One of the more fun (and yet so frustrating) parts of making little people is creating a space for them in which to eventually reside. Yet once the furniture is built, the impossibly small clothes are folded, and the VOC-free paint is dry on the walls, it’s time to make a usually very small space walk the fine line of function and adorableness.
And the process is nerve-wracking, to be completely honest.
So whether you have a whole suite dedicated to Junior or you’re just trying to convert your walk-in closet to accommodate your bundle of joy, here are our tips on how to best organize your baby’s nursery, from someone who’s had to do it twice over in the last two years.
First, a word of safety. Never put a crib under a window — between babies being caught in window treatments to the potential of falling out the window, it’s just never an acceptable place for baby’s sleeping surface. Also try to keep them out of arm’s reach of doors — they can and will shut them, potentially locking themselves in or hurting themselves, neither of which will make you feel like a good parent once you discover them.
Second, we try to put our kids’ cribs on an interior wall, instead of an exterior one (where outside sounds can wake the baby) or on shared walls (where sounds from another room or part of the house can wake the baby). Let the room provide a little bit of sound insulation for you.
Changing Surface Placement
Again, a safety note: no matter if you purchase a changing table or use the top of a dresser or opt to change Junior on the floor, make sure any changing pads are securely fastened to the surface (so pad and baby don’t slide off) and never leave your little one unattended on a changing surface lest they fall and damage themselves.
The ideal place for a changing station is in fairly close proximity to the crib. You’re going to be changing diapers at all hours of the day and night, and when baby’s still half asleep, the last thing you want to do is to schlep them across the room to take care of business and back again. Your chances of not waking them up are slim to none.
Make sure your changing station has all your changing needs within one hand’s reach — diapers, wipes, creams, disposal systems, extra changing pads (because the time will come where they will relieve themselves undiapered, trust) — but not where baby can get a hold of them. If you opt for something with drawers or doors, make sure you fasten it to the wall behind it so when baby becomes toddler they don’t accidentally knock it over on themselves. If you have more of an open-shelving item, fabric bins and totes are a great way to keep things organized and with easy access.
Another safety point: Keep all lamp cords tucked behind furniture or shortened out of the reach of little hands, and keep table lamps at least three feet from cribs and changing surfaces. It sounds neurotic, but kids, especially wiggly babies, can cause some serious damage to themselves and their furnishings with all the cute wiggling and flailing they do.
The best suggestion to give about lighting is this — have various sources. An overhead light is great for play time, but will be too bright for bedtime and night-time changings and feedings. Find a lamp with a low-wattage bulb to gently light the space, or think about installing a dimmer switch.
Also, don’t be afraid to let that natural light in — babies need their vitamin D from sunshine just as much as you do. But if you live in a particularly sunny climate, or baby’s window gets a great deal of direct sunlight, consider installing a black-out shade for naptimes and temperature control. Surprisingly, babies don’t come with an internal clock — it’s up to you as a parent to set that up for them, and a black-out shade is a great way to signal it’s sleepy time.
This comes down more to personal preference and space allotment. While in one room the closet wasn’t functional, under-bed zippered storage bins were a great way to keep our son’s clothes organized; in the other we had ample closet space, and some hanging closet organizers helped to keep our daughter’s wardrobe just as prim.
However, in both cases we made sure the hamper for each child was close to the changing station — you’ll find yourself redressing Junior there a lot, between blow-outs, spit-ups, jammies, and just trying to make sure they wear everything at least once before they outgrow it.
When baby is little, you’re going to find yourself feeding them often. It’s nice to have a place to sit and do so comfortably. In both our childrens’ rooms, this meant the rocker we had ended up pretty close to the crib. That way, you don’t have to go far for night-time feedings, and disturbing baby the least amount possible will become of the utmost concern.
If you have the space, consider a small side table to put a clock or a glass of water for you while you feed Junior. It can also be a great place for a radio or sleep machine to help baby fall back into a peaceful slumber between feedings. Once they start sleeping through the night, this feeding area will become prime for reading stories. Just make sure, again, that it’s not too close to any windows and that your side table doesn’t have large items that can topple onto your or baby with one sleepy stumble.
With babies come a million things to amuse them — and how you deal with the sheer quantity of them completely has to do with your space and the amount you have. Our son has a bookshelf and Expedit unit to keep his things straight; our daughter has plastic storage totes in her closet and bookends on her dresser. But in both cases, we try to keep it out of the line of sight when you first enter the room, and pretty much on the opposite side of the room from the crib. That way baby knows they have an area to sleep, and a separate area to play, which is good for reinforcing sleeping habits.
Tell us what worked best for you when organizing your little one’s nursery in the comments, and share your tips to make Junior’s room the coolest in the house!
Photo by anonymous to you