baby gear

Pick up any baby catalog and the number of baby “essentials” is staggering. The good news is that your little one only needs a few items to get through the first few years. You don’t have to spend a fortune on decorating, either. With a few creative ideas put into action, you can give your nursery a magazine-worthy look.

The following is a list of essential pieces for your new baby:

Diaper Changing Station

If your crib doesn’t come with a diaper changing station, you can purchase a diaper changing table that serves double duty for storage with shelves underneath. A dresser with a flat top can also serve as a station by adding a comfy diaper changing pad. These stations can save your back from the constant lifting of a growing baby.

You can make the furniture your own by painting it a color matching the room or applying a distinctive wallpaper print to the outside of a dresser.

Combination Crib

Combination cribs are popular, but not all models convert into a full-size bed later. These cribs have the bonus of drawers for storage either underneath the crib or attached to the side and may include a diaper changing station. Since the AAP doesn’t recommend bumper pads in the crib, consider splurging on sheets and diaper changing covers in various designs to bolster your theme.

Simple Crib or Convertible Crib

When your baby is old enough, you will need to introduce the crib. You can purchase a simple design at most brick and mortar retail baby stores or invest in a wooden heirloom piece that will last a few generations.

To save money well into the future, many parents consider a convertible crib. These cribs grow with your child, converting from a crib to a toddler bed to a daybed or a full-size bed.

If you choose a convertible crib, you will need to purchase the side rails and attachments now, if not included. Your particular model may discontinue by the time your little one becomes a toddler.

High Chair

Your baby is going to need a safe place to eat as they grow and try new foods. A chair for you is fine when you are nursing or bottle feeding, but the baby should sit upright as you introduce solids, usually between the ages of four to six months.

A high chair can work for your child for a few years, especially if you choose a model that grows with him or her. Some high chairs work as booster seats without the tray later.

Portable Play Yard

A portable play yard can provide your baby with a safe place to play or sleep while you do other tasks. They fold down nicely for trips to the grandparents’ home and most come with a small bassinet to for smaller babies. Specific models also include a portable bassinet and a removable diaper changing table. You can move the play yard from the nursery to the living room to the patio when you want.

Although these pieces tend to eventually stretch out and not last as long as other baby furniture, the convenience factor and inexpensiveness more than make up for its shorter longevity. Portable play yards come in a wide range of colors and features.

Saving Money While Raising Children

You can purchase baby furniture at thrift stores or consignment sales if money is tight. Look for wooden pieces as they tend to be safer and you can always refurbish. Check manufacturer websites for recalls on any plastic baby furniture before purchasing.

If your nursery revolves around a theme, look for unique pieces you can add, such as small chandeliers or second-hand lamps for those nighttime feedings. Easy-to-remove wallpaper can change the look of a room in no time as your little one grows. If you possess a crafty nature, you can design and create your baby’s mobile and other decorations by visiting craft and hobby stores for ideas.

Keep an eye out for baby furniture that serves multiple purposes or will last through several babies. Make your baby’s nursery a reflection of your personal parenting style.

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