Well, here’s a little story – a nursery tale, if you will.
When a young couple moved into their new place, the wife was already catching baby fever pretty tough. And even though she didn’t see any way that she’d be able to swing the whole “having kids” thing at the time, her instincts told her not to give up on the idea, and that she’d have to find some way, somehow, sooner or later.
Two kids later, and I sure am glad I trusted those instincts! (Yep, the wife was me.)
We lived in our first shared place as a couple that had not just one but TWO entire bedrooms (man, was that luxurious compared to our studio apartment…) for the better part of two years with pretty much nothing in that second room.
You may think I’m exaggerating, but I’m really not, and I didn’t at all try to hide my logic. Why spend hundreds or even thousands of dollars turning that spare room into an adorable guest room or a state-of-the-art home office if I was just going to need to change it into a nursery, well, at some point in the near future?
On my more jaded days, I’d say, “Oh, what the heck, let’s just put a stupid futon in it…” but I never did. Because I knew it was destined for something else – something better… something that included a crib and a changer and a gliding chair to nurse in…
Once your time finally arrives to turn that space into a nursery, it might be easy be so excited that you overdo it, so first check out these 15 things moms might tend to want in the nursery – versus what they actually need.
15 Bumping And Grinding
I didn’t go crazy with the décor. I was cool with leaving the wall colors the same (we had JUST painted when we moved in, with nice neutrals that matched the rest of the house). They didn’t need to be pale pink once I was expecting a daughter. I didn’t purchase special artwork or an entire set of new furniture.
But I did obsess a little over having every item in a matching set of baby bedding. No joke.
I had to have everything from the sheets to the night light to the changing pad and beyond — but when I got to the “bumper,” I paused.
Although I and other moms decorating a nursery lusted after that adorable pad that wraps around the interior of the crib, making it look oh so cozy and cute, good thing I paused and researched a bit.
Bumpers are not considered safe any longer. The American Academy of Pediatrics (see AAP.org for more info) says to avoid any soft bedding, including crib bumpers.
14 A Magnificent Mobile
One uncle of mine who’s not particularly fond of shopping sent us a generous check as a baby gift, saying we should just choose whatever item we still needed for the nursery and pick it out ourselves. What was that last item that I decided we just HAD to have? Why, an adorable mobile for above the crib (that matched with the bedding I had registered for, of course). If there was an item out there that was part of that set, I thought I needed it.
And I had this picture in my head of every cute little nursery ever having a mobile within it.
It collected dust above the crib
during the rest of my pregnancy and the early months of the baby’s life, and then it was taken down as soon as the baby was old enough to stand and reach and grab.
We used it maybe three times. See parents put a lot of hard work, usually, into teaching their little ones that beds are for sleeping – not for staring up at dancing musical contraptions that rile them up.
If you must have some classic nursery item, maybe opt for some decorative blocks or a rattle instead.
13 Pretty Pinks Or Boyish Blues
Looking around Pinterest these days may lead to discovering many beautiful images of nurseries done in interest-piquing patterns, nice neutrals, and fashionable farmhouse chic – but the classic of the pink or blue walls (and curtains, and bedding…) is still out there and going strong, too.
While a mama may picture her sweet little boy or girl surrounded by the color strongly associated with his or her gender in the last century or so, here’s why it’s not practical, to name just a few reasons:
There are so many more interesting themes and color schemes to pursue, and they’re all out there to inspire you via the Internet. What if you don’t have the gender of baby you thought you were having? Even if you do, they probably won’t want to live with this babyish theme for too many years, which means decorating all over again. What if you have another baby of another gender in a year or two who inherits or shares the room? And I could go on.
12 A Couture Closet
You know that thing where you find yourself wanting to go shopping for new clothes every few months (at least) even though the ones you have already are perfectly fine?
Well, just as some gals can’t help but want to have the newest and most fashionable clothes (and shoes, and makeup, and handbags, and more…) for themselves,
it can be easy for new and expecting moms to feel like they NEED to have the most impressive name-brand wardrobe for their baby, as well.
Perhaps they have a vision of a closet full of matching tiny hangers with beautiful little dresses and cardigans or slacks and button-ups hanging ever so neatly…
Here’s how many times those tiny outfits will probably get used: zero to one.
Here’s what should really be in that little dresser: functional, comfortable, and flexible clothing that’s easy to get on and off many times each day and can be worn for play, sleep, and more.
