Being pregnant

Help! I don't know how to shop for my baby

Mom-to-be Monica Reyes wonders which popular baby items are worth buying.

carrier-test[1]

Monica tests out a variety of baby carriers. Photo: Monica Reyes.

Monica Reyes resides in Vancouver with her husband and neurotic dog. She’s also a soon-to-be first-time mom who is excited and terrified about her new life. Follow along as she shares her pregnancy journey.

 

I always thought the fun part of having a baby would be the shopping. It’d be so easy because of all the choices available nowadays. When I first walked into a baby store, I was completely overwhelmed. Having too many choices was actually worse because you second-guess all your decisions.

Read more: The best baby gear >

I’ve never been interested in baby gear so terms like “receiving blankets” and “layette” were unfamiliar to me. I needed some serious hand-holding so I could figure out what I needed to get. Here are some of my tips for first-time shoppers:

1. Don’t immediately go to a big box store. Go to a specialized store if you can.
When I went into a big box store and asked for help, the teenager working there gave me a sheet with a checklist of what to buy and a couple of catalogs before leaving me. As a first-time mom, I wanted to know why these items were important (e.g. Why do I need an aspirator?).

When I visited a specialized baby store, I told them I wasn’t interested in buying anything yet and was just looking for information. They spent an hour with me, guiding me on what was necessary and why. They also gave great insights on products by listing out their pros and cons.

Read more: Today’s Parent newborn checklist >

2. You’ll need to visit a store a few times to get an idea of what’s out there.
It took about four or five times for me to be comfortable in the store. The first few times you’ll be overwhelmed and not know where to start. Slowly, you’ll get more comfortable and you can discern between necessity and the extra fluff that’s not necessary.

3. Do your research.
Google, co-workers and family were a huge help. I asked people what would be on their “must-haves” list to get an idea of what to buy. I’ve even asked a woman wearing a baby carrier in a grocery store to get her opinion on that brand. Finding out what worked for people will help you in figuring out why a product is popular.

Read more: Baby carriers we love >

4. Test test test.
Being able to test products is a huge bonus. Don’t think that pushing a stroller back and forth a little bit is a good indicator of how well it performs. Thirty pound weights were put in the stroller I was testing and I was able to try it outside on grass, up and down curbs, and even see if it fit in my trunk, etc. If there’s a big height difference between you and your partner, adjustable handles may be the way to go. Make sure you can lift and carry the stroller — a few pounds can make a big difference. Even if you’ve heard rave reviews about a product, it’s still wise to test it out if possible. I was leaning towards one stroller because it came highly recommended but, after testing it, I realized the handles were just too high for my short stature.

Now that I’m a little more than halfway through my pregnancy, I’m finally ready to start purchasing instead of just browsing. What were your must-haves?

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