With a little savvy shopping, you can set up a nursery without sacrificing your baby’s college fund. The key is to avoid overspending—don’t buy items you don’t need, says South Salem mom of three Julie McCaffrey, founder of BabyNav Baby Planners, a baby-planning business serving Westchester, New York City, and Connecticut. “Be sure that every item you purchase for your baby is an item you will use,” she says. “Don’t be tempted to choose unnecessary baby gear just because you like the way it looks.” Instead, she advises, focus on items that are multi-functional, are created to grow with your baby, and fit into the design aesthetic of the family home.
Pricey cribs are the first thing to forgo, McCaffrey says, because “all new cribs, not just expensive ones, must meet the same government safety standards. Simply look for a crib that is sturdy and works with the design of your nursery.” And those trendy crib blankets and matching bumpers? Skip them, too. “Large bedding sets are a safety risk to babies, so you only need to purchase a few fitted sheets for your crib,” says McCaffrey. (Your wallet will thank you later.)
You can also do without a changing table, says Cori Estrow, an owner and interior designer with Country Willow Kids & Baby, whose annual up-to-40-percent-off winter clearance sale is a mecca for expectant parents. Instead, opt for a dresser-and-changing-station combo, she advises. “When your kids are out of diapers, the changing station comes off the top, and the kids can use the dresser until they go to college,” Estrow says.
Once you’ve compiled your list of can’t-live-without nursery items, check out kids’ consignment sales and shops [see Conquering Consignment] like Affordables, where cribs, mattresses, dressers, high chairs, bedding, and other baby must-haves sell at less than half regular retail prices. “A gently used Stokke crib that might retail for $1,000 will be only $400 here, and most other cribs we sell are less than $200,” says Affordables co-owner Jean Greenberg.
Crib & Teen City is another favorite for frugal parents. The Hartsdale location stocks a wide variety of nursery furniture from top brands like Munire Furniture and Young America at anti-sticker-shock prices (convertible cribs start as low as $350).
Smart shoppers can even score bargains at baby boutiques in the county’s toniest towns. Hit the seasonal floor-model sales at Always the Children in Chappaqua to nab furniture at up to 70 percent off retail: an $1,100 bookcase with shelving and large drawer bins recently sold for $438. Check out its clearance rack, too, for deals on clothing and baby merchandise. And if you just can’t resist the fancy crib bedding, Armonk’s CiCi Crib hosts display bedding sales in January and August, when display pieces are 40 percent off. The store also has an in-house workroom that can custom-make more affordable versions of celeb-touted high-end bedding lines.
And, while it may seem counterintuitive, hiring a designer to help furnish your nursery may actually help you save money. “Most families that hire me aren’t wealthy,” says mom of three Sigal Hurvitz Bin, founder of Formative Designs, LLC in Scarsdale. “They are people like you and me, who are seeking professional advice and don’t have the time or money to continuously redo rooms.” Designers, she explains, have the expertise to properly design a room, can quickly and stylishly pull it together—and can pass on their discounts (usually 10 percent or more on purchases).
10 Main St, Dobbs Ferry
Always the Children
14 S Greeley Ave, Chappaqua (914) 238-7500
BabyNav Baby Planners
409 Main St, Armonk
Kids & baby
230 Rte 117 ByPass Rd
Crib & Teen City
183 S Central Ave, Hartsdale
Formative Designs, LLC