You can't walk through a department store without noticing all the wonderful things parents-to-be "must" have before the new baby arrives. Movie stars' nurseries are displayed in magazines for all to see and you're wondering how you'll be able to afford an adorable baby's room for your little one. Layettes are custom-made and walls are painted with one-of-a-kind murals. The list of must-haves is endless, from clothes and furniture to accessories and toys. It's enough to break any budget.
We're here to tell you to resist the temptation to buy your baby everything brand-new. Most things will be used for a very short time. Save your money for things that will last longer, and use your personal talents to create a one-of-a-kind nursery for your little one.
There are ways to find everything you'll really need, and some of the things you really want, and still have money left over. You'll have fun in the process and feel good about being sensible. You really can furnish a beautiful baby's room on a small budget.
Above all, think safety
Though you don't need to do everything before the baby arrives, it's a good idea to have a list of safety issues that need to be addressed when you get your baby gear. Baby product expert Heather Corley offers great tips on buying baby cribs, baby strollers, high ch airs, and car seats. Whether you buy the most expensive products or borrow from friends, you should not ignore current safety regulations. Older items, whether borrowed or picked up at garage sales, might not meet current safety standards. They are no bargain. Pass them up and find items that are safe for your little one.
The best way to save money on nursery furnishings is to accept gifts from other new mothers. Many parents are happy to pass along things their baby has outgrown or doesn't need anymore. If you have a friend or relative with a baby 3 to 6 months older than yours, they are the perfect person to ask. Their hand-me-downs will be up to date and their child will have no use for many items anymore. For example, an infant bassinette or cradle is only useful for about 3 months. After that, their baby will be in a crib.
If things are not offered as gifts, ask to borrow the main items you'll need. You might have a friend with a 3-year-old who doesn't need the crib anymore. They'll be particularly happy to have you store the crib for a few years or until they need it again.
Lots of people have baby items they just don't know how to get rid of. They might not be ready to totally give them away or they might think they'll use the items again. Maybe they don't want to go to the trouble of having a garage sale. Tell them you'll be able to make good use of them and ask them to pass the items your way.
Garage sales, flea markets, and consignment stores are a great place to buy slightly-used pieces. You'll be able to save a lot of money over new retail and maybe even have higher quality than you'd get otherwise. You can often negotiate prices to fit into your budget, and because most people do buy new baby items, they're often barely used and near-new. Remember to look for clean, practical clothes and toys.
Don't just look at baby items though. You might see a great chest of drawers or an antique rocking chair that would be perfect for the nursery. Look at the basic structure and stability of the piece. You can always refinish or paint it to go in your particular space.
Set a Budget and Stick to It
Be realistic and decide what you really need. It's fun to shop for all those adorable toys and gadgets, but you really won't need most of the stuff. If you are committed to a budget, you'll be able to resist buying every little thing on the store shelves. Check out our list of basic baby product needs.
Make Choices for Now and Later
It's really fun to plan a new baby's nursery, but it's a good idea to think long-term. As you plan the color scheme for your baby's nursery, resist the temptation to do traditional baby pink or blue. Choose a color scheme that will last at least five years through your baby's early years. Soft yellow, soft green, and sky blue can span the years well.
You can hang a darling wallpaper border of cute teddies or baby animals that can easily be removed when your child is ready for a more grown-up decorating scheme.
Do It Yourself
A baby will not judge your talent, so the nursery is a perfect place to build your painting, basic woodworking, and sewing skills. Be creative! Be different! You'll save tons of money and may even discover some hidden talents.
Paint your hand-me-down furniture in fun colors and try hand-painted designs. Paint patterns on the wall or on furniture with stencils. Browse these theme ideas for baby girls or baby boys rooms for ideas.
Sew the window treatments, crib skirt, chair cover, and baby blankets. Use scrap pieces of wood, sanded and painted, for wall shelves. Look at pictures and see what you can do for yourself. You'll be amazed.
During the first few years of a baby's life, you don't really need a swing, Johnny Jump-Up, buggy, stroller, walker, jogger, bassinette, cradle, crib, travel crib, playpen, car seat, carrier, and doubles of everything for grandma's and grandpa's house. You'll use each thing very rarely and then have to store it when the baby grows out of it. Decide what pieces are essential now. Your home will be neater and your life simpler.