Tuesday, March 6, 2012

What Not To Buy at the Dollar Store-Part 2:Baby and Toys






Welcome back to another day of 


Where I share with you my experience with products at the dollar store.
There are some definite things to snag and a some items to pass.

If you missed my first post last month, you can start here.
To read yesterday's follow up post you can find part 1 here.

Today we will be strolling the baby aisle and taking a peek at some toys that are worth picking up, and some that are worth passing on.

Pregnancy Tests-Snag it
It's worth mentioning again that the Dollar Store has really accurate pregnancy tests
Several of my readers have told me they saved a lot of money buying these tests
They really are more accurate than some of the brand name tests you can pick up for $15 a piece.
Don't believe me?
Compare them with other brands here


Baby Blankets:Pass
These blankets are made of a very lightweight fleece and are really very small.
They just feel cheap.
Take a 40% off coupon to Joann's and buy a yard of fleece there,
or when my kids were little I could pick up like new blankets at garage sales for $1



Baby clothing:Pass
My dollar store has a whole section with onesies and dresses.
They are so cheap and flimsy and not made of good quality materials
I know our children's consignment shop resells baby onesies that are much heavier and nicer for $1 each
Baby clothes are such a great deal at garage sales or at a thrift shop.
You can pick up such great quality and not spend that much money.
So don't waste your money on these.


Brand name socks: Snag it
I found several 2 packs of Fruit of the Loom socks hanging at our store.
They felt thick and are comparable to what you would buy at a department store.
If you can look past some of the colors that probably don't match anything in anybody's wardrobe,
these are a great buy for little feet.


Mens socks: Pass
Just down the aisle are men's socks.
You can feel the difference in quality.
These wouldn't hold up.
Skip 'em.


Scarves: Pass
Scarves are still very much in style and it seems like you can find them everywhere.
However, pass on these.  
They are so thin.
See them hanging there like little limp noodles.
So not worth it.


Brand name t-shirts: Snag it
Sometimes our store carries brand name t-shirts
The sizes are hard to come by (mostly large kids sizes), but sometimes you get lucky
And if you are making t-shirts for an event, you might get lucky and find them here.


Diaper cream: Snag it
My babies are long past the diaper stage 
(do you hear the hallelujah chorus?!)
But Amy said... 




I buy the diaper cream. It is the same as butt paste, but $1 instead of $6!
It's mom approved, so it's worth a shot!


Spray on Detangler: Snag it
I have a daughter who either has a sensitive head or just likes to scream so loud that the authorities become aware that she's being groomed.
Either way, this stuff seems to help her brush out her hair without too much tugging (and screaming).


Combination Lock-Snag it
When school started this year, my oldest son in middle school needed a lock for his gym locker.
I had no idea the Dollar Store had them.
I ended up spending $7 for a lock when I could have bought the same thing here.
My youngest son loves locks, so anytime he has a dollar to spend, he will buy one.
We have about five or six of these locks and they work great.


Kids purses and backpacks: Pass
I have no idea what this particular fabric is but it is nasty.
There is an aisle that is filled with cheaply made purses and backpacks that is worth passing over.
If you aren't sensing a trend yet, you really should pass on anything that is "fabric" at the dollar store.


Before I get started talking about toys, let me just tell you what my criteria is for a "good" buy for a toy at The Dollar store.
You always have to go into buying toys at the Dollar store with the intention that the toys aren't made to last.
My kids love to spend their chore money at the dollar store and sometimes the toy they buy doesn't even last until we leave the parking lot.

I rarely buy a toy for my kids that isn't going to get played with for at least a dollars worth.
I know a toy is a snag it if the kids are able to play with it and stay occupied with it for more than a half an hour.  Sometimes we get lucky and the toy lasts for several hours worth of play.
The toys also have to not frustrate them when they use it.
Some toys just aren't made well, so they need a lot of adult help getting them to work at all, not to mention to just work properly.
So with that in mind, lets get started down the toy aisle.

Board Games:Pass
This nicest thing about this game is the box.
The game board is made of cereal box cardboard that doesn't lay flat
and the pieces are cheap and don't stack.
I find board games at garage sales for $1 a piece and there is no comparison.
Stay away from board games at the dollar store.


Glow Sticks: Snag
If you have kids, at some point in time they have had a glow stick.
These are a great buy for anytime of the year.
But particularly if you are camping, going to a concert or on Halloween
Kids think they are having fun with glow sticks but for parents it's like a lighted collar on your children (without getting CPS involved), even in the dark.  
It's a win win!


