One of the major projects you’ll be taking on as a soon-to-be new parent is nursery decor and design. Think of the nursery as a cocoon for you, as much as your infant. After all, you’ll be spending countless hours in this room with your baby, feeding her, changing her, putting her down to rest, playing with and comforting her.
Here’s what to think about when it comes to nursery decor and design – as well as some ideas for where to splurge and where to save.
Your main priority is to create an inviting and comfortable place where you and baby can rest and interact. Consider:
Comfort: For baby (crib, soft floor covering, etc.) and for you (glider, rocking chair or arm chair).
Safety: Baby-safe room features include no uncovered electrical outlets, no tippy tables or chairs, no dangling cords (especially on window blinds, lamps, etc) and non-toxic room surfaces.
Nursery decor: A warm, welcoming room you and baby will enjoy spending time in, preferably with a soothing (not invigorating!) ambience.
Budget: Although gossip magazines are filled with spreads of over-the-top celeb nurseries, your nursery decor doesn’t have to cost a lot. In fact, it’s better to save now and spend more on your kids’ subsequent room, when he’ll be able to enjoy it more, anyway.
ESSENTIAL NURSERY MUST-HAVES
Cribs adjust from infant height (with a raised bottom so that you can reach your newborn without having to lean way down into the crib to pick her up), to a lowered-bottom setting (so your squirmy big baby can move around or stand in her crib without falling out or escaping). Most also convert to toddler beds – essentially, mini day beds – a good pre-twin-bed transition piece.
Comfort: Many newborns feel overwhelmed in a crib and prefer the “confines” of a bassinette or Moses basket for the first few weeks of their lives.
Safety: Before buying, see Health Canada’s . Check the site regularly for recall updates.
Nursery decor: Cribs come in traditional and contemporary styles and in a variety of wood finishes (or plain white). Customize yours with a fitted sheet, but remember, bumper pads, pillows, sheets or comforters inside the crib as they pose suffocation hazards.
IKEA’s known for its stylish and super-affordable cribs. is a fave among design-savvy moms and dads.
Never buy vintage. The earliest acceptable crib models have labels showing they were made after September 1986, when tougher safety standards came into place. That said, safety recalls happen all the time and buying new offers more peace of mind. Check for product recalls.
2 Soothing wall colour
Comfort: Nurseries should soothe, not energize. To that end, think of calming wall colours (pale blue, celery green, off-white, delicate pink and lavender), not enervating ones (hot pink, bright red, etc).
Safety: Avoid introducing volatile organic compounds (hazardous gases) by choosing zero-VOC paint for the nursery, like Benjamin Moore’s , which is fully tintable (unlike some other no-VOC paints), comes in a variety of finishes and dries fast, too -- just in case you’re really DIYing down to the wire!
Nursery decor: Add details with peel-and-stick wall decals or paint a feature wall a different colour.
Zero-VOC paint is better for the environment as well as safer for your baby!
3 Glider/rocker or armchair
Comfort: Try out as many options as possible. You’ll want seating you feel extra comfortable in, since you’ll be in it feeding your baby for many, many hours – sometimes in the middle of the night!
Nursery decor: Available in both traditional and contemporary styles.
Glider/rockers are pricey. Low-end models start at around $300 and higher quality models average $1,000 – and up. Armchairs may be a more budget-friendly pick – include an ottoman to rest your feet on.
4 Side table or low bookcase
Comfort: You’ll appreciate having a place to park your beverage while you feed baby in the glider – and if it’s got extra storage, even better!
Safety: Always tables, shelving units, change tables and dressers to the wall in a nursery or kids’ room.
Nursery decor: Whatever you like!
Check out flea markets or yard sales for timeworn options you can refresh with a coat of no-VOC paint.
5 Diaper change station
Comfort: Some parents swear by a dedicated diaper-change table, while others are fine with putting a cushioned change pad onto a dresser top – or with conducting diaper changes on the floor, bed, or crib surface. As long as baby’s padded, he’ll be happy. The question is, what’s most comfortable for your back and knees?
Safety: Never leave a baby unattended on a diaper change station. Even with baby strapped in, keep one arm on her midsection. Positioning the change essentials – fresh diapers, wipes, creams – within arm’s reach is essential!
Nursery decor: Look for a model that converts into storage after diapers are outgrown. Use cute diaper-change-pad covers and buy extras – they get soiled fast!
An extra “satellite” diaper-change station downstairs will make life easier for new parents.
A chic felt basket is a pretty way to stash a fold-up change mat, diapers and wipes – minus the sliver- and splinter-risk of a wicker basket.
6 Dresser unit
Comfort: Look for drawers that glide with ease. Tough-to-open vintage drawers may be frustrating for you – and your growing toddler, down the road – unless you retrofit them.
Safety: Always dressers to the wall or floor so they can’t tip over.
Nursery decor: There’s no rule saying a dresser and crib have to come from the same collection, or even be the same colour. White crib and birch-stained dresser (or vice versa) is a trendy combo and so is white-with-walnut.
Buy used or vintage here if you want (provided the drawers move smoothly!); it’s an easy “save.”
Comfort: Put overhead lighting on a dimmer switch. Ditto for the table or floor lamp you’ll want for nighttime feeding (although some parents get by with a night light).
Safety: Keep lamps out of reach and affix cords to the wall and/or floor so baby can’t pull on them.
Nursery decor: Cute colours and quirky designs may catch an older baby’s attention.
Use compact fluorescent light bulbs. They save energy and burn cooler.
8 Floor covering
Comfort: Wall-to-wall carpeting emits VOCs, traps dust and debris and may provide a haven to dust mites, so hardwood is probably your best choice for flooring. It’s easier to clean, too. On the other hand, a soft area rug provides a comfier spot for baby to move about on, while adding a nice design accent.
Safety: Use a rubber underlay for cushioning and to prevent the rug from slipping out from under you.
Nursery decor: Go neutral and reuse it elsewhere in the house, or choose a baby-friendly style if you know there will be a Baby #2. If you’re only having one child, keep in mind your preschooler may banish the “baby rug” in a couple of years.
Cotton rugs can be tossed into the front-loader for regular cleaning, avoiding the need for steam cleaning or spot-cleansers.
Cotton and natural-wool are safer choices than synthetic rugs, with their heavy VOC loads.