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Your Baby’s Nursery: Frequently Asked Questions

Building the perfect nursery for your little bundle of joy is an important part of planning for your baby’s arrival. To help answer common questions about safety, essentials, and decor, check out the following tips and advice from a nursery design pro.

Do I need to purchase a new baby crib, or can I buy one used?

Don’t purchase a used crib, says nursery design pioneer Sherri Blum Schuchart of Jack and Jill Interiors Inc. (jackandjillinteriors.com). “Crib safety is a priority in designing your nursery. Standards have changed and even as recent as a few years ago, drop-side cribs were banned and replaced with stationary sides. Do your homework and look for crib companies that have never had recalls or safety issues,” she recommends. Seek out new cribs to ensure you're getting the safest product for your baby.

How important is the quality of a crib mattress?

Much like any other baby essential, such as a car seat or crib, your child’s mattress deserves careful consideration. Your baby will spend a lot of time sleeping on a crib mattress. Do some online window shopping and check with trusted consumer reporting services for up-to-date reviews of top brands that fit your needs.

“There are so many crib mattress options on the market today,” says Blum Schuchart. “If the crib and mattress are purchased new, [chances are] they meet today’s safety requirements. I don’t recommend used cribs or mattresses, as standards change often and this is an area you don’t want to take chances.”

Do I need to babyproof the nursery now — or can I wait until my child is crawling?

Although your baby won’t likely crawl until she’s about 8 months or older, you do indeed need to do some babyproofing now to ensure your child is safe. Plus, “you’ll be surprised how quickly she will be mobile,” says Blum Schuchart. “I recommend babyproofing before baby is born. After baby arrives, life gets even busier and you don’t want to get too busy to handle this very important task after baby is mobile.”

Some important safety tips to keep in mind as you prepare your baby’s nursery include:

  • Make sure your child’s changing pad or table is set up according to the manufacturer’s directions, that you use the safety strap provided, and that you never leave your child unattended.
  • Set all toiletries in changing and bathing areas out of baby’s reach — but within yours.
  • Position the crib in a safe spot far from windows, steam pipes, outlets, wall hangings, and so on.
  • Don’t let baby nap on anything too soft like fluffy bedding or comforters.
  • Make sure baby’s sleeping area isn’t too hot or cold. The best temperature is around 65 F, experts say.
  • Tuck electrical cords out of the way so you don’t trip when getting up for a late-night feeding.
  • It’s not too early to put safety covers on all electrical sockets in your home.
  • Make sure window blind cords are firmly secured and out of reach.
  • Secure bookshelves to walls.
  • Make sure baby’s toys don’t have any buttons, beads, or any other decorations that could be chewed off and become a choking hazard.
  • Make sure you have smoke and carbon monoxide detectors operating in your home — and check the batteries monthly.

What essentials do I need for the nursery? Surprisingly, you really don’t need much for your nursery:

Necessities

  • Crib and crib mattress
  • Bedding (including a mattress pad and/or waterproof cover)
  • Changing pad and changing table (or dedicated area with safely situated storage for toiletries)
  • Diaper supplies (including a disposal system)
  • Baby monitor
  • Nursing or feeding area (a glider or comfortable sitting chair)
  • Dark window curtains or shades (essential for nap time)
  • Baby clothes (nothing with a drawstring)
  • Blankets and burp cloths
  • Dresser (or storage for baby clothes, blankets, and so on)

Niceties

  • A night light (or lighting that can be dimmed, so you can peek in without waking baby)
  • A mobile (safely situated above a crib or changing table)
  • Baby swing or bouncy seat
  • Stereo
  • Wall art and room decor
  • Closet organizers
  • Open storage bins

How soon before baby arrives should we plan the nursery?

“Definitely start planning around the end of the first trimester, especially if you want any custom- or designer-made products,” says Blum Schuchart. “Furniture can take up to 12 weeks if it’s custom made or a custom color, glider chairs four to eight weeks, and custom bedding can be four to six weeks generally,” she adds. So, the sooner you start planning, the less stress you’ll put upon yourself.

Are there safety concerns about painting the nursery too close to baby’s arrival?

“If you’re using a standard latex paint, expectant mothers should stay away from the nursery until the scent of fresh paint dissipates,” advises Blum Schuchart. Stay out of a newly painted room and avoid its fumes for at least two to three days. To help alleviate any fumes, open the windows and air out the space. “There are many odor-free and low- or zero-VOC (volatile organic compound) paints available on the market now that are safe for expectant mothers and baby. So I recommend using one of these paints to play it safe,” she adds.

Still have questions?

“Do your research and ask friends who have toddlers and were recently in your shoes,” says Blum Schuchart. “New mothers and fathers are happy to share their experience with you along with some ‘do’s and don’ts’ of planning. Or better yet, consider hiring a nursery designer or babyproofing expert. These professionals are up on the most recent concerns and safety issues and are well worth hiring for a few hours to consult.”

Image: Thinkstock

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