How to select baby furniture

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baby in a crib
When shopping for baby furniture, get things into perspective

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Select baby furniture with care

You're going to have a baby! Congratulations! And, if this is your first child, we can appreciate your desire to immediately shop for baby furniture; however, we caution you to consider several things before rushing off to showrooms.

Perhaps the most important consideration is the size of your nursery. Measure the space of the entire room; then decide where you'll put each new piece of baby furniture. Keep in mind that you'll need room between pieces for walking and traffic patterns. After all, you'll have to be able to get to the baby! Write down the measurements so that you can use them when you find baby furniture that you like.

Remember that baby furniture showrooms are generally spacious - with high ceilings and no side walls. You have to keep the size and scale of your own room in mind for baby furniture. Furniture that looks great in a showroom might be too large when you get it home.

Now that you have the measurement and know approximately where each piece of furniture will be placed, determine your budget. There's nothing more discouraging than finding a piece of baby furniture you can't afford. Set you budget for baby furniture and don't look at things that would break the bank. While it's a good idea to buy the most expensive baby furniture and best constructed piece of baby furniture that you can afford, you wouldn't want to spend every penny you have available on one piece. And, remember, price does not necessarily equate to the best constructed. Check out all resources, such as the Consumer Safety Commission and Juvenile Products Manufacturers Association (JPMA). Find out if the piece of furniture you are considering has approval from these organizations.

Before you make your final decision on placement and decorating the nursery, get some other ideas from professionals. Most showrooms have set ups of a complete nursery. As you walk through the showrooms, look around. Do you see interesting baby furniture? Can what you're considering be used in the same way? Is the baby furniture placed in an unusual way that would add interest to your space?

If your budget is really limited, it would be wise to consider used baby furniture for pieces other than the crib. It is highly recommended that you buy a new crib—one that meets all safety requirements Be sure to use precaution and examine everything. Here are some tips that would help you in finding the perfect baby furniture for the perfect baby (without compromising your baby's safety as well as your budget).

The first step in choosing used baby furniture is to check the furniture thoroughly. Be sure to check every detail and look for possible missing, loose, broken or improperly installed screws, brackets and other hardware on the baby furniture. Another thing that you should consider is the material that the baby furniture is made of. A few minutes or so of inspection is a wise investment both financially and for the protection of your child.

After checking for obvious visual defects visit the CPSC's website and enter the make and model of the item in their search box, this should bring back any warnings or recall notices.

For many nurseries, the standard rectangular crib is the best. However, there are several really innovative options:

• Convertible cribs convert to a toddler bed when your baby outgrows the crib. Some of them can convert again as the child grows, to a full-size or even a queen-size bed. • Corner cribs are space-saving and work exceptionally well for a small room. They make excellent cribs for twins.. • Round cribs are unusual and attractive. They have no corners and no "short sides". When baby starts pulling up and falling backwards, he won't hit his head on the other side of the crib. Round cribs work best in large nurseries.

The changing table is the next most important piece of baby furniture you're going to buy. Unless, of course, your genius child is potty trained at a remarkable young age!• An open-shelf changing table is the most common type. Its changing surface is on top; the baby lies sideways. There are open shelves underneath to store supplies within easy reach. • A sturdy, waist-high dresser, with a flat top and guardrails, is the second main type of changer. Again, the baby lies sideways. This is very similar to the open-shelf table, except that it includes drawers instead of shelves, for a neater look. It's not just baby furniture – it can double as your child's dresser. • A flip-top baby changing table is a sturdy dresser with a fold-out top which provides a very large changing surface. The baby lies front-to-back, with plenty of open table surface on either side. Even if the baby manages to roll, she does not reach the edge of the furniture, so she does not fall. This is probably the safest and best type of table to use, because it still works well as your baby gets bigger and more active. When your child has outgrown diapers, the fold-out top can be removed, and the dresser used through adulthood.

Use a sturdy contoured changing pad. This pad is soft and comfy for the baby, and the sides curve upward to keep baby in place. You'll want two removable terry-cloth covers, for easy cleaning.

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