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10:30 a.m. Saturday: Best Place to Get Baby Gadgets on a Sleep-Deprived Morning 

Rockridge Kids

Nothing makes a couple feel so much like a coupla consumers as when they birth a tiny human animal. Babies have no respect for time, so you won't need a timepiece for the nursery. But you will need all kinds of things most nonparents, the males at least, never knew existed -- bouncy chairs and breast pumps, teething rings and crib bumpers, sippy cups and spitty cloths. It's all a bit daunting, which explains the niche of the baby store. In a neighborhood teeming with babies -- thus baby stores -- Rockridge Kids is a standout. First off, it knows what it isn't -- an impersonal furniture warehouse. You'll have to go elsewhere for cribs and changing tables. But it manages to pack in just about everything else and still leave customers room to walk around. Having expanded gradually into adjoining storefronts, it feels like three smaller stores in one. The first is a bountiful toy shop aimed at young children, with few annoying electronic items. The second room offers a mind-boggling collection of the top strollers, car seats, baby carriers, and glider chairs on the market. The final section is strictly infantile, with all the onesies and sleepers, stimulating crib toys, and mommy's little helpers you'd ever need -- and more than a few things you'll never need, but some relative will probably buy you anyway. Unlike the nightmarish discount outlets where it takes fifteen minutes to get the attention of a clueless teenage clerk, you'll find folks here that can distinguish between a Combi and a Peg Perego, and how to tweak your stroller shade for when little Daniel or Emily (Cali's most popular baby names in 2001) faces the sun. One clerk even does house calls to help parents properly install their car seat. It costs a bit extra, but hey, it ain't nothing like college tuition.


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