Monday, October 15, 2007

Buying Furniture that can Grow with your Child

Shopping for furniture that will last your children past the nursery stage is necessary if you are on any sort of budget. The secret to finding pieces that will work and grow with your child from infant, to toddler, and beyond can be discovered as long as you are willing to take the time to shop smartly to begin with. Know what you want the furniture piece to do for you both initially and down the road. Think broadly, not just for the needs of your child when they are just tiny infants, but also as they become toddlers, even teens.

Oftentimes, the problem many parents face is the allure of ever so cute furniture pieces that are manufactured to appeal to first time parents. Pastel colors, smiling clowns and bears, small, even tiny features that fit what people think of when they think of an infant. Changing, or dressing tables as they are often referred to, that fit the needs of an infant and look adorable are tempting for example, but if the table has no obvious use beyond those very first few months, spending a good portion of your furniture budget on it is not a wise decision. Yet that is exactly what many first time parents do. Sure, by the time a second child rolls around, it might once again come out to be put to use, but then again, by that time, many have decided it is just not worth the short time period it will be put to use, to even warrant it being brought down from the attic it was stored in. When you consider what many of these changing tables cost retail, this is almost a crime!

This is a classic example of a piece of furniture that has been created in hundreds of designs as consumers came to realize that they want more than just a couple of months use out of something as budget hungry as it is. This does not mean that this piece of furniture should not be purchased. What it does mean is that it should be shopped for as wisely as any other major furniture acquisition, such as a dining set or living room couch. Think of it as a piece of furniture that you want to be able to use when your child is an infant, but also down the road a few months, even years.

To accomplish this, consider how various models might be used once the child is past the early diaper stages. Is there storage space below that can be converted to hold clothing or books for example? Would bins you add later fit below, or does it come with secondary storage options that are already in place or that can easily be added. Can the top be exchanged or easily altered for something else, creating a multi purpose piece or are there straps attached making it nearly impossible to use it for anything but its initial purpose.

Cribs are another good example of a large ticket item with often-limited use. If you are planning to have several children, a typical designed crib might get its fair share of use, but what if you only plan to have one or two children, or you have decided that you would rather buy a new crib for each child you add to the family. Then consider a crib that converts to a toddler bed or even into a twin-sized bed that literally grows with your child. These look identical to an average crib, yet once baby has outgrown them, a few simple adjustments to the frame and you quickly have a toddler bed, lower to the floor, sides gone or lowered considerably to work as a toddler sized guard rail, and still able to work with the original crib mattress. Some even go a step further and by adding a conversion kit along with a twin-sized mattress to transform into a bed that can last your child well past infancy into the pre-teen or even early teenage years.

If shopping for furniture for a new baby is in your future, be sure to approach each purchase with a bit of a look into the future, especially if long term use and budget control are part of your shopping strategy.