Puzzles-Snag it (cautiously)
I give my snag it seal of approval on puzzles, but only on puzzles under 150 pieces.
There are many big name character puzzles that would cost you much more at the regular store.
I found that anything more than 150 pieces gets flimsy. 
So stay away from the 500 piece puzzles.
Also, the board puzzles made for toddlers should be avoided.
The pieces just don't fit together well and are just plain frustrating.
If it's made by a big name company like Marvel or Disney, snag it, it will make for hours of fun


Magic Kits: Pass
My boys have tried on more than one occasion to buy their magic kits
They are cheap and rarely end up working
Don't waste your money


Fake Mustache: Snag it
If you didn't notice, mustaches are all the rage now.
I could have used these when I made the kids valentines


Kids books: Snag it
I love our library
It's such a great free resource when you have kids.
When I do buy books for the kids, I usually pick them up for a quarter at garage sales, but some of you love the books and the selection at the Dollar store.






Klinkj0806 said... 
I have found great toddler's age books at the Dollar Store! Sesame Street or just plain colors/numbers theme books too!
Here are a few I saw on the shelves at my store.

Kids Workbooks: Snag it
When the kids are little, they like to test out their skills and do worksheets
I bought these to occupy my 6 year old when he sits with us in church



Fuzzy coloring posters: Snag it
I really like these fuzzy posters because
a) kids can't really color outside of the lines
b) they are so much cheaper at the dollar store than at regular stores
c) they provide hours of fun if you have a kid who likes to color

The markers that come with the posters are another issue all together though.
I usually bring one of these posters along with us on a long plane ride,
but I always pack Crayola markers for the kids to use with them.


Stickers: Snag it
Talk about a lot of bang for your buck!
1000 stickers for only $1!  
Sometimes they are hard to get off of the page if you have a very young child
but they are great for pre-schoolers on up and kids will spend hours making up scenes with the stickers.


Balloons: Snag it
My kids love balloons.
These are great for anything from playing balloon volleyball
to making water balloons with.



More balloons: Snag it
These are a new item that I thought I would try.
The pump broke in about 2 seconds of use, but the kit still had 25 balloons with it that provided about 2 hours worth of sibling play time.
The younger kids made snakes, eels, and swords and tried their hand at making puppy dogs and candles too.
They are on their way to some real skills in balloon making.


Glitter Glue: Snag it
Tales of a Trophy WIfe said she buys the glitter glue. 
It's great for projects with kids who want a little sparkle without having the mess of glitter.
Cuz as my husband says, glitter is the herpes of the craft world.


Gazz-it: Snag it
I'm not quite sure how to describe this stuff, but I bought it for my kids to take with them on a plane trip and both of them loved it for several hours.
It molds like play doh, but doesn't get hard.
It's compact, not messy and easy to travel with.
The perfect distraction for long plane or car rides


Beach Pail: Snag it
We live by the beach and spend a lot of our summer there
These buckets are great for hauling shells and sand dollars
but also for digging and making sand castles
I also use them when I am weeding around the yard.


Kites: Pass
Our old neighbor used to buy these by the dozen and never once did we get them to fly in the sky
They take time to put together and once they are together, they are so cheap that they just fall apart the moment they touch the ground.
And they rarely fly.  Such a disappointment


Pool Floats: Snag it
I buy these when I see them and store them away for beach vacations
You have to be mindful of the dimensions but for $1, they are worth packing and hauling with you to your resort and when you are ready to leave, you just leave them there.
If you were to pick this up in the lobby of your hotel it would set you back at least $15!
This particular size is great for wave riding
Nothing says relaxation on vacation like floating like a pool princess


Swim Goggles: Snag it
These big name goggles will set you back at least $10 at the department store
Little kids love the characters on them and they hold up until your child loses them
which, lets be honest, doesn't take long.


Bubble play set: Pass
In my original post I talked about how I stock up on bubbles at the dollar store.
These bubbles however, should be passed up.
They are frustrating to use and never make shaped bubbles
and the bottle of bubbles that comes with the package is so small.
Buy the large pack of bubbles and stay away from these smaller prepackaged sets.


Batteries: Snag it
Kids toys use a lot of batteries.  
While you can expect that these batteries won't last as long as the big name brands, you are paying so much less for them, so I think it's worth it in the end.
That is, if you are using them for kids toys.
There are lots of conflicting reports and studies done on "cheap" batteries, but we use them quite often and find that it's nice to have something on hand if a toy runs out of batteries, than nothing on hand.



So what do you think.
Are these baby and kids items things you have experience with?
Did I miss anything?

