New parents can spend $9,050 to $20,460 on their baby's first year alone, according to the USDA. It's enough to make you scale back your family plans. But you can save money by buying gear that morphs as your baby grows. Initially, convertible baby products may seem more expensive, but, over time, they can take less of a toll on your wallet, not to mention the environment, because you won't need to start from scratch with a completely new product as your child goes from stage to stage or if you have a second child close to your first.
Here are four mega multi-taskers that can grow the distance with your family.
Crib to Toddler Bed to Play Table/Desk
At $990, the P. Pod Companion Crib by Gro Furniture is pricey as far as cribs go, but it’s designed to last. Purchase the conversion kits and the P. Pod transforms into a toddler bed ($185) with a rail, and, later, a daybed ($195). When your big boy or girl outgrows the daybed, an additional conversion kit ($315) changes the bed into a playtable/desk. Gro Furniture is made in the U.S. from solid birch ply with finishes that are non-toxic and low in volatile organic compounds. It meets all safety standards for cribs and toddler beds. Its fastener and hardware-free design assembles in just two minutes. Useful life of the product: Birth until college.
Stroller to Double Stroller to Stroller Board to Scooter
If you’re buying a stroller for your first baby, think ahead about your family size. Start with a phil&teds' Classic, Sport, Hammerhead, Explorer, Verve, Navigator or Dot buggy ($499.99 to $699.99), and you can add a back seat for baby (now toddler) number one with a $139 to $149 conversion kit. When your older child gets too big to be the backseat driver, he or she can stand on the back of the stroller on the phil&teds' Freerider Stroller Board ($129.98), which attaches with a connector to the stroller’s rear axle. The Freerider also detaches to become a freestanding scooter and is compatible with a few non phil&teds' brand strollers. Useful life of the product for two kids (including stroller): Infancy to age 5 or 6.
High Chair to Toddler Booster to Youth Chair
The high chair stage lasts longer than most new parents realize: Infants need a feeding seat, babies and young toddlers need a standard high chair and older toddlers and children need a booster seat. The Graco Blossom 4-in-1 Seating System ($179.99), which rated highly in our latest high chair report is designed to adjust to your child’s growing needs. It converts from a snug infant feeding seat to a regular high chair to toddler booster seat and a youth chair so that toddlers, preschoolers, and children up to about age 6 can scooch right up to the table with the rest of the family. It does double duty, too. The booster seat is a separate component so you can use the high chair with a baby while a toddler uses the booster. Useful life of the product for two kids: Birth through age 3. One child can use it up to 60 pounds.
Bottle to Sippy Cup to Recycle Bin
Instead of stocking up on sippy cups when it’s time to wean your baby off the bottle, start with a bottle that can convert to a sippy cup. Thinkbaby Bottles ($10.99 for a twin 9 ounce pack) transform into a sippy cup with a conversion spout kit ($6.99) or a 9 ounce bottle with a straw, called “the Thinkster” ($3.99 for the straw conversion kit). Just pop the nipple top off, add the spout or straw top and the handles for easier gripping (included in the conversion kits), and your toddler is good to go. Thinkbaby bottles/sippy cups are made from plastic that’s free of potentially harmful chemicals, including BPA, phthalates, nitrosamines, lead and PVC. When you’re done with the sippy cup stage, you can toss the bottles/cups into the recycle bin. Useful life of the product: Birth to 4 years. And they'll hold up to multiple children.