When many parents start planning their nursery, it’s with dreams of soft toys and rainbows. However, your baby’s nursery should be far more functional than beautiful. Let’s look into a few things to consider and things to avoid when setting up your nursery.
There are three main zones in the nursery: the sleep space, the nappy changing space and, sometimes, the play space. There may be others, but there will likely be at least the first two. Let’s look at the sleep space first.
- Safe sleeping
The first step is the bed:
- Make sure that your baby has a level, firm, bed with raised sides. This will help prevent your baby from accidentally rolling out of bed, or from smothering in the mattress or getting stuck along the edges.
- The bed should be bare — no bumpers, loose blankets, duvets, or soft toys until after about 12 months of age. This is to prevent your baby from accidentally smothering themselves while sleeping.
- If you live somewhere cold, use a combination of layering and baby sleeping sacks that clip at the shoulder to keep your baby warm while sleeping. Take a look at this article where we go into more detail about baby temperature regulation.
- If your baby uses dummies at night, ensure that they have ventilation holes, in case one gets stuck inside their mouth.
- Many guidelines encourage parents to share a room with their baby for the first few months, as the presence of a parent helps to reduce the instance of SIDS. This can be a parent sleeping on a bed in the nursery or the crib in the parents’ bedroom. Whatever works for your situation.
- Safe nappy changing
You’ll spend a lot of time changing nappies, especially in the first year.
- The area where you change your babies nappy should be firm, level and at a comfortable height so that you are not straining your back.
- It should have raised sides to prevent rolling off the sides, and everything you need should be close by.
- Your baby should never be left unattended on the changing table. If you need to step away, place your baby into a bouncer or back in their cot, or risk them rolling off the table by accident.
- If you choose to change on the floor, ensure that the nappies and creams are kept somewhere that your baby cannot access while they are playing. The inners of disposable nappies are toxic when ingested, as are most bum creams.
- Toy and play safety
There are a few other things you can do to keep your baby’s nursery a safe and pleasant place to be.
- Anchor all furniture to the wall. Babies learn to stand by pulling themselves up on furniture, so it should be firm to avoid being pulled over.
- Make sure all electrical cords are inaccessible. These pose a hazard both from the electric current, as well as from a strangling perspective. Cover up plug points.
- Artwork should be firmly fixed to the wall, so that small hands cannot pull it off. Mobiles should be hung safely out of reach of your baby, and should not feature ribbons and strings which your baby could get wrapped around their neck.
- Toys should be stored in soft bins and baskets. Hard storage, like toy chests, should have the lids removed to avoid squashing hands and suffocating children who climb inside.
- Toys shouldn’t have any small, removable parts to avoid the risk of choking. To test whether something is large enough, do the toilet roll test. If it goes through the centre of the roll, it’s too small. If it gets stuck at the opening, it’s big enough for a baby to play with.
You want your baby’s nursery to be a welcoming, ‘yes’ space for your baby. All of our tips will help you to keep your baby’s nursery safe, peaceful and welcoming for your little one, from birth to toddlerhood. And, as your baby grows, you can adapt and change the space to work better for their growing brains and bodies.
There are many warnings and cautions about smothering and suffocating for babies. If you are looking for a little extra peace of mind and a built-in early warning system, our Snuza baby breathing monitors are a great, wireless way to keep tabs on your babies breathing.
In general, when it comes to the nursery, less is more. Less furniture, fewer toys, and less frippery will keep the room neat, tidy, less overwhelming, and less likely to be hazardous. Your child will grow and accumulate things, so there’s no need to feel like you need to fill their room with things from the get-go. Allow the nursery to be a simple, uncluttered space and rest easy in the knowledge that it’s a safe space, too.
- Creating a safe nursery: 10 mistakes to avoid: https://www.babycenter.com/pregnancy/preparing-for-baby/creating-a-safe-nursery-10-mistakes-to-avoid_10414382
- Setting up a safe nursery – what products do you really need?: https://rednose.org.au/news/setting-up-a-safe-nursery-what-products-do-you-really-need
- How to create a safe nursery: https://rednose.org.au/news/how-to-create-a-safe-nursery
- When can my baby sleep with a stuffed animal or doll?: https://www.babycenter.com/baby/sleep/when-can-my-baby-sleep-with-a-stuffed-animal-or-doll_1368443
- Babies Sleep Better In Their Own Rooms After 4 Months, Study Finds: https://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2017/06/05/531582634/babies-sleep-better-in-their-own-rooms-after-4-months-study-finds