Contrary to popular belief, newborn babies are not all that needy. All they want is some milk every few hours and a cozy, warm space to sleep. Still, when you are preparing for a brand-new addition to your family, you want to make sure their space is as welcoming and safe as possible. To balance budget and style, here are the must-have elements you need for your first nursery.
A Sleeping Place
Newborn babies will sleep about eight hours throughout the day and eight hours during the night — meaning for more than two-thirds of their time over the course of their first few months of life, they will be snoozing. Some of these hours may be spent in a bassinet in your bedroom, and other times you may enjoy a contact nap with your little one. However, you should still set aside space in their nursery as a dedicated place for your new baby to sleep. Many parents opt for a traditional crib, but you might also consider a floor mattress in the Montessori style.
A Changing Station
If you have limited experience with very little babies, you will almost certainly be surprised by the number of diapers your little one works through over a single day. Many parents place diaper-changing supplies in small baskets in their most-used rooms, especially if the nursery is in some far-flung corner of their home. However, you should have a place for changing diapers in your nursery, as you will almost certainly be participating in late-night diaper changes for many months to come. You can find basic changing tables for little cost; you can place a changing pad on top of your baby’s dresser; or, easiest of all, you can expect to change diapers on the floor.
A Clothing Space
Speaking of dressers, your nursery will need a space for storing all those tiny clothes you have accumulated to keep your newborn snuggly and warm. When your baby is new, a dresser should be enough to store essentials like onesies, socks and hats. However, even at this early stage, you should look to the future, when your little one will be more interested in choosing their own clothes. A drawer with outfits for your toddler to choose from as well as a mirror at an appropriate height will make them more engaged in the clothing process from an early age, improving their sense of independence and self-confidence.
A Hanging Mobile
Mobiles are excellent tools for stimulating your little newborn’s senses. Hung about 12 inches above their eyes, moving mobiles will prompt your baby to focus and encourage them to interact with the world around them. However, you should not hang your mobile above the sleeping space, as you do not want your baby to fight sleep while staring at the mobile; instead, you might place the mobile over their changing station, over a rocking chair or over the floor space where you practice tummy time.
Blackout Curtains or Shades
The human circadian rhythm for sleep depends in part on the illumination of their sleeping space: When it is bright, most people find it difficult to fall asleep. This is true for even the littlest babies, as well. To help your newborn learn how to nap during the day, you might cover their nursery windows with blackout shades or curtains, which will help them settle down and rest when they need to — and it might also improve their nighttime sleep by blocking out streetlights and the movement of cars.
A Ceiling Fan
A ceiling fan may seem like an unnecessary feature of a nursery, especially if you live in a rather cold part of the country. However, research has found that babies sleeping in a room with a running fan enjoyed a 72 percent lower risk for Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). Thus, you might want to install ceiling fans in every space where your little one might snooze, from their nursery to your bedroom to the living room and perhaps even modern ceiling fans under your backyard patio.
You want to give your first baby the entire world — but they don’t need it. For now, you should keep their nursery simple with only a few essentials, so you can save your time and money for the increasing expenses of parenthood ahead.