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The Ultimate Guide to Planning Your Baby's Nursery: From Timelines to Themes

Posted by Alexandra Porto on

Did you start pinning baby nursery inspiration shortly after learning you were pregnant? You're not alone—for so many moms, this is one of the most exciting planning steps while waiting for your baby to arrive. It is also a milestone you can have some fun with and one of the first projects you'll take on as a parent.

But getting it all set up is a lot of work, and it can get overwhelming sorting through paint colors, furniture selections, and possible themes. You might also be wondering when to get started tackling the to-do list. Don't worry; we are here to walk you through everything you need to know about planning your baby's nursery. From well-thought-out room layouts to popular themes and timelines, follow these steps, and you'll bring your dream nursery to life in record time.

dream nursery

Photo Credit: Collov Home Design, Unsplash

Think about The Room's Key Functions

There are so many cute nursery finds on social media, from chic carpets to custom chandeliers and whimsical mobiles. It's easy to overdo it and buy everything. But do you really need all the stuff you see online? Probably not.

The truth is there are only a few key needs when it comes to your baby's nursery. Keep it simple and focus on how the room should function: for sleeping, nursing, changing diapers, and organizing toys, books, and clothes. Here are some ideas of what you need for each of these different functions:

Sleeping:

  • Select a crib that meets Consumer Product Safety Standards and a mattress that fits tightly in the baby's crib. Make sure no more than one finger fits between the mattress and crib edge.
  • You'll also need washable mattress pads and fitted crib sheets. Aim for 3 to 4 sets to get your crib sleep ready.
  • White noise machines or Bluetooth speakers are perfect for easing your baby into dreamland with soothing sounds.
  • Blackout curtains are also a big help when putting them down for a nap in the middle of the day.
  • A mobile is another great purchase to soothe and stimulate your newborn while in the crib.
  • Most importantly, mount a baby monitor so you check in on your little one at any time.

putting baby to bed

Photo Credit: Anna Shvets, Pexels

Nursing:

  • A rocking chair is a classic go-to for nursing your newborn; look for one that has a comfortable armrest since you are likely to be in that position often.
  • Buy a dimmable nightlight for feedings in the middle of the night and to help your baby sleep.

Changing Diapers:

  • A changing table will help keep everything tidy as you go through that diaper stash. If your dresser is low enough, you could use a security-strap changing pad instead.
  • Keep a caddy nearby with essentials like diapers, wipes, diaper cream, and hand sanitizer.
  • Invest in an odor-controlling diaper pail that allows for hands-free opening.

Organizing:

  • Stay organized with a cubby or chest for baby toys.
  • Start your little one's first library with hanging shelves or a small bookcase.
  • Use collapsible bins to add extra storage in the closet or cubby.
  • Drawer dividers, closet organizers, and a hamper will help keep clothes tidy.

Get organized

Photo Credit: Carrie Allen, Unsplash

Helpful Extras:

  • If you have the space, add a playmat to your nursery for them to safely roll around on.
  • A washable rug can also help tie your theme together and encourage movement.
  • A bouncer is another nice-to-have if you have room in the nursery.

Select a Nursery Theme & Color Palette

Once you've figured out how the room will function, it's time to get creative! Look through Pinterest boards or Instagram for inspiration and think about your own personal style. While many nurseries have themes, it isn't a necessity. You can just stick with a certain color palette if you want.

If going with a theme, incorporate a few small elements like wallpaper, pillows, or a rug. Aim for a chic interpretation of it rather than full-on kitsch. Try to pick a theme that will grow with them and look good over the next couple of years.

Sometimes a theme can be born from an experience, meaningful photograph, or object. Did you honeymoon at Serengeti? Then a safari-themed nursery could be perfect. Love to go on road trips? Then go with a Route 66-themed room. The more personal, the better.

Pick your nursery theme

Photo Credit: Sidekix Media, Unsplash

Here are some of the most popular nursery themes:

  • Celestial
  • Rainbows
  • Baby Yoda
  • Coastal Chic
  • '70s Inspired
  • Jungle
  • Vintage Florals
  • Under-the-Sea
  • Woodland
  • Geometric
  • Nautical
  • Dinosaurs
  • Aviation
  • Disney's Encanto

After selecting a theme, we recommend researching fabrics and textures like bedding, pillows, and curtains, then choosing a paint color that coordinates well. Go bold with bright accent walls or select calming neutrals, like blush or pale blue. Printed wallpaper or molded wall treatments are other popular options.

Decide which room will be the nursery

Photo Credit: Collov Home Design, Unsplash

Pick Which Room Will Be the Nursery

You might already know which room will be the nursery, or maybe you're struggling to figure out which space would work best. Wherever you are in the process, here are some things to consider so you can decide with confidence.

First, think about your current home and family. Do you have a spare room, or will you need to convert your office or storage space? The good news is infants do not require much room before they are six months, so even a small space can work. Consider having them share a room with a sibling or even adding a new partition to a larger room.

