When Planning a Nursery, This is What You Must Do
Setting up a nursery for a new baby’s arrival is a joyous time for all parents to be. It’s one of the first rewarding experiences parents enjoy before the actual arrival of the baby. Like any parent would tell you, there are a lot of “uncontrollable variables” during pregnancy and in the early days of parenthood. Nursery planning is one of the rare occasions during the entire journey that gives you some semblance of control. It also gives you the opportunity to visualize the future – set the stage for it.
Having said that, decorating a nursery can also feel overwhelming for multiple reasons. You want to be able to give your child the best of everything, while juggling other issues. Navigating space and time constraints, limited budgets, product availability, and striking the right balance between needs and wants. So we can see why it’s easy to get lost in the world of baby room planning. However, we will start this post by imparting one of the first wisdoms of parenthood that we have acquired over the years: be willing to ask for help when you need it. And this is us helping you through one of the first steps you take into the beautiful, magical and often-chaotic world of parenting.
In this two-part series, we will be giving you some pointers on the do’s and don’ts of decorating your baby’s nursery. Let’s start off with some of the things you should do, when it comes to setting up a nursery. For things you should avoid when planning your baby’s room, be sure to check out the next post in our Planning A Nursery: The Do’s and Don’ts Series – What Not To Do.
Planning a Nursery: Do Choose a Specific Style and Theme
Some people might think that doing so would limit your scope, but it would also help create focus in the room. It adds definition to the room and makes it more cohesive. It’s easy to get distracted by all the wonderful things available in the market. However, if you have a certain style or theme in mind, it will make many decisions a lot simpler.
Planning a Nursery: Do Choose Fabrics before Paint
This is one of those curveballs that nursery decoration throws at you. Since most parents are in a rush to get the room done in time, it is possible to ignore the importance of prioritizing tasks, and doing whatever is most convenient first. If you’ve already zeroed in on a color palette, then maybe you’ll be able to bypass this mistake. But if you’re going with a certain style that uses furniture and accessories of varying colors, you’d want to be careful. You wouldn’t want to a beautifully painted wall clashing with the ideal piece of furniture or curtains. It’s easier to find a color for the wall that complements a fabric, than it is to find the right fabric that complements the wall.
Planning a Nursery: Do Identify a Focal Point
Identifying a focal point in the baby’s room is quite helpful in creating a point of reference when accessorizing the room. It also prevents you from going overboard and buying items you like but don’t really need. Or buying things that don’t go well with the part of the room that you want to draw focus to. The focal point of the room could be anything – from a crib to a wall, a window or a piece of heirloom furniture. Regardless of what your baby room’s focal point is, the objective is to furnish the room with things that complement it and accentuate it.
Planning a Nursery: Do Decorate the Ceiling
For at least the first couple of months, the baby will be spending a lot of time on their back. It is very common for people to accessorize walls with frames, decals etc, and ceilings are often an afterthought, if at all. But consider it from the point-of-view of the baby, who spends hours staring at a ceiling. Might as well make it a bit interesting for them. It could be something permanent, like a calming wallpaper, a personalized mural or a soothing paint job. It could also be something more temporary, like glow-in-the-dark stars or motif decals.
Planning a Nursery: Do Try to Keep it Eco-friendly
It is never too early to start paying attention to the environment that you give to your child – especially in the early years. Did you know that before the age of 2, babies have already accumulated 50% of their lifetime cancer risk? – (EPA) It is important to be mindful of the products you’re putting in your baby’s room. That’s because many baby products tend to have harmful chemicals like flame retardants, phthalates, formaldehyde and Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs). All these substances have adverse effects on the quality of the environment you give to your child. These chemicals can compromise your child’s immune system and make them more prone to illnesses. So be mindful of what goes in your baby’s bedding, cleaning products and personal care products.
Planning a Nursery: Do Set up a Changing Station
There will be a lot of dirty diapers; there is no kind way of putting this. And since you’ll be spending a good portion of your day changing diapers/clothes, you might as well have a dedicated space for it. This changing station should have all the items you need during a quick change. Make the process as stress-free and as streamlined as possible.
Planning a Nursery: Do Set up a Sanitation Station
While we are on the subject of “dedicated stations”, it would also be a good idea – if space permits – for you to set up a sanitation station. This is a space equipped with all the cleaning products and sanitation supplies. Many dirty diapers, soiled clothes and “accidents” are bound to take place in this particular room over the next couple of months. You would want to pay extra attention to ensure that the space is as germ-free as possible.
