Do you find yourself suddenly cleaning rooms and emptying out closets even if you’ve never been much of a neat freak?
Are you pregnant and exhausted at the end of the day, and yet still wide awake and busily cleaning out the junk and dust under your bed?
That’s all part of “nesting.” Just like the birds and other animals who begin to pick up and build their homes before laying their eggs, humans aren’t immune to the same natural behavioral pattern.
We take the instinct to “nest” to another level through the baby nursery. I suppose nesting probably plays a part as well in inspiring mothers and mothers-to-be to create beautiful spaces; but there is something very magical about preparing a special little space for a coming blessing.
When I had my first child six years ago, I spent some time conceptualizing and making the nursery. Less than two years later, for the nursery of my second child, I had new priorities such as finding ways to create more storage space and making sure everything in the room was built for efficiency.
In the last few years I’ve visited my friends’ new babies, I’ve come to realize that creating nurseries has gone to another level since the first time I tried doing it.
But I’ve also noticed that no matter how fancy or simple a nursery is, the necessities remain the same. The steps to building a nursery are usually similar as well.
1. First and foremost, childproof the room. Cover electrical outlets with fasteners as a safety precaution and keep the baby’s safety in mind throughout the planning and decorating. Avoid putting furniture with sharp corners or unstable items which may fall on your baby. Use low or none-VOC (volatile organic compounds) paints and do not do the actual painting yourself if you are pregnant. Stay out of the room for days.
2. Budget. For most moms, it is already second nature to think twice, thrice or even a hundred times before buying an expensive item because they know it’s really just for their own pleasure.
When it comes to the baby, though, it seems so easy to justify spending the same amount because, after all, “it’s for the baby.” Except that it’s not true, because the baby doesn’t know what’s going on. So, think carefully about how much you can really afford to spend on the nursery, because it’s just the beginning of many more expenses.
3. Plan the layout and take down measurements. It’s always good to have a general idea of how the room will look like in terms of spacing and the layout of the furniture. Knowing the exact measurements will also help you avoid purchasing furniture that may either be too big for the room (making it appear smaller and tighter) or too small, which would create awkward spaces.
When planning the layout, maximize the natural light available. Leave space for closets and storage areas. Estimate how much storage you will need, then double it. You can never have too many storage spaces when it comes to babies and children.
Keep the shelves away from the crib to avoid items falling on your baby.
Now is the time to decide where you will put your baby’s crib. My daughter’s crib was beside a window in our previous home, because I wanted her to have sunlight and fresh air (or as fresh as you can get in Manila). But many experts advise against this, as older babies may figure out a way to open the window. Windows also have cords and cables from curtains and blinds which the baby can get tangled up in.
Don’t forget the dirty laundry! It’s not just the pretty baby things you plan for. Create discreet spaces for things like the trash can for the diapers and your laundry hamper.
4. Decide on your flooring. Wall-to-wall carpets are great for cushioning the fall of babies; but if your family has a history of allergies, you may want to consider other options such as wood and simply putting foam on top, or area rugs which you can wash and easily clean.
5. Speaking of the crib, now is the time to find one. This is usually the center of attraction in any nursery, aside from the baby. Whether you choose to buy or happen to have a sibling or close friend who is done having babies and has chosen to give you a crib, make sure it is durable enough to withstand the reasonable wear and tear.
Also check that the slats are vertically arranged to avoid baby jailbreak, and close enough (no more than two inches apart) so that the baby will not be able to stick his/her head through it and get stuck in the process.
Some cribs allow one side to be moved up and down for easy access. Make sure the locks on this are secure to avoid accidents.
Once all safety requirements are checked off your list, start toying around with ideas such as changing the finishing of the crib—if you want it to match the rest of your furniture.
6. Baby furniture. Before looking at how beautiful a piece is, always check how functional it actually is. There are many places in your home where you can put lovely but otherwise useless items. A baby’s nursery is not one of them.
When shopping for baby furniture, the first place I suggest you look around is your home. Not everything has to be new. It is always a delightful challenge to work with what you have at home to create something new and special for the baby.
However, if you choose to look outside the house, there are choices now from department stores to specialty furniture shops in Manila or Cebu, and even online.
For the nursery of my babies, instead of buying a changing table, I simply made use of a low table with chest drawers we had in the guest room. I attached a changing pad on top (make sure it is secure!) and bought baskets for it—where I placed a ready stock of diapers, cotton balls and all the necessary changing items.
The drawers were useful for keeping all the other items I needed for the baby, such as a medicine and first-aid kit, more diapers, etc.
Of course, aside from furnishings for the baby, don’t forget yourself. In the first few months, you will spend a lot of time in the nursery, and it won’t hurt to have your own comfort space. A rocking chair to lull you and your baby to sleep is always a welcome piece. You can also add a sofa bed where you can entertain guests who will visit your baby and where you can take a nap when the baby is asleep, too.
If you have furniture that is lightweight and easy to pull down, keep it secured to the wall to avoid any accidents when the baby gets old enough to pull things down.
And, don’t forget storage! If possible, find double-purpose items that have hidden storage space.
7. Once you’ve got the basics covered, you can start working out either a color scheme or a full on theme. With my two kids, I simply stuck to a color scheme. I chose pink and light green for Adriana because the room we had chosen to use already had the light-green curtains and carpet. I decided to work with what we had rather than go for a full renovation. But I had the walls repainted in baby pink and it came out very refreshing.
With Juanmi, I used beige because it looked clean and bright and went with the dark wood of the crib and “changing table.” The only color came from the curtains which were light blue and green plaid.
I’m glad I started with a basic neutral shade because, from there, I was able to add coordinated pops of color through the years as my son grew bigger.
The room, being so neutral, is also growing with him.
But times have changed and now I see beautiful nurseries with truly unique themes such as ballerina, gardens (complete with wall murals by fine arts students) and French parlour for girls.
For the boys, there are nautical, jungle and pirate themes. The sky is the limit when you let your imagination run free.
8. Lastly, get personal. A nursery becomes your home’s haven because of the warmth and love that are always found in a baby’s room. Put memorabilia such as framed photos of your newborn and his/her footprints, other special mementos, and a small altar where you can pray for your baby.