What not to Do
In Part One of our Planning a Nursery: The Do’s and Don’ts series, we gave you some pointers on some of the things you should do. They were tips to ensure your baby’s safety and comfort, as well as your convenience and sanity. In this section, we will talk about some of the things to avoid when decorating your baby’s room. Some might be less obvious than others, but important nevertheless.
Planning a Nursery: Don’t leave the paint to the last minute
This applies to not just the paint job, but also new furniture. Neither of these should be put off until the last minute. Both need plenty of time to air out so that the baby doesn’t end up inhaling fumes upon arrival. When planning a nursery, be wary of the paints you use, as some paints can off-gas fumes for months (or even years) after application. You might also want to use paints that are free of VOCs. If you’re considering VOC-free paints, make sure that they are really VOC-free. Some paints are zero-VOC only until they add pigment for color. So do your research, and decide well ahead of time.
Don’t delay placing orders for customized items
As mentioned in Part One of the series, you should manage your time in such a way that you are able to see all the important jobs done – from start to finish. And that too, well in time for the baby’s arrival. You should be mindful of the fact that when it comes to jobs where you rely on someone else’s services, you need to leave room for delays and adjustments. So when you are planning a nursery for your little one, always have these jobs taken care of in advance. If you want a customized crib, a dresser or a glider, finalize the designs and place your orders as carefully and early as possible. This is to ensure that any adjustments that you have to make, can be completed in time. You wouldn’t want to be scrambling to get something as important as a crib, a dresser or a chair finished, a week before the baby’s arrival.
When it comes to the timeline of tasks, you should also take into consideration your (or your partner’s) unpredictable health. As the baby’s arrival gets closer, most expectant mothers are running on low energy, and even lower stamina. Physical and hormonal changes to the body, sleep deprivation, stress and anxiety regarding the new arrival all contribute to a very real condition. Many people dismissively like to call this condition, ‘Pregnancy Brain’ or ‘Mommy Brain’, but it makes things difficult. Those who suffer from this condition often struggle with forgetfulness, absentmindedness and a general lack of focus. You cannot expect to stay on top of things, and run around after people to get work done in that condition.
Planning A Nursery: Don’t put loose items near the crib
A common mistake that many people make when decorating a nursery is to heavily accessorize the wall next to the crib. While having a very creative wall next to the crib makes a very Instagramable frame, it is hardly practical. It’s only a matter of time (at around 6 months) before the baby starts using the edges of the crib as support to stand. At around 4 months, babies start developing their hand-eye coordination, and like to grab things and explore them. This means that in a matter of months, that beautiful photo frame or wall hanging that you lovingly hung up next to your baby’s crib, would just end up becoming a hazard for them.
Don’t forget the floor
A lot of parents put extra attention to the crib. In reality, after a few months, when the baby starts crawling, you can’t force them to stay put in the crib. A few months in, babies love to crawl and indulge in tummy time – an activity that helps babies develop strong neck and shoulder muscles, while improving their motor skills. As they grow older, they love to sit and play with their toys and explore the space around them. Basically, babies spend more time on the floor than you’d like. For that reason, while planning a nursery, make sure that the floor is not only clean and safe, but also comfortable. It needs to be a space for your child to do tummy time, crawl, be read to and even take naps on.
So if you have a hard floor, placing rugs is a good idea. Try opting for washable rugs that are free from harmful chemicals and fumes that come from VOC glues and fibers.
Planning A Nursery: Don’t fill up all the space
This brings us right into the next point where you should leave some space in the room for the baby to move around, explore and play. Babies need room to grow. When you’re planning a nursery and furnishing it, don’t fill up a major portion of the room with bulky items. Research shows that like adults, infants and toddlers also get frustrated when they feel restricted or like they cannot move easily through an environment. So you need to make sure that their room has enough space for them to freely navigate the area. It doesn’t matter if it’s place for them to sit and build blocks on, or jump around or dance in. Some open space is important for both, active playtime and quiet play.
Don’t try to do everything before the baby comes
There are two aspects to this, the first of which is controlling the urge to buy everything you like and want for your child. As tempting as it may be, pace yourself; don’t buy everything at once, or in advance. Baby things are undeniably adorable, but avoid impulsive buying. That will just leave you with a lot of things that you have little use for, at least in the first few months. You don’t need to buy clothes for the baby that will last until they turn three. When it comes to storage in a baby room, every inch is valuable real estate. Do you really want to assign that space to clothes that the baby will not be wearing any time soon?
