.
- DETAILED CHARTS that compare brands of cribs, strollers, car seats and more!
About the authors
Authors Denise and Alan Fields are consumer advocates who've been featured on Oprah, The Today Show, Good Morning America and Dateline NBC. Their books include the best-selling paperbacks Bridal Bargains, Baby 411 and Toddler 411. Learn more about their books at BabyBargains.com. The Fields live in Boulder, CO with their sons, Ben and Jackson.
Top Customer Reviews
I only wished that there were more Canadian resources. I also bought the most recent version, during my most recent pregnancy (twins). I was a bit disappointed that there was not much information in the book for twin/multiple births.
Regardless, this book was still a wonderful resource; and each new edition does provide updated reviews on all product categories.
Some useful hints for new moms, hence 2 stars.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Is this book worth getting? Yes. It's a great, one-stop-shopping roadmap of sorts for all the STUFF you need / don't need, particularly useful for first-time parents. That said - it should not be considered the ONLY resource / authority on baby buying. Like all the manufacturers of all the baby stuff out there, Baby Bargains is also a business -- they're in it to make money as much as the next guy. There's nothing wrong with that, but I do think it's important to keep in the back of your head. While they don't get paid to recommend one brand over another, they DO get paid (by those of us who buy their books) for coming across as the "experts" on all things baby-related. And they simply aren't. I recommend starting with the book, narrowing it down to options you're considering, and then doing additional research on the items that really matter - crib, car seat, baby monitor, etc. Beyond that, I pay particular attention to recent reviews NOT in Baby Bargains written by folks in the medical / pediatric fields. While Baby Bargains will often say something like, "According to the American Academy of Pediatrics...", they rarely say "According to pediatrician Joe Smith..." In other words, you start to get the feeling that maybe they just googled the American Academy of Pediatrics and passively noted their regulations, rather than actually talking to a real pediatrician about a particular item. Anyway, in sum, get the book, and take into consideration what they say, but don't consider it the Gospel on baby merchandise...
However ... the Kindle version is missing large chunks that appear in the table of contents, and that I assume also appear in the print version. For example, in Chapter 2 (Nursery Necessities), the first 16 sections are there (about what baby stores are the best, registries, and some general guidelines on how to buy a crib); but after "Not Made in China," it skips straight to Chapter 3! There are TWENTY-EIGHT missing sections in Chapter 2, including the actual reviews of various crib manufacturers and all the sections about other nursery furniture like changing tables, gliders, bassinets and co-sleepers. So despite having paid for this book, I actually still have no idea what to look for in nursery furniture.
If everything listed in the table of contents were actually in the book, this would DEFINITELY be a five-star product; but so much of it is not there that I'm going to have to buy a different book to do the same thing, so it was a complete waste of money for me and therefore only gets one star.
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.
1) Can the publisher please hire a decent proofreader? There were countless spelling and grammatical errors, from simple things like its/it's, your/you're, and then more ridiculous ones like "this baby monitor gives parents piece of mind", and "the buckles fasten around your waste". Seriously? Errors like that just erode my confidence in the authors' expertise.
2) More importantly, the authors didn't seem to have deep enough knowledge of certain areas considering the "expert" opinion they were giving on it. For example, they seemed to write off cloth diapering as an inconvenient and expensive option because using a cloth diapering SERVICE cost more than disposable diapering. And they seemed to lump all cloth diapers into one category when they said that even after buying the cloth diapers, you also have to buy expensive diaper COVERS, an additional expense. Clearly the authors have never cloth diapered their child! Many of today's cloth diapers are all-in-one, so you don't have to buy extra covers, and if you launder them yourself you can save thousands of dollars. These diapers were skimmed over briefly, leading the reader to believe cloth diapering isn't worth considering.
Having done my own research online by reading extensive product reviews, I didn't find that the book was all that useful. Perhaps if I had received it earlier, before having bought most of the big-ticket items, it would have been a good place to start my research.
For example, they insist that crib sheets have elastic all the way around and not just on the ends. They offer a partial list of manufacturers who make sheets with all around elastic. Then, they proceed to offer brand recommendations. Brands on the list of those who offer this essential feature often get low reviews and brands not on the list earn a solid "A." It is up to the reader to notice this discrepancy and to work through the lists and figure out which brands get both an "A" or "A-" and offer this "essential" safety feature. At this point you are left with just a few choices. THEN, when you go to find the sheets in the real world, you find that 2 of the manufacturers who earned both an A and a place on the list, don't even make crib sheets anymore. (Keep in mind this book was published less than a year ago as of this review.) Another only sells their sheets from its own website and another only offers flannel, a less than ideal choice for a summer baby in GA.
This oversight is a pain and wasted a lot of my time, but the authors' judgment seems to be a more serious worry. For example, after each list of ratings of various brands for different products, they offer recommendations of good, better, and best for each main category of item. For infant car seats they list the Graco Snugride 35 as the "Best" (p. 428), but in their review of this seat on pages 399-401 they admit that Consumer Reports rated this seat "DEAD LAST" because of it's fit in vehicles and "average crash protection." They explain that it lacks "extra side protection" and an anti-rebound bar. What in the world??? As other reviewers have noted they insist you not get used cribs, play pens, car seats, or certain other types of items because you'd have to research recalls and safety features, but they DO suggest you get an inferior car seat because it is cheaper? Of all the items you would want to not skimp on, it seems like the car seat should be at the top of the list.
This book can serve as an introduction to the issues you need to be thinking about and the research you need to do, but now I can see that you can't trust the authors' judgment. You also cannot rely on them to offer the most reliable information or to be consistent.
Finally, so much of their recommendations rests on the feedback their readers offer about various products. This is feedback anyone can read for themselves for free on the authors' own website, Amazon, or other outlets like Target. The authors' website even reproduces Amazon reviews of products.
The best aspect of this book is their advice on items you do not need. They offer reasonable arguments for this. But I cannot rate them higher because of their carelessness in recommending products.