Planning the perfect nursery doesn’t have to be overwhelming. Instead, think of the room primarily as a space for daily routines – sleep, diaper changing and playtime – and the process becomes a streamlined joy. We’ve cut out all the mental clutter to get you straight to the best parts.
1. First Things First: The Floor Plan
It may be tempting to dive right into picking the furniture or decorating the room, but you’ll be much happier in the long run if you do your homework first.
- Measure the room and draw a basic floor plan – including windows, doors and heat registers – to plot out the ideal placement of furniture.
- Once you’re aware of all the room’s details, choose a good location for the crib, away from heat and air-conditioning registers and windows so your new bundle of joy stays comfy and cozy at all times, at least as far as temperature is concerned.
- After you’ve chosen the crib location, you’ll be able to figure out where to place the changing table, dresser and other accoutrements.
Pro tip: Be sure to keep your other items far enough away from the crib so your lighting-fast infant won’t be able to reach or tug at them from the crib.
2. Within Arms’ Reach: the Key to Everything Important
Product placement is everything – and we’re not talking about endorsement deals. Where you keep things in the nursery really matters: think baby wipes, clean diapers and clothes, a trash can, the butt paste. All items that could potentially be needed while changing the baby MUST be kept within arm’s reach of the changing table – but not within reach of the baby. This way, no matter what mess or global catastrophe you’re dealing with, you can take care of it without stepping away from your kiddo. (Not sure what items you need? This checklist can help.)
3. Mess-Proof Flooring
Carpeting may seem like a good idea, but it’s not necessarily the best option for a nursery. Why? Carpet fibers attract dust and pet dander and tend to absorb whatever is spilled on them – definitely not a fun proposition when a baby is involved. So which flooring is best, you ask? Hardwood, cork and laminate flooring are all excellent choices for the nursery. Anything spilled, dropped or spewed onto the floor is easy to clean up (and to notice!). Hard flooring also doesn’t trap substances that may contribute to asthma or allergy issues.
4. The Perfect Play Area
Set up a corner of the nursery as a baby play area full of soft toys, cloth books, stuffed animals, play blocks and similar stimuli to keep your little one inspired and active. A soft – and washable – rug or play mat provides a comfy cushion for all sorts of play. Small toys can be placed in baskets or soft bins and kept in a corner or on a short and wide non-tippable bookcase.
5. Of Light and Darkness
Just the right amounts of light and darkness matter a lot in a nursery. A nightlight comes in handy for those middle-of-the-night wakeup calls. Position the nightlight so it is out of the baby’s line of sight, yet provides enough light to guide you to the crib without stubbing your toes. Once the baby is big enough to crawl, you’ll want a nightlight that can be kept well out reach. Portable, battery-operated units are an option, or pick a larger dim light that can be plugged in and kept on a high shelf.
As for darkness, cover any windows with blackout shades or drapes to make a more compelling rendition of sleeptime, no matter how sunny it is when it’s time for a nap.
Pro Tip: All low wall outlets should be covered with baby-proof caps and no electrical cords should be within access of an infant at any time. Cords for drapes and blinds should also be kept well out of baby’s reach.
6. Make a Space for Yourself
Sure, the nursery is the baby’s room, but a lot goes on in the nursery besides naps and diaper changing and those things involve you. Comforting and feeding the baby are high on the list, especially for newborns. Place a glider or comfy rocker in a corner so you won’t have far to carry your cutie once she finally falls asleep in your arms. Your comfy space also comes in handy for story time, lap-based playtime, and general cuddly goodness.
7. Pick a Theme, Any Theme
Congratulations! You’re all set on the necessities, so now it’s time to have some fun. The potential for theme ideas is endless, so let’s make it simple. Pick one baby item that you already have on hand that you absolutely adore – that planet mobile you’ve picked for the crib, a quilt made by a relative or a cloth giraffe wall hanging, for instance – and use that as an inspiration piece for the room. Perhaps you like the colors in the quilt or the idea of cartoon-style baby zoo animals.
1. Once you’ve settled on a basic concept or color scheme, the rest is easy. Paint the room with a low- or no-VOC paint. (VOCs are volatile organic compounds – toxins that also produce potentially harmful fumes.). The Good Human lists several paints that are safe and ideal for the nursery or any room.
2. Add wall decals in your chosen theme – owls, rockets or even a giant tree, for instance. Feel free to make your own wall decals out of contact paper for a completely custom theme, such as rainbow stripes or chevrons.
Added benefit: wall decals can be removed and replaced as your child outgrows one theme and develops interest in another. And since they’re vinyl, they can be wiped down, as needed.
As for extra decor pieces, add them along the way. Gifts received at the baby shower – stuffed animals and toys he isn’t yet old enough to play with – can become part of the decor for now, displayed on shelves. And now that your theme is in place, every trip through the baby aisles at your favorite store becomes an adventure.