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Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Where the Baby Sleeps

A large amount of our business is, of course, baby stuff ... gear, clothing, furniture, toys, and other necessities. And this stuff can cost a lot of money! But here's the thing: It doesn't have to!

I titled this post "Where the Baby Sleeps" because not every baby gets his own room. Plenty of babies share with a sibling or room with Mommy and Daddy. Our kids are hybrids of sorts. For the first 8 months they were in our room, then shared a room with a sibling. Right now the two girls share a room, the two youngest boys share a room, and our oldest son has his own room (he's a terrible sleeper and would gleefully keep his sibling awake all night long).

When we were expecting #5 we realized it was time for a bigger living space and built a house with 5 bedrooms, and moved in when the baby was 3 months old. Ahhh... K. was the first baby to get his own room, and with a brand new house to work with I had fun decorating that nursery! I had fun, but I didn't go broke (well, maybe I did after decorating the whole house ... but that one room didn't break the bank!), and you don't have to go broke either.

The crib: I purchased my first crib for $45 at a resale store (Rock-A-Bye, that recently closed in Naples, carried new and resale when they had their location near downtown). That crib lasted through three of my kids and my niece. My second crib, purchased because the first crib was already occupied, was an inexpensive white metal crib, and worked quite well for us. Crib #3, the nursery crib, came from Ditto Kiddo. That beautiful crib was about $900 new, and it was priced at $299 at Ditto Kiddo. The moment that crib came in the front door I knew I was taking it home. It was love at first sight.

The cribs at Ditto Kiddo generally sell for between $60 and $299, depending on the original price and the condition. Currently we have a Ragazzi dark wood crib with a drawer, originally $799, for $199. You can't beat that price for a crib of that quality.

Speaking of quality ... some features to consider in your new crib:

  • hard or soft wood, or metal

  • wood color, or painted

  • hardware ... is it hidden or not, plastic or metal, easy to raise and lower the sides

  • style

  • drop sides ... do you want both sides to drop or just one, or none

  • convertible ... do you need the crib to convert to a toddler bed, or full size bed headboard

Some things we've noticed about cribs over the years:

  • a good crib will last a very long time and stand up through a number of kids

  • hard wood will resist dings, toy banging, teeth, etc.

  • very few people ever use their convertible crib as a toddler bed and we've never heard of anyone who used it as a bed headboard

  • a drawer underneath is great (extra storage is always great) but don't let a toddler stand in the drawer!

  • it isn't necessary to buy the most expensive crib on the market

  • wheels ... they are not recommended because a toddler may be able to find a way to rock the crib and move it across the room, but they are so convenient

  • for grandparents: easy to put together is key!

  • why a crib with drop on both sides: the only time this is necessary is if the crib is meant to be viewed from one end, for example a crib with a picture on one end-piece would be set up in the room a certain way, if it drops on both sides you've got more fliexibility with how the crib is placed

  • if you buy a crib without directions call the company, or check online, to get them

  • tight budget ... forego getting the exact look you want and put your money just into quality
  • most babies are out of the crib between 20 months and their 3rd birthday

This is getting long and there's still so much more to crib talk, but it's time to move on ...

Mattress: The two basic options are foam or innerspring. If your crib has a solid board under the mattress the foam will be fine. If you're using the mattress on a toddler bed you'll probably need the stability of an innerspring. On a basic crib with a springboard you can go either way, consider foam for a grandchild, innerspring if you'd like it to last through a few kids. You DO NOT have to spend hundreds of dollars on a crib mattress. We sell the expensive ones for $29.90 ... WalMart sells them for up to $160 ... if you decide to buy a high quality crib at a specialty boutique (but why would you when you can get the same crib at a fraction of the price at Ditto Kiddo?) do not feel obligated to buy a super expensive mattress from them.

Bedding Set: How much did you pay for the bedding set on your bed? The set you plan to use for years on the bed you sleep in nightly. What about your older kids beds? Ok, so why do we feel it makes sense to pay so much for crib bedding? Let me say this first ... Ditto Kiddo sells incredible bedding sets from $29 to $99, very rarely more than that.

First the nitty-gritty on bedding:

  • the quilt/comforter is not to be used in the crib, most people use it as a wall hanging or floor quilt

  • if a crib bumper is used (gray area ... there are many recommendations to not use bumpers), the bumpers should be removed when the baby is able to pull to standing so he doesn't use it as a step to get out of the crib

  • the sheet should fit well, not be loose under the mattress. If you aren't sure if it's secure enough use sheet or mitten clips to hold it securely

  • diaper stacker ... either you love it or hate it, I loved it and used it for all my kids, others can't see any value to it

  • the mobile should be removed when the baby can pull up on the side of the crib

  • DO NOT buy bedding that isn't machine washable ... what a headache that would be! Along the same lines, an extra sheet or two is very handy and you will use them. Crib bumpers are machine washable, but we recommend not machine drying them

  • When looking at bumpers keep in mind that a firm stiff bumper will hold up better and stay upright better than an understuffed one

  • my thoughts on crib sets on cribs ... the lighter the wood the darker the bedding set if you really want it to pop out, and the darker the wood the lighter the bedding set, of course a light colored set will look great on a light crib but to make both stand out we find that opposites work best

  • no blankets, quilts, pillows in the crib, instead dress baby in a warm enough sleeper

  • on a tight budget, or for a grandparent, you'd be perfectly fine to just buy a crib sheet and mattress pad for the crib

  • when looking at bedding be open-minded regarding gender. Painting a wall, or using a different color sheet can take a crib from boyish to girlish, and vice versa
  • remember that by the time your baby is 8 months old most of the bedding set won't be in his crib ... just the sheet
Now this post is just getting insanely long ...

Changing table - I loved mine, it was the perfect height for changing and gave me shelves for storage. I bought mine used and it lasted 10 years in my house, through 5 babies. I now use a changing table in my sewing room for folded fabric and it works perfectly for that. I've talked to other people who just use a bed to change the baby. My sister had a changing pad in her bathroom counter, up against a mirror ... baby could look at himself in the mirror, it was great.

Rocking chair or glider - I wouldn't have liked to live without it, great place to nurse or rock a baby or for Dad to sleep

I'm giving up on trying to format this post. My apologies! I hope this information is helpful to someone, please feel free to post your input and opinions, or disagree with everything I've said! Or ask a question ... I'll try to answer it, as we do daily at Ditto Kiddo. The more information provided to new and expecting parents the more informed their choices can be.

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