The problem when buying a gift for a baby or toddler is not so much where to begin, but how to stop.

The baby industry, said Brian Green of the tot emporium Great Beginnings, is an industry of excess.

The good thing is everything looks darling small. Even a sheet. And when it comes to clothes, figure that one baby might need six costume changes a day. This season you can't go wrong with bright colors, polka dots, stripes, prints . . . caterpillars are currently in vogue.

"There is a cute factor when dealing with baby items because of their size, color and softness," said Laurie McCartney, founder and CEO of estyle -- the parent company of babystyle.com. And a nostalgia factor: "A lot of these items take us back to our own childhood."

And of course the style factor. "People are always looking for something funky and unique. When lunching with friends, you want your baby draped with the cutest stroller blanket, not something that came out of a three-pack," said Mirav Bradshaw, co-owner of 2 Little Monkeys, whose blankets -- this time around -- include rickrack, pompoms and faux fur trims.

Everyone will go gaga.

-- Janelle Erlichman

Stuffed inside the Fleurville MotherShip diaper bag in pink stripe ($150), available at 2LittleMonkeys.com: Pink Padders ($9.99), at Great Beginnings, 301-417-9702, Gaithersburg. Plush velour and quilted cotton "bebe" blanket in shell pink ($14.99) and Shopping Girl bib ($26 includes burp cloth), at babystyle.com or 877-378-9537. Mustella 2 in 1 hair and body wash ($9.99), MAM pacifer ($4.99 for two) and Sassy Rotation Station rattle ($6.99), at Great Beginnings. Erbaviva baby soap ($13) and Shabby Chic Baby crib sheet with blue polka dots ($80) at Mint Julep's, 202-333-2173, Georgetown. Miracle of Mozart number and shape video ($13.99) and Playtex VentAire bottle ($4.99), at Great Beginnings. Carter's Eric Carle short-all set ($20) and Hungry Caterpillar bib ($10), at Hecht's. Handmade Quilts by Marla ($80), at Salon Bruce Craig 202-362-7823, Chevy Chase; and Briar Rose, 202-337-7673, Georgetown. Andrea's Beau pink felt flower clip ($6.50), at Piccolo Piggies of Georgetown, 202-333-0123, and Why Not Shop, 703-548-4420, Alexandria.

Dinosaur belly bank ($29.99), at Great Beginnings, 301-417-9702, in Gaithersburg,M&M monogrammed stool ($52), at Lemon Twist, 301-656-1357 in Chevy Chase, and 703-524-4680 in Arlington.Blue Moon chenille pillow ($85), at Mint Julep's, 202-333-2173, in Georgetown.My Favorite Rolling Puppy ($28, assembly required), at babystyle.com or 877-378-9537.