Convertible nursery

EVERYBODY SAYS KIDS GROW UP FAST. Now you can buy furniture that will grow with them.
Cribs that convert to beds and changing tables that morph into dressers -- these are some of the trendy items on the market that grow as your child grows.
"Parents who are making an investment in furniture want to choose something they'll be able to use for many years," said Babies 'R' Us spokeswoman Susan McLaughlin, who works at the chain's corporate office in Wayne, N.J.
The Babies 'R' Us 5-in-1 crib by Europa, for example, converts from a crib to a toddler bed; the Storkcraft Deborah Stages Convertible Crib changes from a crib to a full-size bed, and the 3-in-1 Crib by Delta converts from a crib to a toddler bed and then to a love seat.
"The conversion to a love seat allows you to use it even when your kids are grown and out of the house," McLaughlin said.
All three cribs range in price from $200 to $300.
Of course, cribs that change into beds do require new mattresses.
"[If you invest in a] convertible crib, you will need to buy a larger mattress eventually, but you'll still have an attractive headboard that will match your child's other furniture," McLaughlin explained.
And most folks are buying dressers to match their baby's crib, especially dressers that do double duty as changing tables.
The Babies 'R' Us Madison Changing table, Bergamo changing table and Venetian combo, for example, function as changing tables, but once Junior is out of diapers, these stately pieces of furniture make a graceful transition to attractive dressers.
"They feature roomy drawers and cupboard storage on one end," McLaughlin said.
They range in price from about $400 to $550.
Besides furniture that will grow with baby, furniture that can get up and go with baby is also popular.
Popular portables
"Portability is really happening right now," McLaughlin said. "Small bassinets that can fold up are in demand."
The Travel Lite Crib by Graco, which sells for about $80, and the Carry-Me-Near 5-in-1 Sleep System, which sells for about $120, are two bassinets designed with portability in mind.
Graco's Travel Lite Crib sets up and folds up fast, making holidays and overnighters at grandma's house a snap.
The Carry-Me-Near 5-in-1 Sleep System by First Years offers three sleep options -- a portable sleeper, a bassinet and a bedside sleeper -- and also features a changing table and a vibrating play seat with music.
Speaking of seats that vibrate, the portable Papasan Baby chair by Fisher Price is a new item that McLaughlin says is on a parent's wish list.
"It's designed to calm fussy babies and help them sleep," McLaughlin said.
While the chair's soft layers of terry fabric vibrate, cranky wee ones are calmed by eight lulling melodies.
The chair requires C batteries and sells for about $50.
The chair comes in neutral colors designed to match any nursery d & eacute;cor, and nursery d & eacute;cor is a serious affair these days.
"Ten years ago, people weren't as big on themes as they are now," McLaughlin said.
"They'd get hand-me-downs and just sort of throw things together, but now everything has to match right down to the fabric on the glider and the ottoman. Parents want name brands like Eddie Bauer and Wendy Bellissimo. They want to make a fashion statement."
Fun for grandparents
Of course, parents aren't the only ones who are creating designer nurseries.
Grandparents have gotten in on the act, too.
"Grandparents are more active and more involved with grandchildren nowadays. Many of them will turn an extra room in their home into a nursery, and many of them have dispensable incomes and can go hog wild in decorating," McLaughlin said.
Amanda Stanek of Hermitage, who is mom to a 20-month-old, said her mother, Thea Betts of Hartford, falls into this category.
"My mom has a room at her house full of all kinds of baby things and baby furniture. She has more stuff than I do!" Stanek said.
McLaughlin said many grandparents are fond of cutting-edge gadgets such as the nifty new Baby Quiet Sounds monitor that features a television screen.
"They cost about $99 and allow you to hear and see baby every minute," McLaughlin said. "Grandparents like buying items that weren't available to them when they had children. They like all the new options."

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