If you're a new, first time mum then you're probably bamboozled by the sheer choice of baby products available on the market. You need a car seat, but, oh my! There are thousands to choose from. You need a pram, but again, which of the hundreds of products on the market is right for you?! Which nappies should you use - hundreds of different packages stare out at you from the shop shelves, each one promising something slightly different! Baby listeners, car seats, educational toys...so much choice!
The broad choice available is quite simply bamboozling and life is too short to evaluate every product against dozens of criteria in order to ensure you make the right choice.
Well, here's some news...it needn't be that difficult. Here are two simple tips to help you wade through the aisles:-
(1) Remember that all baby products have to pass rigorous safety standards. This means that all products available on the shelves in our shops are fit for purpose. The £800 super-duper-buggy-stroller-expandable-supermarket-trolley is no more worthy than the £100 version that just doesn't have padded handlebars and dayglow wheels. They are both suitable for babies, they both do the job. The decision is just whether you want all the features promised by the high end version.
Decide on the feature set for whatever product you want to buy and then narrow your field of choice by those products that support the features you require. Be guided by price, cheaper products will still be up to the task.
(2) You're not the only new mum in the world...there are literally thousands of you. ...and you're all going through the same buying cycle, getting hold of all the new equipment required for your baby. A lot of these mum's are writing about their experience in blogs, but it's almost impossible to find all of these for any products that you want.
Instead, head to Amazon - they are shifting more products that anyone else in the country and act as a great barometer for which products to buy and which to avoid. They also receive and post reviews on their website, reviews written by real people and based on real experience. Go to Amazon, search for the product type that you are looking for.
Filter your search for products with average reviews of 4* and higher - these are the products that others are rating. Look at these products, sort by price if you wish. Be wary of any products with just one or two reviews, there isn't enough feedbcak to be meaningful. Instead, select from the products that are highly rated and that preferably have tens of reviews, if not hundreds. These products are the ones that everyone seems to rate well, make your selection from these.
Look at the individual reviews for the product that takes your fancy and check out the worst reviews - there are bound to be a few 1* and 2* ratings. Look at why they are bad - if the negative points they raise don't put you off, then you can probably bet that this product will serve you well. Of course, you don't have to buy it here from Amazon, you can now buy it from wherever you wish, either online or in the high street, but you may well find that Amazon offers the best price, and you can probably have it delivered in just a few days for free.
Over the last few years we've noticed that the cost of toys across many retail websites, and in shops, see a marked increase as Christmas approaches, and worse than that, stock availability is often poor during the festive season. Sometimes the price of individual items rises, in other instances, special offers that were available in earlier parts of the year disappear in the run-up to Christmas.
Our advice is to do your Christmas shopping early. Start looking for genuine bargains over the next few weeks and months. If you know some of the toys or other products that you want to buy then start monitoring their prices now and see if they come into a sale during the autumn.
Shopping early does mean that you could miss the number one Christmas toy, but if that's the only toy that you buy in the run up to Christmas, you can save yourself, quite literally, hundreds of pounds.
The New Year sales offer a great opportunity to stock up on birthday presents for the coming year. The only downside is that you need space to store everything until birthdays arrive, but if you have a cupboard out of the way, you can make dramatic savings.
Children are an industry - you can easily lavish thousands on your baby in the first few weeks of their lives, and indeed in the run up to their arrival, but babies needn't cost the earth; there are ways in which you can economise, and you aren't a bad parent for doing so!
When it comes to buying certain items, particularly ones where safety is involved, you should buy new for each baby. For example, you should buy a brand new car seat for your baby because you don't know the history of a second hand one - has it been involved in an accident and could it be structurally weakened? When it comes to buying baby bottles, you can continue using ones from earlier children, just buy a new set of teats and you'll save yourself considerably on the cost of extra bottles.
When furnishing your nursery or buying other baby paraphernalia such as stair gates, pushchairs or toys, you can happily buy second hand or choose cheaper models. Pretty much every item sold in our shops has to pass safety standards in order to go on sale, so a cheap cot, pram or stair gate should theoretically be just as safe and sound as the most expensive ones. Indeed, the price of goods may not even reflect the quality of the furniture so much as the retail markup and fashion.
Shop online and use price comparison websites and you will save a king's ransom! The same furniture can vary in price enormously, although make sure you factor in the cost of taxes and delivery which can make cheap items suddenly appear rather expensive.
You can also buy second hand clothes, either at 'nearly new' sales organised locally or online at sites such as eBay. Clothes tend to be sold in bundles on eBay and you may find that you can fit out your baby for the first couple of years for very little money at all!
Your children are going to cost you a fortune over the coming years, and there's no shame in economising, especially while they are too young to have an opinion on pre-owned goods. Perhaps a frugal upringing will set them up with a valuable life skill!