Baby and Toddler Gear

Do today's supermoms actually juggle far more than previous generations did, or does it just seem that way because we have way better gear? Our guess is both. (Batman has his toys, right? And even Superman has his suit and cape.) Here are our picks for where to find the best selections of gear with service help that's equally, you know, super.

Magic Beans
LOCATIONS:
312 Harvard St., Brookline
617-264-2326

The Derby Street Shoppes
94 Derby St., Ste. 155, Hingham
781-749-2321

200 Linden St., Wellesley
781-235-2120
Sure, all the high-end heavyweight status strollers are here: Maclaren singles and doubles (including designer numbers by Kate Spade and Philippe Starck), every Bugaboo model in every color out there, and those monsters of the safety world, Mountain Buggies (including the oft-hard-to-find Urban Triple). But there's also a selection of less expensive, equally go-anywhere, do-anything brands like Baby Jogger, Phil & Teds, and Combi. (Cooler-than-thou imports seekers, take note: The Quinny Buzz and Stokke X are both in stock here.) Overwhelmed by the options? The well-versed staff is terrific at helping to match your needs and budget to a stroller, and at giving hands-on demonstrations so when you walk out with the thing, you actually know what you're doing. MBeans.com

Bambini
82 Boylston St.
Brookline, MA
617-730-4114
Over the course of any kid's life, you could spend umpteen hours and countless dollars buying cribs, toddler beds, bunk beds, and dressers as they continue to grow. Or just as easily, you could simply go to Bambini. The two-story shop is crammed with modular (meaning you can take it apart easily) pieces that morph as junior gets bigger. A crib turns into a big-kid bed, a bed doubles as a desk, a high chair turns into a regular chair. You won't find any bargains in these imported, high-quality furnishings, but then again, everything here is built to last. As in, until they go to college. BambiniDesign.com

Tadpole
37 Clarendon St.
South End, Boston, MA
617-778-1788
These days there are three kinds of diaper bags: the traditional one- or two-pocket that hold just changing essentials; the kind that look great (see ''status bags'') but don't hold much; and the kind that look fantastic but also hold diapers plus everything else we own. Tadpole's selection is all about the latter: the epic mix of Skip Hops (tons of pockets, and the ability to switch from shoulder bags to stroller bags), Diaper Dudes (for dads), Bugaboo bags, and Lexie Barnes's lightweight maximum-space designs in electric prints. ShopTadpole.com

Target
180 Somerville Ave.
Somerville, MA
617-776-4036
The high chair is the workhorse of the household: It has to be solid enough to be climbed and squirmed in for hours, attractive enough that parents can stand to look at it daily, and most importantly, easily wiped down. Even within those parameters, though, one parent's noisemaking cartoon-covered chair is another's annoying headache - which is why, in our minds, the biggest selection makes for the best store. And on that front, Target delivers with everything from budget buys (singing plastic models from Fisher-Price and Graco) and classic designs (toddler restaurant-style chairs) to inventive portables (the Phil & Teds table chair), cool and ultramod designs (Boon Flair Pedestals), and cushy and high-end (Peg Perego's Prima Pappa). Staff knowledge and service isn't particularly dependable, but high chairs aren't rocket science to use; we think it's most important to have plenty of options. And that they're all easily cleaned. Target.com

Isis Maternity
LOCATIONS:
397 Massachusetts Ave., Arlington
781-429-1500

2 Brookline Place, Brookline
781-429-1500

110 Second Ave., Needham
781-429-1500
It may be one of the most natural things in the world, but breast-feeding isn't always the easiest. Thankfully, there exists a mountain of pumps, props, and people out there to assist - and seemingly all of it is found at Isis. There are the basics (cute and - dare we say it - flattering nursing bras and tank tops), the not-so-basics (like Boppies, those round-your-waist cushions that Baby rests on while nursing), the cutting-edge (like some of the best electric pumps you can find outside of a hospital), and the absolutely essential (lanolin products to take the sting out of those first few sore weeks). Meanwhile, there are plenty of books on the subject, plus a team of lactation consultants at the ready should you need help adjusting to the process. IsisMaternity.com