Forget Dr. Spock or "What to Expect When You're Expecting" or even "Happiest Baby on the Block." When it comes to essential reading for brand-new or expecting parents, nothing beats "Baby Bargains," the Consumer Reports-like guide to baby products written by Denise and Alan Fields. And if you are about to have a baby now, you are in luck. The ninth edition of the book hits stores on April 21.
Not into bargains? Do not be deterred. Despite the subtitle,"Secrets to Saving 20% to 50% on Baby Furniture, Gear, Clothes, Maternity Wear and Much, Much More!" the usefulness of this book has less to do with how to clip coupons or shop for deals online and way more to do with helping overwhelmed and exhausted parents-to-be navigate the endless choices presented to them at every turn.
Go to the car-seat aisle of Babies R Us and you're faced with roughly 30 choices. Need a stroller? You could easily spend a month researching the pros and cons of the various brands and models. I once spent 25 minutes in the bottle aisle at Target trying to decide which of the BPA-free, gas-eliminating, easy-to-clean, no-leaking bottles to buy. Almost in tears, I left empty-handed.
And that's where "Baby Bargains" comes in. About the size of a "Let's Go!" guidebook, it's your guidebook to baby shopping. When my first son was born, I spent hours poring over it and rarely strayed from its sound advice. Because the Fields are obsessive -- testing all the products, conducting parent surveys, studying the safety ratings -- I didn't have to be. If the Fisher Price Rainforest bouncy seat was their preferred bouncy seat, I bought it. If they thought the plastic Eurobath was the best buy, I bought it. They helped me pick the car seat, the stroller, the diapers, the bottles, the crib sheets and the diaper bag. Since then, I've given the book to expecting friends from all different economic brackets, and everyone loves it -- whether they are going to spend $200 on a crib or $2,000.
The Fields, who also write "Bridal Bargains," put out the first edition of "Baby Bargains" in 1994. In the most recent edition, they've included more information on baby carriers (a growing segment of the baby market). They also expanded their coverage of eco baby products. "We're trying to seperate the hype from what's really going on," Alan said.
I just had my second baby three months ago, and though my well-thumbed copy of "Baby Bargains" is sitting on the bookshelf most reachable from my bed, I'm debating getting the more recent copy.
I wonder what the Fields would think of that.
-- Deborah Netburn