Saturday, June 25, 2011

Lessons Learnt from Buying Baby Stuff

Ever since we know that there will be an addition to the family, I've spent A LOT OF TIME (no kidding) doing research on what is out there in the market and best price as well. It's quite an eye opener as I never knew there were so many baby products and brands available. Here's what I learned to date :

1) List down what do you really need at this point in time

I had the privilege of knowing many friends and colleagues who are already mothers. Some of them will tell you all the things you need to buy, but are they really necessary? A lot of products may come about due to convenience, or it is because everyone else is getting it. It also doesn't help if one is overwhelmed by the products being marketed which was obviously not used by our parents.

My initial list was extremely long, partly due to the fact I downloaded the shopping list from some American or European website. Later when we looked through the list and strike off those not relevant to our climate, or we deemed not necessary for now.

A friend of ours was annoyed why we are not planning to get a bottle steriliser, bottle warmer and a baby monitor. I'm holding off the bottle steriliser and bottle warmer for now as I will be taking a short break from work, so most of the time I will be home. I can use the traditional way of using boiling water to sterilise the bottles. As for the baby monitor, it is not necessary as baby will be with us in the same room. In the event if I step out to the kitchen, I can push the cot out to the living room. Again, I'm not saying we will definitely not buy, but will have to monitor the actual situation first before committing to the purchase.

2) Find out best practice or best recommendation from friends/relatives

Again, too many opinions may come about, but no harm to listen to them all and pick and choose what you think is best. I have decided to go to a few selected colleagues and friends for their advice as I think theirs is the most practical. One of them actually had the 'opportunity' to give his feedback on various brands as his wife kept trying new things, so he was able to give me his feedback on more than one brand, for example bottles and breast pump. They went through Avent, MAM and Dr Brown before deciding to go back to Avent.

One classic case was when our well-meaning friend mentioned we need to buy an ear thermometer which costs a couple hundred of Ringgit. My husband immediately shot down the idea by saying "Why do we need an ear thermometer when the normal digital one is sufficient". Our friend scoffed at my husband, "Do you think the baby will lie down nicely for you to take the temperature for even 10 seconds?" I thought about it, and her logic made sense. I went around asking my other colleagues about it, and all of them actually said they use an ear thermometer, but it need not have to be specifically for babies. I relayed my findings to my hubby and asked him to ask his colleagues too. In the end, we concluded that we still need to get an ear thermometer after all, but instead of purchasing, we redeemed it from our credit card points :)

3) Branding - Does it matter?

So many brands to choose from, so much headache!

When we started out with the stroller list, I was so particular about the brands it annoyed my husband to bits. ("Why do we need a stroller that is fully imported from Italy?" He said to my MIL who recommended us to take Peg Perego).

It was good he went out with me to test the strollers as well to see if it is practical or the price was right. It was only after we made our purchase he found out about other local brands such as Sweet Cherry and My Dear, which is far cheaper. My point to him was that even though it is cheaper because it is local product, I still have some doubts on the safety features. Whatever it is I am not going to complain so much when he decides on the car seat, so long it is not too cheap, which defeats the purpose of safety right?

Strollers aside, even buying a breast pump can be a headache. I had sort of made up my mind to buy Philips Avent based on my colleagues' experience and recommendation. Then my MIL - who listens to one shop owner's recommendation - asked me why don't I take Medela? Well, I supposed I can, but I am more comfortable with Avent for now because the recommendation came from people I know, not the shop owner. Even when it comes to bottles, Avent is a more trusted brand as compared to Pureen.

Apart from equipment such as stroller, car seat, breastpump and bottles, I'm not too particular about the brand of other products, especially clothing. Let me share with you my experience at Mothercare. Oh, I love their KLCC shop so much I feel like buying all the baby clothes from there. Again, it will be at a premium. Plus, would baby even care? There are a couple of people I know who only buys from Mothercare or Baby Gap, but I think they are more brand conscious rather than anything else, unless it is from those factory outlets, when I don't mind :)

4) Price, Price, Price

Once we've decided on which product to purchase, the 'fun' part begins - comparing prices!

