In what was a surprisingly enjoyable experience, Mrs. Blackwell and I went to Babies R Us yesterday. We were guided through this journey by a nice sales girl and baby products expert, who I'll call Roberta. Roberta didn't have any kids of her own, but she does have a niece, which is pretty much the same thing.
To be fair, Roberta was extremely friendly and had excellent product knowledge; she gave me and, to a lesser extent, Mrs. Blackwell an education.
|Not pictured, the much cheaper "Underachiever" model.|
Perhaps the biggest lesson was about car seats – the one item I thought I had a handle on prior to our visit. My hope was that we could buy a car seat that would also serve as a handheld carrier and fix itself into a stroller. These are available, but we were only able to find car seats that would last through the first year. Apparently babies grow a lot during this time and a larger seat becomes necessary.
So fellas, don't be surprised when you buy or register for two car seats, one for the first year and a second to take them through their toddler years. Ultimately, the second seat is the one you'll be dealing/battling with the most and the one you'll want to be the easiest to handle.
And, as coincidence would have it, those seats, strollers, mounts and other paraphernalia that are the "easiest to handle" are often the most expensive.
Which brings me to the biggest takeaway from this experience – guilt. You want your kid(s) to have the best, but how to factor in pragmatism and bargain hunting? It's a delicate balance and I admit to falling into the trap of wanting to spend more to absolve myself of any parental guilt in advance.
|Tap water is for the unloved.|
"Oh, you don't want the $1.50 gallon of specially-formulated baby water? Sir, could you please tell me why you don't love your baby?"
And, let's say you buckle and buy the baby water. What then? When do you make the big switch to Brita or, heaven forbid, tap water? The breast feeding versus formula debate has nothing on this dilemma. Mrs. Blackwell and I have agreed that we'll evaluate products on a case-by-case basis and vet them through our guilt detectors.
To the expectant dads out there who are as clueless as I was (am) about baby stuff, I'd just say, grab these things and try them out as much as you can. Take strollers and car seats off the shelf. Smack them around a bit, bump into things, steer them sharply, test the brakes. Fold them, unfold them, make sure they'll fit into your trunk.
Jump in. Don't be tentative and trust your instincts. Ask questions, because in this situation, there truly are no dumb ones. And bring your wife. Otherwise you might end up buying the baby water.