For mums and dads-to-be, awaiting a new addition to the family is an exciting time and preparing the new nursery should be fun too. However, with so many other things to consider when expecting a new arrival, there are a number of common pitfalls to be aware of. And with a little bit of planning, you can avoid these and enjoy creating the perfect space for your baby and for you.
As with most things in life, timing is everything. So, don’t leave it too late. The nesting instinct, a natural part of pregnancy that so many mothers-to-be experience, tends to get stronger towards the due date but you don’t want to be banging nails, painting walls and flat packing right up to the eleventh hour.
One of the big questions is when to paint. It is not recommended to paint during the first trimester - although the risks to pregnant women and unborn children from exposure to the chemicals in paints are not fully known. It is also recommended to finish any painting or wallpapering in the nursery at least 8 weeks prior to your due date to allow for any potentially harmful fumes to dissipate before bringing your baby home (if you can, leave the windows to speed-up the process).
Remember to keep the room well ventilated, wear a mask and don’t eat or drink while painting. And the same precautions should also apply when you’re using cleaning products.
It is also advisable to order the larger items of nursery furniture - cot, changing table, storage - in plenty of time to ensure availability. Which leaves the third trimester for the fun stuff: accessorising.
You might also want to order your baby monitor at this point to be sure you’ve got to grips with the functions before baby’s first night in the nursery. Take a look here for low emission baby monitors by Babymoov.
Design over function
Boho nursery by Project Nursery. Two-Piece nursery set in white from The Baby Room. Mint Storage Unit from Cuckooland.
The key thing to remember when designing the nursery is that it needs to be a comfortable and relaxing space for you too, as well as a calm and cosy sleep-promoting environment for your child. You’re probably going to be spending a lot of time in there feeding and gazing at the walls, so bear this in mind when you start to plan.
Must-have items include a comfortable feeding chair or rocker, offering good lower back support, armrests and the ability to sit with your feet planted flat on the floor. If space allows, you might want to consider including a spare bed or day bed for you to sleep in once your baby is old enough to sleep in the nursery.
Consider a changing table that doubles as a dresser or a cotbed that can be extended as your child grows. Organise the room so that you have everything you need close to hand for the nighttime nappy changes.
When it comes to the decoration, accessories, wall hangings and artwork, pick something that you’ll enjoy looking at during those long feeds. Beware of over-theming at this early stage, as the time for Disney or Star Wars themed everything will come soon enough.
Remember also that grey is your friend. Consider this for your walls over brighter colours that may overstimulate your little one. It’s neutral, calming, versatile and still very much on-trend. You can brighten it with white, pastels and accessories to add some playful colour to neutral tones. The other advantage of grey is that you can update the room as your child grows without having to start from scratch.
Rabbit Mobile from Etsy
Light and dark
When and how much your baby sleeps will have a huge impact on your own precious sleep and any parents who’ve learned the hard way will tell you how important it is to get the lighting in the nursery right from the outset.
Organising it so that you’re able to control the amount of natural and artificial light there is in your baby’s bedroom, at any time of the day or night, will pay dividends in the end. If possible the baby’s cot should be out of the direct line of sunlight or street light and blackout blinds, lined curtains, dimmer switches and nightlights are all your friends.
Fail to future proof
When imagining the nursery, don’t just plan for the first couple of years. Think toddler. This involves future proofing for safety and adaptability.
Windows and window dressings should be safe and secure with blind or curtain cords safely out of reach and furniture kept away from the window. Smoke and carbon monoxide detectors are also among the nursery safety essentials that you should consider.
When it comes to storage items, such as shelves or drawers, be sure to choose something solid that can’t be easily pulled or knocked over by cruising babies or toddlers - for extra security, fix them to the walls or floor.
For versatility and adaptability wall stickers are a quick and easy option. They’re non-toxic, add instant colour to neutral walls and are easily replaced. They’re also safer than heavier items, such as framed pictures, that could be pulled off the wall.
Check out our post on non-toxic nurseries for more advice on making your nursery a safe and secure environment for you and your baby.
Lion Rug by OYOY. Room decor (right) by House of Hired Designs.
And finally a word on flooring. This is something that you want to consider carefully and get sorted well in advance of the birth. Bare boards are lovely to look at, but they can be noisy when you’re trying to slip out of the room after putting your baby down to sleep, not to mention a splinter hazard for little crawlers.
Carpet is cosy and comforting, not to mention forgiving of little people who are prone to topple and fall on their bottoms. They can, however, harbour dust mites and other allergens so you might want to consider looking for a carpet made from natural, VOC-free fibres. And be sure to sort out any squeaking floorboards before the carpet is laid!
If the cost of natural fibre carpet is a barrier, you could opt for an attractive area rug instead, but beware of any trip hazard and be sure to secure these to the nursery floor to avoid slippage. Other flooring options include cork, laminate and bamboo.
For more information and inspiration take a look at this really useful article on nursery flooring.
And finally our shopping guide on where to find all those nursery essentials.
1. Little Trees Lampshade from Koko Kids. 2. Changing table from The Baby Room. 3. GroEgg Baby Thermometer and night light from John Lewis. 4. Chest of drawers from Cuckooland. 5. Cloud Mobile from Junior Edition. 6. Acacia Rocking Chair from Cuckooland. 7. Cotbed from Scandiborn. 8. VOC-free paint from Little Greene. 9. Organic Muslin Squares from Smallable. 10. Ferm Living Pear Storage Basket from Scandiborn. 11. Low EMF baby monitor from Babymoov.