One of the most exciting things about having a baby is deciding how you will decorate the nursery. You spend hours researching what a fully-stocked nursery should contain, register for the items, and wait until your surprise baby shower to get all the goodies you wanted. Setting up shop makes the prospect of being parents seem more real and if you're lucky, you can stand in the corner of the room and boss your husband around since you're pregnant and you shouldn't be exerting yourself too much.
A lot of Moms end up registering for things they will never ever use, but think they should have anyway. I did this myself and now have an attic full of apparatus that have never been touched. I never returned anything because I thought maybe a future baby would enjoy a spin in the johnny-jump-up or a snuggle in the crescent-shaped pillow. Nope. My kids don't like gadgets and now six years after acquiring said items, I'm not sure the store would take them back.
One gadget that is definitely recommended for the nursery is a monitor. There are several varieties and which one you choose depends on how cautious of a person you are. There are audio, audio-visual, and movement monitors. Not only can these give you peace of mind while baby slumbers in a different room than you are in, but also can alert you if the baby is in danger. Research these items in depth and speak with your pediatrician about which one is right for you and your baby.
Choosing which room in your house you will use as the nursery depends on several factors, such as space and orientation. Many parents feel better if the baby's room is close to their own while others feel that everyone sleeps better with as much distance as possible between them. If the master bedroom is on a different floor than the secondary bedrooms, this can also present a challenge. You can always have baby room-in with you while she is very young and will need to purchase a bassinet for this arrangement. Having the baby at arm's reach can be extremely convenient in the beginning when she is eating around the clock. As the baby gains weight and sleeps through the night you can move her to the nursery when you feel comfortable doing so.
The easiest way to decorate a nursery is to find out if you're having a boy or a girl. I know there are a lot of folks out there who love the element of surprise and wait until the baby pops out to see if it's a he or a she, but I'm not one of those people. I'm way too nosy and impatient to wait that long to see what I'm in for and I also hate surprises of any kind. If you know the baby's sex, you can go forward with choosing a theme and even if you don't know, you can muddle through somehow.
There are three kinds of themes for nurseries. Stereotypical boy themes, stereotypical girl themes, and themes of the unisex variety. For some reason, I have never seen anything outside of these three motifs. Boys usually get sports, dinosaurs, trains, or zoo animals. For girls, the very played-out princess theme, flowers, or butterflies. For the record, my daughter's room is fairy-themed so I'm not immune to this trend. The unisex motif is almost always yellow, green or cream-colored and is patterned with indiscriminating polka dots or stripes. I have three daughters, but if I did have a boy, I'd decorate the dude's room in a surfing theme.
The best way to choose paint for the walls is to select the crib bedding first and find your favorite color within the pattern. Be sure that it's a cheerful, yet soothing color. No baby wants to be in a fluorescent orange room and besides, if that's your favorite color you have other issues to contend with. Also, if you're a melancholy gal, you must consider that you're baby may not be. Decorating the nursery in black and gray with spider stencils on the wall is probably not the way to go. There are environmentally (and baby) friendly paints available now and you'll want to choose one with an eggshell or satin finish for easy cleanup of projectile vomit or a particularly messy diaper.
I also think it is smart to have foresight when you decorate. Will this be the nursery for every baby you have after your first? If so you may want to do a unisex theme. If the same child will always occupy this room, you may want to be careful to choose a color and/or motif your child can grow into. The Pooh Bear border may not peel off as easily as you hoped once your child starts Kindergarten and wants to be a big kid.
Don't wait until the last minute to get the nursery together, paint and all. It takes a lot longer than you could ever estimate, and especially if you paint, you want to have time for the odor to dissipate. All joking aside, it's best to let your guy or non-pregnant friend do the heavy work. No matter how benign the paint is that you purchase, it's always better to err on the safe side. And who doesn't enjoy watching their husband cursing at the instructions for constructing the crib?
Once the nursery is complete, spend some time in there before your baby arrives. You'll certainly be in there enough after you become a Mom and it's nice to get a feel for the space. Make sure you arrange the furniture for convenience and comfort. You probably don't want to place the crib directly underneath the air-conditioning register or next to a window for instance. As far as safety is concerned, there are many online sources that can aid you in baby-proofing the room and the rest of the house.
The picture is not complete until your bundle of joy has finally arrived. The nursery comes to life once it becomes a place where you make countless memories caring for your child.