Could anything be more exciting for a mom-to-be than decorating the room of her future baby?
I still remember the excitement and thrill of welcoming my first baby in his new house. Even though I still had a few months ahead of me, I would enthusiastically browse around all the baby shops in town as well as countless websites and Pinterest boards to design the cutest, coziest nursery for my baby boy.
It wasn’t until the big day drew nearer, and the shopping actually started, that excitement was slowly replaced with confusion. All the decorating fun I had imagined turned into a growing challenge: there were so many items to choose from, and although they could all contribute to a beautifully decorated baby room, I had no clue which ones I truly needed. This was all new to me — I wasn’t even sure about the right size or material for a crib, so how could I move on to any other big decision?
Today, 5 years and 2 babies later, I can definitely tell you that I was unprepared. A lot of the items bought at the time were never used; they turned out to be either unnecessary, impractical, or uncomfortable.
If you are a mom-to-be and are about to set up your first nursery, here is one piece of advice: comfort is as important as esthetics, if not more. And I’m not talking just about your baby’s. You will also be spending a lot of time in this room, especially in the first couple of months, so make sure your nursery is comfortable for you too, i.e. smooth, practical, and easy to use.
And, so you don’t get as lost as I did back then, here are the 8 truly essential items to look for first. With this list, your nursery-furnishing experience will be child’s play.
Just one quick note before I start: the brands I will be stating in the list below are not endorsements, they only serve the purpose of giving you some inspiration.
1- A changing table: Although you can get a changing pad and lay it on a table, bed or couch, I find a changing table to be much more practical. It just makes the whole process easier and smoother, from changing your baby’s diapers or clothes to storing all your products — diapers, wipes, cotton pads, lotion, diaper plastic bags, bottle of water, pacifier, and so on.
You can also keep a diaper basket nearby if you need to move from room to room. It can fit all the necessary products and it’s convenient to carry around. The one I got for my kids is theTrend Lab Dove Gray Chevron Storage Caddy, White; the size is perfect and it has many pockets, plus it goes well with my changing table from Tartine et Chocolat in Beirut.
2- The right crib and mattress: Make sure the bed is wide and long enough so you don’t have to change it before your baby turns one year old (if there’s enough space in the room of course). Also, the deeper the crib, the better. Children typically start standing in their cribs before their first birthday, only to move on to the next challenge: their first climbing adventures… so you’ll want to make sure your toddler doesn’t try climbing out of it.
You can get a bassinet for the first month if you wish, but you don’t have to. Personally, I didn’t find it crucial for any of my 3 kids, so I would go straight for the crib. Tartine et Chocolat has a good selection of high-quality cots and comfortable mattresses.
3- A comfortable baby rocker or glider: The soothing back-and-forth motion of this nursery basic is a surefire way to induce rest or sleep. You will also need it for nursing, bottle feeding and cuddling — or even just staying close by while your baby is resting. In any case, make sure it has armrests for maximum comfort during feeding time.
4- A daybed: Again, you will be spending most of your time in the nursery at first, and your comfort is very important throughout this period. The daybed can be used as a sofa by day and a bed at night, so you can be sure it will be useful for those long interrupted nights during which your baby will keep waking up again and again. Feel free to have your daybed custom-made by a carpenter if you need a specific size for your room, or want to add the right amount of storage space to it.
5- A night lamp: Changing your baby’s diaper at night without fully waking them up can be tricky sometimes. Here, a softly-lit night light will have your back. It provides just enough light for you to see what you are doing, but not too much so that your baby can stay drowsy and easily go back to sleep. I went for something beautiful to serve this purpose while also embellishing the room, and found just what I was looking for at Pottery Barn Kids.
6- A baby bouncer: This will be your baby’s friend — and yours, too — during the day, as it keeps them safe and entertained while you carry on with other things. Try to get one with sounds, lights or toy bars for your infant to play and interact with. It would be even better to have removable ones so you can use them for other occasions as well.
7- A baby monitor: Also known as a baby alarm, it’s an essential item to have so you can attend to other matters outside the nursery. Some work with smartphones or tablets too, which allows you to follow up on your child from anywhere. There are 2 main types of monitors: those with video and those with audio only, which did the trick for us. In our case, for our 3 kids, we brought two different brands across two rooms at home, and I am quite happy with both of them: the first one is Philips Avent DECT Baby Monitor with Temperature Sensor and Night Mode , and the second one is Motorola MBP33S Wireless Video Baby Monitor with 2.8-Inch Color LCD, Zoom and Enhanced Two-Way Audio.
8- A baby bathtub: No matter where you place it — in the nursery or the bathroom — this is the best alternative to the slippery and inconvenient adult-size tub.
You might choose to get a laundry bag or a garbage bin in the nursery too, but you can also keep them in the bathroom if you want to prevent any bad smell from lingering in the room.
As a new mom setting up your nursery for the first time, try to prioritize comfort, quality and practicality whenever possible to avoid any bad surprises. This will also be useful if you plan on having more than one child, or even in case you make that decision later on.
And once you’re done buying the essentials, then comes the real fun! Enjoy decorating the nursery with the toys, crafts and DIY creations of your choice. From dolls, stuffed animals and the classic teddy bear, to framed images, clocks, pillows and rugs, you have endless possibilities to entertain, enchant and keep your beautiful and beloved baby in good company.