Shop Easy

Germs, crowds and colds, Oh MY! It's flu season and it's shopping season. If you have a baby, you are probably acutely aware of these two facts. So how do you keep baby safe while getting all your shopping done?

Shopping with Newborn

When you and your partner agreed to have a baby, the last thing on your mind was probably that your infant's infancy would coincide with Christmas. But for many, that is exactly what happens. For some moms, having a baby near the holidays means getting all the shopping done earlier. Of course, being that the holidays are well underway, it's too late for that this year.

What is a parent to do?

Brave the Amazon

Matthew and Mary Elizabeth Washburn of Memphis, Tennessee, just had a daughter on November 17. They anticipated that it would be too hectic to shop with her after her birth, so rather than drag their baby all over Memphis to search for gifts, they turned to Amazon.com.

"So starting in October, we asked our friends and family to create 'Wish Lists' through Amazon.com, and to populate the list with a variety of things that they had been eying throughout the year. Most people cooperated, and it allowed us to knock out all our holiday shopping in about an hour from the comfort of our couch. Even better, we chose to have the items gift wrapped through Amazon, and were able to have the gifts shipped directly to our parents' houses, which is where we traditionally exchange gifts anyway," Matthew said.

The Washburns might have done this in advance, but it's not too late for you to get in on the action. Amazon guarantees delivery by Christmas with its Free Super Saver Shipping if you purchase by December 17. With other, more expensive, shipping options, you have until December 23. For Hanukkah, you have until December 8 for the Super Saver Shipping, but you can still order with guarranteed delivery by other means through December 18.

Other online sources

Mother of a newborn, Susan Winnington, a graphic designer with the Mid-Atlantic Dairy Association, expects to wrap up her holiday shopping online at stores that have free shipping (hint: sign up for email lists through your favorite stores. They often send out online coupons and free shipping deals via email). "I will not be bringing [my newborn daughter] out into the crowds. There are just too many people, the lines are too long and she's just way too young to be around so many people (i.e. COLDS!) Saving money on Black Friday is just not worth it. ... Hopefully I can find everything I need online this year," said Winnington.

Stick to weekdays

Shopping centers, malls, and stores are noticeably less crowded on Monday through Friday during the day. Since many people are at the office, shopping at these times can mean better service and easier manuevering.

That's what Jill Lewis discovered last year after having a son in mid-September. "Since Chanukah was in early December, he was quite young when I had to do my shopping. I actually found it to be easier because I was on maternity leave and could shop during the weekdays when most people were at work," Lewis said.

Cut back

With the economy on the rocks, jobs in peril and a newborn, another clue is to just send less. No one will fault you for going the fewer better gifts route, especially with a newborn.

"I also cut down on the number of gifts I sent. I just bought gifts for my two nephews and one niece and picked up a few small things for my husband (book, special baseball) whenever I was out. The biggest hassle was the shipping - I didn't have boxes big enough to send some of the gifts, so I had to lug the toys to the UPS store along with my son and pay a ton for the UPS people to box and ship," Lewis said.

Shop safely online

If you decide to shop online, be sure that the retailers you order from are reputable. If you find the perfect gift at a website that seems like it could be too good to be true or unprofessional looking, a quick Google search can help you determine if they are legit. It's worth the time and effort.

If handmade gifts are your interest, be sure to check out Etsy.com.

Shop safely in stores

If you decide to brave shopping in stores, be vigiliant about keeping strangers away from your baby. Everyone might want to touch and hold the newborn, but you have no obligation to say yes. In fact, saying no is a far better idea. Just be polite and explain that baby is very young and you don't want to expose them to anything.

To help keep people at a distance, keep baby in a baby carrier (these often attach to strollers) and put the shade up.

However you decide to shop, enjoy the season and be sure to take lots of pictures of baby 'helping' with shopping.

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