Setting Up a Nursery
Most new parents are excited at the prospect of setting up a nursery or room for the new child; it's a tangible sign that your child is on the way. What you need will depend, in part, on your child's needs. A child with special needs or who has been in an abusive home will have specialized needs, but in general, begin life with your newborn or neglected infant/toddler with the following items:
A simple wardrobe that doesn't require you to pull anything over her head. Most infants hate the sensation and a frightened toddler won't enjoy it either. (The season of the year, how your house is heated or cooled, and whether or not you have a washer and dryer will determine exactly what clothing you buy.)
A bassinette (for an infant) or crib with a firm mattress, fitted bottom sheet, and lightweight blankets
An appropriate-size car seat with a bolster to keep your infant's head from rolling (a rolled receiving blanket will work)
A child carrier (a front carrier works best for an infant)
A changing table with open baskets underneath for storing clothing and diapers (a changing pad on top of a dresser works also)
A baby bathtub
Age-appropriate toys and books
Feeding equipment such as bottles, spoons, bibs, and possibly a high chair
Diapers and wipes
Large receiving blankets for swaddling
While you do need a properly sized car seat, spend as much time as possible carrying your child around in a carrier/baby sling where she can hear your voice and feel your heartbeat. You may also want a swing or a vibrating infant holder, so you can put her down once in a while.
All of the above items are needed for toddlers, but there are some additional considerations. Your toddler may benefit from being carried in a backpack if you have the physical strength. You'll definitely need a stroller, because an out of control toddler is practically impossible (not to mention quite heavy) to carry or drag.
Don't go to a great deal of expense or effort to decorate or buy lots of toys until you actually have your toddler in your home. Let her guide you toward what she needs and wants. Some children delight in merry-go-round, balloon, and clown room motifs and others are terrified of the bright colors and strange faces. It's best to have a bedroom that is calming and reassuring rather than garish and bright, as some children can be frightened by unfamiliar images and loud colors. When in doubt, go with white or beige walls and limit the room decorations at first. Don't fill a room with toys she will be unfamiliar with. A child who has been in a deprived situation does not benefit from overindulgence; introduce toys to her slowly and gradually.
Most experienced adoptive parents recommend that your baby sleep in your room for at least a month, and many parents wish to do so for even longer. Do, however, follow the advice of reliable medical and mental health professionals. Although cosleeping can be a way for you to start bonding to your baby, some pediatricians advise against it for newborns for safety concerns. If you don't want to sleep with your child in the same bed, but do want physical proximity, you can put her in a bassinette or something called a “side car” next to your bed. The idea is to be close enough to touch her and to hear her in the night, but avoid the possibility of rolling over onto her.
When your baby starts to roll over and scoot, usually at about five or six months, childproof your house. Put safety latches on your lower cabinets, cover electrical outlets, and attach gates across stair-wells. Sit on the floor and look around. Check for hanging cords, tablecloths, wobbly lamps, or anything else that might be harmful if grabbed or mouthed by a curious baby.
The Apgar test, (Activity, Pulse, Grimace, Appearance, and Respiration), done immediately after birth, rates a newborn's physical condition on a scale of zero to ten. Babies with an average score of seven are considered healthy. Knowing your baby or toddler's score is a very useful piece of information; it can alert you to whether your baby might benefit from concentrated early childhood stimulation to activate healthy brain and neurological development.