Cribs and other sleeping furniture
You’ll probably want to start with the crib. Current advice holds that you should buy a new crib: older cribs may have small (but crucial) parts missing, or may not conform to current safety standards. The federal Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) regularly recalls cribs whose design or parts might endanger a child, such as leaving too wide a gap between the mattress and the side of the crib (a baby could get stuck and suffocate). You can also sign up for email alerts when a product is recalled. Look for your crib manufacturer to be endorsed by the Juvenile Products Manufacturing Association (JPMA), although JPMA-certified cribs are not guaranteed recall-free.
Crib designs vary widely — although some features, such as fold-down and drop-down side rails, are basing phased out in response to new CPSC guidelines. Some rock; some come on wheels; some convert to a toddler bed for later use. You can also get different woods and wood finishes; different countries of origin; and, of course, different prices. You might want to look at cribs months before the baby is born, to decide what style and price range suits you best. The book Baby Bargains has detailed descriptions of more than a dozen crib manufacturers, including notes about recent recalls.
Overwhelmed? You don’t have to get a crib right away. Some parents make do with a smaller bassinet, a “Moses basket,” or even a play-yard with a bassinet attachment. These items all have smaller weight limits, so you won’t be able to use them past the baby’s first four or five months, but they’re much less expensive alternatives while you scout out cribs. If you’re thinking of co-sleeping, the Arm’s Reach Co-sleeper attaches safely to the side of the bed.
Dressers and changing tables
You’ll probably also want a dresser to store all those baby clothes you’re going to receive. Most people like to order the dresser as a matched set with the crib, but if you’re looking to save money, you can look for an older dresser in a similar finish, perhaps one by the same manufacturer. Many dressers will come with a changing table built in, although you can get a separate changing table with open shelves. Don’t forget that the changing table will require a mattress and its own set of sheets or covers.
Chairs for you and baby
Many new parents also find that a rocking chair is invaluable for baby’s night feedings. “Glider” rocking chairs, usually accompanied by a footstool or ottoman, are more padded (and more expensive) than traditional styles. As with the crib, start looking early so you can test out a few styles before making a commitment. Many furniture stores, by the way, require ordering well in advance, so if you can, place the order for the crib and any matching furniture no more than two months before your due date. A high chair, on the other hand, you won’t be using at first — babies can’t hold their heads up until three months of age or so, and won’t be eating solid foods until five or six months.
There’s one more piece of furniture you might want to consider: a baby bathtub. Bath time can be bliss for infants and their parents — and a specially designed bathtub can make things easier and safer. (Note: no matter how well-designed the bathtub is, do not leave your baby alone in it.) Some baby bathtubs can be folded up when not in use; others, such as the Primo Eurobath, are designed to be placed in regular bathtubs.
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