If you’re expecting a baby, setting up the nursery is a fun way to help you prepare your home for your new arrival. To get your nursery ready, you’ll need to clean the room thoroughly, set up your furniture, then decorate and organize the room. Whether you opt for a classic, cozy feel or you’d prefer an on-trend theme for the nursery, with a little planning, you can create a safe, welcoming space for your family’s new addition!
EditPreparing the Room
Clear out the room you’re turning into the nursery. It’s best to get a fresh start when you’re preparing a room for a baby, so take out as many items from the room as you can, even if you plan on putting them back in the nursery eventually. This will allow you to thoroughly clean the room before you set up the furniture.
If there is any large furniture that you are using in the nursery, it’s fine to leave it in the room when you clean it out.
Clean all of the surfaces in the room, including the walls and floor. Babies are especially susceptible to allergens like dust, mold, and pet hair, so you should get the room as clean as possible. Use a sponge and soapy water to clean the walls, sweep and mop hard floors, and shampoo the carpet if you have one.
Do not use harsh chemicals to clean the nursery. Stick to plain soap and water, homemade cleaners like baking soda or vinegar, or green cleaners made with non-toxic ingredients.
If the carpet has a lot of ground-in dirt, consider replacing it if you can. The expense will be well worth your baby’s health.
Install a dimmer switch if the lights are bright. If the only light in your room is one bright overhead light, consider replacing the light switch with a dimmer switch instead. Turn off the power to the light switch at the fuse box, then unscrew the switch plate and disconnect the wires from the existing switch. After that, reattach the wires to your new dimmer switch and screw the new switch plate into place.
You will need to replace your light bulbs with bulbs that function with a dimmer.
A lamp with a soft light bulb or stick-on LED lights are also good options for creating a soft glow in your nursery.
Oil the door hinges so they don’t creak. Using a common household lubricant like WD-40, apply a little oil to each hinge on the nursery door to keep it from creaking. When you finally get the baby to sleep and the door swings silently shut behind you, you’ll be glad you took the time to do this.
You can get these lubricants from any home improvement store, as well as most supermarkets.
Install safety features like a smoke and carbon monoxide detector. While it might not be as much fun as decorating the nursery, it’s very important that you make sure your most vital safety features are in place. Choose a combination smoke and carbon monoxide detector for the nursery, anchor all heavy furniture to the walls, and protect electrical outlets with plastic covers.
If you prefer, it’s fine to have separate carbon monoxide and smoke detectors.
Paint the nursery if you want. Once you know the theme for your nursery, you can paint the walls if you choose. Be sure to choose a non-toxic paint that won’t flake, so your child won’t be able to peel the paint off the wall and eat it when they become a curious toddler.
If you’ve already installed the furniture, move it to the center of the room and cover it with drop cloths or old sheets so it doesn’t get stained with paint.
EditFurnishing the Nursery
Assemble the furniture in the nursery in case it won’t fit in the door. There’s nothing worse than spending hours putting together furniture only to find out it won’t quite go through the door. Save yourself time, effort, and stress by putting the furniture together inside of the nursery, especially big pieces like the crib.
Put together the crib according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Creating a safe environment for your baby to sleep in is one of the most important things you can do when you’re setting up the nursery. Read through the instruction manual when you’re installing the crib, and make sure it’s secure before your baby comes home. If you don’t feel confident in your construction skills, hire a professional to assemble the crib for you.
Don’t use a crib that’s more than 10 years old, and never use a crib that’s broken or modified in any way.
Look for a crib with a firm mattress, and be sure there are no more than 2 fingers width of space between the edges of the mattress and the side of the crib.
For safety purposes, the slats on your crib should be no more than apart.
Set up the crib several months before the baby is due. You don’t have to have the final details in place, but if your baby arrives early, you’ll want to have at least the crib ready, as well as the changing table if you choose to have one. 
Premature babies often have to stay at the hospital for a while, but you’ll likely be spending a lot of time visiting. Getting the furniture set up as early as possible will be one less thing you have to worry about if that does happen.
Include a comfortable chair so you can easily soothe the baby. When the baby wakes up in the middle of the night, or you need to get up for a middle-of-the-night feeding, you’ll be grateful for a place to sit while you’re tending to your infant. Just be sure it’s somewhere that you’ll be comfortable, since you’ll probably be spending a lot of time there for the first few months.
Gliders and rockers are both popular options, but oversized recliners and plush chairs can also work.
If you’re designing your nursery on a budget, check second-hand shops or ask family and friends if they have any hand-me-down chairs. Just be sure to clean them well!
Put a changing table and dresser in the nursery for your convenience. You can either choose a dresser with a surface big enough for a changing pad, or you can opt for separate pieces. Either way, you’ll want a place to organize all of those baby clothes, and the changing table will save your back through several years of diaper changes.
