By Belinda Mooney

You’re about to become parents.  It’s an exciting time with lots of changes and preparation ahead of you. Amidst all the doctor’s appointments, Lamaze classes and other adjustments, you need to make plans for your baby’s nursery — one of the best parts of having a baby!  Your creative genius can truly surface as you prepare for your new arrival, but make sure you have the essentials for your little one.  Here is a list of suggestions to make your nursery tip top!

Setting Up the Nursery

If you can choose where your nursery will be, consider the room closest to your own.  This will allow you to hear your baby and get to his room quickly when needed.  The baby bed should be placed away from window drafts.  Paint or put in new carpet several months before the baby is born in order for the fumes to diminish.

Pick a theme before you start painting or preparing the room; this will give you time to pick out coordinating items such as wall decorations and crib sheets.  Friends and family will want to know your theme before your baby shower — be sure to inform them of your choice so you can end up with what you need.  Take advantage of store registries which allow you to highlight your theme.

Speaking of theme, pay close attention to color, says Interior Designer Andrea Maflin, author of Children’s Rooms (Cico Books; $24.95).

“Wonderful colors and fabrics can be used in a baby’s room to match the adults’ rooms in the house,” says Maflin.  “You may need to make some concessions, but remember that the nursery is a room for you as well as your child, and you should both be happy there,” she adds.  You will be spending a lot of time in this new room with your infant — make it pleasant for all of you.

The Baby Bed and Other Furnishings

The baby’s bed will be the focal point of your nursery. You may start out with a bassinet and move up to a crib as the baby gets older. Cradles are another option for newborns up through about 6 months. Choose a style that goes with your theme. Shop several stores and compare prices in order to stay within your budget. Cribs that convert to a bed as the child grows older are a popular choice that pay for themselves in the years of use ahead. There are numerous lines that show this type of “graduating” furniture. Also, keep in mind when purchasing new furniture for your nursery that it can take time to deliver. Shop well ahead of your due date so your nursery is ready when the baby comes home!

Another essential to the baby nursery is a good, solid dresser. Deep drawers with plenty of room is a must. The top will become your work area and hold all of Baby’s supplies.  If your dresser is low and long, it can double as a changing table — purchase a pad to place upon it and cover it with a fabric that matches your theme.

You can often find coordinating pieces to match your baby bed. If purchasing second-hand furniture, painting the pieces to match is another option. Second-hand rockers or gliders with cushioned seats can be recovered in a fabric that suits your theme. If you end up buying second hand and have the time to do so, you can always replace the fabric.

A Changing Table

If you have room in the nursery, a changing table is very convenient to have. Ones with shelves underneath allow you to store receiving blankets, extra Onesies, diapers, baby clothes and other essentials.  Your changing table can work instead of a dresser. Add some baskets for small items and to help keep the clothes organized.

A Rocking Chair

Not every nursery will have room for a rocking chair or glider, but it is wonderful if you do. Rocking Baby is perfect during late night feedings or singing Baby to sleep. They are also helpful when trying to calm a fussy or sick baby.

A Diaper Stacker, A Hamper

These handy items should be kept close to your changing table. The diaper stacker hangs on the wall and keeps diapers stacked neatly.  You will be amazed at how many times you may change your baby’s clothing some days. That’s why it’s great to have a hamper nearby — purchase one and line it with a lovely theme fabric.

Necessities

Basic supplies to have on-hand include baby powder, diaper cream, Vaseline, baby oil and baby wipes in your work space. Place these items in a basket on or near your changing area and keep it well stocked.  Other items to include are baby nail clippers, a thermometer, a comb and brush, and soft washcloths.

Items of Contentment

While not a must in your nursery, a soft nightlight, a small clock and a music player are very nice.  A nightlight allows you to enter the nursery without having to turn on the light and disturb your baby, the clock allows you to at least know what time of day or night it is, and perhaps nothing is sweeter than playing soft music for your baby during a peaceful time of day.  Some CDs even play music that allow Baby to hear a heartbeat sound in the background which is very soothing to newborns.

Belinda Mooney is a mom and freelance writer.