Babies wake up a lot during the night, so ideally, your room should be somewhat close to the nursery. This is mainly for monitoring the baby but also for your safety, so you don't have to stumble downstairs in the middle of the night. Choose a room on the same level that doesn't have access to a patio or balcony and keep safety guards on the windows. Install carbon monoxide detectors and a smoke alarm if the room doesn't already have them.

You might love having rooms with tons of windows but be mindful that this could cause your baby to overheat or get too much sunlight. In this case, fewer windows and a room with a thermostat is best.

the best time to get started

Photo Credit: Omurden Cengiz, Unsplash

The Best Time to Get Started

Take time in your first trimester to focus on yourself and celebrate this moment in your life. If you want a head start, focus on furniture research, pinning inspiration pics, and creating a mood board. Save the bulk of planning for when you feel your best and already know your baby's gender. Around five months is an excellent time for most women to order furniture and amp up nursery planning.

This will keep you on a good pace, so there's enough time to order furniture and arrange it before bringing your baby home. Aim to have the nursery ready a week or two before your due date. This way, you can focus on healing postpartum and have peace of mind that the nursery is already complete.

Here's a nursery planning timeline to help guide you along the way:

Month 5: Bring Out the Tape Measure

You've already thought about the room's function, narrowed down a theme and color scheme, picked which room will be the nursery, and are ready to get started. Now is the time to figure out your budget and see what items to include on your baby registry. Aim to have an early shower so there's enough time to have your registry items delivered and assembled in the nursery.

Measuring is a big part of this. The last thing you want is to spend money on furniture that doesn't fit or go overboard with registry items that will only add clutter to the space. So, start by gathering the room's dimensions and drawing out a floor plan. Include windows, doors, and closets.

When shopping for furniture, pay attention to the measurements and try different arrangements using your floorplan. Consider the different zones for sleeping, nursing, diaper changes, and organizing to ensure an efficient layout. Look for adaptable furniture that converts as your baby grows to save yourself time and money.

Month 5-6: Now is the Time to Order Furniture

Shipping and assembly typically take about a month, so now is the best time to place those orders. This leaves enough time if there is an inventory issue or shipping delay. If you are ordering a custom piece, it might take more than three months, so be sure to ask any questions upfront.

Check the estimated delivery dates to plan when everything will be assembled. Peek at instruction manuals ahead of time too. Depending on how far along you are, you might want to lean on your partner for assembly or hire a professional.

All about the walls

Photo Credit: Blue Bird, Pexels

Month 6-7: It's All About the Walls!

While the space is empty is a great time to handle any wall treatments. Whether you are painting, adding trim, or hanging wallpaper, start now so the room can air out before it's in use. Decide if you want to add wall decals, mirrors, or enhance the room's lighting; mount curtain rods, hooks, and shelving. Then use this time to babyproof any outlets or cords too.

Month 7-8: Let the Assembling Begin

By now, your furniture should have been delivered. Enlist the help of your partner or hired help and assemble the crib, changing table, storage solutions, and any other items you've ordered. Arrange everything according to your floorplan, but don't be afraid to move furniture around if something doesn't look right. Grab your breast pump, diapers, and other items you'll need to test-drive the space and make sure it's comfortable for nursing, changing diapers, etc.

Anchor heavy furniture and do another round of babyproofing: cover outlets and cords, and cushion any sharp edges. Lay down the rug, then hang frames, curtains, and the mobile. Add the diaper pail and caddy, storage cubes, and extra decorative touches. Get the bed ready with its mattress pad and crib sheets. Plug in a nightlight and white noise machine, and set up the baby monitor. Test it out to make sure you have a good view of the crib.

Assemble the furniture

Photo Credit: MART Production, Pexels

Month 9: Prep the Room for Your Baby's Arrival

If you've followed this timeline, everything should be completed 1-2 weeks before your due date. In preparation for your little one's arrival, add some baby books to the shelves, place a few developmental toys in the chest, and hang some of those adorable baby clothes. Then set the room temperature to a comfortable 68 to 72 degrees Fahrenheit. Take a picture of all your hard work before the chaos begins.

Extra Tips to Keep in Mind

Here are some additional tips to keep your baby's space safe, functional, and looking great even when you are sleep-deprived. These small steps can make a big difference in keeping your little one comfortable.

  • There is so much baby stuff available that it's easy to get bogged down in clutter. If you realize things in the nursery are not being used, remove them from the room. Pack them into labeled bins stored for future months.
  • Create a cleaning routine for washing sheets, clothes, and toys and divvy it up with your partner.
  • Keep a designated bin for clothes that your baby has outgrown. Add to it daily, then decide whether to donate, sell, or store them once it is full.
  • Get in the habit of storing ointments and medicines in a drawer out of reach. You'd be surprised how grabby babies can be as they develop.
  • As your baby grows, be on the lookout for additional areas that require babyproofing.
  • Take time to enjoy this space you created with your little one during the day.

Let's go on this journey together

Photo Credit: @barbarabraga85


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