3 ways to save money on high-end baby gear

Consumer Reports News: March 23, 2009 04:08 AM

Let’s face it. Babies are a lot of work and having the right equipment can make the job easier and more fun. But to avoid buying stuff you won’t use enough to justify the price tag, take these steps, which function like spending speed bumps, before making these splurge purchases.

Before splurging on a…

…designer diaper bag: Play the low-end field. You can buy a perfectly “street chic” yet roadworthy diaper bag for around $30. In fact, that’s how much the most frequently registered-for diaper bag is on Amazon.com’s baby registry. On the other hand, you can also spend hundreds for a designer-brand bag like Juicy Couture or Kate Spade. That’s a much bigger investment that doesn’t necessarily deliver a bigger return.

If you love a designer bag, can afford the splurge, and think you may be using it for years to come, go ahead and go designer, if you want to. But keep in mind that finding the right diaper bag for your lifestyle and your circumstances can sometimes be a matter of trial and error. By buying a low-end or moderately priced bag, at least initially, you’ll have more leeway to try differ¬ent types of diaper bags until you’re sold on a particular style or brand.

…big-ticket stroller: Consider your lifestyle. For infrequent travel or trips to the mall, an umbrella stroller (less than $100) may be all you need for a child 6 months or older. If you’re going to be strolling more often and through all kinds of weather and conditions, then consider spending more. Good quality all-purpose strollers start around $150.

What you’ll get for the money: Some higher-end strollers are made of high-grade, lighter-weight aluminum, which makes them easier to lift in and out of a car. The seat is cushier and is likely to be made of high-quality fabric. Higher-end strollers may be easier to push, especially over rough terrain, which includes anything from uneven sidewalks to bumpy dirt paths and grass, so babies get a smoother ride. Bigger-ticket strollers also often have such comfy amenities as adjustable handles, which can save your back if you’re tall, but so do a number of cheaper models.

That said, a higher price doesn’t always mean higher quality. Though stores are full of pricey strollers, you don’t need to spend a bundle to safely wheel your little bundle around. Our tests have shown that some economical strollers can perform as well as or even better than models costing hundreds of dollars more. Even the most sophisticated models can suffer from flaws such as malfunctioning wheels, frames that bend out of shape, locking mechanisms that fail, safety belts that come loose, or buckles that break.

…midweight, personal-use, automatic breast pump: Think about how often you’ll use it. It’s a quick and portable way to double-pump and fill up a bottle in minutes, and an ideal choice if you’ll be returning to work and you need to pump throughout the day to maintain your milk supply and express milk for missed feedings. But a midweight electric double pump is probably more than you need if you plan to pump only occasionally, in which case, a small electric or battery-operated pump is a less expensive and sufficient option. 

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