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Nursery on a Dime

  • Beddy Buy

    "Your crib doesn't have to come from a baby store," says Vera Kressler, a nursery design consultant based in Westchester, NY, and founder of Nursery101.com. You can find one for $100 to $200 at IKEA instead of spending more than $250 at a baby-furniture store. A higher price tag won't buy you a safer crib, just a fancier design. All cribs sold in the U.S. must mee the same safety standards.

    Featured here: Sniglar Crib, $79.99, ikea.com

  • Dress 'Er Up

    Instead of splurging on a $300-plus changing table and dresser combo, for $25 you can attach a contoured changing pad with a safety strap to a dresser you already own (they're widely available at Babies "R" Us and Target). Kessler recommends that before buying any furniture, survey your own home and ask family and friends if they have any items, such as a rocking chair or a glider they're not using, that would work in a nursery. Don't, however, borrow a crib unless you're sure of the brand, date of manufacture, and model number so you can check for recalls with the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, at cpsc.gov.

    Featured here: Target Changing Pad Cover, $19.99, target.com

  • Color Chic

    As tempting as it may be to go all out with a powder-blue teddy-bear theme, you'll be glad later if you keep your nursery decor, including wall, floor, and window treatments, suitable for all ages.

    ConsumerReports.org suggests using a paint hue that your child won't find "babyish" in a few years, such as yellow, lime-green, or lavender for girls, or navy, red, or Kelly green for boys. If you don't know what gender you're having, or a future sibling would have to share the room, go neutral with cream, khaki, or beige, and then accessorize with color depending on the sex.

    Featured here: 4 piece Bedding Bundle Set (bumper pad, fitted sheet, crib skirt, quilt), $99, babylicious.ca

  • Color Chic

    An inexpensive piece of artwork can serve as the room's creative center. Jill Pearson's colorful poster prints are sure to brighten up any nursery. Wallpaper borders and wall decals ($10 to $20) are other inexpensive ways to spruce up plain walls, says Kessler. Or buy a classic children's picture book, such as The Very Hungry Caterpillar or Goodnight Moon, and frame the individual pages.

    Featured here: Jill Pearson's poster print, $15, sophieandspice.com

  • Color Chic:

    Forget pricy wall-to-wall carpeting -- a throw or an area rug (with a nonskid back or secured to the floor with double-sided tape) is a cheaper option. FLOR tiles are adhesive-backed carpet squares that are beyond easy to install, and if there is a spill, you only have to replace one.

    Featured here: FLOR tiles, $14 each ($5.20 per sq. ft.), FLOR.com

  • Sleep Light:

    Don't buy a crib bedding set that includes bumpers and a blanket. The American Academy of Pediatrics says the safest crib is one that has a firm mattress, a snug-fitting mattress pad, a crib sheet -- and nothing else. Pottery Barn Kids offers a wide selection of fitted crib sheets sold individually.

    Featured here: Fitted crib sheets, $16 each, potterybarnkids.com

    There's no reason to buy an extended warranty on your baby's crub mattress or pay extra for a mattress with a warranty. ConsumerReports.org warns that this is just a tactic to get you to spend more. In general, you can expec any firm, quality crib mattress (which costs $90 to $200) to last as long as you're going to use it.

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