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Great Expectations: What to consider when choosing baby gear to fit your family and budget

From strollers to bassinets to monitors, 3News' Sara Shookman breaks down how to decide what's right for your family and your budget.

In our new "Great Expectations" series, we're exploring a range of topics relating to pregnancy, motherhood and childcare, and we're starting at a place that can cause a lot of confusion and stress - baby gear!

As any new parent or grandparent knows, trying to figure out what you need for baby can be a little bit overwhelming. That's something 3News' Sara Shookman has experienced firsthand, as she and her husband Angelo prepare to welcome their first child this spring. With so many options out there, and with safety concerns and budgets in mind, it can be hard to know where to start.

So, we turned to the experts at Buy Buy Baby in Warrensville Heights, and local parenting expert Kimmie Johnson for some help.

As Buy Buy Baby rep, Amy Lipe told us, parents come in with many questions and concerns. "How do I know which one is right for me? What are the safest? What are the best price points," are some she hears regularly.

Kimmie and her team at the Peace of Mind Project know these concerns as well, and providing that support for expectant parents is what they're all about.

So, with the right team in place to help, we started our shopping journey with a few of the biggest categories first- strollers and car seats. These items can eat up a big portion of your budget, but luckily, there are a range of options that should fit your needs.

Kimmie's advice? Start by picking either your stroller or your car seat first, and since these items often work together, then backing into the choice that's compatible. 

One of the most popular and budget friendly buys? The Chicco Bravo stroller, which actually comes with the Chicco Keyfit 30 car seat. There are a range of options in this line, but you can expect to spend about $299.99-$499.99.

You can purchase additional car seat bases separately for multiple cars, but one benefit of this system is all of the extra features included - like the parent console and snack try. 

If you're looking for versatility, Kimmie suggests the Uppababy Vista system. 

"This one is on the higher end of the price point but you have to kind of view it as an investment for your family," she told Sara.

This particular system comes with the stroller, toddler seat and an infant bassinet. And, it can grow with your family - with 16 different possible configurations that can accommodate pushing two children at a time. 

But keep in mind, it's an expensive system, that ranges from $929.99-$969.99, and extras must be purchased separately - including the compatible Mesa car seat. But, like many things, you get what you pay for. 

"This one you can even just push with one hand. It's a really really great system," Kimmie said. 

Next on our list - bassinets. This is one of the most important categories, as you consider safe sleep spaces for your child. Infants typically use a bassinet before moving into a crib, up until they're around 20-30 lbs.

It's a category that is exploding with new technology thanks in part to the very buzzy Snoo Smart Sleeper bassinet that says it can boost a baby’s sleep by combining rocking motions with white noise and a built-in swaddle. Sounds great, right? Well, it will cost you - about $1295.99 to be exact.

Buy Buy Baby doesn't sell the Snoo, but we did notice a similar brand-new option they do carry - the 4moms Mamaroo Sleep bassinet, which offers 5 motions, vibration and sound, all bluetooth enabled for $329.99.

Kimmie told us the Halo Bassinest is a more tradtional choice, but still offers some techy features and a unique range of motion. You can even pull it up and over your mattress for easy access to your baby, all for $279.99.

Another great option that might be a little easier on your budget? The Baby Delight Beside Me Dreamer, which sells for $199.99. One feature that all of these choices have in common? Mesh sides. "Which is great for breathability and just for air flow for a baby," Kimmie said.

How about keeping an eye on baby from another room? Monitors were next on our list. This is another category that has changed greatly in recent years thanks to new technology.

For example? The Owlet smart sock, which can track your baby's pulse and oxygen rates. But Kimmie cautions that for some parents, that can be too much. 

"You have to know what kind of parent you are if you want all of the information, and that's going to give you a peace of mind, this is definitely something to consider, " she said. 

"If you're on the other end where maybe this information might feel a little stressful then maybe you don't want to consider this one."

Luckily, there are a range of options to fit every need. If you're interested in a WiFi enabled video monitor, Kimmie suggests checking out the $199.99 VTech VM981.

"It is fantastic for those parents that want to keep an eye on little one while they're either away at work or you know just want to be able to view it from their smartphone," she explained.

Some parents may want to opt out of a WiFi enabled monitor for security reasons, so Kimmie reccomends checking out the Summer Infant Baby Pixel model.

One more pro tip from Kimmie in this category? Keep in mind the ability to add extra cameras. "If you intend to have additional babies or if you just want to have you know additional cameras strand that's something to consider too and you probably want to go ahead and register for those now."

Our final stop on our shopping trip took us to the bottle aisle - something that almost all babies will need, no matter if they're breastfed or formula fed. 

Kimmie loves a new brand to hit the market - comotomo. These bottles are made of natural silicone.  

"This whole bottle is intended to mimic the breasts so in a sense it can really help babies transfer from bottle to breast very easily." Kimmie said.

 A set of two will set you back around $23.99.

Kimmie also recommends Phillips Avent bottles for performance at a lower price point. 

Just remember - babies can be particular about certain items like bottles and diapers and sometimes you may need to try more than one brand to find the best fit. 

With so many options, and perhaps a need for plan B or plan C…a free registry can help you keep track of what you’ve got – and give you discounts, too.

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