Planning a Nursery: Do Create a System for Managing and Sorting Clothes
Never underestimate the rate at which a baby goes through burp cloths, clothes, blankets and towels. And you need to be prepared for how little time you’ll have to come up with “a clothing system” once the baby arrives. So it’s best to get this sorted beforehand. Keep the clothes organized by size and type. Anything that the baby doesn’t need for the next couple of months, shouldn’t take up prime property in the closet. It’s better to sort and label them by size and put them away until the baby is ready. It’s also a good idea to keep dedicated spaces. The small, more regularly used items like socks, bibs, burp cloths etc should be kept in compartmentalized drawers so that they can be easily accessed.
Another helpful tip is to keep a separate drawer/box for clothes that your baby has officially outgrown. Once the box/drawer is full, wash, label and store them so that they can be used by future siblings or donated to others. If you keep putting all outgrown items with the rest of the clothes, you’ll be wasting a lot of time and energy going through clothes that don’t fit the baby to find clothes that do.
Planning a Nursery: Do Make it as Safe as Possible
Even though babies don’t start crawling for several months, that would change very soon. One thing you should know about parenthood is that the days go by slowly, but the months go by fast. It’s only a matter of time before your little one would be on the prowl, and seemingly harmless things will turn into potential hazards. So it’s a good idea to put some thought and anticipate what could possibly happen after the first few months. Things will get dangerous once the baby starts to crawl, grab and move around. Securing electrical outlets, tucking away all chords and wires, and baby-proofing anything with sharp edges are the first things to take care of.
You’d also want to secure all rugs to the floor to prevent them from causing slips. Keep all lotions, ointments, medicines, cleaning supplies and toiletries out of reach. Also, avoid having open storage units, with removable drawers, in the baby room. Considering how grabby toddlers tend to be, it’ll be impossible to keep those drawers in place.
Planning a Nursery: Do Keep the Future in Mind
Try to purchase items that you feel can be repurposed in the future for your child. For instance, while buying a small, beautiful crib might be a tempting proposition at the moment, it would be more beneficial to buy one that can be converted into a toddler bed in the future. This might seem like the more expensive thing to do at the moment, but considering the fact that the baby would eventually need a bigger bed, you’re sparing yourself from the added expense later. Additionally, instead of investing in a purpose-built changing table, simply buy a dresser, with a makeshift changing station on top.
Planning a Nursery: Do Pay Special Attention to the Lighting (Day and Night)
The rule of thumb is to have a lighting system in place that can give you the darkness you sometimes need during the day, and the brightness you need when you have to feed the baby in the middle of the night. It is often assumed that a low-lit nursery would help give a calming vibe to the room. But while this may hold true for other rooms, a baby room would be the exception. In theory, low-lit rooms might be soothing, but when you add a colicky or hungry baby into the mix, it quickly becomes a recipe for an emotional breakdown (on the part of the parent). Navigating a low-lit room, with a restless baby can be quite overwhelming. So perhaps you may consider having bright, eco-friendly lights, with a reliable dimmer.
Some energy-efficient lighting options include Halogens and LEDs. In the past, dimmers were risky, inefficient and didn’t really save energy. However, modern dimmers efficiently reduce your bulb’s energy use, prolonging the lifespan of your lights, thereby reducing waste.
Another thing to take into consideration is the color temperature of the light. Although considered environmentally-friendly, blue light emissions can have an adverse effect on your sleep, and could potentially cause diseases. So be sure to opt for warmer colors like 2700k that have less blue light emissions.
Planning a Nursery: Do Stock up on Some Supplies
As mentioned before, you’ll be surprised to see how quickly you go through diapers, burp cloths and onesies. Once you find your groove, it’ll feel like a monotonous routine – Sleep, feed, dress, change. Sleep, feed, dress, change. Considering a major portion of your day would be spent trying to just get those things done, you will find little time to go shop or order in supplies, in case of emergency. It’s a good idea to stock up on things you know you’ll definitely use frequently, and keep them close by, so that you have constant backup. When it comes to baby supplies, your reinforcements need reinforcements. No one wants to wake up to feed the baby at night, only to see that they have heavily soiled their clothes, and everything that fits them is either dirty or still in the dryer.
Planning a Nursery: Do Try to Manage Your Time as Best as Possible
This is easier said than done, but you will need to manage your time before the baby arrives, because doing so after is a dream that only unicorn parents can achieve. Make a list of things-to-do and prioritize them based on importance and time needed to execute them from start to finish. Don’t put things on hold. The baby’s ETA might seem like a long way on paper, but if you start late, you are bound to do things frantically, which would turn nursery-planning – which is supposed to be a calming activity especially for a soon-to-be mama – into a stressful ordeal.