The Best That Daddy Can Buy

22 08 2007

Perhaps the most frightening aspects of impending parenthood is the expanse and expense of infant accoutrements — there just seems to be so much stuff you need to get. It’s confusing to sort out what exactly is the need and use of all of these products, much less filter through all the brands and options available for each product.

Well, today I held my nose, stooped my shoulders, and plowed through the morass of baby stuff information to bring you the best bets for your kid.

I started with the baby checklists at Target, which I like because it seems fairly comprehensive, logically organized, and include separate “Must-Have” and “Nice-to-Have” sections. Here is a pdf of their master list.

I then sifted through a bunch of consumer review sites. I was basically looking for “best of” or “editors’ choice” lists. Here were my favorites:

  • Consumer Search > Family. Consumer Search is a meta-consumer review site. I like to go there first because they do a lot of the research legwork in looking through publications like Consumer Reports and even Amazon user reviews. Their family category included reviews for things like car seats, strollers, and baby monitors.
  • How Stuff Works > Consumer Guide > Kids & Family. I never realized How Stuff Works had a consumer rating and review division. I didn’t get the sense that they were particularly comprehensive, but (as one might expect) they have excellent buying guides and articles.
  • Wondertime > Stuff We Love. Wondertime is a Disney parenting publication dedicated to babies and toddlers. Like most of these kinds of magazines, they tend not to provide definitive buying recommendations or even useful consumer comparisons; they wouldn’t want to risk losing any advertising dollars. However, their “Stuff We Love” articles have great ideas for toys and books.
  • > American Baby Magazine’s annual AMBY winners. See my Wondertime comments. This section within the Parents magazine website, however, does archive their annual “reader’s choice” awards for various parenting products.
  • > Babble Best RSS Feed. Babble is an online parenting magazine that caters to a hip, fashionable crowd. As a result, their sensibility leans to the darling but pricey. Nevertheless, their occasional “Babble’s Best” articles provides some interesting and informative comparisons on everything between reversible clothing to vacation spots.

I also skimmed through a couple of user review sites where consumers chime in with their personal ratings and experiences of the products they have bought. This can be an exhausting enterprise, as you will undoubtedly have to wade through contradictory opinions biased by unique experiences and personal preferences. Nevertheless, doing so can be enlightening in ways outside of the scope of polished summaries. The following three resources were helpful:

  • BabyCenter > Parents’ Picks. BabyCenter may be the most definitive parenting website out there now, and their store is massive and well-stocked. Their Parents’ Picks highlights products that received cumulative four- and five-star ratings.
  • Amazon > Baby Store. It’s Amazon. ‘Nuff said.
  • The Nest > Baby. The Nest is an offshoot of The Knot, a popular web destination for brides-to-be. It has partnered with to provide local community sounding boards around specific stages of life. It doesn’t quite look like its received enough traction yet to be very useful, but it’s still worth perusing through.

Armed with this research, I made a list of things-to-buy (or have-other-people-buy-for-the-baby-shower). Keep in mind that the information on this list and these choices have been cut-and-pasted from the sites mentioned above. I occasionally took the liberty of going with a choice that had appeal to my individual preferences or situation (this list was more for myself than anything). Sometimes a category is listed without any choices; that’s because I couldn’t find any reviews or clear winners for that category. I generally went with all the “Must-Have” categories in the Target list, and occasionally put in a “Nice-to-Have” category if I thought I would bite the bullet and make that purchase.

All right, now the moment you’ve been waiting for… The complete list after the jump. (LONG)
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