Although exciting, creating a nursery for your baby can be a daunting task. After all, it isn't just another room in your home, it's the room in your home. The room where your precious bundle of joy will be sleeping, playing, and waking you from in the middle of the night. You can't just willy-nilly throw it together, as you would a home office or a living room. You want to make sure it's safe, peaceful, and comfortable. And of course, you don't want to break the bank while creating it.
For anyone putting together their baby's room, here is an expert-advised ultimate checklist for building the perfect nursery.
Baby-proofing your nursery. First thing's first. You want to make sure your baby's room is safe above anything else. After speaking with Howard Appelbaum, founder and owner of Baby Proofers Plus, he revealed that the biggest hazard he sees in rooms is when there's something -- a video monitor wire, a blind cord -- within baby's reach from their crib. Make sure all items, wires, and cords are a safe distance from the crib, and particularly when your child is an infant, it's best to keep the crib completely bare. Celebrity nursery designer Sherri Blum of Jack and Jill Interiors said, "While it’s tempting to buy the quilt that matches your crib bedding, you won’t be using this fluffy blanket in the crib with your baby, as it poses a suffocation hazard." Blum also advises clients to keep stuffed animals out of the crib, as they can be a suffocation risk. Blum also touched upon the topic of crib bumpers. "The crib bumper is quite a controversial topic," she said. "There are those in support of this [to keep babies from getting broken limbs or bumps and bruises on limbs or head] and there are others who believe this to be a suffocation hazard. When in doubt ... leave it out."
Other safety precautions to keep in mind when creating a nursery? Appelbaum recommends securing any furniture, pictures, mirrors, and lamps to the walls; covering outlets with sliding outlet covers; putting drape cords out of baby's reach; padding sharp corners; and looking under the radiator for any random small items that could pose a choking risk.
Unnecessary items. Of course we all have that low-grade urge when we're pregnant to run out and buy any and all cute (expensive) items that we saw in a friend's nursery or on the Internet. Don't. There are some things you can save your money on because they're just unnecessary. "The traditional changing table is a total waste of money," Blum says. "Within a matter of months, you’re left figuring out how to dispose of this piece of furniture, as its useful life has expired! Instead, turn any dresser into a changing station with the addition of a simple changing pad with a safety strap. The dresser can then stay in your child’s room throughout his/her teen years."
Wipe warmers, "unless you keep your home at sub-zero temperatures," and mobiles are other non-essentials, according to Blum. Baby should be fine with regular wipes, and the gadget just winds up taking up precious space on the dresser. And as far as mobiles go, "your baby likely won’t be spending hours at a time laying awake in the crib to enjoy the mobile."
What to splurge on. Blum's number one item to spend money on is a new, well made crib from a reputable manufacturer. "Crib safety and construction are under constant scrutiny and therefore safety standards must be met for all new cribs. You might save money by borrowing a used crib, but you also risk obtaining a crib that doesn’t meet current safety standards or has even been recalled for safety concerns. Do your research on the crib manufacturer and always buy a crib that meets the most recent safety standards."
Blum as well as countless moms also advise investing in a comfortable rocking chair or glider in the nursery for breast or bottle feeding and, later, for story time. She also suggests purchasing a chair that can later be used in another room in the home. "Versatility is key when purchasing these bigger-ticket items!"
What you can skimp on. Not everything you buy your sweet little babe needs to break the bank. "You don't need to buy a new dresser," Blum says. "All you need is a sturdy one with as much storage space as possible. Use one from another room in the house or purchase a secondhand dresser and refinish it. Be sure that all old paint (lead paint in particular) has been safely removed and fresh new coats have been added." She also recommends getting creative with lighting, saying there's no need to run out and buy a fancy chandelier for your baby's room. There are plenty of lighting fixtures that can be found in thrift shops that, with a few cans of spray paint, can look like new.
How do I decorate a nursery when I don't know if I'm having a boy or girl? If you're one of the patient mamas who opted to not find out the sex of your baby, Blum advises painting the nursery in neutral colors you love and simply adding "boy or girl" touches later on when your meet your little cutie. And with all the gifts you're likely to receive from sweet family members and friends, that should prove to be an easy task.
What items were "essential" and "non-essential" to you when creating your baby's nursery?
Image via Radius Images/Corbis/Jack and Jill Interiors