March 4, 2012

Baby Wish List on a Budget

Long before we decided to start our family, I started researching baby products. Our house has a surprising lack of storage space, and I didn’t want to add to the clutter with a bunch of rarely used baby gear! We’re also not planning on a shower, so it was extra important for us to save whenever we could. I want the best for our baby and my philosophy is to spend as little as possible on the things I want.

I started by picking up a copy of Baby Bargains. I have mixed feelings on the book. On the one hand, it has a great philosophy of focusing on your life style and getting the gear that matches it. Have a small house or an apartment? Then you don’t need a baby monitor with a large range. What I didn’t realize was the copy I picked up was already a couple of years out dated. The prices the book mentioned did not match up with current MSRP, (in some cases they were as much as 30% off in either direction!), and the book didn’t have any reviews of current trendy products. Overall I thought the book was useful, but make sure you get the latest edition. (BTW, the one I linked to is the 2011 edition, which is the most current as the time of this post.)

Next, I created a registry – yes, before even trying for a baby. As I’ve mentioned before, I love lists. Our baby registry, just like our wedding registry, is constantly evolving. I’ll start by adding the basics – a car seat, a stroller, etc. But some products are more compatible with each other than others. Once I identify a stroller I like, I may switch the infant car seat for one that is compatible with the stroller without the need to purchase a conversion kit. Or, maybe I’ll opt for a swing that can double as a bouncer so I don’t need two. I read a few blogs of women who had already started a family, and whenever something struck me as a good idea for our baby, I’d add it to the registry. Similarly, if I start reading bad reviews for a product, off the registry it goes. Working on the registry a little bit at a time also helped keep me from getting overwhelmed. At this point I’ve replaced most items on the registry, and I’m a lot happier with the new list.

Next I set up an account with Camel Camel Camel is a website that tracks price fluctuations on Amazon, as well as a few other sites. Most products on amazon have some price fluctuations, even books. I imported our registry and could see a price history of each product. If a product is usually 30% off, and only 20% off on a given day, it’s not a good sale! Camel Camel Camel will also alert you if the price drops below a threshold you can specify. For products that I can wait for, such as specific Dr. Seuss books or winter sleep sacks for a June baby, I set the threshold to be the lowest price I’ve seen. That way I’m sure I get a great deal. If I know I’ll need something right away, I’ll be a little less stingy and look for a good deal, not the best deal. I also keep in mind that other retailers have stable prices and reliable coupons (like and If the amazon price doesn’t beat buybuybaby’s price with a 20% off coupon, it’s not worth purchasing! My Camel Camel Camel price watch list has more than just my registry items. In some cases where I am indifferent between two brands, I add both products to my price watch list. I figure which ever one gives me the best price first is the one I’ll go with.

Camel Camel Camel does have some limitations. It currently doesn’t factor in the cost of shipping for third party products. There’s one item on my registry that’s $22 some days, and $16.50 others. Seems like a great deal, right? Except that shipping is free when it’s $22, and $4.95 when it’s $16.50, making the actual savings a whopping 55 cents. When a product is available in multiple colors from multiple sellers, Camel Camel Camel seems to get confused as to which version is being offered for which price. Despite the limitations, camel camel camel is great, and has already helped me score some great deals!

I also added a free price check app on my iphone. The app scans the bar code and lets me know what the price is at Amazon. When I’m out at a store, and a baby swing is listed as “on sale” I can find out what whether or not it’s a good sale. I’m always wary of ‘sale’ signs, as there is some evidence of companies markup up the price before a sale to make a sale price seem like a better deal.

Lastly, there are a few items that I am interested in, but that do not normally go on sale via big box stores, so I can’t watch for them on camel camel camel or normal coupon sites. For these products I set up google alerts for the product name and the words ‘sale’ and ‘discount’. That way, if there’s a possibility of a deal, I’ll hopefully see it before the deal period expires.

After re-reading my post it sounds like I’ve buying most of my baby gear through Amazon. I’m not. In fact, of all the things I’ve purchased so far, only one item came from Amazon, and that ended up not being a very good deal afterall. The rest I got as great sales from Target. Amazon’s every day prices tend to bet Target’s, but so far Target has had better sales. We stocked up on Dr. Seuss books for $5 a book, and got a deluxe rock n’ play for the standard rock n’ play price.

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  1. […] thought I had a good handle on baby gear, but apparently there was a whole category of gear I wasn’t considering. I thought I picked out […]

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