Who Needs a Crib? The Nursery, Montessori Style

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image via Montessori for Everyone

Want to save a quick $100 or more on your nursery? Do your tot’s room up Montessori style and skip the crib and toddler bed completely.

Many assume that a crib is a baby “must-have”, but it’s not. What you really must have is a safe place for your baby to sleep. Montessori-style nurseries often forgo the crib in favor of a Montessori child bed– a mattress or pad on the floor, since in the Montessori way of thinking, a crib is not an “inspiring’ place for a baby. The idea is that with just a crib mattress or pad on the floor in a baby-proofed room, babies are free to explore their environment at will. This helps babies develop motor and cognitive skills.

If you’re familiar with Montessori education, you may have already known about Montessori infant rooms. I learned about them recently after seeing a post at the BlogHer website about why blogger Tara (of Tall Tara) and her family had decided not to use a crib. I read more about the idea at these sites (Google Montessori low bed to find more articles):

This is an idea that really intrigues me from a child-rearing perspective in addition to a money-saving one. I like the outside-the-box thinking. I think I could do it.

What about you? Have you tried a no-crib nursery? Do you think you could?

What other pluses and minuses do you see with this idea?

Which Crib Sheets are the Best Bargain?

There are lots of crib sheets out there, but which give you the most for your money? It’s so frustrating to try to put on a shrunken crib sheet in the middle of the night! And finding that your $20 crib sheets are coming apart at the seams after only a couple of washes is no fun, either.

The following sheets get top marks in both price and quality from parents and reviewers alike:

Carter’s Easy Fit crib sheets come in jersey knit, sateen, velour, and print versions that list for $12 to $18. The Jersey and Velour versions seem to get the best ratings from shoppers. By the way, Carters bedding (along with some of the Disney Baby sheets and a few other brands) is actually made by Kids Line.

American Baby crib sheets also get high ratings. They come in jersey, organic cotton, percale, chenille, velour and flannel versions. The jersey sheets are a good value at under $9. The organic cotton sheets list for around $15 to $19. You should be able to find them on sale for $13 or less. The chenille sheets get really high ratings. They list for around $26, but you can find them on sale for $17 or $18.

Store brands can also offer savings. Target’s Circo knit sheets are a good buy at about $10. They get much better ratings than the Circo percale sheets. Readers also tell me they like Circo’s velour crib sheets. Another store brand sheet parents favor is the Koala Baby knit crib sheet by Babies R Us (made by Crown Craft). They run $9 to $11.

And sometimes convenience is king. Readers adore QuickZip sheet sets  (around $33 for the starter set) and Summer Infant Ultimate Crib Sheets ($15 to $20). They’re more expensive, but can save you lots of time during those middle-of-the-night sheet changes. The Ultimate Crib Sheet comes in an organic version.

Easy DIY Nursery and Kids’ Room Decor: 20+ Projects You’ll Love

Yep. I’ve been playing around over at Pinterest again. This time I’ve put together a board full of irresistible ideas for making your own nursery and kids’ room decor. More than 20 projects, in fact! Check it out and let me know your faves!

Tip: Planning a nursery? Search for “nursery” at Pinterest and pull up dozens of photos for inspiration.

Find Sales Near You with Yard Sale Treasure Map

I found out about this site in a magazine I was reading recently. Real Simple or ShopSmart, I think? It’s pretty cool if you like scouting for deals at yard sales.

Yard Sale Treasure Map is a planning tool that lets you find  sales near you and plan the most efficient route to hit all of them. It takes all the sales listed on your local Craigslist board and puts them on a map. To use the site, simply type in your city, choose the number of miles you want it to search, and go.

You can even search the sales for particular items, like baby gear. Simply type in what you’re looking for and you’ll see a list of sales that have it.

Add your own stops (lunch! Starbucks!), add sales you found on sources other than Craigslist, and remove any sales that don’t interest you. The final step is to print driving directions of your optimized route.

Pretty cool, huh!? There’s also an app for iPhone and Android (Thanks Amy!).

