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Tot Wear and Toys

Thereís a whole new world of outfits and accessories to covet when you have a baby. And even if you donít have a tot and arenít familiar with Baby Bjorns or the latest model of Bugaboo strollers, youíre bound to have a friend expecting, or burping a little one as we speak. A few great local baby shops will help you rise to hip parent status, or even favorite godparent.

Sure, there are the generic baby layettes, gowns and jumpers, but to deck your baby out in the finest, well-made garments that will last several hand-me-down years, look to Murik and Minis.

Murik, a tiny boutique off Union Square, carries Dutch and Scandinavian designer clothing for newborn to fourteen years of age. It is obvious as you browse through these racks that European style begins at birth, given the delicate, detailed, yet sturdy collection of baby clothing. A pretty dress for the darling baby girl would be a hooded ballerina dress with a cream wool sweater top attached to a full skirt in thick rose linen made by Danish brand Okker-Gokker ($92). Cozy cotton pajama jumpers ($34) by Belgium brand Filou and Friends will keep your little pumpkin warm in slumber. For days in the park, a selection of thick soled shoes by Angulus of Denmark and Balducci, miniature in size, but big in baby style, will keep the tyke in step. Murik also carries a small selection of toys by Haba, a German toy company that makes cute and colorful wooden baby toys.

Visit Minis for serious one-stop shopping in modern baby fashion, accessories, and furniture. Almost all of the high cuteness-factor clothing here for newborns up to 8 years of age is designed by owner Anne-Christine Winchell. Her clothing is all manufactured locally and made with natural fibers. Winchellís mix, match and layer concept is very San-Francisco weather focused, allowing you to dress your little one in pieces from one season into another, keeping the clothing light while keeping your toddlers warm. Minis has something for everyone, with a fun, colorful and stylish selection for the boys, like an autumn plaid fleece jacket ($46), as well as sweet girly things, such as ruffled Capri pants in vibrant hues ($28). Beyond the clothing, Minis displays several educational baby toys by Lamaze, and baby gear by Baby Bjorn, the foremost brands in baby carriers and diaper bags. For the heavy-duty baby furniture, Minis showcases highly functional pieces that serve the purpose past one or even two years in your totís life, simplifying your needs and economizing space. Very sturdy specialty European brands include the raved about Bugaboo Frog baby stroller ($729), a sleek, streamlined stroller with a click-in bassinet and car seat adapter, as well as Stokkeís wooden high chair with adjustable seat and steps, which eventually transforms into a regular chair.

But really, baby attire and furniture can only do so much. When it comes to entertaining the baby, itís toys, toys and more toys to the rescue. Ambassador Toys is the absolute place to visit for entertainment value for your baby. Owner Linda Kapnick, was frustrated with the toy market eight years ago while shopping for her own tots at the time. The alternative was to open shop with inspiring and nurturing toys that would teach kids about the world around them. Kapnick has won awards for her influence in the toy industry. We were extremely impressed with her selection of baby toys here, especially the Uncle Goose alphabet blocks in French and in Braille ($32-$36 per set). The selection of edu-toys includes multi-sensory mobiles by Manhattan Toys, and cognitive learning toys by Lamaze. Also, the shop is organized into different continents, displaying the importance of international culture learning and awareness, with language books and cds. Of course, our familiar friends Curious George and Dr. Seuss were nearby, however, the expansive variety of toys with learning value are definitely gaining popularity.

Itís nice to know there are smart, unique and personalized options when shopping for your tots, and how much conscientious buying does contribute to their growth in size and mind.