Side note: Many tiny dresses and dress shirts have little hooks and buttons that can be choking hazards.
11 A So-Choice Changer
No nursery would be complete without a separate piece of furniture to act as the changing station, right? And it must match the rocker and the crib, correct? Does the expectant mom in your life (or do YOU) find yourself thinking in this way?
It can be tempting, for sure, to purchase whichever changer matches perfectly with the crib that you’ve picked out as the attractive centerpiece for your nursery design. That’s what I did.
The problem with this logic is that the matching changer won’t necessarily be the one that is comfortable for you to use.
Instead of focusing on that perfect set – on getting a changer that looks like real, high-end furniture – consider focusing on whether or not the changer is the correct height for you to use comfortably many times each day without straining your back. Is the angle right where it will sit / fit in the room, or will it have you contorting oddly?
10 Light And Bright
I have a theory on this one: Pictures tend to look good when the subject is in natural light. Plus, we associate light, bright, and vividly colorful things with babies.
When pics of nurseries look awesome and enviable, they’re often flooded with natural light, making them appear to be cheerful places that are inviting and perfect for babies to play.
Here’s the problem with focusing only on light and bright, though:
Babies need, first and foremost to SLEEP in a nursery.
“Nursery” is a fancy word for “baby bedroom.”
Do you sleep well in a light and bright room – or can you better conk out in a dark place that’s not full of too much stimulation?
Babies, tiny humans that they are, can be guided to healthy sleep patterns the same way that adults can.
Getting the perfect pair of blackout curtains might be a better focus.
9 A Trendy Trashcan
I can tell you first-hand about the delicate art of diaper trashcan purchasing.
With my first, I decided we needed the one that was a perfect pale pink, matched nicely with the rest of the stuff I’d picked out and pored over for the nursery, and yet didn’t require purchasing those scent-blocking “Genie” things.
The can worked well, if filling up a little too quickly each day.
With our second, we decided not to drop the mid-range price (I call it midrange because the most expensive option would be to buy the one that needed those scented refills all the time) and just got a stainless steel can with a closing lid.
So the first time, I was a mom wanting to have something cute (and a specified “diaper” trash) yet sensible, and the second time I was trying to get something more versatile that could later be used as, say, a kitchen recycling can.
The second time didn’t work out – you kind of need a specialized diaper can with a smaller component that quickly slides open and shut, if you don’t want the smell of feces wafting at you as a kitchen-style can slowly closes.
The other option would be taking out the garbage multiple times each day, which is in no way practical.
8 Lovely Linen Sets
As I said, although I was somewhat practical with many of my nursery / baby purchases and registries, there was one thing I sort of obsessed over: having all the matching components that were available for the particular bedding set I’d picked out for my first baby’s crib.
I think this might have had a little something to do with the fact that magazines and baby stores tend to really push the idea of having such an adorably matching set.
And hey, it can be fun and one of the less expensive ways to add color and cuteness to the room!
But just know that you won’t be using that quilt or comforter – tiny and sweet though it is – in the bed for a long time.
The American Academy of Pediatrics says soft bedding in a baby’s crib is a no-go, and my own fam’s pediatrician said that rule still applies until the switch to a big-kid or toddler bed.
And be careful about selecting the set purely based on cuteness… Our comforter, for example, had embroidery and felt appliques that my kid then tore apart once she was finally old enough to be able to actually use the thing.
What should the focus be? Multiple fitted sheets to switch out after accidents and spit-ups – and a water-resistant cover for the mattress.
7 A Crazy-Expensive Crib
Of course it can be dicey to go with a hand-me-down or something purchased second-hand when it comes to a crib. It’s really important to know without a doubt that this item of furniture where your little babe will sleep meets current safety standards. (Old materials, wear over the years and with use, chipping paint, missing hardware, and more may all present safety issues.)
However, you also needn’t necessarily give in to the temptation to drop more cash on the thing than you have on any other item of furniture in your home.
Confession: My first child’s crib cost much, much more than our own bed (purchased for cheap online), our own couch (snagged off the display floor and bartered over), and certainly the rest of our largely handed-down pieces.
The thing is now gnawed along the railing, scratched here and there, and more.
The sweet spot might just be something in between: It needn’t cost an arm and a leg just to look impressive, but it needs to be safe. A clean, firm mattress is a must, too.
