Prospective parents should carefully scrutinize their baby furniture budget and buy items they can use as their child grows, according to nursery designers who say longevity should be a key consideration.

"One of my priorities when shopping for baby furniture was to buy items I could use for several years," said Stefani Lindner, a mother in Olney. "Now my little girl is 3, and we're turning her crib into a toddler's bed."

To incorporate that concept into furniture design, manufacturers create pieces with flexibility.

Bellini Baby & Teen Furniture
Jack and Jill Interiors

"Our furniture is really designed to grow with the child, so you are making an investment at the beginning that will last through the child's life," said Michelle Freedberg, of Bellini Baby and Teen Furniture.

Cribs come with conversion kits that easily change them into toddler beds. One side of the crib is removed, and the mattress is lowered.

"We added a bed rail so our little girl will still feel like she's in a crib but can go in and out herself," Lindner said.

A few years later, the toddler bed will readily converted to a full-size bed that will be functional through the teen years.

Dressers also can have multiple uses. Starting out as a changing table, the tray on top of the dresser is affixed to the back so it can be removed after the diaper stage is finished.

"Then you have a timeless classic dresser," Freedberg said.

While furniture can be is costly, high-quality pieces will withstand the test of time, which often includes children jumping on the bed and ramming toy cars and trucks into the sides. "It pays to make a big investment at the outset," Freedberg said.

Sherri Blum, of Jack and Jill Interiors, who designs luxury nurseries and children's rooms, said parents should think ahead. When selecting a nursery chair to rock the baby, she recommended picking an armchair that matches the master bedroom or family room.

"You may think pink, green and lavender will be a great match for your little girl's room, but you won't be able to move it to another room in a few years," she said.

Blum recommended parents stay away from baby themes and stick with their personal preferred decor, such as traditional or modern. Put the purple dinosaurs, pink butterflies and other child-centric touches on the less expensive items, like stuffed animals, toss pillows and posters, and spend more money on sophisticated and high-quality lamps, carpets and furniture, which can be enjoyed for years.

"Children grow up -- so we encourage clients to think about longevity," Freedberg said.