Planning Your Nursery
If you're about to be a first-time parent, your life will be turned upside down when your new baby is born. Pregnancy is the ideal time to begin to plan a nursery — or to decide if you'll actually need one in those early months. Many parents choose to have their children sleep with them when they're small. These parents feel that they are better able to respond to middle-of-the-night cries when baby is close at hand.
Bringing Down the Bar
If you want to design a separate nursery for your baby, keep in mind that babies don't need or expect much. You do not need top-of-the-line items, but you do want to be aware of safety issues. Old cribs are sometimes unsafe, for example. As you plan your purchases of furniture and fixtures for your nursery, make sure you choose items that meet the safety guidelines issued by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (
What You Might Need for a Nursery
A baby's sleep needs will change with each phase of life. When the baby is small, she might sleep in a bassinet or with her parents. When she begins to sit up and roll, a crib might become necessary.
Changing table: Until your child is toilet trained, you're going to be changing a lot of diapers. The area where you'll be changing diapers should be a safe area for your child, plus have storage (shelves or drawers) for all of the items you'll need. While the baby is being changed, everything you need (wipes, creams, diapers, and so on) should be within arm's reach for you, but not for your baby. You don't ever want to turn your back on the child. The changing table should have a concave shape in which you can nestle your child to discourage her from rolling over.
Diaper bin: If you choose to use disposable diapers, you might want to invest ina diaper disposal system, a container that seals each diaper in film, locking in germs and odors. It can be operated with one hand, so you can use it while changing your baby.
Clothing hamper: Many companies offer hampers designed to fit the décor of a child's nursery or bedroom. Baskets, for example, come in different shapes and sizes. Consider purchasing a hamper that will be easy for your child to maneuver (and fun for them to use!) so that they will want to put their own laundry in the hamper.
Toy bin: After your child is born, she will probably start to amass a large toy collection. You'll want to keep these toys organized and tucked away. A toy bin is an ideal way to do this. Pay attention to the construction of the unit and make sure it's totally safe. The lid should not be able to slam shut, nor should it be able to entrap your child.
Nursing chair: A comfortable rocking chair is ideal for nursing an infant. Glider rockers, which gently move forward and back, are soothing for both mother and child. These chairs are also great for reading to or comforting an older child.
Smoke detector: Make sure you install a quality smoke detector in the nursery. Check the battery monthly.
Arranging the Furniture
After the room is selected, think about what your daily routine with the infant will be, and then position the furniture accordingly. Near the rocking chair, for example, you may want a bookcase and a table (where you can place whatever you'll need to nurse the baby). You'll probably also want a telephone with a speakerphone in this area, and you may want to have a view out a nearby window. Keep a dresser containing your child's clothes close to the changing table, so that you can easily reach various garments while dressing your baby. If the clothes will be kept in a closet, you might want to place the changing table as close to the closet as possible.
As you arrange furniture, try to maximize floor space as much as possible. To generate more floor space, utilize lighting that attaches to the ceiling or walls (as opposed to floor lamps) and take advantage of vertical storage spaces (tall bookcases or dressers with drawers stacked vertically).
Prior to having furniture delivered, consider how you need to prepare the room itself. For example, does the room need to be painted or wallpapered? What about flooring, window treatments, or electrical work (outlets and lighting)? Before the furniture is delivered and set up, make sure the room is totally prepared and well cleaned. You'll also want to remove all of the clothing, toys, and other items from the room.
Always think in terms of safety when planning and organizing your nursery. Be conscious of electrical cords, curtain cords, and toys with small parts or pieces. Never hang artwork, mirrors, or items directly over the crib, where they could fall on your child.
To make certain your nursery and your entire home are properly childproofed, you can hire a professional baby-safety expert who will visit your home and help you organize it. The International Association of Child Safety (888-677-IACS) can offer referrals.