Before Baby arrives, one of the many things on your to-do list would be to prepare the nursery. It’s easy to get carried away with designing the space. After all, there’s so much inspiration on social media.
So what do you really need? We’ve got expert tips to help you out.
Buy furniture that grows with your child
Your baby won’t be a baby forever. Think about getting a cot that can be converted into a toddler bed or even a single bed or sofa, says Sharon Wong, founder and CEO of nursery retailer Motherswork. That helps you stretch your dollar in the long run. Planning ahead also means you won’t have to overhaul the room every so often as your little one grows.
Plan the room layout
Where should you place the cot? Ask interior stylist Hong Henwood and she’d tell you: “When I design a nursery space, I’d place the cot where the bed would also likely fit in the future.”
The changing table? That’s where the future reading corner or desk would go, adds Hong, who is also the owner of interior design consultancy Affordable Style Files.
For hygiene’s sake
There’s nothing wrong with accepting hand-me-down changing tables, wardrobes and baby clothes from friends or relatives. But when it comes to mattresses, always buy a new one because it’s more hygienic, advises Denise Ang, general manager of Dynamic Resources, which distributes Babysafe mattresses.
“You don’t know how the previous owner cared for it or if it was stored properly,” she explains. “Mould, fungi and bacteria can thrive on the surface from perspiration, diaper leakage or spit-up that’s not properly cleaned.”
Choose sheets in soft, natural fibres such as 100 per cent cotton. You may wish to invest in a waterproof mattress protector, too. Your baby’s bedding will need to be changed often, so have a few sets on hand.
Related: How to choose a baby mattress
You’ll be surprised by how much clutter you’ll accumulate for Baby in the span of a few months. To keep the room organised, ensure that you have adequate storage.
Pick a changing table with drawers to keep his clothes, towels and diapers in, suggests Sharon. It’s more convenient than storing them in a wardrobe, as everything is within reach whenever you’re changing him.
Hong shares that storage baskets or toy chests are great ways to decorate the room – choose hues that match the room’s colour scheme. Think outside the box – literally – as well. “You could also use old vintage suitcases to house toys and maybe even lockers for books, too, ” she adds.
Use colours wisely
While children are attracted to bold colours, painting all the walls in, say, citrus yellow, can cause overstimulation.
“Yellow is the brightest hue in the spectrum and excessive exposure to it may cause fatigue,” shares Kitty Tan, marketing manager of Nippon Paint Singapore. “You’ll find it hard to calm a baby down or put him to bed in a brightly coloured room.”
Instead, add only dashes of yellow to white walls – a refreshingly calm yet stylish combination. Other contemporary hues to try are grey or sand, suggests Sharon from Motherswork. They are gender-neutral and can go with a variety of other colours, too.
Go for health-focused finishes
When painting the nursery, choose an antibacterial, non-toxic paint with low or no volatile organic compounds. Also, go for paints that enable you to wipe stains away easily, reminds Kitty. You’ll be grateful for this feature when your little Picasso starts doodling on the wall.
Always keep the room well ventilated during and after painting – open the windows open and switch the fan on. To help remove any lingering paint smells or fumes, place buckets of water, some charcoal pieces or pandan leaves in the room, she adds.
Pick an adaptable theme
“Bear in mind that your child will only be a baby for a very short time, so it’s best to keep it simple. Go easy on the mural or cutesy wallpaper,” Sharon from Motherswork advises.
If you want an owl theme, for instance, you can tie in the look with owl-patterned bedding, curtains and cushions, along with a whimsical owl mobile.
And instead of doing up a mural, which can be time-consuming and costly, opt for reusable decals instead. These wall stickers come in a multitude of designs, including patterns, fonts, illustrations and borders. They’re easy to install and remove once you tire of them, or your kid grows up.
Related: 11 cool baby bottles you must see
Have sufficient lighting
Inject style to the nursery with decorative lighting pieces, such as the Mr Maria Miffy Lamp, says Hong.
Don’t forget a night light with a dimmer, which will prevent you from bumping into things in the dark during night feeds, while casting a soft, comforting glow over the room.
A safety note: Make sure all cords and wires are out of reach of Baby, especially when he’s more mobile.
Adorn the walls
Works of art are a great way to personalise the nursery. Choose something whimsical or classic that will grow with the space, says Hong. But, if you hang pieces above or beside the cot, make sure that they’re securely positioned in place and that the cot is away from the wall.
One item that’s often overlooked is a clock. It’s a great way to accent an empty wall or shelf, and is functional, too. A digital clock will make it easy for you to tell the time when your little one awakes in the middle of the night.
Don’t forget to look down
A rug can add warmth to the room and help to lift and define the space. It doubles as a play mat for tummy time, too. For added comfort, pick one that’s made of natural fibres such as wool, cotton or hemp, says Hong.
Another nifty must-have accessory is a step-to-open dustbin by the changing table. Be sure to pick one that closes quietly, so you won’t startle Baby during late-night diaper changes.
(Photo: Hong Henwood)
Related: Are you overspending on Baby?