Creating a nursery
The arrival of a new baby is one of the most exciting periods in anyone’s life. Whether you’re expecting your first child, preparing for a baby brother or sister, or approaching the end of the adoption process, creating a nursery is uniquely satisfying. It’s the ultimate in nest-making, providing the perfect reason to create a Pinterest board and potentially generating loads of Instagram-worthy photos.
As such, prospective parents can feel under pressure to outdo each other. Social media platforms and parenting sites are bursting with artfully staged images of ‘perfect’ nurseries. Yet in reality, there’s no such thing. Babies and toddlers have no ability to make comparisons, so any choice of furnishings or décor will be for your benefit rather than theirs. A baby’s main concerns are warmth, comfort and a degree of interactivity – a toy box they can easily access, or a mobile (not phone!) that catches the light as it spins around.
The best nurseries combine aesthetics with practicality. These are our tips for making your little one’s first bedroom a truly special place, without breaking the bank…
Because small children’s needs evolve rapidly, furnishings should be hard-wearing but also multifunctional. Drawer units with removable changing mats are ideal, since the latter can be jettisoned after potty training. Cot beds have fixed head and base boards but detachable side rails, aiding the transition between a cot and a conventional bed. You’ll need lots of storage, some of it anchored in place. Ensure wardrobe doors have no mechanism to slam or jam shut, and ideally look for soft-closing furnishings with rounded corners and button-style handles.
If you don’t know your baby’s gender yet, stick to neutral colour palettes like yellow, grey or cream. Vivid colours may be a trigger for children with autism, so resist strong shades like candyfloss pink. Strong colours can be accessorised in lampshades, cushions and wall stickers, which are all easily replaced for an affordable room refresh. Blackout curtains and blinds help little ones get to sleep when the sun is still shining at bedtime, and a cosy rocking chair is useful for nursing or nights when the baby isn’t settling. Dimmer lights help too.
It’s easy to get carried away buying alphabet puzzles and snuggly blankets for a nursery. However, babies may be overwhelmed by excessive amounts of toys or accessories, while clutter makes any room harder to clean (and potentially dustier). Put a couple of shelves fairly high up on the wall to showcase gifts from friends and relatives, keeping a modest quantity of baby-friendly toys and accessories within easy reach. Invest in durable items like height charts and memory boxes, which will have great sentimental value after years of use.
This is a contentious topic. Some parents want a nursery to have a theme, but babies have few real interests and there’s a danger of imposing your tastes on them. If you are going to have a theme, run with it – put up rocket wallpaper, add a Love You to The Moon and Back picture, choose a lampshade with star-shaped holes. Position a focal point directly in front of the cot, and don’t be afraid to decorate the ceiling. Babies and toddlers spend a lot of time lying on their back having nappies changed, before they go to sleep and when they wake up.
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