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July 24, 2024

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Create a Nursery that Grows with Baby

Think first before buying for your first nursery. You'll save yourself a bundle!

By Patricia Parrot

There始s another baby boom coming on — so many people I know are expecting!  As a design consultant for baby nurseries, I talk to many expectant mothers and mothers of young children.  When they are expecting, they often ask me,  “What would you do?” and “What did you do?” When I was expecting with my two children, I didn始t have the knowledge about what was really out there for babies and children, nor the foresight to plan nurseries that would grow with my girls.

First-time parents usually go overboard, buying lots they don始t really need or that cannot be used as their child grows older. Believe me, I始ve been there myself. But knowing what I know now, I would do things differently.  Of course, some folks can afford to put together a “heaven-on-earth” custom-designed nursery, filled with the latest and greatest elements for baby, and then re-do it all for the toddler, preschool, grade school and high school years. For the rest of us, it始s wise to invest in practical, transitional and timeless elements to ease the burden of decorating for the new little bundle of joy.  Here are my time-tested suggestions that will do the trick:

Convertible Crib

When some hear “convertible crib” the response is, “but those aren始t stylish at all!”  Well, today, there are some very stylish cribs that will convert to a toddler bed and then to a full-size bed.  One in particular allows parents to choose the paint color and decorative accent molding. Imagine the sentimental value of a bed that your child was first placed in and grew up with through the years.  Buying a painted crib also allows for refinishing or repainting when your child moves to the full-size bed and wants to choose colors for herself!

Single Dresser

I suggest this piece as a combination dresser/changing table with pad in lieu of a separate open-style shelved changing table.  It saves space, and kids can始t pull off anything within their reach.  For me, the separate changing became impractical very quickly.  With a dresser/changing table combo, you can store baby changing items in the top drawer and use the bottom ones for clothes.  A single dresser can easily be used anywhere in the house later.

Unisex Bedding

Your child will only use it for a limited time, and this is one of the only times you will get to choose exclusively what you want for your child始s room without her input. I suggest selecting a patterned set with two to four unisex colors. That way, with subsequent siblings you can choose a different wall color for variety to go with the same bedding.

Woven Basket (Moses Basket)

Choose a pattern that coordinates with the crib set in unisex colors. A basket is portable, and you can carry the baby from room to room and floor to floor more easily than trying to roll a bassinet.  It can also be used for storing stuffed animals or something else later on.


Regardless of age, children will always have to store books and collectibles. If your nursery is small, several companies now make smaller scale, stylish bookcases to match crib furniture.  If your nursery is large, add an additional book shelf.  They are always needed.

Rocking Chair/Glider

Rocking your baby to sleep in a comfortable chair is a memory that you will always cherish. Should you decide to invest in a pint-sized version (see below) use the same fabric as the adult chair.

Child-Sized Rocker or Chair

All kids love items that look like adult ones but are “just their size.” Find a wonderful source for pint-sized upholstered chairs, rockers and settees and use the same fabric as the adult chair.

Window Treatments

Select something simple that can be used in a toddler room later or combined with a more sophisticated treatment for an older child.

Toy Chest

You始ll always need places to hide toys.  Have one painted to coordinate with crib bedding or other art work.  You can refinish and repaint down the road for other use such as for blankets or keepsakes.

Mural or Wallpaper

I recommend a mural painted on canvas that can be framed or a mural painted on a piece of furniture — it始s portable. If you prefer something more than just a solid color paint on all four walls, consider using removable wallpaper border near the ceiling or chair rail. It始s less expensive than a full wall mural and can easily replaced with a more mature pattern later.

Let these tips serve as a framework and a starting point for your inspiration.  There are many options available to parents today.  Every nursery will be different, just as every child is different.  It始s a pleasure and a joy to influence the environment where your little miracle will live and grow up! 

Patricia Parrot is a design consultant for infants and children’s rooms.

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