There are three things you can expect as a new parent: you’re going to lose a lot of sleep, you’re going to change a lot of diapers, and you’re going end up with a whole lot of baby stuff. It’s astonishing how much gear a tiny baby needs and—once you’ve figured it all out—a growth spurt happens and you get to start all over again.
While we can’t really help you get through the sleepless nights and diaper changes, we can help you figure out the “too much stuff” thing. All of these genius pieces were built to grow with your child. Not only will you save on space, and the headache of figuring out how to unload one piece to make room for another, you’ll end up saving a ton of money with one-hardworking piece that grows with your child through all sorts of ages and stages.
1. A convertible crib that takes them from infancy to teen
Babies never give you a heads up that the day is coming when they are going figure out how to jump from their crib like a Hollywood stuntman in a big budget action flick. Do yourself a favor: When you’re crib shopping opt for one that can immediately convert into a toddler bed, so you’re not doing an emergency trip to IKEA moments after they’ve busted free.
The Sprout by Babyletto is one of the most popular convertible cribs on the market—even stealing a spot on Meghan Markle’s baby registry. If it’s good enough for Archie, it’s good enough for us! This 4-in-1 is chic, it’s practical, and it’s surprisingly affordable. It transforms from a crib, with adjustable mattress levels; to a toddler bed; to a daybed; to a twin-sized bed without sacrificing style at any of the four stages. It’s also a Greenguard Gold Certified crib, which means it’s been screened for over 10,000 chemicals and VOCs, making it super safe for your kiddo at all stages.
2. A car seat that lasts through every growth spurt
OK, not really—but close. Diono’s convertible car seats can take them from the delivery room, with their infant cushion insert, all the way to 65 pounds in a five-point harness. Then that same seat converts to a booster that will take them all the way to an astonishing 120 pounds. If you’re getting whiplash over those numbers, just know that if you end up with a fast-growing kid, you’ll realize that level of flexibility is essential. These are the only car seats we’ve tried that never leave you scrambling after a growth spurt.
These car seats not only win top marks for installation, they are veritable tanks made with a reinforced steal frame. Their heavy-duty construction and smart engineering make them safe, while their thinner footprint allows them to fit in a row of three safely, should you plan to have (or you happen to be surprised with) a growing family.
3. A changing table that converts into a dresser
A little bit mid-century modern and a little bit shaker, this dresser is not only versatile in its application, it goes with any decor scheme you can dream up.
This three-drawer dresser starts out as a changing table that includes a removable changing tray with convenient side cubbies to keep diapers, wipes, and creams easily accessible. Then, when they’re ready, it instantly transforms easily into a dresser with three spacious drawers that are so versatile your child may just end up taking this dresser with them to their first apartment.
Made with sustainable New Zealand pine wood and finished with non-toxic paint, this is baby-safe to start them out right.
4. A five-position carrier that can take them to 45 pounds
Frontward facing, backward facing, hanging out on your hip, or hanging out on your back, the Journey Go is a carrier that covers all the bases—and is incredibly affordable while doing it.
What sets this carrier apart is the breathable and moisture-wicking cool mesh fabric, and the fact that you can use this with newborns starting at 8 pounds, without any need for an awkward infant insert. This carrier is rugged, and comfortable (it was our reviewer’s favorite) and, with a weight limit of 45 pounds, can take your kid right through toddlerhood. It’s also breastfeeding-friendly, with no straps between parent and baby, making it versatile for all feeding stages as well.
5. A diaper bag that will be your favorite overnighter
Sure, you want products that will grow with them, but how about products that will grow with your needs too? We bought this chic-looking diaper bag almost seven years ago and, if I’m to be honest, I used it just last week and forgot I originally bought it as a diaper bag.
This stylish, vegan leather backpack holds everything, cleans up easily, is remarkably scuff- and stain-repellent, and looks just as good as it did the day I got it. It’s also super-hero-level strong: It carried diapers, baby bottles, clothing changes, and toys just as easily as it carries my laptop, books, and daily planner.
Since it graduated from diaper bag to my top-choice commuter bag, travel bag, and overnighter, it’s managed to carry heavy weight comfortably, while retaining its shape and luster. It also looks just as good on men as it does on women, so my husband never grumbled about grabbing it on the go.
