Subscribe to Consumer Reports for Baby Stuff?
May 28, 2010 4:13 PM   Subscribe

Is it worth getting a Consumer Reports subscription to research baby stuff?

I'm expecting, and I'm on modified bedrest, so all of my baby shopping/registering needs to be done online. Mr. TEA and I have no prior parenting experience, and we're relying on books, the interwebs, and opinionated friends and family to figure out what we need and what to look for when we pick it out.

I'm thinking of getting a Consumer Reports subscription to help us make sense of the different types of baby items. It seems as though it could be a good resource. However, I subscribed to Consumer Reports: Health a few months ago, and I was really not impressed with the content I saw once I had the subscription. I don't want to get another subscription only to be unimpressed again.

Have you used Consumer Reports for baby stuff? Is it useful? Should I subscribe?

Thanks for your help!
posted by TEA to Shopping (20 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
I am almost positive that the go-to spot for this kind of info is the book Baby Bargains. It was a big help for me, with product ratings and practical advice on what isn't necessary.

Congratulations and good luck to you on your bedrest. I know how tough it can be.
posted by rabidsegue at 4:20 PM on May 28, 2010 [2 favorites]

The best resource I found was the book "Baby Bargains". It sorts through all of the things you need, weeds out the things you don't need and grades the needed items from A-F. I also used consumer reports but it wasn't nearly as helpful. This book was like a baby bible to me since I was clueless.

Sorry about the bedrest but Congratulations!
posted by murrey at 4:22 PM on May 28, 2010

Should have previewed :)
posted by murrey at 4:23 PM on May 28, 2010

I, too, recommend Baby Bargains.
posted by The World Famous at 4:23 PM on May 28, 2010

Call your local library. Many have subscriptions to databases that contain Consumer Reports articles and can be accessed through the library website.
posted by nestor_makhno at 4:24 PM on May 28, 2010 [3 favorites]

In addition to the book, I found the Baby Bargains website and message board to be very helpful both before and after pregnancy. They have updates to the current book edition, and the boards cover everything from car seats to maternity clothes.
posted by jenny76 at 4:37 PM on May 28, 2010 [1 favorite]

Have you considered just subscribing to the Consumer Reports web site? It costs $6/month -- as long as you remember to unsubscribe when you're done -- and you can research all you want.
posted by amtho at 4:44 PM on May 28, 2010 [1 favorite]

Since you're on bedrest, it seems like the cost of the Consumer Reports subscription is probably well worth the value for giving you something interesting and useful to read. Another option which could similarly occupy you (for free) is the Berkeley Parents Network which, though Bay Area-centric, has quite a good archive of baby product recommendations and advice.
posted by gubenuj at 4:59 PM on May 28, 2010

I came here to say that you can likely access this sort of thing through your library's website [depending, there has been a bit of a dustup in the library world w/r/t this lately] and that will also expose you to the other untold joys the library has in store for you. Library.
posted by jessamyn at 5:05 PM on May 28, 2010

Is your local library pretty good? I can get Consumer Reports online for free from my own library's subscription. All I need is my library card number and a PIN they gave me and I can log in from home.

But I agree, this wasn't the best resource for baby stuff.
posted by Knowyournuts at 5:05 PM on May 28, 2010 [2 favorites]

Consumer Reports is sorta useless for baby stuff. Buy Baby Bargains. Don't feel weird that everyone else with the book owns exactly the same baby stuff as you.

Don't buy that Fischer-Price high chair, though. That thing is ugly.
posted by incessant at 5:15 PM on May 28, 2010

I hate CR. I'd suggest Amazon. The reviews for popular big brand products are super helpful. Pay special attention to the negative reviews. All products have 'em, of course, but the sort of complaints a product gets are revealing. I trust the crowd more than a single test agency most of the time.

FWIW, Amazon Prime is a new parent's best friend. Almost everything you need to raise a child can be had on Amazon with free 2-day shipping. Toiletries, OTC medication, clothing, canned food, toys, etc. Decent priced diapers overnighted for $4 or second-day for free? It will cut your midnight diaper rash cream runs by 95%.

You're stuck not moving around a lot and need something to do. But, really, I would't worry too much about buying stuff. Buy what you need as you need it. Aside from a place for it to sleep and something to clothe it in, it won't need much for a good long while.
posted by pjaust at 5:49 PM on May 28, 2010 [1 favorite]

Baby Bargains certainly is a good source. A very active forum that has tons of information on gear can be found at Altdotlife. Given that you're on bedrest, this might also be a great way for you to connect with other pregnant women. The discussion boards are very active and segregated by trimester for some of the pregnancy threads.
posted by otherwordlyglow at 6:57 PM on May 28, 2010

Seconding Baby Bargains. Great, very useful book, and online forums to go with.
If you find that you still need CR, check your local library. At the very least, they should have several years' worth of back issues (and the Buying Guide, which I hate), and they might very well have a subscription to a database you can access from home with your library card.
posted by willpie at 7:59 PM on May 28, 2010

CR is great, but it tends to focus on identifying the one or two best models in any category based on some fairly general criteria, whereas in my experience baby buying is all about figuring out which items fit your particular sort of baby/household/schedule/needs. For the latter kind of specifically tailored recommendations, you'll probably find it more helpful to comb lots of reviews on Amazon or poll the members of a parenting forum.

Also, congratulations!
posted by Bardolph at 8:09 PM on May 28, 2010

This is what libraries are for. They will have the dead tree versions, and they most likely have access to the online version. Love your local library.
posted by caddis at 9:10 PM on May 28, 2010 [1 favorite]

Personally, other than cars (and that alone is a post in itself), I don't think CR offers enough coverage of any given narrow sector for it to be useful if that's the only thing you need to research. It's a great magazine that I've read practically cover to cover my entire life, and the website offers a decent selection of the print content organized so you get the cream of the crop, but I would look at it as a reference library to have on hand more than a tool for a single project.

And, no, I don't think they really cover the baby sector nearly as well as you seem to need.
posted by dhartung at 10:07 PM on May 28, 2010

I recently paid for a web subscription to Consumer Reports specifically for the baby item assessments. I was sorely disappointed; as others have said, they don't cover a very broad range of products. The level of detail in the product discussions is very low. And you can get through the whole baby section in a single afternoon. Don't bother with it.
posted by kitcat at 10:39 PM on May 28, 2010

Response by poster: Thank you all very much for your suggestions, your congratulations, and your bedrest empathy. I was puzzled by amtho's response at first, but then I realized that I had completely forgotten that Consumer Reports was published in print: I had been weighing the idea of getting an online subscription.

i checked my library site last night. They do have a CR subscription, but the search interface isn't terribly intuitive. However, your library recommendations reminded me that I can use my local branch to browse the books that look good online, so I've already requested about 20 titles.

Finally, my copy of Baby Bargains has been ordered and will arrive next week, and I'm digging through the Berkeley Parents Network info now.

Thanks again!
posted by TEA at 10:29 AM on May 29, 2010

nth-ing Your Local Library for CR, but another good resource I've used is Consumer Search. They're a review aggregator, so it includes Consumer Reports if available, but also reviews from Amazon and other stores, magazines or newspapers, and specialty sites. It's good for narrowing down what you want in a specific product, e.g. Strollers. It looks like Baby Bargains reviews are included as well.

Congrats and best wishes!
posted by kyleg at 12:20 PM on May 29, 2010

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