As one of Wiltshire's leading newborn photographers, I often chat to parents-to-be about their baby's nursery and the colour scheme or theme that they have chosen. Parents often choose to display some of their baby's newborn images in the nursery, so it's important to choose colours that will work well with their décor. I also just love hearing about their ideas!
While turning your dull spare room into a beautiful and practical nursery for your baby is exciting, it can also be a bit daunting. There are so many options to choose from and so many 'must have' products competing for a space in your baby's room.
Whether you're in full pregnancy nesting mode or just not feeling it yet, it's important to have at least the basics in place before your baby is born. However knowing what you really need, and how best to organise it in your nursery, before your baby arrives can be tricky. The tips below have come from the experience of creating my own children's nurseries, as well as designing my Salisbury photography studio, specifically with the needs of parents and newborn babies in mind.
Firstly, what do you actually need?
The essentials for your baby's nursery:
- A cot and basic, baby safe bedding such as a fitted cot sheets, cellular blankets, sheets or a baby sleeping bag.
- A chest of drawers with a changing station/ change mat on top
- A baby monitor
- Blackout curtains or blinds
- Additional storage e.g. baskets etc. for toiletries, nappies and so on
- A nursing or rocking chair for feeds
- A laundry basket
- A nappy bin
Keep it simple and consistent
While the nursery is for your baby, it doesn't have to be babyish! When you're deciding on a colour scheme or theme for your baby's nursery, choose something that suits your tastes and is in keeping with the rest of your home. You are the one who will have to live with it after all; your baby really won't be very interested, at least for the first couple of years. Make it a room that you will enjoy and find it relaxing to spend time in with your baby. Also remember that just because it's a nursery, doesn't mean that you have to choose nursery furniture or fittings. As long as their safe to use in your baby's room, choose items that you love and that make you feel happy and calm. A lovely way to personalise your baby's nursery is with photographs of family members - grandparents, uncles, cousins - so that you can look at them with your baby as they start to show an interest in people and faces. Once you have the frames hung, these can easily be swapped out for new, updated family photographs as your baby grows.
Storage, storage, storage!
Any parent will tell you that a new baby comes with a huge amount of new things, which needs to be put somewhere. Don't skimp on practical storage in your nursery plans, having a place for everything means that you'll be able to lay your hands on just what you need in the middle of those night-time nappy changes. If you're short on space, look for furniture which doubles up as extra storage such as a chest of drawers with a changing station on top. Under-cot drawers, back of door hanging storage and wall mounted storage units, can all help make the most of your nursery space and keep things tidy. Remember, you'll be carrying your baby in and out of their nursery in the middle of the night, so it's important to keep the floor clear of trip hazards.
When my children were babies I found it extremely useful to have a laundry basket in the nursery, so I could just throw dirty vests, sleepsuits etc. in there after a nappy change.
The current guidance states that your baby should sleep in the same room as you for the first 6 months to lower the risk of SIDS. So initially, your baby's room will be used for storage, feeds and nappy changes, rather than a place to sleep. You may choose to sit in the nursery for night feeds or to go there for nappy changes, so ensure you have enough storage to keep the floor clear of trip hazards. Aside from avoiding discarded toys and clutter, there are some other important safety considerations when designing your baby's nursery. When you're buying your baby's new cot, ensure it conforms to the latest British Safety Standards BS EN 16890:2017 . If you're buying second hand, the NCT has a handy safety checklist with things to consider before buying.
Ensure that you have a safety zone around your baby's cot so that any hazards such as electrical sockets, baby monitors, curtains or dangerous objects are out of reach. Blind cords should always be secured with a safety device and kept well out of reach. Because your baby finds it more difficult than you to regulate their temperature, you should never position their cot next to a radiator or a very sunny window.
Remember, that while they look attractive, cot duvets, pillows and bumper sets should not be used until your baby is over a year old due to the risk of SIDS.
Plan for naps
Babies and toddlers associate darkness with sleep, so being able to make your baby's nursery dark during daylight hours is a big plus. Think about those summer evenings when the sunlight will still be bright just as you're settling you baby off to sleep. Keeping the sun out of your baby's room in during the heat of the day will also help keep it at a safe temperature and make it easier for your baby to sleep during summer heatwaves.
Not all blackout blinds and curtains are made equal though, so it's worth reading the reviews and investing in a good quality set if it makes bedtimes and nap times a little easier. A night-light can also be really helpful during night feeds and changes. The last thing you want to do is switch the main light on and for your baby to think it's time to wake up! Plug in nightlights are inexpensive and provide enough light to see while not over stimulating your baby.
If you know the sex of your baby in advance, then you might be tempted to choose a more gender specific theme, however don't forget to think about the longer term. You might want to use the room for a sibling in a couple of years, without having to entirely redecorate. In the same way, investing in quality furniture and fittings now could save you money in the future.
If your baby is likely to stay in their nursery for several years, it's a great idea to pick a theme or colour scheme that will grow with your child or can be tweaked, so that you don't have to redecorate every few years. An easy way to do this is to stick to a neutral base and colour scheme but accessorise with pictures, a mobile, wall decals etc. that can easily be changed as your child grows.
There are some practical design choice which you can make to help your nursery look good for longer.
- Wipeable paint/ wall paper is a must. Wee, poo and many other substances will find their way onto the walls!
- Avoid whites and creams for soft furnishings, however beautiful they look now they will quickly turn a dingy beige. A darker neutral colour can look just as good, but will be more forgiving of stains. Also look for removable, washable covers or wipeable fabrics.
- Think about the flooring. Carpet is soft and warm, but again think carefully about the colour you chose. A wipeable cushioned vinyl is a good alternative.
Oh, and did I mention? In all situations, choose WIPEABLE!
I really hope this blog has been useful in helping you to design a beautiful, yet practical nursery for your baby. If you have any tips that you'd like to share or photos of your baby's nursery for inspiration, I would love to share them. Get in touch with me on social media or by commenting below.