Another purchase that you might want to reconsider is a crib. Getting a crib is often the first step – a no-brainer – when parents start planning a nursery. However, a lot of parents have spoken from experience and said that despite having cribs, their children did not sleep in them for at least the first few months. It is more comfortable for a lot of babies to sleep with their parents. Especially those who have colic or reflux issues, or those who are regularly breast-fed. Perhaps you could withhold buying a crib and set your baby up in a sidecar sort of an arrangement. There are options that can be placed next to parent’s bed. Perhaps you could look for options that can be converted into a crib when they are finally ready to sleep on their own.
Planning A Nursery: Don’t take all the tags off
Wait before washing all the baby clothes that you have purchased. Washing and sanitizing the clothes you intend to make your newborn wear is an essential step. However, use your energy wisely. Don’t wash everything before the baby comes. This is because you may have to return some things or exchange some items for a different size. Wash about 15 articles of clothing for 0-6 months, some of which should be for a newborn. Leave the tags on for the rest.
Babies often outgrow clothes and skip sizes. So it’s best to see which sizes you’ll need more of, before removing the tags. Once the baby comes, you’ll see that you often end up making them wear the same clothes over and over again. Some of the clothes would also be weather-inappropriate. If you are having a summer baby, and have purchased a lot of cute, winter onesies for 6-9 month olds, you are bound to end up with a lot of items that your baby never ends up wearing. You might want to keep the tags on, return them or give them to someone else.
Don’t buy a dedicated changing table
As discussed in Part One, when it comes to bulk items, it’s better to buy things that can be repurposed or that serve multiple purposes. Few people still do this, but buying a dedicated changing table isn’t the best idea. This is more relevant if you have limited space. Having a changing table, built especially for that purpose, would mean that once the baby outgrows it, you’ll be stuck with it. It’ll become something that occupies space but has little use. It’s better to buy a dresser, with a removable changing station. Once out of diapers, you can remove the top and have a perfectly good dressing with a functional table top
Planning A Nursery: Don’t forget the blackouts
Once you become a parent, you’ll cherish those little moments during the day when you can afford a shut-eye. Make the most of those daytime naps, by installing curtains with blackout. It’s going to be a while before you can go back to enjoying a full night’s sleep. However, that doesn’t mean that you can’t create an illusion for yourself and enjoy a few moments of peace and quiet.
Don’t perpetuate gender stereotypes
It’s 2021. Do we really want to limit our sons to blues and daughters to pinks? There are perfectly reasonable gender-neutral colors that create beautiful vibes in the room for both, a boy and a girl. Even if you want to use conventional colors, there’s no rulebook that says that one gender cannot enjoy a color associated with another. Daughters can find fascination in a powder blue room, with bunnies and boats. Similarly, sons can appreciate the beauty in nature, flowers and rainbows.
There’s another, more practical reason to avoid buying things and decorating a room specifically for a gender. It makes it really difficult to pass things down to siblings. Honestly speaking, parents end up spending a fortune on nurseries. You would want to save wherever and whenever you can.
Planning A Nursery: Don’t forget to check what something is made of
Last, but by no means the least, check what ingredients go into everything that you intend to put on and around the baby. For instance, the baby’s skincare products, their food and even their bedding. Everything – from their beds, to their dressers, the paint on the walls, the wallpapers, the rugs and the toys that they play with – can potentially contain harmful materials like heavy metals, VOCs, BPA, and phthalates. And it doesn’t just end there. If you’re not careful, your baby could essentially be surrounded by carcinogens, endocrine, thyroid and immune system disruptors, allergens and neurotoxins that can have a direct effect on your their brain, body and behavior.
In conclusion, nursery planning is both an art and a science. Like art, you need to approach it with love and care. Like a science, you must work with a sense of purpose and direction. But whether you’re an artist at heart or a geek by nature, have fun while you’re getting ready to welcome your bundle of joy.
We end this two-part series with the hope that you took away at least one thing for it.
No matter what you fill (or don’t fill) your baby’s nursery with, it will always overflow with love.