How to Build Baby's Room on a Budget
We've all heard the scary stats about how much it costs to raise a baby today (about $15,000 a year!)—but don't cancel the college fund just yet. The nursery doesn't have to be a major budget buster and we'll show you how right here.
Choose What Counts
You need: a crib, dresser, and rocking chair or glider. Nice-to-haves: a changing table. Not needed: fancy decorations. Your baby won’t notice them. These are just for you and if you’re tight on cash, now is not the time to spend a lot of money on design.
Oldies But Goodies
Garage sales, secondhand stores, Craigslist, or eBay are excellent sources for gently used rocking chairs, changing tables, or other staples. Better yet, borrow from a friend. But be careful of used cribs. Drop-sided models are no longer approved by the CPSC.
Timing is Everything
Give yourself enough time to shop the sales. If you start gathering nursery gear early in your pregnancy, you’ll have several months to look for good deals on everything from bed linens to lamps.
If you prefer a place to keep the diapers, a changing table is the easiest piece to repurpose cheaply. “We took an old dresser, repainted it, and put railing trim around the top,” says Sharon, mom of two in New York. “We changed the hardware … and added a cushion.”
Word of Mouth
Sign up for email newsletters of your favorite stores, shopping sites, and coupon websites. That way you’ll know when the best deals are available. Also ask friends how they scored their best baby gear deals.
The cheapest way to make a major impact is with paint. For maximum impact, pick a two-color theme for your nursery. Use your primary color for the walls and the other for trim. For a big splash, paint one wall with chalkboard paint.
Pick one statement item for your nursery that can grow with your child. Stencils or wall stickers will work. Or try a big rug with a bright pattern. Even heirloom accessories look adorable on display. Just don’t go overboard with too many pieces!
Pick It Out
Add decorative items to your shower registry. But once you have a color scheme, be ruthless in your selection of only things that come in those two colors. A strategically chosen rug or stuffed animal will bring the room together beautifully.
Buy several colorful, inexpensive frames and fill them with colorful wrapping paper or pages from an old illustrated children’s book. Display a series of three, four, or six in total, depending on the size of your wall.
Custom curtains can be a major expense. Instead, opt for roll-up shades which don’t need to be custom fitted but block out the sun for naptime. Or make your own shades using fabric (or sheets) and attach another layer of fabric for backing.
Buy a new lampshade for an old lamp. Instant update! And install a dimmer switch for Baby’s overhead light—it costs a couple of dollars and makes all the difference when you’re fumbling around at 2 AM.
Don’t buy a bassinet or any type of warmer, whether it’s for bottles or wipes. The bassinet is an expensive item you’ll only use for a short amount of time. Many strollers come with bassinets these days so either use that or simply put the baby in his crib.
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