6 Perfect Enough To Post
Maybe it’s that some expectant moms have been waiting for a long time to get to do something as special as decorate a nursery.
Maybe it’s that our entire lives can tend to be on display – and up for comparison – because of social media these days.
Heck, maybe it’s that there’s some nervous energy to burn and time to kill as a pregnant woman prepares for that long-awaited baby.
Whatever it is, it certainly is easy to feel like the space you are creating must be just as good or better than the one in that glossy pregnancy mag – like it’s fashionable enough to be Insta-famous and perfect enough to attract allll the pins on Pinterest.
But before getting too wrapped up in the whole picture-perfect thing, focus on a space that is two things: functional and safe.
5 ‘Soothing’ Bedtime Gadgets
Now, I’m not saying that our Twilight Turtle isn’t super fun – gathering around every now and then as a family and watching those stars change colors on the wall or ceiling is like our own little planetarium party.
But if you’re purchasing contraptions such as these because you think they’ll be that magic key to getting your baby to sleep, I might think again.
These are fun sometimes. They’re toys, and in my experience, anything that produces light and / or sound is only distracting or even confusing to a tot who could better spend his time learning to soothe himself to sleep on his own in a calm, dark, and quiet environment.
Although I don’t personally have any experience with white-noise machines, I might say these are the exception – especially in homes with older siblings or noisy neighbors.
4 A Separate Space
Picture your ideal nursery – the one of your dreams. What are the key things included?
If part of your answer was “a separate room,” you are surely not alone.
Living in a space with a separate room for a baby was definitely high on my list when I started to sort of organize my life around strengthening the possibility that I could swing having a baby.
And this logic is sound – but it’s also not the end all, be all.
Consider, for example, that it’s now officially considered best for a baby to share a room with her folks (in her own crib, bassinet, etc.) for the first year. The American Academy of pediatrics (see AAP.org) says,
“Recommendations call for infants to share their parents' bedroom for at least the first six months and, optimally, for the first year of life…”
Although a separate space may certainly make for sounder sleeping for everyone in the years to come, it’s not necessarily urgent, is all.
3 The Perfect Plush Pals
When you picture your ideal nursery, do you picture baby’s first sweet little teddy bear (or bunny, or sloth, or some other stuffed animal) sitting prettily on the shelf or in the crib?
Hey, maybe that’s the perfect touch to complete your decorations.
But while these toys might be fun for daytime use (once the baby is old enough to reach, grasp, and hold) and can become beloved comfort items and keepsakes, to be sure, they won’t be able to be snuggled at bedtime for quite some time.
Having one or two small “lovies” or stuffed items around from the start that can start to smell like home, or even like Mom, might be a cool idea, as these might be used for comfort later on down the road, but the American Academy of Pediatrics says nothing plush should be going in that crib with baby for sleepy time.
2 A Chair With Flair
Apparently, there’s a certain trend that involves putting an old-school rocking chair in the nursery (as opposed to a cushioned glider chair as commonly sold at mainstream baby stores of late).
Hey, maybe Millennials have fond memories of being swayed soothingly in similar chairs in their own parents’ or grandparents’ homes.
I personally didn’t realize just how important a super comfy gliding chair would become to me.
Now, though, I kid you not: my glider is one of my top 5 prized possessions.
With my first baby, we used a wooden hand-me-down glider that was OK. When I was pregnant again, I got my booty down to the baby store to sit in every glider there until I found the one that fit my frame perfectly, allowed me to prop my elbows on padded arms for hours of nursing, and (most importantly) had a matching and cushioned ottoman to rest my feet on.
1 Matching Everything
Because mainstream baby stores market nursery bedding, furniture, and décor as being oh so adorable and enviable when everything is part of a matching set, it can be quite easy to think that having everything go together in theme or color is highly important. (I know I sort of felt that way!)
Here’s why it’s not: What if the nursery ends up needing to house a sibling, either together with the first child or as a separate bedroom, later on down the road?
Would it not, perhaps, be wiser to have a more flexible space?
Plus, looking past that first year or two, think how the needs you and your child have for the room might change. Before you know it, they’ll have tastes and preferences of their own, and that crib will need to give way to a more traditional bed of some sort.
Choosing décor that isn’t quite so “babyish” or matchy-matchy might just help you to avoid completely redecorating a short while later.