We know you’re super excited about your pregnancy – and you’ve probably already picked out the colour you’re going to paint the baby room, but before you hit the shops and blow the budget, take these tips from moms and baby experts into consideration.
“We went overboard with our first-born as expected,” says mom Shanè October. Her advice is to be practical and to think carefully before you buy unnecessary things. “It’s nice to have a perfect looking nursery, but we didn’t even use most of the things we bought,” she adds.
You don’t need a baby room immediately
If you’re a first-time parent, obviously your excitement levels will be through the roof and you’ll want to set up the perfect room for your baby – it’s every mom’s dream.
Second-time mom Widré Scheepers says she went all out with her first baby, but she is much more relaxed with her newborn son. Says Widré: “Our daughter stayed with us in our room until she was 4 months old. In my opinion – looking back now – it really isn’t necessary to have a baby room from the first day you bring your baby home. You can always set up your baby’s nursery later.
She adds that when you take your baby home, you want to be close to him. You also want to make everything as easy as possible for yourself when you need to wake up during the night to feed or care for your baby. “Having him in the room with you is just much easier, and new parents are often a little paranoid during the first few weeks,” she says.
Choose a soft colour for baby’s room
Consider a softer colour palette to ensure a space that isn’t overstimulating and may result in your little one not sleeping. A good rule of thumb from the experts is to look at a colour ratio of 60-30-10. In other words, a room should ideally be 60% white, 30% soft grey and 10% an accent colour.
A special note on paint: if you are painting the walls or the furniture in your nursery you need to use lead-free paint or varnish for wood pieces. Preferably, low-VOC or zero-VOC paint must be used. Most new paints are non-toxic nowadays and the specifications can be found on any paint container label.
Choose a practical cot
When choosing your cot, ideally you want one that allows for 2 settings for the base board: a higher setting for young babies that don’t move around a lot for easy access and to avoid you having to bend over too much, and a lower setting for older babies who are moving around a lot and will need the sides of the cot to prevent them from rolling out. If you have a cot with these 2 settings, it’s not necessary to get a cot with gates (sides that drop down). These can sometimes become a safety issue with little fingers getting caught or gates that fall down at inappropriate times.
The mattress is important
Choose a mattress that is breathable, and has holes in the foam so if your baby does sleep on his tummy, or turn onto his tummy in his sleep, he can still breathe through the mattress if he doesn’t manage to turn his head.
Less is best
When it comes to the bedding, keep it simple as you want the space to be safe. Initially you don’t need cot bumpers as your baby won’t be moving around very much. You also won’t need a pillow. Both of these things could cause safety issues. Rather stick to a breathable fitted sheet and then swaddle your baby or put him in a baby sleeping bag. As your little one grows older and starts moving around more you can add the cot bumpers, a breathable pillow and either a duvet or blankets so you can layer. Don’t add any toys to the cot until your little one is much older and can move these away from his face.
Choose your compactum wisely
Compactum’s need to be at the right height to prevent you from bending over. Initially you’ll spend a lot of time changing your baby, so you want to save your back. Having open shelving or easy to open drawers allows you to pull nappies and clothing out quickly. Also, consider choosing a compactum that will stay a functional piece of furniture as your baby gets older. Perhaps, you can use it as a chest of drawers to keep your linen and towels, or a place to keep toys and books.
Says mom Nadine Swingburn: “At the changing table, make sure every item is within arm’s reach. You’ll likely have one hand and need to grab things quickly, so each item should be easily accessible. There shouldn’t be drawers and lids to open to access things. That was a great help for me.”
A comfortable chair
A comfortable space for you during feeding is important as your baby is not very fussy about their surroundings, but you’ll need to be happy and comfortable for the long, late nights. A rocking chair with a foot stool is a good option as you can cradle your little one and rock them to sleep. Finding pillows that offer support for your back and the feeding arm will really help you to stay comfortable.
Widré says her rocking chair was very handy. “My daughter loved being rocked and soothed in it.”
Mom Paula Dos Santos Paterson says she had a big comfortable wing back chair with a foot stool. “I spent many hours in that chair, feeding, rocking, reading stories and sleeping.”
Nappy bins near the compactum are almost essential. Choose a bin that seals properly, to assist with smelly nappies, and look for a bin where the liners can be changed easily and cost effectively.
Must-have items for your nursery
Widré says these items really came in handy for her:
- A night light with a red globe (this helps so baby doesn’t wake up completely during night-time feeds)
- Mosquito net for summer
- Wall heater for winter
- Baby monitor
- Rocking chair
- Changing station
- Radio for white noise or music
- Cot mobile
*Tips by Lotters Pine, quality pine furniture since 1969. You can now buy all your nursery furniture essentials online or visit one of their 16 branches nation-wide.
Xanet is an award-winning journalist and Living and Loving’s digital editor. She has won numerous awards for her health and wellness articles and was a finalist for the Discovery Journalist of the Year in 2009 and again in 2011 for the Discovery Best Health Consumer Reporting and Feature Writing category. She is responsible for our online presence across social media channels and makes sure our moms have fresh and interesting articles to read every day. Learn more about Xanet Scheepers.