Come back tomorrow to take a stroll down the personal and food aisles.
You will be surprised what items are snag its and which ones are a pass!




ps- I'm also in the running for the top 25 creative mom blogs.  
If you would take a minute and vote for me I would appreciate it.

31 comments:

sweetboaterchick said...

I love to get glitter glue at the dollar store. Glitter makes everything better!!
~Carolyn

Loui♥ said...

Hi Rachel!
I am a Gramma..not a young mommy, but in the baby aisle, I do pick up the baby powder.. hubby loves it, and the creamy petroleum jelly..works great on cracked heels.. plus I use it on my hands prior to working outdoors in the yard..
The baby wipes are awful..all plasticy..skip them totally!
totally enjoying this series!!
I do purchase the little gloves and mittens to keep on hand (and in my car for the times I have to pick them up for mommy)for the grands..who seem to be forever losing them!
Also, yes to the Oxy-clean stuff, and the BLEACH! both work wonderfully!
warmest hugs..
Loui♥

labbie1 said...

I am shocked! Really! Great things!

You forgot to mention that if you get the glow bracelets--don't forget to get enough for the adults! They line up for the fun too! :)

Also, the bracelets are good to put in balloons before you blow them up. Makes the balloons light up and light enough that they will float in the hellium balloons too! :)

Those pool goggles are truly a great deal! Last year they had the larger goggles with the nose piece too. Unbelievable--but they sell like wildfire so stock up FAST!

Good to know about the fabric stuff. It will keep me from making a big booboo when I get gifts for babies! The Butt Paste is good to know though!

You have given me some great ideas from presents for the great nieces and great nephews!

Robin said...

Thank you for the consumer report! Love it! :-)

I have shared your "dollar store" posts on my Facebook page twice now.

robin :-)

Cerise said...

I wish I had even think to look for pregnancy tests with my first one. I think I took a dozen tests...just to be sure. I would have saved a fortune.

Karen Brown said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Karen Brown said...

I agree with you on almost everything - the only thing I don't like is the swim goggles. We bought them there a couple of years ago, and the part that was supposed to seal around the eyes ended up being hard plastic instead of foamy. Major disappointment since, of course, we didn't open the package until we were at our destination.

monica. said...

Other things:
fabric paint=pass. It's not puffy enough and doesn't really cost more at joann's or walmart
greeting cards=yes!! although I only buy in emergencies when I didn't make/repurpose one
mini tripod=yes and no. no for using it as is but yes for the little mount part to be put on other things.
baby wash cloths=pass. like you said no fabric! These were the same type fabric but sooo small
baby spoons 12 pk=yes!awesome price, perfect size!

Thanks for your reviews on the stuff I haven't been brave enough to try yet! I almost bought those kites, so I'm glad to know they were crappy!

Bonnie and Trish @ Uncommon said...

Once again, this is super fun! Will have to pay closer attention to some of the things offered at the dollar store!! Thanks for linking up to Uncommon! Bonnie ;)

becca said...

One tip about stickers. Our store has packs that are plastic and kinda of puffed up off the page. This are PERFECT for my 2 year old to play with stickers all by herself. When I get home I cut the sheets in half and then for .50 I have 30 minutes of busyness for my toddler . Toatally worth it.

Jenny said...

We've had the balloon kit for years and the pump still works. We ran out of the long balloons though, LOL!

I agree about the baby clothes and blankets. One thing that I think is a "snag it" item would be the baby washcloths. Of all of the washcloths I've had, those are the best. They are thin, which is great for getting into tiny baby places. They wash up well too.

Also, the glow sticks are awesome. I get them for the kids for 4th of July and New Year's Eve. Last year, my daughter had a Pinkalicious party and I had pink flower wand glow sticks for favors. The perfect $1 favor!

For batteries, we get a big pack at Sam's Club or Costco. They are usually at least 20 cents cheaper per battery.

Great list!

kdavis said...

Have to agree on all of your recommendations! I tended to get a little obsessed when trying to get pregnant and buying the pregnancy tests saved me tons!! And they do work! :)
I have bought some of the scarves though- while they might be shorter I have bought them and sewed them together to make infinity scarves and sometimes its nice to have a thinner scarf as an accent. Same as the blankets sew them together or have used to make toys.

{Hi Sugarplum!} said...

These are great tips...thanks for sharing!!

Bonny said...

I get the floaties there but I usually buy two or three. They easily get holes, butI still spend less than other places.

Goodman Family said...