Related:

Yard Sale Shopping Tips for Pregnant Folks

Crib, Mattress, and Accessories for Under $350? Here’s How

Last week I issued the following Cheapskate Challenge to readers:

Let’s say you only have $350 (including shipping) to buy the following 10 items online today:

  • Crib (full-size, fixed-side)
  • Crib Mattress
  • Two waterproof mattress protectors
  • 3 crib sheets
  • 3 swaddling blankets (actual blankets big enough for swaddling, not SwaddleMe, etc.)

What would you buy?

Think carefully. Try to choose items with the highest quality possible rather than simply choosing the cheapest items you can. What do you buy? It can be done! All items must be new and in stock. You can exclude sales tax from your total.

I received so many thoughtful, smart responses. Spending less than $350 on these items is very, very doable. Here’s how:

Tips:

  • Even though the challenge excluded second-hand items, buying gently used items is a great way to save up to 50%. Check your local consignment shop, consignment sales, Craigslist and more for gently used crib sheets, swaddling blankets, mattress protectors and more. It’s okay to buy a fixed-side crib second hand as long as you check for recalls and inspect the item thoroughly to make sure it meets current standards and is in great condition.
  • IKEA was also excluded from the challenge since their cribs and mattresses can’t be purchased online. If you’re lucky enough to live near one, definitely check it out. You can pick up a great crib for just $99 and a matress for as little as $35.
  • Bundles can offer fantastic savings. Last week Walmart offered a Graco Lauren crib plus crib mattress for $145. Other bundles throw in crib bedding, too.
  • DIY: If you’re handy with a sewing machine, you can find patterns for crib sheets, swaddling blankets and more online. PrudentBaby is a good place to start. Etsy is a good place to look for handmade items at various price points.

To get you started, here are some of the items readers recommended. Mix and match to fit your lifestyle and budget:

Cribs:

Mattresses:

Mattress Protectors/Pads:

Crib Sheets:

Swaddling Blankets:

You’ll find many more reader responses to the challenge, including reasons for the items chosen, in the comments here.

**The winner of the Cheapskate Challenge? Danae!**

What do you think? Leave feedback and recommendations in the comments!

More Nursery Inspiration (And a Recap)

We’ll folks, this is the final Nursery on a Budget series post. I hope you’ve enjoyed the posts you’ve seen here over the past two weeks and that you’ve picked up a few ideas on how to save big when creating a nest for your little one. I know I’ve had a blast.


An index of all of the Nursery on a Budget Posts:

DIY

Real Nurseries on a Budget

Money-Saving Tips

Want more inspiration? Here are some bookmark- (and drool-)worthy resources for nursery design:

Design

DIY

Image above from HGTV

Make Your Own Crib Mobile: Idea Roundup

Wowie, crib mobiles can be expensive! These handmade mobiles cost much less. They may not spin or play music, but I think you’ll agree that they’re so cute they don’t need to. You’ll find tutorials for making these mobiles, along with more pics, at the links below.


Top row, left to right:
IKEA hanging lamp turned bird mobile at Gather and Nest.
Felt butterflies at Bugs and Fishes by Lupin.
Mobile made from painted wooden pieces at The Artful Abode

Bottom row, left to right:
Butterfly mobile made from gift wrap at One Crafty Place.
“Birds” mobile at Spool Sewing.
Flower mobile at Offbeat Mama.

This post is part of BC’s Nursery on a Budget Series. See more posts in the series.

7 Space-Maximizing Tips for a Mini Nursery

Whether your nursery is as tiny as this one or you’re trying to fit more than one kid into an average-sized room, these tips should help you maximize your space:

Skip the changing table. Affix a changing pad to a small dresser. Many parents just use a changing mat wherever it’s convenient and safe.

Think small. Choose smaller furniture. A mini crib saves space. There are even cribs made to fit in the corner if that’s the only spot you have. Think skinny with your storage. A tall, narrow dresser won’t take up as much space as a low, wide one.
Use the walls: hang shelves instead of using a bookshelf.

Think high and low for storage. Slide A rolling bin under a crib (or a choose a crib with a shelf underneath). Even cute vintage suitcases would work. Create storage all the way up to the ceiling with shelving.