Some people opt not to have a changing table, and others prefer to use a closet organizer to store baby clothes. Whether you have these or not is up to you.
Check to make sure all furniture meets federal safety specifications. If a product has been found to be unsafe or defective in some way, it may be included in a recall. Check all of the furniture you’re using in the nursery to make sure it isn’t included on any of these lists, especially if you’re using hand-me-downs.
For a list of the latest product recalls, visit https://www.safekids.org/product-recalls.
EditDecorating the Room
Pick a theme for decorating the nursery. The theme you choose is completely up to you. It can be as simple as choosing a color, or as specific as decorating based on your favorite movie. If you don’t want to, you don’t have to have a theme at all! However, coming up with some sort of guideline can help you narrow down your options while you’re gathering items for the nursery.
Popular themes include baby animals, chevrons, the ocean, and birds. However, feel free to come up with your own!
Choose the wall art to match your theme. Although your newborn won’t notice the art on the wall, they will appreciate having something fun to look at as they get a little older. Look for monograms, framed pictures, or even vintage toys that you can display on the wall.
Framed pages from your favorite illustrated storybooks make a charming display for a nursery.
Vinyl wall decals are a great way to create big visual impact without damaging your walls.
Hang curtains that match the decor to block out some of the light. When your baby is sleeping during the day, you’ll want a nice dim environment to help them nap. Choose a curtain which blocks out some of the light from outside, but avoid black-out curtains, as it’s important to teach your baby the difference between night and day as early as possible.
Blinds are not recommended for a nursery, as their cords create a serious strangling hazard for small children.
Cover the crib in a mattress pad and a crib sheet. It might be tempting to make the crib a soft, plush space that you would love to nap in, but to prevent SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome), your crib should be simple, with no blankets, toys, or pillows until your baby is at least 1 year old.
You’ll need at least 2 sets of sheets in case your baby has a diaper leak or spits up during the night.
Hang a baby mobile if you want one. Some babies are soothed by the motion of a revolving baby monitor, although others are stimulated by the motion and find it hard to sleep while the mobile is on. You won’t know whether or not a particular mobile is a good fit for your baby until after they arrive, so it’s a good idea to hang onto the receipt.
If you do choose to have a mobile, just pick one that you think is cute. If it doesn’t work, you can always exchange it for another one.
EditOrganizing the Baby’s Things
Avoid clutter in the room. In addition to looking messy, too much clutter can be a hazard when you’re making your way through the nursery in the dark. There are a number of organizers you can use in the nursery to help you keep clutter to a minimum, including cubbies, shelves, and containers that sit in the top of the closet.
Try to group similar items together. For instance, all of your baby’s bath items should be in one place, all of their shoes in another, and so on.
Organize the diapers within arm’s reach of the changing area. When you’re changing a massive blowout, the last thing you’ll want is to have to hunt for the powder. Keep the diapers, ointment, powder, and wipes where you can reach them easily and with one hand.
This is probably the most essential area to organize out of the whole nursery, since it’s one you’ll be using multiple times a day.
It’s also a good idea to have a diaper pail set up near your changing table so you can dispose of dirty diapers easily.
Set up a baby monitor and put the receiver where you spend the most time. A baby monitor will give you peace of mind when the baby is sleeping in the nursery. You’ll easily be able to hear a cry or a whimper, allowing you to respond before the baby becomes extremely upset.
You can even find baby monitors with video feeds that will allow you to observe your baby sleeping in their crib.
If you live in a small house, you may not need a baby monitor at all. However, if you have a large house or you like to spend time outdoors, it’s a good idea to have one.
Some baby monitors can be overheard by people nearby who are listening to a police scanner, so avoid disclosing sensitive information when you’re standing near the monitor.
Wash all of the baby clothes before putting them away. Clothing manufacturers often coat new clothes in chemicals designed to make them look crisp and new in stores, and while these might make your baby clothes look extra adorable in the closet, the chemicals can irritate a baby’s delicate skin. Take off any tags that might be on the clothes and wash them before you put them in the closet or dresser.
Use a detergent formulated for infants to ensure it’s free of any scents or dyes that can also cause irritation.
Find space for all of the rest of baby’s essentials. If this is your first baby, you’ll probably be amazed at all of the stuff they accumulate before they’re even born! Use the dresser, closet organizer, shelves, and any other available space to organize the baby’s bibs, burp cloths, lotion, towels, toys, books, and other items!
Other items that you’ll probably need to place in the nursery include the diaper bag, a clothes hamper, a swing or bouncy seat, and a sound machine to help drown out unwanted noise.
Keep the baby’s room warm, especially in the early days, since newborns have a hard time regulating their body temperature.
Frequently check online to make sure none of your baby’s items have been included in a recall.
Periodically check the nursery for safety hazards like broken toys, cords, fragile or breakable objects, or anything else that could harm your baby.
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