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Before bringing home our baby, Hubby and I lovingly painted the nursery, assembled the crib, and added sweet little decorations to make it feel nice and cozy.  Now that we’re almost five months into our parenthood, we’ve learned A LOT.  One of the things that we’ve learned is how to set up and organize a nursery; what things you need to include beyond the crib.

Here it goes:

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CREATE A GOOD SLEEPING ENVIRONMENT

  1. Purchase a crib and good-quality mattress.  This one is obvious, but probably the most important.  I really don’t think it matters what type of crib you use, just pick one that fits with your budget, space, and decorating style.  Even if you don’t use the crib at first (which you probably won’t) you will need it as your baby gets bigger.  Ours is really simple and inexpensive, but works great.  My advice is to splurge on the mattress rather than the crib.
  2. Hang black-out curtains.  Melatonin production is essential to get deep, restorative sleep.  Since melatonin levels in humans are less during the daylight hours than they are during the evening hours, black-out curtains work to make the room dark enough for the body to raise the melatonin levels, resulting in better sleep.  Science!  Think about it: if you were going to take a nap in the middle of the day, you’d definitely have an easier time falling asleep, staying asleep, and getting a better rest if you were in a dark room.  It’s the same for babies.  We chose to hang a nice set of pink linen curtains and add a panel of black-out curtains behind so they’re pretty and useful.
  3. Use a sound machine.  I know that there has been some controversy recently regarding sound machines in baby’s rooms.  I believe, however, that they’re fine as soon as you’re using common sense.  As long as you don’t turn the volume up to the maximum and don’t put it right next to the baby’s head I think it will be just fine.  Sound machines work to drown out outside noises while the baby is sleeping.  They won’t drown out everything, but they provide a nice, soothing sleep environment.  I should also say that I don’t believe in keeping the house completely quiet while the baby is sleeping.  During Olivia’s naps I continue my daily routine such as blow drying my hair, turning on the dishwasher, and doing laundry: all things that create noise, and she sleeps right through them.  We’ve recently been using a cool-mist humidifier to double as a sound machine, and it’s working for us.
  4. Be mindful about lighting.  Olivia’s room has an overhead flush mount light, but it’s REALLY bright.  We added a free-standing lamp beside the chair and a small tabletop lamp on the dresser (next to the change pad).  This way, we can keep the light soft and dim during the middle-of-the night diaper changes and feedings to signal to Olivia that it’s still night-time and NOT time to wake up and play.

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MAKE FEEDING AND DIAPER CHANGING MORE COMFORTABLE:

  1. Add a chair to the room.  Some people swear by gliders, others like rocking chairs, we’re happy with our Poang from IKEA.  Which type you get is up to your own personal preference but (if you have enough space) having a comfortable place to feed your baby is essential.  I’ve used the chair to breastfeed her while we had visitors over, middle-of-the-night feeds, and now Hubby and I both use it for her bedtime bottle and book time.  I also had a footstool that I LOVED while I was nursing, but I find that I can get comfortable much easier without it now that we’re bottle feeding.
  2. Keep diaper essentials close at hand.  We chose to put our change pad on top of a three-drawer dresser to save space and to grow with Olivia.  She’ll get many, many years of use out of the dresser.  It’s worked really well for us to have a small stash of diapers on a shelf above the change pad and keep remaining diapers (and wipes) in the closet.  Some people use a barrier (zinc) cream at every diaper change to prevent diaper rash, and others use it only to treat diaper rash; we prefer the former use.  Either way, you’ll want to have both a barrier cream and wipes close at hand.  You don’t want to be rummaging around for these items with a squirmy/crying/rolling baby on the change pad.

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BE SMART ABOUT STORAGE:

  1. Utilize the closet in unexpected ways.  Don’t think that the closet it just for clothes.  We use the closet to store MANY other things, including: stroller, diaper bag, extra diapers and wipes, baby carrier, and much more.  We also added some soft-sided hanging shelves for extra storage possibilities.  There are some clothes in the closet, but not many.
  2. Use drawer dividers/organizers.  Baby clothes are tiny.  These make it easier to organize all those tiny things.
  3. Soft-toy storage.  Teddy bears are the bain of my existence.  Okay, I’m exaggerating.  BUT it’s amazing just HOW MANY stuffed animals a little babe can accumulate.  Don’t get me wrong, they’re sweet, and they often become very cherished childhood items (I still remember my “Snooki” bear very fondly).  However, they take up A LOT of room and since you’re not supposed to put them in the crib, what are you supposed to do with them???  We picked up a large canvas bag (in a trendy chevron print) that works great at keeping them accessible and contained.  YAY!
  4. Don’t forget about walls.  We’ve used a small floating shelf above the dresser/change pad for added storage.  We’ve also purchased some picture ledges for book storage.  Both of these things make great use of wall storage in a small room. I’m drooling over these shelves from Restoration Hardware, but they just aren’t in the budget right now.

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DON’T FORGET THE DECORATIONS:

The decorations are what make the nursery personal, fun, and cozy – so be sure to add them!  I don’t think a theme is necessary, but having one helped us create a cohesive (and gender-neutral) look.  Plus, there are SO MANY options out there that a theme really helped us only choose a few decorative touches and to not go overboard.

Do you have any other tips on how to set up and/or organize a nursery?

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