The best products for new Chicago parents

Choosing the best gear for your new baby can be overwhelming and confusing. And new iterations hit store shelves every year. With some big ticket items that can cost you nearly a month’s rent, anxious expectant parents, of course, want to make the best investments for their new addition!

That is where TheBabyGuy Jamie Grayson comes in.

Grayson is the resident Baby Gear Expert for Bump Club and Beyond. Grayson, who got his start as a certified child passenger safety technician, runs his own site, and travels the country speaking to parents about baby gear. He has developed a cult following on social media, with more than 160,000 engaged Facebook fans.

The bottom line? Grayson really knows his stuff when it comes to baby gear!

We recently sat down with Grayson to get his latest recommendations and advice for expectant and new parents in Chicago.

You’ve met moms and dads all over the country through your travels with Bump Club and Beyond’s national Gearapalooza tour. What kinds of questions do you hear from Chicago parents when they are choosing products for their babies?

I LOVE CHICAGO. Love it. I find the parents here very similar to parents in NYC, but a bit more laid-back. Cars are used more often here than in NYC, so car-friendly strollers are important, as are car seats.

What are your picks for the following major, first-time parent purchases?

  1. Stroller: Check out Baby Jogger, Jané, UPPAbaby, Orbit Baby, Bumbleride. There are tons of strollers out there. The tricky thing is really taking your lifestyle into consideration when purchasing.
  2. Car seat: Look at the Cybex Aton Q, Peg-Pérego Primo Viaggio 4-35, Nuna, Chicco KeyFit 30. All are terrific and have great installation features.
  3. Baby carrier: Beco, Ergobaby, Boba, Líllébaby, Catbird Baby (local to Chicago). Don’t forget that you have to TRY THEM ON!
  4. High chair: Stokke Tripp Trapp, Nuna Zaaz, OXO Tot Sprout, Peg-Pérego.

Favorite splurge item?

I don’t consider it a splurge, but put your money in your car seat. It’s the only item designed to save your kid’s life, and I’m constantly shocked by parents that will pay a thousand bucks for a diaper bag and buy the cheapest car seat possible.

Recommendation for an item that new parents report they can’t live without?

Swaddle blankets. You can never have enough!

What is your favorite gift to give new parents?

Swaddle blankets, skin care, a bath tub, NoseFrida and books. Start the joy of reading early!

Advice for city dwellers for whom space is a big consideration?

Look for products that are multipurpose or collapsible. Boon makes a ton of great items for baby that can easily be used after baby is older.

Must-have product for parents expecting multiples?

Car seats that start at a low birthweight and a great double stroller. One of my

favorite combinations is the Bumbleride Indie Twin with Cybex Aton seats.

You’ve met tens of thousands of expectant parents in your travels across the country. What is the most common question you hear? What is the most common piece of advice you give?

Without a doubt, the majority of people ask me for car seat information. Misuse of car seats in America is around 80 percent, so people constantly have questions about car seat use.

Favorite place to eat when you are in Chicago?

I have a love affair with Chicago-style pizza. Giordano’s. Gino’s East. Lou’s. I love it all. And Glazed And Infused. Because doughnuts are AWESOME.

Need a fix, have a question or want to win prizes? Find Grayson on Twitter

@TheBabyGuyNYC and on Facebook

Fun fact

Why do car seats have an expiration date?

Plastic breaks down over time and by replacing you’re always on top of the latest safety technology in seats, Jamie Grayson tweeted recently.

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