Max out your closet space. Use the space under those tiny clothes hanging in the closet for shelving or drawers. Install a second overhead shelf in the closet above the one that’s already there for items you don’t need to access frequently (next season’s wardrobe, for example). A hanging shoe rack on the back of the closet door (I like the ones with clear plastic pockets) can hold everything from socks to extra diaper cream.

Hang it. Install a row of hooks on the back of the closet door and/or bedroom door. Store clothing, diaper bags, etc.

Hide it. Store items out of sight and minimize clutter to make the room feel more spacious. No need to display items, toys or clothing your baby isn’t ready to use.

Get inspired. Check Ohdeedoh’s Smaller Cooler Nursery posts for design ideas. That’s where I found this handsome postage stamp of a nursery.

What are your best tips for saving space in the nursery?

This post is part of BC’s Nursery on a Budget Series. See more posts in the series.

Save Big on Handmade Nursery Art and Decor from Etsy

So maybe you’re still not convinced you have the time, talent, or inclination to make your own art for the nursery. You can still pick up some great pieces at great prices from the artists and artisans at Etsy.com (I’ve certainly given away some fab ones here on BC!). Here are a few finds:

Pop a custom name art print from Trendy Peas (left, $29) into an inexpensive frame.

These limited edition bird prints from Barking Bird Art (right) are really “tweet”! $18 for an 8×10.

Galerie Anais, based in Paris, ships original paintings to the States for much less than you might expect. Who could resist this original “Hou Hou” painting (left) at just $26.

Etsy carries other decor and storage items for the nursery, too. These reversible fabric bins from Baffin Bags are $20 and come in a variety of colors and patterns.

What are your favorite Etsy artists?

This post is part of BC’s Nursery on a Budget Series. See more posts in the series.

Decoupage a Dresser: A Tutorial

This guest post is from Samantha, a 30 year old mom who works in marketing from home. Samantha shows us how she decoupaged a dresser for her daughter’s nursery. I love that she’s planning to have her daughter add to the design when she’s older.

As a frugalista, I would see friends’ nurseries and marvel at how put together they looked, but once I started researching the cost, I would cringe. I did not want to spend the money on anything but items that could be used again and would grow up with our daughter. We received a hand-me-down dresser from my brother’s fraternity house that was in decent shape, and I hadn’t found a place for it in our home. I saw an idea in a magazine to decoupage the front of the drawers and inspiration struck me. If you’ve ever been in a sorority, you are very familiar with Mod Podge. Every year I would buy a 16 oz. container and proceed to put my sorority letters on everything I owned.

Since the farm life was such a huge part of my husband’s upbringing, we decided that a modern, girly, farm nursery would be best. I found animal silhouettes on the internet and cut out the pieces from scrapbook paper (card stock will work too, anything that’s a little thicker than regular paper to stand up to the moisture of the glue).

First, lay out the pieces. I tried several different versions before settling on one I felt worked.

Next, apply a thin layer of Mod Podge glue (available at any craft store for $3-$5) with a sponge-tip paint brush ($1 at the craft store) to the area where your piece will go.

If you have pieces next to each other, apply one long stroke rather than a bunch of little ones. You want to go for consistent strokes.

Place the piece on top of the glue and press down until the piece is relatively secure. Let air dry about 5-10 minutes. Apply a thin layer of glue on top of the area, again going for one long consistent stroke over the pieces. Make sure you get the edges really good. You want each layer of glue to start to build up so the pieces will never peel away from the surface. Let dry about 20 minutes, until it’s dry to the touch. Repeat the process of applying a thin layer and drying 4-5 times. Let fully dry over night.

The next day, apply one layer of Clear Gloss Sealer, usually available next to the Mod Podge at the craft store. Let fully dry. Congrats! You’re done!


I believe ours turned out well, and I think she’ll be able to use it for several years. I hope to have her help me paint some designs on the sides when she’s old enough.

The total cost was about $8 with all the supplies since we already had the dresser. Now I just have to refrain from reverting back to my sorority girl days and decoupaging everything in sight.

This post is part of BC’s Nursery on a Budget Series. See more posts in the series.