I totally agree on the pregnancy tests! Over the years, I have saved a ton of money getting mine from the dollar store! And you are totally right...they work better than the more expensive brands!

Roystalaina said...

I just found your blog and LOVE the dollar store posts! I agree and disagree with some, but I am glad to see some here that I had no idea like the Butt Aid..I eye it every time I go, but I am too nervous to try it on my baby..I'm glad someone has tried it and it works..I will now use this instead of continuing to spend on butt paste and desitin!

Also, for the kites, at our Dollar Tree we have the character ones, Little mermaid, spiderman, etc. I get them every year for Easter and they are the exact same ones from Walmart. They work for us for a summer!

df157ff2-663f-11e2-bd9d-000bcdca4d7a said...

beware of brand name stuff at the dollar store. while it might be enticing to buy fruit of the loom, hanes or other brand name products, remember that these can also be imitated. i say this because there are so many dollar stores here in new york city that sells imitation products. so many dollar stores that bootleggers found their way in it.

there are also imitation soap, toothpaste, grooming products, toothbrushes, mouthwash, etc. the only way to tell if they're imitations are by looking closely at stitches. a name brand company would not put their products out there if the stitching is loose, zigzagged, or proportionally different from the others. for household products, just look at the box and see if theres any fading or if it looks like it was copy and pasted and printed (most of the time it is).

Alicia Clark said...

You mentioned anything fabric wasn't a good buy, but you didn't mention those little shorts in the baby aisle. They are great for a little girl who likes to do acrobatics while wearing a dress. The thin material is perfect for that purpose and my daughter has had a few pairs that have withstood many uses and washes over the last three years. I'd say I've gotten my dollar's worth out of them.

Alicia Clark said...

You mentioned anything fabric wasn't a good buy, but you didn't mention those little shorts in the baby aisle. They are great for a little girl who likes to do acrobatics while wearing a dress. The thin material is perfect for that purpose and my daughter has had a few pairs that have withstood many uses and washes over the last three years. I'd say I've gotten my dollar's worth out of them.

Iva Floyd said...

I think I'd pay the extra dollar for bigger and sturdier balloons. Also, I tried to get the water balloons for my kiddos one summer, about over half of them broke :( Maybe it's just our area?

Cassie said...

I LOVE the plastic baby spoons. They are the perfect size! They have a deeper well than some name brand spoons, but are more shallow than other name brands. They are super durable. You get 10 or 12 of them per pack, so if you take one somewhere and lose it or forget it, you're not out much.

Karon Douglas said...

Thank you, very helpful with the fabric items. I agree with all your tips, I shop there quite a bit. The Dollar Tree also offers shopping in quantity on line or inquire in the store for almost everything if you need it for family reunions, big party's, maybe for your favorite donations destination ie battered women shelter

Rosie said...

Hi Rachel!

A note on the batteries- the dollar store in my area sells 2 kinds- alkaline and carbon zinc. The carbon zinc batteries are meant for devices like alarm clocks or remote controls- things that don't "use" a lot of energy all at once and can be dormant for a while. But the alkaline kind are the exact same as what you buy in the store and last just as long as name brand batteries! It was a pain figuring this out myself and it took quite a while but now I know to scope out the battery section and make sure I am looking for alkaline on the battery.

Or you can just go to Ikea and not have to hunt for them :P

Thought you might like this tip!

bb said...

umm..of course the bubbles don't come out shaped. bubbles can only be circles, not squares or rectangles.

kate said...

I beg to differ on the mens socks. I buy them for myself and they last a long time. I still have ones that I bought 3 years ago. And I wear them all the time in the winter so they get a lot of wear.

Michele Clarke said...

The glitter glue was all water and no glue at my store.

Raquel Hull said...

The little plastic army men and cowboys and Indians were a huge hit with my boys when they were younger! Hours of play for buck! You can't beat it..

Raquel Hull said...

The plastic army men, cowboys and Indians were a huge hit when my boys were younger. Hours of play for a buck ya can't beat it!

Raquel Hull said...

The little plastic army men and cowboys and Indians were a huge hit with my boys when they were younger! Hours of play for buck! You can't beat it..

Raquel Hull said...

The little plastic army men and cowboys and Indians were a huge hit with my boys when they were younger! Hours of play for buck! You can't beat it..

Darlene85 said...

I just have to let you know for the detangler - the "as seen on tv" hairbrush DOES work like a miracle. It has uneven bristles in differing lengths. I have two daughters and brushing hair, even with detangler, ends up in tears each night. Found it at a walgreens in the brushes section. Wish I'd known about it years ago.