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Baby Furniture: What's Essential?

Decking out a nursery can get pricey, but it doesn’t have to be. This guide tells you what baby furniture is indispensable, and how -- and when -- to shop for discounts.

Baby Nursery Decor: The Dresser and Changing Table continued...

If you need to buy a dresser, Denise and Alan Fields recommend buying one that doubles as a changing table; when your baby is out of diapers, you simply remove the changing attachment. "For most families, a separate changing table is a waste of space," says Alan Fields. "And what are you going to do with it once your baby is out of diapers?"

Whether you buy a stand-alone changing table or a combo, Consumer Reports recommends that you test its stability before you buy by checking the floor model. Make sure it includes safety straps, which should be used every time you change your baby's diapers.

The Floor: An Alternative to Changing Tables

Some parents skip the changing table all together. Florida mother Carissa Lively never got around to buying one because her twin boys arrived more than a month early, so she got in the habit of changing them on the couch using a changing pad or on the bedroom floor.

"They're a year now and so wiggly when I change them -- they're all over the place -- that it seems safest to do it on couch or the floor," she says. In fact, many parents find the floor a safer place for diaper changing.

Buying Baby Furniture: Rocking Chairs and Gliders

Every parent needs a comfortable, convenient spot for late-night feedings and pre-nap snuggles. Many people swear by the glider, a modernized version of the rocking chair that gently glides back and forth. Gliders come in many shapes, sizes, and price points -- you can pay from $200 for a no-frills model to more than $1,500 for a leather ottoman version.

A glider is one nursery item that you can continue to use as your baby gets older -- as a place to read a bedtime story or soothe an ornery toddler -- so it's worth shopping around to find something you really like. The Baby Bargains team recommends that you choose a glider with a locking mechanism to avoid pinched fingers.

San Francisco mother Lauren Cony cautions parents to wait until after the baby arrives to buy a glider, so you can test it out with your baby before you make a purchase. She bought a glider before her son was born, but found she never used it because she couldn't find a comfortable nursing position. Instead, she nurses her baby in an easy chair, and uses a nursing pillow and a nursing stool for support -- a far cheaper alternative. As for the glider, she sold it on Craigslist.

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