1. Do double duty. Buy a playpen with a bassinet feature for two products in one: a place for your baby to sleep in the early weeks and a play space for later. Some playpen/bassinets even convert into a diaper-changing station.
2. Consider a co-sleeper. Instead of a bassinet, try a product like the Arm's Reach co-sleeper (well priced at around $150), which attaches to your bedside for nursing and comforting convenience.
3. Skip the soft bedding. Bassinets are often displayed in stores with yards of lace and eyelet or fancy quilts and blankets, all of which can add $100 or more to the price -- and are a major safety hazard.
4. Nix the extras. Battery-operated motors that rock the bassinet, storage baskets, and fancy, decorated hoods are pricey features you just don't need.
5. Stick with the crib. A bassinet is a great convenience, but it's not always necessary. Babies can sleep in a crib from the moment they are born.
Alan and Denise Fields are coauthors of the books Baby Bargains, Toddler Bargains, and Baby 411 (Windsor Peak Press; www.babybargainsbook.com).