Posted by: DD | May 14, 2008

no. 658 – Here’s Perspective: It Could Be Your SIL Rating This Stuff

I have been pouring over some websites lately that have a tendency to make my palms quite sweaty. Sites that sell (shhhh, don’t tell anyone) baby things.


I just don’t remember feeling quite as overwhelmed with all the choices in front of me when we were expecting XBoy. I am also grateful to have had gone through this already so I can know that certain items are completely useless and annoying: a bottle warmer for the car; any item of clothing that snaps up the back (Thanks, Suzanne, for reminding me!); and ginormous diaper bags, to name a few.

Even more mind-boggling than the sheer volume of stuff I need to get – which is basically still everything – are the ratings some people give items.

Now while I’m pretty much a practical kind of gal (a stroller just needs to stroll – it need not be able to morph into a nanny/transformer), I still want to make sure that I’m getting the best bang for my buck. As such, I’ve always maintained an account with Consumer Reports. I started there for my most basic necessitates: a car seat, a stroller, and a nursery pack-n-play.

From there I cross-referenced to the site, Babies-R-A Life Sucking Force, and instead of making my life just a tad easier, BRALSF lets any village idiot rate products.

Bottle Warmers: "This product gets the milk too hot and scalded the baby’s mouth. Rating: 1 Star." Um, yeah. One can overheat milk under running tap-water. Test it first, Stoopid, and not by seeing if your baby screams when you squeeze a few drops on her.

Pack-N-Plays: "I couldn’t figure out how to get it together, so I returned it for a different brand. Rating: 1 Star." Seriously? A crappy rating because someone couldn’t comprehend the instructions? That’s fair. I’ll hazard a guess that the rater is the same kind of person who will throw down their candy bar in a petulant fit because they didn’t see the "tear here" note on the corner of the wrapper.

Pacifiers: "My three-year old was able to fit this pacifier into his mouth and started choking. This is not a good product if your child has teeth and you need to make sure that it hasn’t started coming apart. Rating: 1 Star." Do I really need to add any commentary to that one? OK, I’ll add this: no, DUH!!

So this is why at first I couldn’t understand why there was such a discrepancy between BRALSF and Consumer Reports. I’ve realized that all kinds of emotions come into play at BRALSF depending on how much the customer thinks s/he overpaid or if it was a gift; or whether it takes a GED to put something together or if it comes pre-assembled.

Needless to say, it’s been frustrating to pick out even a handful of things I would like to get, preferably before Murdock gets here in HOLY SHIT! eight to nine more weeks. Still, I’m not opposed to Murdock sleeping in a laundry basket, using maxi-pads and duct tape for diapers, and milking the neighbor’s goat if I can’t pull together enough patience for this shopping B.S.



  1. Don’t forget that jammies with zippers are better than jammies with snaps. This is just one reason why:

  2. What are you trying to decide on? I have lots of opinions.

  3. Too funny! DH and were just talking about this the other day. We’re shopping for a swing set, but so many of the reviews say “too flimsy” and “hard to put together.” I was starting to get frustrated. Then my husband pointed out that of course people are rating them flimsy because they are idiots that can’t put them the set together correctly. Duh. Maybe I’m the idiot for not checking Consumer Reports instead! Going to do that now.

    I have to second the jammies with zippers over snaps! Especially if you don’t want to hear Mr. DD swear every time he lines the snaps incorrectly!

  4. The Baby Bargains book has some great reviews for a lot of the big ticket items.

    I love the zip up sleepers from Children’s Place. And they have lots of gender neutral designs.

    As for pack-n-plays, I recommend a bare bones model that has the infant bassinet insert but not much else. That other stuff just gets in the way.

    And if you need a new infant car seat, I loved the Safe Seat that Graco came out with between my two kids. It actually worked until lil’ G was 16 months. She would have outgrown the Snug Ride and most other infant seats at around 4 months, just like big G did.

  5. Shit. I suck at picking out baby gear. I usually just buy the less gimmicky stuff.

  6. I think posting what you’re thinking about and getting our opinions might be the way to go. I can guarantee you that I won’t give something a bad rating because I’m too stupid to put it together 😉

    I have to say, I did thoroughly enjoy your examples. It reminds me of an email I once received from a coworker referencing her phoency. That’s fiance in case you don’t speak the language.

  7. The thought of the sheer amount of b.a.b.y stuff I have yet to get horrifies me. Although not as much as some of those customer reviews…


  8. As a repeater (yay!), I recommend an hour in a bookstore with Baby Bargains and a notebook. I did that when expecting Tiny Boy, and was able to make enough notes for the few things I wanted to buy, then go home do the research and buy what I decided on later.

    Sometimes I rail about how so many things have been dumbed down to accomodate the lowest common denominator… and surely intelligence has never been a qualifying criterion for parenthood. Some of those reviews drive me NUTS!

    Feel free to pick my brain. My opinions are free, and possibly worth what you pay for them. 😉

  9. I started a T@rget registry so that I could shop without anxiety. I plan at some point to just order it all online.

    I can relate to the stupid reviews. When E and I were looking for a high chair for Dani (7 years ago)one of the reviews said, “It’s really difficult to recline the seat when my son is sleeping in it.” Also, “I don’t like the cover because it doesn’t fit into my dishwasher.” I am afraid to know what kind of people actually think those kind of reviews are helpful.

  10. Oh God, ignore the reviews and ask fellow moms and/or go to stores to look at things.

    Or we could compare? These people (the fluffy fertiles) are driving me crazy with the whole decorator thing….

  11. When we were looking to make our purchases for G Sgt and I were dumbfounded by all the gadgety-gizmos out there. We couldn’t remember having to buy all this crap for our oldest who is now 15.

    Things I needed : basic infant carseat, pack-n-play with basinet insert (a very simple one) and a simple set of itty-bitty clothing. 7 Onsies, 7 sleepers and a few cute outfits for heading out in.
    Things that came in handy : a Graco swing and Fisher Price bouncy chair both loaned to us. I loved the Baby Trekker and still use it often.
    Things I never used : Baby sling (G hated it), little shoes (who the hell thinks babies need shoes to go out?) and bibs that tied with strings.

  12. I’m all for Baby Bargains, and would send you my copy if it weren’t…um…five years old. Perhaps I should throw it out?

    Did you have a soft carrier/sling for XBoy? That’s the one piece of baby equipment that no one should be without.

  13. Ok, give me your gold card and I’ll go do all the shopping for you 😛 I *LOVE* shopping for baby things. Oh, coincidentally, I’m about to have a hell of a lot of free time!

    Also? I am a huge boycotter of BRALSF. I haven’t dealt with their online version – but the store in town frequently annoys me, because they seem to think their stuff is pure spun gold or something.

  14. Just don’t get those cheap target laundry baskets. They’re so flimsy, that the baby will tip over.

  15. OK, I’m coming back in a few months to take notes . . .

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