There are so many places to begin with - departmental stores, specialty shops, online shops, even warehouse sales! I find most specialty shops prices are the most expensive and does not come with special price or packages (except for baby cots). Online stores usually have discounts or special packages to appeal to customers, depending on their needs. Surprisingly, departmental stores are the ones which has the best offers, so do make sure you check their pamphlets or promotions online!

Another place to get great bargains are during warehouse sales or baby fairs. So far we gotten some great deals from the recent Pureen warehouse sale, as well as the Mom & Baby Expo in Midvalley. However, not all warehouse sales equal cheap products. I heard from one friend that the Avent bottles were really cheap during Philips warehouse sale. That was about 2 years ago. I went for the most recent Philips warehouse clearance yesterday and was so disappointed! The Avent products were only at 20% discount, with a few selected products on offer. I bluntly told the sales promoter "You prices are no different than that in a departmental store!" which he sheepishly admitted so.

Case in point relating to above scenario - I was looking for the best price for Philips Avent ISIS On-the-go Breast Pump Set. The retail price is RM429, RM343 with 20% discount in departmental stores or online shops. So far the best option was from MyBBStore, an online shop which provides the set + two 260ml PES bottles + one teether + one diary for RM437.50. It was not my favourite choice yet as I do not need the teether and diary at the moment, and feedback from my friends that Avent PES bottles have the tendency to leak. But it was the best bargain so far.

After the disappointing trip to the Philips warehouse clearance, I surfed the internet for more deals. Turns out Parkson was having their member's day sale, and coincidentally they are having a baby fair too! Guess what, they have a bundled package of the set + four 125ml PP storage/feeding bottles for only RM399. It is even cheaper than buying individually @ 20% discount. Immediately I drove out to 1 Utama Parkson. Luckily there was only one set left, so without a thought I grabbed it, made my purchase and came back a much happier pregnant lady because I got a good deal :)

These are my key learning experience so far. No wonder it is said that being a mother means you will have a steep learning curve, even before baby is born!


Lilium said...

I reckon you should actually get a bottle warmer to warm up expressed milk that you put in the fridge. If your hubby wants to help with night feeding from expressed milk, it will help a lot. Don't need to get an expensive one. I am using one from Mothercare which work absolutely fine although it is cheap (<GBP18) here.

As for the steriliser, if you don't want to buy one, you can use the steamer (if you do own one). I think this was a brilliant idea by a mum friend of mine =)

Glad that you had a ear thermometer now. We also have it and totally agree with your friend that when your baby begins to move, they won't stay still for you to take temperature. So, it's worth getting one.

n i l e e y said...

hi Li Li, thanks for your thoughts on the bottle warmer. Will reconsider after checking the cost. As you can see, a lot of decision is also based on the price and whether if it takes up space or not :)

How do we sterlise using the steamer? I have the 3-layer tray one.

And I do envy you can buy Mothercare coz it's so cheap there! Here it is very expensive :(

Lilium said...

The bottle warmer should be quite small (mine is).

I've checked out the prices in KL on many baby items and almost fainted especially those at Mothercare! It's so damn EXPENSIVE! For 2 pairs of joggers trousers, it costs RM100?!!! I can get 2 pairs from baby GAP at only GBP10!

Christy bought a beaker for was RM40. For the same thing, I got it only at GBP4! You do the math..gosh! And Mothercare products are not the cheapest here all the time. Can get the same thing elsewhere at times like Amazon or Boots (Guardian equivalent) or even at normal local supermarket.

For the steamer 'steriliser', just place all the teats in one tier and bottles (I reckon lay them flat as you placed the bottles on a standing position in a normal sterliser). Then steam as usual 8-10 mins. At least it get 'steamed' and sterilised =)

LittleLamb said...

Hi, I drop by here via HN's blog.
If you are keen to get 2nd hand baby items, I am selling cos my son is grown up now (4yo).

racheljtle@gmail .com