Save money on baby gear

Consumer Reports News: December 05, 2008 04:26 PM

Your baby will whiz through some baby products in a matter of months unless you buy a version that’s meant to “grow” with your baby. Here are three smart product switches that can stretch your baby-budget because the gear has a lengthy, useful life.

Instead of…
A bouncy seat, which has a typical weight limit of 18 pounds, consider an infant rocker-bouncer,
which is like a bouncer seat, only it rocks. Pricewise, a rocker-bouncer is in the same ballpark as a bouncy seat—around $40—but it can typically be used until your child reaches 40 pounds, which could be until age 3 or so. Tip: Get one that vibrates. You’ll use that mode a lot initially, espe¬cially since a young baby won’t be big enough to actually rock in the rocker. The rocking func¬tion kicks in as your baby becomes a toddler (in no time). Then, she’ll have her own little chair to enjoy.

Instead of…
An infant bath tub that sits in the sink, which you baby will outgrow by about 6 months, when he can sit up, buy a convertible tub,
such as the Fisher-Price Aquarium and Rainforest Bath Centers, The First Year’s Deluxe Newborn to Toddler Tub, and Primo's EuroBath. They’re made to last from newborn to toddler. The Aquarium and Rainforest Bath Centers include a hammock-like padded infant cradle that you take out when your baby can sit up unassisted. The Eurobath is molded to support a baby under both arms; a crotch post keeps babies from slipping forward in the water. With this model, babies can be bathed in a reclining position from birth to 6 months. Then, from 6 to 24 months, they sit upright facing the other direction; the older baby end of the tub has less infrastructure and more wiggle-room.

Keep in mind, though, that a convertible tub probably won't last you as long as manufacturers claim. Using one will probably buy you three more months or so, but not much more.

Instead of…
A high chair with a fixed-height seat, get one that’s height-adjustable.
On a height-adjusting chair, the seat slides along the chair frame, locking into various positions. Settings may range from nearly floor level to standard high-chair level. At the appropriate height, the chair (with the tray removed) can be pushed up to a dining table, converting to a toddler chair once your child is ready to sit at the table with the rest of the family. That’s a good thing because a regular kitchen or dining room chair will likely put your child at chin-level to the table.

See our posts on money-saving toy-shopping tips and ways to save cash on babies' and kids' clothes for related information.

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