I'm often asked where to start when it comes to planning a space for a new baby and this got me reminiscing about our firstborn Thomas' nursery. If only I could go back in time and do things a little differently...
Looking back, one of the biggest and most costly mistakes we made when planning his nursery was to head straight to one of the large baby superstores where we bought a co-ordinating set of cot bed, changing unit and wardrobe. We felt like we were getting such a great deal as the furniture was heavily discounted if we bought all 3 pieces, and it ticked off 3 of the big ticket items on our list of things to buy before baby arrived.
This wasn't one of our best interiors decisions and we could definitely have spent our money a lot more wisely. The nursery furniture sets are typically large, ugly, boxy items of furniture and there are some much nicer alternatives out there. So with the benefit of hindsight, and now with many rooms designs under my belt here are my thoughts on how to go about planning baby's first space.
When planning a nursery, of course your baby will need somewhere to sleep. However, for their first 4-6 months they will most likely be in a smaller Moses basket or bedside crib in your own bedroom so the cot bed isn't a time critical purchase and you can take your time working out your style before you commit to purchasing it. A newborn would feel rather lost in a large cot bed after being tucked inside your tummy for 9 months so to begin with, I would suggest investing in a beautiful Moses basket and stand, which won't take up too much space in your master bedroom, and will provide a cosy space for baby to spend their first few months. It also has the advantage of being easily carried around the house so if baby will only sleep with you in close proximity you can move it around and still get on with things whilst baby snoozes. Add some striking wall art, black and white photographs of the family (babies love faces!) or a mobile for baby to look at and you're all sorted for your first few months.
Once your baby is ready to move into a cot bed, there are plenty of affordable and stylish choices. Personally I don't think you can go too far wrong with the IKEA Sniglar which is now available in two sizes, cot 60x120cm for smaller spaces or cot bed size 70x140cm.
Space for mum:
The next most important purchase by far is somewhere for mum to sit comfortably for long periods of time. Whether you are planning to breast or bottle feed you will be up feeding baby every 2-3 hours to begin with (not to mention the cluster feeds) and a comfortable high-backed chair is a must. Again, I'm going to steer you away from the traditional nursing chair/glider as not only are they typically ugly and bulky, I also find them impossible to get in and out of whilst holding your baby. That being said it's important that you choose a chair that's ergonomically designed to support both you and your baby whilst feeding. I'd recommend looking for a high back with arms at the right level to give you that support. Another consideration is the fabric as if you want a chair to last you will need it to be stain resistant! If you can find one in a design you're going to love and use for many years then it's definitly worth spending a bit more and if you need help justifying the cost then think about the expensive physio sessions you might save yourself (speaking from painful personal experience!)
Unless you're blessed with an enormous master bedroom suite, squeezing in a Moses basket or small bedside crib and a chair is usually difficult enough without then having to find space for all the other baby essentials. We actually moved our own chest of drawers with all our clothes in it into the spare room to make space for a changing unit but this was totally unnecessary. We could just as easily have managed with a changing mat and a couple of pretty baskets for nappies, wipes, spare onesies and muslins.
Before having children, I massively underestimated the amount of space I would need for clothes storage. They may be tiny but they grow ridiculously quickly and we found we were (very kindly) inundated with new clothes and hand-me-downs in bigger sizes by friends and family which I also needed to find space for. If you're tight on space in baby's room, I would always recommend a chest of drawers over a wardrobe and if you have enough space a nice wide one is perfect. Not only does it provide lots of storage space, it also means that their clothes are easily accessible once your child is ready to dress themselves. The majority of children's clothes can be stored in drawers, and if you have some items that need hanging they can either go into your wardrobe or displayed on a hanging rail or on wall hooks.
Last but not least don't forget to consider your lighting. I'll be doing a blog post on lighting very soon, but my tip would be to always look for something that's dimmable so you can adjust the level of light as required. You'll want slightly brighter light for reading stories and changing baby, and something a lot darker for nighttime feeds and cuddles.
Hopefully this has given you some inspiration to think a little differently in your approach to your new baby's room. We have now lived with our superstore 3-piece for almost 4 years as I'm too stubborn to admit it was a bad purchase but I really can't wait to swap it out for something a lot prettier once Georgia's ready to transition out of her cot. Watch this space to see what I go for...
I'd love to hear if you have any other must-haves for your baby's first room or if you have any questions that I can help with.