Nursery Essentials: How to Set up a Nursery

Life at home will never be the same after a new baby’s arrival. Preparing the perfect nursery is a fun part of the anticipation. Breaking the room into three essential elements will help with planning.

The first element, and perhaps the most obvious, is the nursery as a place to sleep. Many parents choose a crib that can adjust to a toddler bed and then a full-size bed as the child grows. While this can be a cost-saving and time-saving option, it may not be practical if you expect to use the same crib for younger siblings later. You’ll either end up buying another crib for the next child or investing in something new for the older child.

The important thing to remember, no matter your choice, is safety. You’ll want to ensure the paint is safe (children may chew on the rails someday). You will also want the ability to lower the mattress as the child gets older and starts trying to climb out of bed.

Beyond a place to sleep, consider the lighting. Room darkening shades or curtains create an atmosphere for sleep even at naptime. A dimmer switch or well-placed lamps can help a sleepy parent navigate the room at night without flipping the switch for jarring overhead lights that wake everyone up.

The second nursery essential is space to care for the child. This means creating two areas: one to nurse, feed and soothe and another to change diapers.

For the first, choose a comfortable chair with smooth movements to calm the baby – probably a glider. These are available in a classic rocking chair look or as a more modern stuffed chair.  A slipcover (especially a white one that can be bleached) will help with cleanup when the inevitable messes occur. Be sure to select a chair with ample back support (or add pillows) and spring for a coordinating ottoman. Not only can this provide extra rest for weary grownups, but it can also provide extra storage and, in the future, a perfect place to sit in a kid’s room.

Next to the chair, place a table with room for a low-light lamp, extra burping cloths, and room for a water bottle (or caffeinated beverage, if allowed?) for those weary grownups.

For diaper changes, many families opt for a dresser with changing pad or for a table that can convert to a dresser later. Rather than a changing table a baby will eventually outgrow, these options can be used in a kid’s room later. Either way, choose a safe, molded pad that’s hard for older babies to roll off of. Also, ensure there’s plenty of storage to keep the essential diapers, wipes and creams within easy reach. That way, there’s no temptation to leave baby unattended, even for a few seconds.

Finally, when planning a nursery, consider room to grow. Whether the nursery will eventually become a big kid’s room or will stay a nursery until the next one comes along, lots of growth and play will occur in those walls.

Many new homes boast hardwood flooring throughout, but baby will need soft spaces for tummy time, crawling and playing. Rugs or foam play mats can serve the purpose. A base rug with a smaller sheepskin rug on top can provide extra padding. Washable rugs options will make life less stressful if there’s a spill or, and this is bound to happen, baby spits up or has a leaky diaper.

Ensure there’s plenty of storage for gear, books, stuffed animals (they multiply at night, it seems) and toys. Baskets and cube storage is flexible and convenient, and options range from inexpensive to designer. Ensure that shelves or dressers are anchored so a young explorer can’t tip them over.

To save money on nursery essentials, consider buying last year’s models of new items or even used items (though used car seats aren’t recommended). Your favorite online sources will help, and many communities host consignment sales for kids’ equipment and clothing. These can help you evaluate used items in person, save money now, and make money later as you pass along items you no longer need.

Building on the foundation of these nursery essentials will help create a life at home where children will thrive and parents can relax for years to come. Welcome to the world, baby!

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