We all want to have that picture-perfect nursery in the Pottery Barn catalog. But is that really practical? Heck no. It is pretty and expensive and has way more than you need. In fact, those picture-perfect nurseries could even be dangerous. So what should you have in your nursery?
Creating the Ideal Sleep Space
Cribs should meet safety standards. If you have an older crib with a drop-side – get rid of it. If the crib does not meet safety standards, you cannot believe that it is safe to use. You should have a flat and firm mattress. You do not want a soft mattress that baby can “sink” into. When it comes to all those cute blankets, bumpers, and pillows, it’s a hard pass. There should not be anything in baby’s crib. They are cute – but leave them off the registry or put them in the closet until the baby is no longer a baby.
The darker the better. Think about how light it can be when the baby will need to be napping or going to bed. During the summer it can stay light out long after bedtime. That light can disturb many babies and too much light will inhibit melatonin production (once they start producing it). So think more than just hanging blackout curtains. Think blackout cling or other complete blackout shades. Even duct tape and tin foil do the trick if you are on a budget.
Young babies tend to fall asleep to loud noises – like the vacuum cleaner, but then it seems they wake to the tiniest little pin dropping. It is important for baby’s to have a quiet environment, but that also means that you might have to cover up other noises. A white noise machine is great for this! The constant drone of mechanical white noise will cover up any tone changes or occasional noises that might occur in or out of the room. Steer away from the cute devices that play music or nature sounds – as the tone changes in these sounds can actually wake the baby.
A cool room helps induce sleep (at any age). It is best to keep the sleep space between 65 degrees and 72 degrees. Take into consideration the availability of climate control in the baby’s room. Does the room get overly hot or cold? Determine the best way to keep the room a comfortable temperature, if possible.
If space permits have a nice comfy spot to read to your little one. This space could be a simple as a rocking chair and a basket of books. Even in the early days, reading is beneficial to your child. It is a great way to bond with them, for them to learn your voice and the spoken word. Reading is a great way to wind down and help signal it’s almost time for bed.
This does not even have to mean a changing table! But have a dedicated space where you keep some clothes, diapers, and diapering accessories. For the early days, having the elevated changing table is great, so you don’t bend over for those countless diaper changes. But eventually, they outgrow the table, even if they haven’t outgrown the diapers. One consideration is to get a dresser that doubles as a changing table. Or you can use the floor, and you don’t have to worry about someone rolling off. Whatever set up you do choose, don’t try to just “rig” something together – you need to make sure you have a setup that is safe for your child.
Safety is number one all the time. While you set up the nursery, think about what could become a hazard to your child. You don’t need to “baby” proof right away, but you need to at least keep it in mind. Are there exposed outlets? Are there cords that could be yanked on? Furniture such as dressers and bookcases will eventually need to be secured to the wall.
The perfect nursery does not need all the bells and whistles you see in the pretty pictures online. It just needs to be a simple, safe space for baby to get some good sleep. When in any doubt, consider referencing AAP recommendations.