Once you find out you’re pregnant, one of the first things you think about when it comes to your home is creating that gorgeous nursery. What colour scheme will you follow? What items will you get? Should you re-paint or use wallpaper? Should you go with furniture in espresso wood or crisp white? There are so many questions when it comes to selecting the perfect nursery furnishing and décor. And while it sounds pretty overwhelming, it’s actually a really exciting and fun experience.
One thing that’s often overlooked, however, amidst the colours, patterns, and designs, is seeking out items that will actually help stimulate your baby’s development at the same time. And I mean beyond just a simple mobile above the crib. Here are some tips on finding the right items to accomplish this.
Nursery planning tip #1: Have an area for reading
Of course, babies don’t know how to read much less hold their own head up to look at the photos until they’re a few months old. However, even before your child starts learning their ABCs, you will be reading books to them. Get them used to the idea of books and reading right from the get-go with a special reading area in the room that includes a bookshelf or bookcase.
I’d recommend positioning it by the glider chair so you can easily grab a new book to read while rocking with your baby and toddler. Start with a bookshelf and find one that displays the books in an attractive fashion versus your traditional vertical shelf set-up so kids will be drawn to it. Choose books with lots of bold and bright colours, textures, and patterns that will stimulate the child as their eyes adjust. You can start with soft activity books and move up the line with new options as your baby grows into a toddler and starts recognizing letters and associating them with words and objects.
As noted, part and parcel with the books and the bookshelf is a comfortable glider chair. You want one that rocks smoothly so you can read to your little one while simultaneously rocking them to sleep. If it can swivel 360-degrees, even better, so you can turn over to grab a new book or your baby’s bottle without getting up and disturbing them.
Nursery planning tip #2: Focus on contrasting colours
While babies initially only see in black and white, they quickly develop the ability to notice contrasts in colours and shades. You want to hone in on this critical time when they can see vivid colours and high contrasts by providing them with lots of stimulation of the sort. Contrasting colours will also liven up the nursery itself, giving it a fresh and vibrant feel.
The easiest and most noticeable place to start when it comes to colourful nursery décor is with the walls, of course, and that might include a fresh coat of paint, wallpaper, or even both. Start with a solid colour than get creative with painter’s tape and patterns. There are also easy-stick wall decals or even peel-and-stick wallpaper you can use to add some contrast and patterning.
If you want to go all out, consider even putting some decals on the ceiling so the baby has something cool to look at while they’re relaxing on their backs to sleep. As their eyes adjust and begin to see further in distance, this could also encourage them to stay on their backs to sleep in the safest position versus rolling over to their tummies.
Nursery planning tip #3: Create a comfortable sleeping space
The ultimate goal of the nursery is, of course, to create a comfortable and inviting space for a baby to catch those important ZZZs. As we all know, sleep plays a pivotal role in health and wellness for anyone. Babies grow and develop not only their bodies but also their minds while they are deep in slumber. So, you want the nursery to encourage quality sleep.
You can find baby sound machines of all kinds, but there are ones specifically designed for use with babies.
There are ones designed to sit on the night table and others that are portable so you can take them with you, great for helping lull a baby to sleep while you’re visiting friends or traveling and staying in a hotel room.
Some have other features that can come in handy, too, like timers so it will automatically shut off after a few hours, ones that plug directly into the wall, and ones that do double duty as a night light.
Comfortable crib and crib mattress
Beyond the sound machine, finding the right crib with a comfortable crib mattress is crucial, too. Of course, you want the crib to be stylish and match the overall nursery décor. It’s a good idea to look at 2-in-1 or 3-in-1s (or more) that can convert from crib to daybed and toddler bed, some even to full-sized beds, to transition along with your child. White is an interesting colour choice because, no matter what colour scheme you choose, it will match while also adding a pop or brightness to the room. The mattress, meanwhile, should be firm and cozy, and made of a soft and hypoallergenic material. Cover it with a fitted sheet and nothing more.
You might also want to look into sleep trainers to help encourage better sleep habits for a baby who is just getting into the groove of a schedule and potentially (fingers crossed!) sleeping through the night.
Especially good for kids as they grow into the toddler stages, a sleep trainer displays the time and might include colours and symbols to help kids understand when it’s time to get up (e.g. the image of a bright sun) or go to sleep (e.g. stars in the night sky). Sleep trainers can also come in handy later when you’re working on things like nap and potty time.
Nursery planning tip #4: Keep educational toys on hand
While it might be a few months yet before your baby is ready to play with educational toys, you can keep them on hand in a toy storage bin or rack where you can easily grab them as needed.
I love bins and toy organizers, which can come in handy through the years as your baby grows. Organize them by category or type so you can easily get to the one you want, or your toddler can explore based on what interests them at any given moment.
What toys should you put in them? Consider colourful and fun toys that also have an educational element, like puzzles, which help encourage visual-spatial and fine motor skills and come in all kinds of themes, from animals to the alphabet and cars. My son absolutely loved wooden puzzles of all kinds when he was a baby and toddler. He enjoyed that sense of satisfaction when he found a piece that fit into the right slot and the accolades he would receive after. I love puzzles that focus on geometric shapes or that have themes so kids can learn words as they place each piece, like “cow,” “dog,” “pig,” and so on, in a barnyard animals puzzle.
Any toy that makes sounds and music will stimulate the child’s senses. Musical toys help teach them about rhythm, melody, language, and even vocabulary through song. They can also learn things like repetition and sound recognition.
Stuffed animals are, of course, a must, though make sure to choose ones without removable buttons or hard pieces for the eyes, clothing, and feet as these can come loose and pose a choking hazard for babies. There are lots of baby-friendly stuffed animals that babies will love and that will provide a sense of comfort to them for years to come, not to mention a great sensory experience.
Nursery planning tip #5: Don’t forget texture, too!
I have covered stimulating the child’s senses through everything from visuals and contrasting patterns to sounds and rhythm. But don’t forget the sense of feel as well. That comes from focusing on items for the nursery with various textural elements. This means having décor that they can touch and feel to understand how a plush stuffed animal feels different from the harder rug or how a piece of paper crinkles in their hands while a bouncing ball squishes. These seem like simple things, but they are all monumental discoveries for a baby or toddler.
This means you might not only want to choose the curtains for your child’s nursery based on the design and pattern but also by how they feel.
While it’s advisable not to keep a blanket in the crib while a baby is sleeping, you can have one to cover you and baby during your late night nursing sessions in the glider chair, or during reading or tummy time. And as your child grows into the toddler stage, you can consider adding a blanket to the crib or daybed. You want something soft and cool, and that’s a good size so a child won’t get wrapped up in it, and so that it’s also good for travel so you can even use it in the stroller. Consider a reversible pattern blanket so your baby will not only stimulate their sense of touch while swaddled in it but get different visual experiences, too.
While you’re preparing your nursery checklist to include the theme, furnishing and décor, keep the idea of creating a stimulating space for baby in mind as well as one that will be visually appealing to others (and in photos!) By having these few key ideas in the back of your mind, you can create a space that’s as educational for a growing and developing baby as it is comfortable and cozy. You’d be surprised at how seemingly small and insignificant things like reading to your baby every night or playing puzzle games with them once a day in the nursery can truly stimulate their minds and foster their intellectual development. Check out plenty of options to get your baby nursery ready at Best Buy online.