Congratulations—you’re going to be a new parent. We’re sure you are tempted to spend whatever it takes to achieve absolute cuteness when furnishing and decorating a nursery. But you don’t have to spend a bundle, and it all doesn’t have to be new.
“Children outgrow furniture almost as fast as they outgrow clothes,” says Sharie Calver, who works at Baby Connection, a purveyor of gently used baby goods in Grants Pass. “Why spend big money on new furniture if you don’t have to? If you’re selective, you can do very well on a budget and no one would guess it.”
There really isn’t any reason to drop a bundle on baby furnishings, agrees Jill Brune, owner of Jack and Jill’s, a Medford baby boutique that specializes in used baby clothes and furnishings.
The most important items in a baby’s room are a crib, a baby monitor, something to change the baby on, and a rocking chair. That’s about it.
Notice that we didn’t say “changing table,” because any flat surface—as long as you have a changing pad—is fine, as long as it’s safe.
First-time parents usually buy a changing table, Calver says. “The second time around they don’t even think about it, because most of the time you don’t use it unless you happen to be in that room.”
A rocker—or a swing—is important, Calver says. “If you want to get some peace and time for yourself, you’ll need a rocker, a swing or both.”
“My first recommendation is to know what you’re looking for and know your price range before you go shopping,” Brune says.
“If you plan in advance, you won’t be as prone to impulse buys,” agrees Brette McWhorter Sember, author of Your "Practical Pregnancy Planner." “Plan out exactly what you need and how much you have to spend on it. Don’t forget you have other expenses during pregnancy to budget for.”
“It’s a waste to buy brand new furniture,” says Krista Watterworth, host of HGTV’s "Bad Bad Bath."
“A lot of people buy new for the first baby, and when the second one comes they see how silly it was,” says Brune.
Watterworth suggests heading to tag sales, garage sales and estate sales for gently used furniture that can be sanded and repainted with non-toxic paint.
Used and vintage stores are also a good option, but Brune offers one caveat: When you’re buying cribs, stick to items five years old or newer. Newer items tend to be safer, and they’re easier to check in case companies have issued recalls.
Like your baby, infant accessories are small, so you need a way to keep track of these bits and pieces. For the smallest items, use a hanging organizer over the door made for shoes. Or try a CD hanger with clear pockets. These will hold the tiniest things, like nail clippers, and you can keep similar items in pockets together.
Keep a bin in the closet to hold outgrown clothing and toys for donation or your next garage sale. Be sure to unpack—or return—your shower gifts right away. Most moms will tell you they have tons of baby stuff they never used.