Pregnancy is a long wait, and I’m that woman who can’t sit and twiddle my thumbs. I like to be organized, to make plans. So when it came to nine months of waiting for a baby to arrive, I focused my efforts on the baby’s room.
I know not everyone will have a separate room for the baby, and even if you do, you might keep the baby in your room for the first few months. Wherever you’ll be caring for your baby, it helps to organize that space in a way that makes you feel (semi) on top of things, especially in a season that can often feel chaotic.
So, here are some top tips for planning ahead as well as making the best use of the baby’s space, whatever that looks like for you.
There’s no right and wrong when it comes to choosing baby furniture. Instead, think about what will work best for you, your living or family situation, and future plans.
It’s easy to fall in love at first sight with an adorable crib or changing table because they match your color scheme or nursery theme, but if you can put emotions aside and consider practicalities, you might save yourself some hassle later.
For example, a crib which converts to a toddler bed might be a good option, if you have the space, as it’ll save you money and time later.
However, a standard crib makes more sense if you’d like another baby soon after the first, as you can pass it on to baby #2 and buy a toddler bed for your eldest. It’s hard to plan that far ahead (and life sometimes has other plans), but it’s worth thinking about.
Often parents keep the baby in a bassinet next to their bed for the first few months. Bassinets are convenient and portable, allowing parents to keep the baby near them at nap time. But again, it’s worth thinking ahead. Our first baby was too big for his bassinet at 3 months old.
We wanted to keep him in our room until he was 6 months, but our bedroom couldn’t fit a crib. For our second baby, we skipped the bassinet and started him off in a mini crib (bigger than a bassinet). He napped there, too, because we now had a rambunctious toddler on the loose.
Keep crib measurements and the room’s space in mind when deciding on a crib. Make sure the crib won’t be near any radiators, heat vents or windows, and ideally not on an outside wall if you live in a cold place.
Baby furniture retailers will hate me for saying this, but someone needs to say it: changing tables are optional. You don’t necessarily need one. At four months, babies usually learn how to roll, at which point changing tables become less of a convenience and more of a safety hazard.
It only takes one second for you to turn your back (to grab a diaper or a new outfit), and the baby could easily roll off. When our babies learned how to roll, we put the padded change mat on the floor, and then had a big piece of furniture in the nursery we weren’t using much anymore.
If you do get a changing table, get one with drawers or storage. Even when the baby is too big for it, you can still use it to store clothes, toiletries, diapers, sheets and burp cloths. Label your baskets or drawers for easy use.
Another popular nursery piece is the rocker, or nursing chair. I liked having one in my son’s room, and we used it for storytime once I no longer nursed.
But we used it less after Baby #2, choosing to read books on the toddler’s bed instead. The toddler eventually learned how to rock the chair and slam it into the wall, making me even less fond of it.
Some parents go for a day bed, or even the future toddler’s single bed, instead of a rocker. It’s a practical option, if you have space for it. You can still sit on it to nurse, and it’s convenient if you ever need to sleep in the baby’s room (sickness, teething, etc).
If you have a second baby, the single bed gives a place for the older child to sit, and you can all read stories together at night. Plus, it’s a place to sort and fold the endless mountain of laundry kids are talented at creating.
Babies bring all kinds of tiny, fiddly things with them, which means good storage solutions will become your new best friend. Getting creative with the space you’ve got will help keep the inevitable mess to a minimum. Here are my top storage tips:
- Get fabric baskets/boxes for inside drawers, so you don’t have small things piled together in one big drawer. These drawer organizers come in handy for tiny outfits.
- Put plastic bins under the crib. They’re great for things you don’t need to access every day, like clothes the next size up.
- Use a diaper caddy for diaper changing supplies, or even a wall-mounted ‘shower’ caddy like this one, if your changing table doesn’t have a shelf. If the table is close to a door, a shoe holder/over-the-door hanger will come in handy.
- Organise clothes by season and size. Babies grow so fast, it’s hard to keep up with the in and out of clothes. These hanging dividers on Etsy are a popular choice for closets.
- Use wicker baskets or plastic bins for the little things: toys, burp cloths, blankets, diapers, wipes. Clear bins are helpful because you can see what’s in them, but labels are a good idea regardless, especially if you have a lot of bins.
- For baby books, use a wall-mounted IKEA spice rack or tiered book caddy. These allow you to see all the books at once, instead of in one big stack, and they utilize space better than regular bookshelves. They’re also safer than a large, heavy bookcase.
- Have a long-term storage plan, especially if you think you might have another baby. An out-of-the-way place to keep outgrown outfits, toys and books will help keep your space tidy and your own self from getting ‘stuff-overwhelm.’
A Few Extra Tips
Three more things to consider when setting up your nursery.
First, let’s talk about feeding. Some mothers decide they need to share the night shifts with their partners, in which case, a mini fridge stocked with pumped breastmilk or pre-prepped formula is a godsend, especially if your nursery is far from the kitchen.
Create a feeding station with the mini-fridge and bottle warmer. Your baby won’t have to wait long for a bottle, and the sooner you can get back to sleep, the better, right?
Second, consider getting a night light or touch light. We realized we needed this on Day One (and ended up getting one with a speaker to play white noise, too). You need to see what you’re doing during midnight feeding or diaper changing, but the main light will be way too bright for half-awake baby and bleary-eyed you.
Finally, I have two words for you: blackout blinds. These are particularly useful during summertime if you live far from the equator. Installing blackout blinds to the baby’s windows could give you an extra hour or two in bed those bright summer mornings. Nobody wants to start the day at 4 a.m.
I hope these tips inspire you as you plan your baby’s new space. Whether you have a whole room to work with or you’re gaining a little roommate, keeping things organized and thinking through practicalities will give both you and your baby a calmer, more peaceful experience.