6. A feeding pillow that becomes a support seat
This nursing pillow will be your best friend during feedings and will have a second life as their favorite tummy-time assist and a cozy support seat for when they are almost ready to be upright. Also, it’s a pretty clutch butt pillow for moms who need a soft seat to sit on while they heal up after delivery.
7. A bouncer turned toddler seat
This built-to-last bouncer is more expensive than others on the market, but its rave reviews and the fact that kids can use and enjoy it through 30 pounds make it worth it in our book.
Reviewers with multiple kids constantly bemoan not getting this bouncer with their first, “Absolutely the best bouncer ever made (saying this as a father of four kids from newborn to a 16 year old). We’ve seen them all.” Others express dismay at waiting a few months to buy one: “This bouncer allowed us to eat dinner together without holding a baby, and I could do laundry and get things done! Game. Changer. I’m so mad we didn’t have this for the first four months of his life….”
After they’ve gotten their baby bouncing out of their system, this chair converts into a pint-sized seat for toddlers—perfect for a seat at the art table or for reclining during movie night.
We haven’t held back on our love for the Squatty Potty. That review was done by one of our childless writers but parents-in-the-know have learned that the Squatty Potty is basically the most ingenious potty stool around.
It fits snuggly under your toilet so it doesn’t take up any precious real estate if you have a smaller bathroom, it’s wide and stable for smaller legs that aren’t self-assured, it’s always right there so it minimizes potty accidents while you’re fumbling to get their potty gear in place, and—as a bonus—Mom and Dad can use it too. Pair it with a convertible toilet seat like this one by Top Seat for a bathroom that is potty training-ready from the get-go.
Hot tip: Pick up a Squatty Potty the moment you know you’re pregnant. You’ll understand why soon enough.
9. A toddler table that turns into a tween-sized desk
Just as your kiddo’s legs grow, so will this desk with three sets of legs that are simple to swap out with each growth spurt. It starts as pint-sized toddler play table, grows to an elementary-aged work space, and then elevates all the way up to the level of a regular desk. Plus, it also features a paper holder and a roll of paper, so kids can use the large tabletop to create their works of art, without ruining the surface—furthering this longevity of this smart piece.
10. A high chair that you’ll never get rid of
This Scandinavian classic has been around for nearly 50 years and it’s easy to see why. As with all Stokke products, its simplicity belies its genius. This high chair’s brilliant design won high marks from our reviewers, who loved its modern aesthetic, its versatility, and its longevity as a furniture piece—after it stops being a baby chair.
It’s a chair that starts as an ergonomically correct infant high chair and converts to hold a child comfortably at any age. It also functions as a step-stool and comfortably holds an adult up to 300 pounds (we know, because we’ve used it ourselves numerous times). How many high chairs out there also function as additional seating for adult house guests?
11. An infant bottle that turns into an insulated water bottle
This bottle goes from bassinet to soccer field—and just about every stage in between—with the switch of a lid. It’s stainless steel and dishwasher-safe, so it’s durable enough to last for years (ours has lasted for seven) and versatile enough to take anywhere. BPA-, PVC-, and phthalate-free silicone components easily transition this insulated container from infant bottle and transforms it into sippy bottle, straw bottle, sport bottle, or even an insulated snack container.
12. A swaddle that converts into a sleep sack
A swaddle is a popular way to soothe a baby, but their use is short-lived. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends you stop using swaddles after two months. This swaddle easily expands and converts into a super cozy sleep sack that will keep them warm and comfy right through to 18 months.
13. An activity center turned play table
With toys that swap out for each developmental stage, this activity center is perfect for keeping kiddos entertained from 5 months all the way to a year old. What’s more is that, as soon as they grow out of the infant level toys, all you do is convert the top into a perfectly sized play table that’s just right for crafting or snacking.
From early infant through preschool is an age of rapid development, both mentally and physically. This three-in-one activity center is a just-right-sized option that takes them through those early years, keeping them entertained and engaged with one multi-use piece.
Prices were accurate at the time this article was published but may change over time.