In the few short years since I had my first baby the humble baby nursery has progressed from a small room with a cot and a change table with a few teddies and a hanging mobile, to sophisticated styled rooms with designer furniture and decor, organic bed linen and $250 Scandinavian 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, even better, they can do all the shopping for you AND set it up. If you have the money that is.
Like most females, I love homewares, interiors and anything that makes my house feel like a beautiful space to be in. I just love finding inspiring images of gorgeous 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? Apart from a baby crib, what do you actually NEED?
I’ve listed a few tips I’ve found most helpful in the three baby rooms I’ve set-up 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. But in reality, 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 you will spend a lot of time in a chair in your baby’s room, 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 try to find one you can sit upright in if you’re breastfeeding, one that is big enough to make you feel relaxed in and can add cushions for extra support and comfort. When babies needs up to 10 or more feeds in those early days, trust me, you’ll be happy you bought a comfortable chair. Once they get a bit bigger it can be your storytime chair too.
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 ‘night light’ I mean one that you can both 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!)
The trick is to find one that is bright enough to read by but also dim enough 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 will probably spend more time in it than anyone else (apart from baby of course).