When you find out you are having a baby, one of the first things you discover is how much stuff babies need. Possibly the biggest items that they need are furniture, and it can get very expensive. Before you go and break the bank for your baby, realize that you do not need to spend as much as you might think on furniture.
First- Decide what you really need!
While the salesman at the baby store is going to tell you that you need a crib, a changing table, a bassinet, a dresser, an armoire, and a rocking chair, you may find that not all of these things are really necessary. Assess the space that you have to work with, and the amount of money that you want to spend, and then decide on what you really need.
The only thing that every nursery absolutely needs is a crib. Pretty much everything else in the room is negotiable. For instance, let’s consider the concept of the changing table. Do you think that having a changing table will make your life significantly easier? Could you possibly purchase a crib that doubles as a changing area on top? Would you be happy with a combination dresser and changing table to save space? Most moms find that changing tables are really only efficient when the baby is really small, anyway. After that, it just seems more convenient to change the baby on a clean blanket spread out on a bed or on the floor.
Then, there is the whole concept of clothing storage. Before you decide that you need a dresser and an armoire, and before deciding on what size, think about the room you have. Obviously the baby will have clothes and you will need somewhere to put them, but what is going to work best. If the closet in the baby’s room will suffice to hang clothes up, then you don’t need an armoire; a dresser will be plenty. Also, consider that baby’s clothes are not full length. Sometimes, modifying the storage space in an existing closet is a better use of space and more cost-effective. For instance, you could install a lower bar to hang clothing, a few shelves for baby linens, and then some drawers or hanging baskets for baby clothes. You may find this more efficient than a dresser, but obviously, it is best to consider your own set-up carefully.
As for a rocking chair (or chair of any kind for that matter), it may be a good idea to wait and see what your baby prefers. It is very common for mothers-to-be to purchase a rocking chair and then find that sitting down with the baby is not at all soothing to that particular baby. Some babies prefer to be walked around; some babies prefer lying down next to mommy. You may even find that sitting up in a rocking chair is not the best for you nursing. Sometimes, lying down on the bed with the baby can be a better. For how much space a rocking chair takes up, it can be better to wait until after the baby is born to see if you really need it.
Is it best to buy in sets or separate?
Once you have assessed what items you want to purchase for your baby’s room, it will be easier to make this decision. Most sets that are purchased as a package (not as individual items) come with a crib, a dresser, and a changing table. If you do decide that you want all three of these items, it may be a good value to shop for them in a set.
However, if you decide that you really only need a crib and a dresser, you are probably better off buying each item separately. The benefit to buying in a set is that all of the items will match perfectly. The downside is that you may be spending more for that perfect matching, and you may compromise features that you really wanted in one product, say the number of drawers on the dresser, because the perfect crib you want comes in a set with a dresser that is not exactly what you were hoping for.
Consider buying second hand- especially if you are on a budget!
When it comes to buying the big items, such as the crib and dresser, consider buying second hand. Believe it or not, you will find a lot of really good quality stuff out there in newspapers, online at sites like craigslist, and at garage sales. Sometimes, the stuff is practically new! Some parents let their baby sleep in their bed so much (which, by the way, is not recommended, but that’s another story) that the crib has barely been used. Other times you will find that the grandparents had a crib at their house that rarely got used. There are good deals out there, and they are worth finding, especially since a brand new crib can run a few hundred dollars, whereas you can probably nab one at a garage sale for less than $100.
Even if you wouldn’t normally buy furniture at these places, consider cheaper stores!
Maybe you would never buy any furniture for your living room at somewhere like Target, Walmart, or Ikea, but the furniture in your living room is probably going to last a lot longer. It is wonderful to invest in a coffee table or bookshelf that will last 20 years; it is silly and unnecessary to spend the extra money for a changing table that will last 20 years. Even if you will use the nursery furniture through numerous children, it will not need to last forever. After all, babies grow up a lot faster than we realize. Before you know it, your little one will be climbing out of his crib on a regular basis, and you will realize that it’s time to go spend another few hundred dollars- this time on a big kid bed!
Walmart actually has some great deals on baby furniture, and the quality is not bad either! Depending on how big the store in your area is, you may find that the online site has more options, but I highly recommend you at least take a look. You will find the same variety, if not better, as Babies R Us, at about half the price.