As a first time mama, I have vivid memories of the anxiety, hustle, and excitement that filled the last half of my pregnancy. I would suddenly feel the urge to breathlessly run around the house and set up things, so that when the baby finally arrived it would be smooth sailing. I thought if everything was organized and efficient then I could handle taking care of a newborn. It seems many other first time moms have a similar experience.
Nesting takes over, you clean, set up, plan, and rearrange with no consideration of the growing bump in front of you. You read the internet’s endless “nursery must have” lists, trying to figure out what you need to make this life change happen.
Biology’s nesting instincts are helping our expecting home get ready for the new member. But the reality is, nothing can prepare you for the storm and joy that is having a newborn. Soon after having a baby, you ride on the steep learning curve that is parenthood and realize many of the “must haves” are not at all musts and there are several things you may have forgotten.
So here is my list of things you might forget when setting up your nursery. Hope it helps any mamas out there.
Soft light. When your baby comes home, they will hopefully be spending a lot of time sleeping, but it is almost guaranteed that your newborn will wake up several times in the middle of the night. In order to help them learn the night from their days you will want to try to keep things dark during the night. The challenge is, that you also need to be able to see for diaper changes and safe stumbling to and from rooms.
When Anna came home from the hospital we were living in a quaint little apartment and after about 10 night-time baby parties we realized the lights in her room and ours were too bright. At 2am we were disrupting the peaceful sleepy atmosphere by blasting all of our eyes with 240 watts of light. Our quick and cheap fix was to take out 3 of the 4 light bulbs in the light fixture. This helped us to safely move around the room and efficiently change diaper without shocking our’s or Anna’s eyes 4 to 5 times a night. These days we use a flower night light while she sleeps and a floor lamp for bedtime stories.
Other options are to have a practical plug-in night-light from Amazon or one that can fit any nursery theme on Etsy. There are also several neat lights that you can move around with you. Last but not least Ikea is always here to support our decorating needs with cheap and stylish lamps
Table next to chair. Everyone probably remembers or at least thinks about buying a chair, rocker, or glider to have in the nursery. I agree that the chair is one of our most used pieces of furniture in the nursery, and because I used it so often, a little table surface next to the chair has been a life saver. This surface served as a spot to place my book, phone, or water bottle, while nursing, and now always holds this weeks favorite bedtime story.
When we were choosing a table the most important thing for us was that it was sturdy and had a slim profile. We bought one of the cheapest side tables, at the then Garden Ridge, similar to this one, we even got a discount because it has a cracked leg. If the reclaimed wood look is you style I like this one. You can also think about getting a table that can have multiple uses for your child as they grow, like this little round side table. Having a small table with a drawer might also be useful to keep track of the most needed items, you could choose an angular table or circular. If real estate is in issue in your room, maybe a pocket you can attach to your chair is the right fit. and if you are looking to get two birds with one stone, go for this floor lamp with table surfaces built-in. But if money was no object this table from etsy would be a great fit.
You likely won’t use the crib right away. I remember passionately telling Stuart that we needed to put the crib up and have the waterproof cover, sheets, and sheets savers all set before baby arrived. Then Anna came and she didn’t even use the crib regularly until she was 4 months old. Every family chooses their own way to put a baby down to sleep. My advice is to do a little research and then figure out what works best for your family. In my unofficial surveying, I find that many families don’t use a large crib to place a sleeping newborn down.
We tried the Pack n’ Play, co sleepers, and swing/bouncy seat before finding the thing that worked best for our family. A Rock n’ Play. I was adamantly anti-excess when it came to baby gear, so a friend had to force us to try out the Rock n’ Play, and I am forever grateful. We stuck with this device because it was easy to move around the house, snuggled our little girl well, and could be rocked when necessary. Don’t stress about the crib, or even figuring out the best way to place your baby to sleep, this is a question that can not be answered until after the baby comes. Because every family, child, and situation is unique.
A place to store outgrown clothes. Young babies go through clothes quickly. It’s nice to set aside space in the nursery’s closet to store the clothes that no longer fit. We went cheap and used diaper boxes, one for each size of clothes. But there are a lot of clever storage systems available if you want to make an investment. Growing up we always had medium-sized plastic bins to store hand me downs, there are also great cloth containers. If space is a huge issue you can look into large ziplock bags or a closet compactor.
As you move through clothes the first 6 months I would be prepared with around 10 onesies or outfits for each size, and 4 sleepers, we did not need more than this and it made it easier to store. Also because baby clothes are so cute and small we found that having drawer organizers was helpful. We use a mixture of shoe boxes and cloth dresser organizers.
Have some pieces of decor just for you and some for baby. When looking for nursery inspiration I stumbled across one of my favorite ocean inspired nursery’s. The mama mentioned wanting to create a space for herself that was peaceful. This really stuck with me. As a mama or papa, you will be logging a lot of time in this nursery, so make this a space you want to be in and provides comfort, not mayhem, to this already changing time. Decorate the room with both the parents and child in mind. Find ways to incorporate calming and joyful pieces in the room for you. We added scripture, family pictures, and calming colors to the room. A few pieces of comfort in these sleep deprived months go a long way.
A place to put things away. This one goes along with number 4 about storage. Baby’s come with lots of accessories: teethers, wipes, socks, onesies, bum paste, first aid kits I could go on and on. Have a place to put these things away so that they do not cover the room all the time. Make it clear where they go so that your partner and your sweet family or friends can help you with the newborn. We used a combination of baskets and dresser drawers, but there are a variety of ways to make this happen.
and in the end you don’t really need a “nursery”. Isn’t this the real kicker. Having a separate room for baby is not really necessary. At the beginning we used the nursery as a baby storage room more than anything else. Having a completely separate room may be helpful, but is not a must have for a newborn. A newborn pretty much stays with you all the time, this being said, all your baby needs is you.
It was so joyful preparing a room for our child. I hope this was helpful and practical for any new mamas out there. Happy newborn-ing.