Nurseries have become big business in homewares and interior design. In the few short years since I had my first baby they’ve gone from a baby room with a cot and a change table with a few teddies and a hanging mobile, to beautifully decorated and sophisticated styled rooms with designer furniture, organic bed linen and $250 Scandinavian designed crochet toys.
In fact, stylists and interior designers have created a whole new industry out of decorating, designing, and styling baby rooms. And, they’re in demand! You can hire someone to select all your nursery wares and furniture for you, and then style it in a mood board so all you have to do is go and buy it; or, if you like, they can do all the shopping for you and set it up. Amazing… if you have the money.
Like most females, I love homewares, interiors and anything that makes my house feel like a beautiful space to be in, if if toys and little people’s clothes cover the floor most of the time. I love finding inspiring images of gorgeous kids and baby rooms to get ideas from (and to give you ideas too!) Given the budget, one really could go crazy on setting up your baby’s special room.
But, what are the practicalities in setting up the nursery? What do you actually NEED?
I’ve listed a few tips I’ve found most helpful in the three baby rooms I’ve had in the past few years…
Keep it dark
Bright nurseries that are all white and full of natural light look amazing. They make for stunning images on design blogs and Instagram, and give mums-to-be tonnes of inspiration for setting up their room. But remember, most of the images you see on social media have been brightened for effect, using filters and bright lighting to make it look amazing in photos. In real life, make sure your nursery isn’t TOO bright, otherwise baby won’t be able to sleep. And sleep is what they need a lot of in the first year – day and night. Up until around 12 months of age babies need at least two day sleeps of an hour or two each, so a light-filled, bright nursery just isn’t a great idea if you want your baby to sleep.
Ensure you have some curtains, block out blinds, plantation shutters or darkened blinds that will make the room dark enough for day sleeps, and a 7pm bedtime in daylight savings (Summer) time when it’s still very light outside.
Buy a comfortable chair
A nursery chair can not only be a stylish design feature of your room, but is also a practical necessity. Whether you breastfeed, bottle feed, or mixed feed (both a bit of boob and a botttle of formula) you will spend a lot of time in a chair, so make sure you get a comfortable one. It doesn’t have to be expensive (I have one from Ikea that’s very comfortable) but ensure you can sit upright in it for feeding, is big enough to make you feel relaxed and can add cushions and so on for extra comfort, and will grow with your child. When babies need 10 or more feeds in those early days, trust me, you’ll be happy you bought a comfortable chair.
When your baby grows into a toddler, then a child, it can become a reading chair for the many, many stories you’ll read to them! Oh, and make sure it’s within close proximity to an electricity point, because you will need to put it next to your next nursery necessity: a light!
Buy a good night light
And by ‘good night light’ I mean one that you can see, and read, by. I have spent many, many hours in my nursery at night feeding, expressing, rocking to sleep, nursing to sleep, holding when sick… that a light you can actually see by is essential.
There are some beautiful, stylish and design savvy lights on the market, especially designed for baby and kid’s rooms, but practically speaking, buy one where you can actually SEE – and I mean bright enough to read by. (You will be surprised at how small the instructions on the side of the Baby Panadol box are, especially when your tired eyes are trying to read the correct dosage at 3am!)
Also, ensure it is dim enough to be a night light that you can get your baby to sleep with it whilst on. If you choose wisely it will last into their childhood as a storytime, then bedside light.
Storage – drawers, shelves, bedside table
Babies are so tiny when they first come home from hospital, but they grow quickly and accumulate a LOT of stuff. Not only clothing; but wraps, blankets, sleeping bags, nappies, rugs, toys, books, puzzles, keepsakes, etc – so decent storage, and lots of it, is a necessity.
Buy a decent sized chest of drawers for your baby’s clothes – they grow so quickly that pretty soon you’ll need lots of space for singlets, jumpsuits and onesies and leggings and tops and hoodies and socks… plus the other bazillion items of clothing they have. Baby clothes are teensie, and tricky to put on coathangers (not to mention fiddly and annoying) so drawers are much easier for storing their clothes.
Shelves are also a great idea for all the little titbits babies have, such as books, games, puzzles, jewellery boxes and keepsake boxes, photo frames, all the stuffed toys you’ll no doubt receive (and they take up a LOT of space!)
A little table, or a bedside table with a drawer is also a good idea to put next to your nursery chair – when feeding you’ll need to put a bottle of water, snacks, mobile phone and anything else that needs to be within reach, especially when you may spend up to an hour feeding (like I did). And in the early days when you’re establishing breastfeeding, you don’t want to stop feeding to get up to get something, that’s just annoying, and disrupts the baby too. Have it all within easy reach. A stool looks stylish, but a table with a drawer is a better idea for other items you need to keep within reach but out of little hand’s way: like a thermometer, lip balm, hair ties, medications, bottle teats, spare chocolate bars…. It’s also a good place to sit your light!
And finally, make it a space that YOU feel comfortable in… after all, you are the one who’s going to spend more time in it than anyone else (apart from baby of course).
For tips on how to set up a safe nursery, check out the guest post I wrote for Interior’s Addict Blog It’s Not All About The Pretty.