Planning Your Baby's Nursery

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Planning a nursery takes a little time and effort (and a lot of paint). So, before you start painting that room, you may want to consider the following tips:

1. Selecting the room:
To those expectant parents who live in a two-bedroom house or apartment, this is an easy decision. But, for those who have a choice between a few bedrooms, you may want to consider the following:

a. Proximity of baby's room to yours. Do you really want to walk to the other side of the house many times each night for feedings? I would suggest a room that is close to your room. For those mothers, like myself, who have to hear their baby's every move, the room next to yours is ideal. To some, that may be a nightmare.

b. Which direction does the room face? Is the room on the North, East, West, or South of the house? Babies nap a few times a day, so the amount of sunlight in the baby's room may affect his/her sleeping habits. If the room faces east, then you may have an early riser due to the morning sun streaming in the windows. The North side of your house will get the least amount of sunlight, while the South side of your house will get the most (in North America).

c. Is the room next to a busy road? Two words will sum this up: noisy cars.

d. The size of the room. Select the size of the room based on how you plan to use the nursery. Will it be used just for sleeping or a combination sleeping/playroom? Some parents choose to keep the baby's toys separate from his/her nursery, while others decide to include the toys and double the nursery as a playroom.

2. Decide the tone of the room.
Do you want it to be bright and colorful or subdued and neutral? soft blues, greens, and creams are relaxing colors while reds, oranges, and bright yellows are stimulating colors. Also, consider the patterns of the decorations that you use. Ex: Soft swirls versus bold stripes. The softer pattern may be more soothing while the bold stripes are more interesting for the baby's developing eye. Bright colors versus subdued colors, soft patterns versus bold patterns: it is all a personal preference. One won't make your baby sleep better than the other.

3. Your Budget.
Make a list of the items that you would like to buy and compare that to what you can afford. You really only need one thing: a crib. Everything else is a preference. Changing tables are nice to have, but you could use the floor. A rocking chair is nice to have, but you could stand and rock the baby in your arms. If you have an endless amount to spend on the nursery, then by all means, buy all of the pieces to a grouping. But, if you have a small budget, don't feel bad about limiting the pieces of furniture and decorations. You can still plan a beautiful nursery and plus - your baby won't notice.

If you have a limited budget and would still like all of the nursery items that you see in magazines and on websites, then consider these options:

a. Buy at second-hand stores or garage sales. Some of the items are in "like-new" condition, so it's worth checking them out. Before placing your baby in a used crib, stroller, car seat, or any other second-hand baby item, please check with the Consumer Product Safety Commission to make sure that the items weren't recalled. You would be surprised at how many baby items are recalled each year. Their website is: http://www.cpsc.gov

b. Register at a baby store and have a baby shower.

4.Themes
Decide on a theme for baby's room. You will find a lot of help out there by just looking at the bedding available. "The Cow Jumped Over the Moon", "Little Lambs", Stars and Moons", are a few of the many choices that you'll find in the stores. If you aren't looking for a "theme", then consider working with a few select colors. If you are expecting a girl, then colors such as cream, pink, lavender can be used; for boys, blue, yellow and white are always safe. If you aren't sure of the baby's gender, then stick to neutrals such as cream, yellow, beige, and pale green.

5.Furniture Arrangement
Consider the following when arranging your furniture:

a. Proximity of crib to potentially dangerous situations. Ex: Never place crib next to a window treatment with dangling cords, keep crib far away from anything that the baby can pull on top of him/her (lamps, decorations, etc.), and never place a portable space heater near the crib.

b. Keep baby's crib on an inside wall. This will help keep your baby warm in those cold winter months and also away from windows.

c. Traffic flow. You probably won't place the dresser in the middle of the room. Why? Because you will need some walking space. Take a look at the room and decide where pieces of furniture should be in relation to each other. If the crib is on one wall, then maybe place the changing table on the opposite wall to balance out the room.

6. Window Treatments
The shades, blinds, or drapes that you purchase can be used for both color and function. Light blocking shades are nice if the baby will have a lot of mid-day sunlight. You can also coordinate the shades with the theme of the room, or keep them very neutral.

7.Convert to a Toddler Room?
Many furniture pieces for nurseries are now able to convert to accommodate a toddler. Buying a convertible crib may save some money when it is time for your baby to sleep in a big kid bed. Also, consider the décor of the room. Painting in a cream color, for example, is easier to convert to a big kid room than if you use "baby pink". But, then again, you may decide to have a second baby and move the first child to another room. Worst-case scenario: you re-paint.

Overall, take a little time to plan out your baby's room before entering the stores. All of the products and décor for babies can be overwhelming. But, if you have a game plan before shopping, then it can be a little less stressful. Happy decorating!

Credits: Audrey Cowan

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