nurserysmart.combabyappleseed.com, karladubois.com,  ecochicbaby.com

Baby Appleseed Davenport collection

Baby Appleseed focuses on the mid to upper part of the nursery market. The company has four sub brands: Baby Appleseed (upper-end pricing, sold in Buy Buy Baby, among other stores), Karla Dubois (modern cribs), Eco-Chic Baby (exclusive to Babies R Us) and Nursery Smart (more affordable, sold mostly online).

The company’s mojo is to combine eco-friendliness and elegant design. The eco-pitch: when you buy one of their cribs, the company will plant ten trees in your baby’s name, thanks to a partnership with the non-profit American Forests.

The furniture is also GREENGUARD Gold certified to be low emission.

The best-selling Baby Appleseed collection is the Davenport (pictured), a curvy crib with thick rails and back board. All that chunkiness will cost you: the Davenport crib is $700, while a double dresser runs $700, armoire $750, hutch $450 and five-drawer chest $600. Rails to convert the Davenport into a full-size bed run another $120.

Finish options in Baby Appleseed have been expanded—most collections now are available in five colors (including two different types of grey).

If the Davenport is too much, Baby Appleseed also sells the more simple Stratford (a Buy Buy Baby exclusive). A Stratford crib runs $350 and five-drawer dresser $400. The newest addition to the Baby Appleseed line is the Palisade, which strikes a more modern pose with curved cut-outs and muted grey finish the brand calls “morning mist.”

 Click to open expanded view Nursery Smart Darby Convertible Crib (Espresso)Baby Appleseed’s cribs are made of poplar wood; the dressers are poplar with birch veneers. While the wood is from the U.S., the cribs are produced in Vietnam.

On a recent visit to Buy Buy Baby, we asked the clerk in the crib department to give us her top recommendation—she pointed to the Baby Appleseed Davenport and praised its durable finish, which prevents scratches and nicks. It’s clear Buy Buy Baby is this brand’s biggest account, although a handful of other independent stores carry Baby Appleseed as well.

One of Baby Appleseed’s problems in popularity—in years past, some customers used to wait up to 20 weeks for an order to arrive. The company has trimmed that to 6-8 weeks now . . . but ask upfront for the latest delivery schedule and plan accordingly.

Karla Dubois is sub-line of Baby Appleseed that is also sold in Buy Buy Baby and the Right Start. As of this writing, the brand has one main collection—a modern crib dubbed the Oslo ($400) with two under-crib drawers. A toddler rail runs $90 and matching two-drawer dresser is $400. Karla Dubios is basically the same as Baby Appleseed—GREENGUARD Gold certified, crib is made from poplar wood, etc. (A second Dubois collection called Copenhagen has a crib that omits the under-crib drawers).

Nursery Smart is the company’s less expensive, less fancy brand. At the time of this writing, Nursery Smart only had one collection (the Darby, pictured), but we also see a handful of mini-cribs sold online under the Nursery Smart moniker for under $200. To keep prices low, most Nursery Smart dressers are ready to assemble (Baby Appleseed dressers are fully assembled).

The most recent addition to the Baby Appleseed family is Eco-Chic Baby.  Exclusive to Babies R Us, Eco-Chic Baby cribs retail for $700. Two collections (Clover and Dorchester, pictured) come in two colors (slate and hickory).

Like Baby Appleseed, Eco-Chic Baby touts a Greenguard Gold certification, where products are third-party tested to be low in chemical emissions.

This company’s parent reviews have been bi-polar—readers generally like and recommend Baby Appleseed, while folks have been more mixed on Nursery Smart (their ready-to-assemble dressers are difficult to put together). And the finish on the lower end Nursery Smart furniture came in for past criticism: it scratched too easily. To address this criticism, Nursery Smart recently switched from New Zealand pine to North Carolina poplar, which is the same wood used in the Baby Appleseed and Eco-Chic Baby.

Bottom line: this is an excellent brand that would be worth the investment, if you have the budget. Rating: A