Expecting a baby? You’ll be giving birth to some major home-decorating costs as well. Estimates are that outfitting a nursery costs anywhere from $2,000 and $6,000, and that’s just the start.

Call it “ringing” up baby.

Americans spend about $27 billion annually on products for newborn to preschool-aged tots, according to industry statistics.
“Babies are big business,” says Alan Fields, co-author of “Baby Bargains: Secrets to Saving 20 percent to 50 percent On Baby Furniture, Equipment, Clothes, Toys, Maternity Wear, and Much, Much More!”

“Magazines, stores and Web sites promote the latest baby gear,” he says. “Parents want the very best for their infants and salespeople know that. The result is a lot of pressure on new moms and dads to overbuy and spend on things they really don’t need.”Like imported Italian cribs. Memory foam mattresses. Cherry wood changing tables. Video monitors. Trendy bedding ensembles. Stylish crib mobiles. Designer area rugs. $1,000 strollers. (Yes, that’s the correct number of zeros.)

Lynne Tapper, professional organizer and co-author of “Baby Daze: The Ultimate Baby Organizer from Applesauce to Zzzzzs,” says trips to baby boutiques can make your heart soar but your wallet cringe.

“Everything is so cute. It’s hard to resist. We learned with our first baby that you don’t have to buy everything,” says Brandt, a West Hartford, Conn., resident. “As soon as the baby comes home from the hospital, you’ll need diapers, clothes and someplace safe for the baby to sleep. The rest of it is optional.”

If you’re designing a nursery on a budget, you’ve got plenty of low-cost choices, according to Fields.

“Babies don’t care if they’re sleeping on designer sheets, and they don’t care if their clothes are in a laundry basket or a designer dresser,” says Fields. “As long as you’ve chosen products that don’t compromise your baby’s safety, the price doesn’t matter.”
Fields warns parents not to use second-hand cribs, no matter how tempting the bargain. Older models may not meet current safety standards, can be missing hardware and can have lead-paint finishes.

“Don’t buy a used crib and don’t take a hand-me-down from a well-meaning friend or neighbor. The risk is not worth it,” says Fields. “And by old, we don’t mean an antique. In just the past several years, millions of cribs have been recalled because of safety hazards.” (The good news is that all new cribs sold in the United States must meet federal safety requirements, which means that whether you buy a $100 crib at IKEA or a $1,000 crib at a specialty boutique, you’ll get a crib that conforms to standards.)
Second-hand dressers, gliders, changing tables and rockers, along with lamps, rugs, mobiles and bedding sets, on the other hand, can be nursery furnishings deals.


These days, thrifty mommies and daddies have discovered the world of baby consignment shopping. National resale chains such as Once Upon a Child and Children’s Orchard specialize in used infant and children’s clothing, furniture, toys and equipment.
Local independent shops offer bargains as well.

Most local shops will set up a wish list for customers and send out an alert if a particular item comes into stock.

Web sites, retailers

Web sites offer nursery item deals as well. At Craigslist.org, visitors click on the “Baby and Kid Stuff” link to browse a changing mix of new and used Juicy Couture diaper bags, Dutailier gliders and Ethan Allen dressers. Ebay features new and used infant furnishings and decor. Kijiji.com offers a search function that allows expectant parents to find used baby items in nearby towns.
Budget-minded parents buying new items can explore Target, IKEA, Walmart, Kmart and other discount retailers for inexpensive baby furniture and decor. Target’s DwellStudio Baby offers hip, yet inexpensive, cribs, changing tables and dressers for $249 each and coordinated sheets, blankets, bumpers priced from $10 to $35. At Ikea, cribs start at $79.99 and crib mattresses at $39.99.

Paint, wall decals
Just as in grown-up spaces, no nursery decor project gives you more effect for your money than painting. Baby room color palates have evolved from pale pinks, blues or yellows to such options as bright citrus shades of lime, tangerine and lemon, sophisticated neutrals and even black and white with pops of red. (Consumer Reports recommends using a low- or zero-VOC paint and painting the nursery at least two months before your baby arrives to allow fumes to subside.)

Wall decals from elephantsonthewall.com, bug-n-blooms.com, dalidecals.com and wallies.com add inexpensive — and removable — accents to infant and toddler rooms.

Baby steps and thinking ahead
Here are a few more tips for saving money on nursery expenses:
• Start with baby steps. Can you repurpose a dresser from somewhere else in the house and add a changing table pad to the top? Paint an old rocker and add a new pillow? Outfit the closet with shelves and baskets instead of springing for an expensive wardrobe? You’ll save money if you do.

• Whatever you purchase, don’t buy everything at once. Your baby will need a crib or bassinet as soon as he or she comes home. A high chair, on the other hand, won’t get used for six months or more.

• As tempting as it is to scoop up piles of cute accessories and toys, try to hold off. New babies mean gifts. Chances are, you’ll receive all sorts of baby gear to mark the happy occasion. To avoid duplicates, sign up for a gift registry.

• Think ahead. That tiny bundle will be a toddler before you know it. Changing stations that convert to dressers or desks, drawer units that become night stands and cribs that convert to toddler beds can save money down the road.

• If you have questions about the safety of any baby product, check the Consumer Product Safety Commission at cpsc.gov. You also can sign up for e-mailed recall and safety news alerts.


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