Baby on the way? Congratulations. That gives you about a million things to plan for and dream about. One of the most immediate is preparing a special living space for the impending arrival. While it may be tempting to just redo a spare bedroom in pastel paint and call it quits, let's make it clear right now that you won't get off so easily. Despite their small size, babies come equipped with the need for an awful lot of stuff and it will be your job to find room for it all. On top of that, they do best in an environment that is light, bright, safe, serene, and comfortable. So here's what you have to think about when getting your nursery ready.
Before even you start picking out furniture or choosing a theme (Winnie the Pooh? Superhero? How about old fashioned cute and cuddly?), make sure that your future nursery is safe. This means removing any obvious hazard such as lead paint or mold. It also includes ensuring healthy indoor air quality by using low- or no-volatile organic compound paint, furnishings, and flooring. Look out for dangling curtain cords, free-floating draperies, or the like near the crib -- or blankets, bumper pads, and stuffed animals inside it -- as they may pose a strangulation risk. Easily tipped over furniture, like bookcases, should be anchored to the wall.
Here is a very basic list of what that 7-pound-or-so bundle of joy will need:
- Changing table
- Diaper pail if you will be using cloth or a trashcan for disposables -- either one must have a well-fitting cover for obvious reasons
- Parent-sized rocker or other cozy chair for feeding Baby (or sneaking in some well-deserved shuteye)
- Storage -- acres and acres of storage for all those adorable little outfits you're likely to receive as gifts, acres and acres of diapers, spare crib sheets, and toys
Especially if you are remodeling a small room, it helps to plan the layout of all this stuff in advance. Use an online design tool or for neo-Luddites, cardboard cutouts on graph paper; the latter will give you some handy advance practice in crafting paper dolls.
Now we come to the easy part -- picking a nice color to paint the nursery walls. But wait! This job might not be so simple after all. Do you intend to find out whether Junior is a boy or a girl … and if so, are you ready to announce that fact to all and sundry who glance at the room before the big birth-day? Isn't gender-neutral decor more fashionable these days anyway? In fact, we've heard that the new pink or blue is actually a charming (!!??) shade of black. Good luck with whatever you end up picking, but just remember that pastels and other pale hues are lower in VOCs.
You will be spending more nighttime hours than you could ever imagine in that darn … er … adorable nursery, so proper lighting is a must. You'll need sufficient illumination to take care of necessary care-related tasks, but not enough to jolt a (thank goodness -- finally!) sleepy baby into wakefulness. Consider equipping the overhead fixture with a dimmer switch. A lamp next to your chair is also recommended.
Turning your heating system way, way down on winter nights to save energy is a fantastic green idea … except when it comes to the nursery. A separately controlled thermostat is an excellent idea to keep your little one warm. In addition, you might want to install a wall- or ceiling-mounted heater as a quick and convenient supplementary source of heat.
Sooner than you know it, your teeny infant will be wiggling, crawling, and toddling (and sometimes toppling) his or her way to independence. Make sure that the nursery floor is a comfy surface to start out on. Cork, linoleum, and rubber are recommended flooring materials for babies' rooms, because they combine resilience and comfort with durability and noise reduction. They are also blessedly easy to clean.
Laura Firszt writes for networx.com.