As someone who is “out of” the baby stage and has made it on to a “big girl” room for my preschooler, I feel like I have some words of wisdom when it comes to creating a nursery for your baby. There are SO many things I didn’t need that I had when I was pregnant, and things I did need that I didn’t have. Here I will try and prepare you the best way I can in a practical sense so you will be ready when your little bundle of joy comes home. Here, we’re going to break it down to the essentials. What do you need to make sure your nursery has and how do you make sure you’re choosing the right option? Let’s look at the facts.
Between clothes, toys, bottles, and all the other items you will continue to rely on throughout the months ahead, you will soon find that you cannot have enough storage for a nursery. It’s recommended you have some easy-to-reach open storage, such as a large wicker basket next to your baby’s crib. This is the perfect place for extra blankets, burp cloths, and other essentials you need to keep close at hand. A single dresser should be more than enough to serve as a more comprehensive storage of all the clothes, bibs, socks, and other small items they will need throughout the day. You shouldn’t need too much more than that. Baby will grow out of clothes SO quickly anyway, no sense in having too many in one size. (And mine spit up on everything, so there was no sense in having a lot of “nice” outfits!)
A place to sleep
Of course, what could be more important in the nursery than the place that the baby goes, itself? When it comes to this essential, there are plenty of simple bassinets and more complex cribs you can buy, so how do you make sure that you’re choosing the right one? For a young baby, have a fully enclosed crib with no drop-sides, and ensure that they are made of quality materials. Also, consider the crib size when making your choice. Whether you choose a standard or mini crib, you have to make sure that they offer enough space for the baby to sleep comfortably, but not so much that they are going to be rolling around too much in the night. Emma Kate stayed in her crib until she was three, and it was a great size!
The right bedding
Just as important as the bed itself is the bedding that goes on top of it to keep the baby comfortable and help control their temperature at night. Once you have selected a good crib, start with a firm mattress that fits the crib snugly. If you can fit two fingers between the mattress and crib, it’s a hazard. Soft mattresses are also known to be suffocation hazards. As for bedding, make sure to choose those proven safe for young children. Bumper pads are known to be risky, for instance, and offer no real protection for infants. There are guides for safe baby bedding and sleeping tips that can help you be a lot more conscientious in and comfortable with your choice.
Making change easy
It’s a fact of parental life that changing your baby’s diaper is going to be a regular part of your day. When it happens in the nursery, you can make sure that you have the right place to take care of it. Changing tables, also known as diaper stations are a must. They include a comfortable, organized place to do the changing in a way that’s ergonomic for you, as well as storage for the changing essentials that you might want. A diaper bin or pail, however, is not recommended. While it might seem like convenient temporary storage for dirty diapers, when they are opened, they can release all the odor that has been stewing in there, creating a truly awful smell that can be hard to get out of the nursery. We personally just put the dirty diapers in a bag and walked the straight out to the “outdoor trash can” that was in the garage.
A chair that really rocks
While the nursery might be for baby first and foremost, it also needs a place for the parents. A glider can work just as well, but a rocking chair performs a very comfortable place for feeding, not to mention helping to calm and soothe your baby to get them back to sleep. When choosing a chair, be sure to consider not only your own body size and type but also how you tend to sit, especially when you’re rocking a baby. Of course, you can always add cushions and soft furnishings to increase the comfort of the seat a little more, but you want to try and get a chair as ergonomic as possible. You can expect to spend a lot of time in it, after all. We actually still have Emma Kate’s chair in her room, and we use it to read to her at night and sing etc.
Some people might not consider a bouncer entirely essential. After all, if you have a crib for when the baby’s lying by themselves and a rocking chair for when you’re spending time with them, then why use something else? Think about the times you’re with your child but not holding them. For instance, it can be great for when you’re cleaning the nursery, putting away laundry, or doing work at home. A good bouncer seat will help cradle and rock your baby, keeping them comfortable while you’re not holding them. Furthermore, the crib should be reserved for sleeping only, and having a non-crib place for them to rest outside of your arms can reinforce that fact. They will learn that crib-time is time to sleep.
Sending off to sleep
Before too long, you’re going to learn that you will use any advantage you can get when it comes to sleep training and helping your child calm enough to sleep through the night. If you’re feeling like your crying baby has got you on the brink of your patience, then you can let a mobile take over. Baby mobiles are so popular because they are effective at what they do: calming and entertaining your baby. When it comes to which mobile you should buy, there are a lot of different types, including those with different toys, directions of movement, ways of powering them, and the ability to make sounds. You don’t have to get a fancy one, but instead you should look to the kind of toys your baby already shows interest in and get a mobile that resembles them.
Light up the night
When it comes to buying a nightlight, it’s important to remember the purpose of them. Unlike slightly older children, most babies aren’t afraid of the dark. They might cry because they wake up and they can’t see you, but the nightlight isn’t to help calm them and get to sleep (though it does play that function to some degree.) The main purpose of getting a nightlight, and the factor that should be top in your mind when choosing the right one, is that it helps you have some visibility when you’re making night-time trips to the nursery without having to turn on the overly-bright main light and further wake up your baby.
Good bedding is likely to be enough to help your baby stay nice and cozy when it gets cold, but what about cooling it down when the weather starts warming up? Here in the south that happens fast. A small, safe air circulator or fan is going to help a lot in keeping the room cool during nap time. However, it can also help your baby sleep a little easier, as well. A good fan can act as a source of white noise, making it easier for your child to tune out the sounds of the world outside so that even if someone is making a little noise elsewhere in the home or outside, your child is much less likely to be disturbed by it. A good fan can multitask and do both at once.
Do you need a baby monitor?
This one is a point of contention for a lot of people. The benefits of a baby monitor are obvious. They let you rest assured your baby is safe while allowing you to sleep and stay in another room. For some parents, that constant contact with their child, with can be visual only, audio only, or both, is reason enough to get a baby monitor. However, there is also plenty of evidence that relying too much on a baby monitor can actually increase feelings of anxiety in parents, causing them to pay more attention than is really necessary, and even getting in the way of your own sleep. Needless to say, this isn’t good for you or baby, so choose wisely. We chose to get one as Emma Kate was on the opposite side of the house from us.
The essential supplies
Of course, while it’s not likely something you will forget to buy, it is something that should be considered when you’re putting together a budget for the rest of the items mentioned here. Ensure you have plenty of the essential necessities, with diapers and wipes chief amongst them. You will want plenty of clothes that are easy to put on, such as baby-grows, as well. Just try to not buy too much clothing as they will be outgrowing them as fast as you can replace them before too long!
There will be plenty of extras you can find when creating a nursery if you feel they are important and worth the cost. Just ensure they don’t come at the expense of the essentials mentioned above, either in terms of budget or space. Enjoy your new sweet baby!