Setting up a baby’s room is one of the most exciting things that you can do. From the moment you find out your pregnant, you start scanning the shelves and the internet to get awesome ideas about what sort of theme you could go with. For the first time in your life, you feel the need to redo a room from top to bottom, ripping up carpets and repainting walls just to ensure that your baby has the room YOU always dreamed of having. You may be checking prices on getting wall murals painted, looking for 100% hypoallergenic sheets and washing everything in Dreft before placing it in the closet. The baby’s room – often called the nursery, is the place where dreams are made – where the little life you are bringing into this world will grow up, learn, play, and be loved.
Like with most things in life – the fun part of setting up a baby’s room can be overshadowed with rules and regulations. Go shopping and you are bound to run into someone who has some piece of advice for you about the kind of paint you use or the best color to promote excessive intelligence. On top of that, there are millions of products – you know, those things that you have to have in the nursery in order to be seen as the perfect parent. You can’t just go and shop from the heart, see things and just put them in the room. No – this room has to be meticulously planned with fine print blue prints that include fingerprints from every grandparent, pediatrician, and parenting book. Ugh!
Rule number one when setting up a baby’s room is to have fun.
Okay – now that you are being encouraged to have fun again, try to dismiss all the archaic wives tales about when the best time to do it is. Many people are terrified to even think about buying something for their baby until they are well passed the first trimester. Then, they wait to set up the crib or purchase items for the room until the 27-week mark. Then, they are told they can’t be around paint fumes, dust etc. So – then the whole room is left up to someone else to complete. For lots of people, this just doesn’t work and they don’t feel good about the room until they are allowed to participate in getting it ready. Here’s another newsflash – even if you don’t set up the baby’s room until after the baby is born, you will still have plenty of time. For most parents, the baby stays in a bassinet in their room for the first 6-8 weeks of life. So, if the nursery isn’t perfect before your bundle of joy arrives – no worries. Your child will not remember.
Okay, so on to the rules and regulations for setting up a baby’s room!
The furniture you put in the room is important. You want it to be the best that you can afford. But before you go invest in an over priced (but beautiful) crib – realize that by the time your child is 3-4, it will become obsolete. You would be better off looking at furniture that is convertible, which transitions all the way to a twin sized bed. If you don’t want to spend a ton of money on a crib – than find one that does the trick, meets safety standards AND looks cute enough. You also are recommended to avoid taking hand me down cribs. Not only will it not be up to date on recalls, but also there are good chances that they won’t meet safety standards. Slats on a crib should be close enough together so that a baby cannot get a leg or limb through it. The mattress has to fit so tightly, that you can barely get one of your swollen fingers between it and the rails. All of the parts should be original – and you shouldn’t use dummy bolts and screws to keep the crib together. If you find the perfect corner of the room to put the crib in – make sure it is away from an air duct or a window! Lots of older babies climb out of the crib to a window each year – or become entangled in draperies or mini blinds. In other words, putting it in the middle of the room is great.
Next thing – is the bumper pad. They sure do make the crib look complete and cute; but they are not recommended. In fact, neither are pillows, stuffed animals or anything else that could become a suffocation hazard. You know that hand knitted afghan your grandmother made you – it too with the loops and holes could cause suffocation. (I know – this is draining the fun right out of it)
If you get a brand new crib, also make sure to fill out the recall cards and mail them back immediately. This way you will be notified quickly if there is any sort of recall or problem with the crib. In most cases, the company will offer a replacement or a parts replacement. The last thing before buying a crib is to make sure that there are no footholds. All slats should be vertical and the head and footboard should not include cutouts that the baby can use to climb. Eventually, they will!
Changing tables while useful – aren’t truly necessary. If you are like most parents, you will change them on the bed or floor most of the time. Instead, you can purchase a dresser and just put a pad on the top if you feel inclined to have one. This way, as they get older when the changing table becomes a thing of the past (6 months) you will have a useful piece of furniture that isn’t babyish. If you have a dresser in the room, make sure that the drawers cannot be pulled all the way out and you might want to attach it to the wall with some L-Brackets right off the bat.
You definitely want a good rocking chair in the room. Make sure that it is one you are comfortable in. If you go for a glider rocker, keep in mind that it doesn’t have to be large or expensive. In fact, you can probably purchase one and buy pads for it (or sew them) easily. Once your baby starts to pull up – you will be pushing it up against the wall to avoid pinched fingers and accidents – so don’t go with a huge one. Also, make sure that you like the rocking chair in other areas of your home, because chances are it will be moved often.
Decorating a baby’s room is fun. Toys, toy boxes, mobiles, stuffed animals and anything else you can think of like lamps can help to add character to the room. Choose an interesting mobile for the crib – something with a remote control is advised. You might be surprised how handy that is, as your baby gets older. Another great toy/baby item you should get is a heartbeat bear or noise machine. Putting white noise in the baby’s room will help lull them to sleep and will help to block out background noise so you can actually watch television when the baby is asleep. As for infant toys – save your money. Your baby will be more interested in your keys, the remote and other items than they will be infant toys. Instead, buy your child a piggy bank and a lamp that emits a nice soft light. Also, make sure that you have a nightlight in the room. You are also recommended to equip your baby’s room with a ceiling fan – because contrary to most people’s beliefs – babies should not sleep in rooms that are too hot. Just make sure to keep them dust free and run them on low.
One thing that will be extremely helpful is to spend some time putting organizers in the closet. Have a place to keep diapers, bathing supplies as well as changing items so that you can reach them quickly and easily. Sorting shoes, hanging up clothes, and being as organized in the room as possible will make life easier for you in the months and years to come. Install high shelves for breakable items or things you don’t want your baby to get into and equip the doors with childproof knob covers so they cannot play in it when they get older.
Other nice ideas for setting up a baby’s room are to lace a fish tank in the room. A fish tank can be both stimulating and calming for even a young baby. Of course, you have to make sure that it is on a stand that is stable and out of reach so that as the baby gets more curious, it doesn’t become a safety hazard.
Setting Up a Baby’s Room & The Fun Stuff
Part of setting up a baby’s room of course is all the fun stuff. Almost more difficult than the decision to have a child – is deciding on what color and theme to go with. There are just too many to choose from. The best thing is to find a color that you like for the walls. Paint the walls in a semi-gloss finish that will resist handprints. While you may be tempted to go with ornate decorations and wall art, keep in mind that your child’s interests will change quickly. In the beginning – bright colors are most stimulating for brain activity. If you just love Winnie the Pooh – understand that you will more than likely be redoing it before they enter pre-school. Probably the best idea is to go with a few branded items and allow the rest of the room to be sort of generic. This way, as their tastes and interest develop and change – you can add things to the room without feeling like you are blowing the décor. Also, it is more cost effective, because room themed decorations and items are always more expensive than bland ones.
There are some things in the baby’s room that will last a lifetime. Personalized frames and monogrammed items are great. You will definitely end up with tons of pictures in a very short time and will want to display all of them. Also, add tack boards or bulletin boards that will be both timeless and useful for displaying things throughout your baby’s life.
Setting up a baby’s room should be fun. You should start doing whenever it feels right to you, and not make it a stressful event in planning for an upcoming birth. If you use common sense and try to stay on a budget, you will create a beautiful room that is both fun and functional. Stick with the basics at first – and allow room for your child’s personality to develop. As time goes on – all the hard work that went in to making your baby’s room the most beautiful room in the house will be overshadowed by messes, crayon stained walls and toys strewn about the floor.