Having a space for baby that is comfortable and engaging for them and practical for you is best combination you can achieve!
Creating a space that is safe, comfortable and fun for baby, all the while being practical for those 2 a.m. feedings and diaper changes, can be a challenge. We’ve talked before about the gear you’re probably going to need (or want) for baby’s arrival and also about the things you can or should avoid buying. These are some tips and ideas to consider, as you decide what your baby’s nursery is going to look like:
Buy furniture for the future, not today
While a crib is an inevitable purchase to ensure your baby has a safe sleep space, you can buy a convertible crib, that can be turned into a toddler or single bed, when your child is ready. This saves you having to buy another bed and mattress down the road and will allow you to invest in a nice piece of furniture that will stand the test of time.
While a change table may seem like the perfect changing / storage option, once baby is out of diapers, it’s not as functional. In fact, when they start sleeping through the night and you’re not doing the ‘midnight change’ as often, you’ll probably find you don’t use it. A good option instead is to invest in a dresser and attach a change pad to the top of it, and use the top drawer for storing extra diapers, wipes, cloths and so on. The advantage to this is that when baby grows out of the need for diapers, they still have a quality dresser that will grow with them.
Multifunctional furniture is ideal, as it will also last longer as your child ages. For example, you can invest in a padded stool for sitting on, which also doubles as storage under the lid. Or what about a comfortable chair for you to nurse baby on in the middle of the night? It can stay in the room for a long time, eventually being used by your toddler to sit and read or watch a video.
If you avoid typical nursery room colors for fabrics and designs, your child can keep pieces a lot longer. Classic colors and patterns will go a long way, with personality and age appropriate patterns being added with pillows, rugs and other changeable pieces.
Make sure everything in the room is easy to clean
With chair fabrics and even carpets, the name of the game with babies is keeping it clean. You need washable materials in case of spit ups and other ‘spills’, as well as easy to maintain floor surfaces.
Washable rugs, like those available from Lorena Canals for example, provide a great space for baby to explore their world and leave you with the peace of mind that the rug is clean and toxin free!
Paint the walls with non-toxic, washable paint because there will come a day when crayons on the walls will be par for the course! You can also consider painting one section of a wall with chalkboard paint. They won’t use it right away for their creations but it will be there when they’re ready and, in the meantime, you can use it to remind yourself of what time the last feed was, what time the last change was and that you are on your last box of clean diapers!
Safety, above all other considerations
Any larger pieces of furniture, like the dresser, need to be anchored to the wall. While baby isn’t crawling or pulling up right away, that time will come sooner than you think! You also need to add drawer locks so they can’t be pulled open and dumped, causing injury.
Similarly, pick furniture with rounded, soft edges where possible and avoid anything with sharp corners. This comes back to buying for the longer term, rather than the immediate. When baby starts crawling and walking, you want them to be as safe as possible!
If you’re going to hang things on the walls, make sure there is nothing within reach of the crib, as baby will be standing up in there before long and definitely keep the crib away from the window and any window treatments! The number of kids who are hurt by window blinds every year is staggering: 2 kids EVERY SINGLE day!
Make sure everything has a place
Part of keeping a space safe is keeping it tidy. You don’t want to be tripping over the diaper bin or a bunch of clean laundry, at midnight! And as baby starts to move around, you need the nursery to be as safe a space as possible.
Buying diapers and wipes in bulk, or using a diaper service, will become your new way of life, so the inevitable next problem is where to store all the pieces that you don’t need right away!
1. Think about alternative storage spaces you have in your home: the basement or the closet under the stairs, for example! These make perfect spots to put away some of the extras.
2. Keep some of that extra supply even closer. Such as? Most people don’t think to use the space under the crib and until baby is crawling, this is very practical.
3. Use a pocket shoe rack that can be hung on the back of the bedroom door or closet door to get extra storage for all the smaller things, such as pacifiers, extra burp cloths, tubes of diaper cream… you get the picture!
Get into the habit of checking your supplies in the nursery every few days to make sure that you have what you need in reach of the changing area. 2 a.m. is no time to be looking for a diaper only to find the basket the extras were in is empty!
As far as clothes go, you’ll end up putting baby in the same favorite onesies for a while so make sure they’re handy and stored where you can reach them easily without having to leave baby unattended on the change table. While those tiny little baby clothes hangers are adorable, you really only need a few at first, to keep the special outfit that Grandma bought clean and ready for her visit or for the holidays.
And for toys, you can put extra shelving in the closet to put away pieces and keep a fabric toy container in the room, for easy access to the important ones.
TIP: Keep a bin or box handy, perhaps in the closet, where you can put clothes and toys that baby has outgrown but are still serviceable; they’ll be ready and waiting next time someone asks you if you have some things to donate!
Now that you’re set up and your nursery is looking great and organized, you can sit back and enjoy your baby’s first weeks and months in comfort and style.