Setting up baby’s room is a fun part of preparing for your new arrival, but the choices can be overwhelming. Here’s a list of what you’ll need and some tips on how to make the right purchase.
As with any part of parenting, there are lots of decisions to make when it comes to choosing things for your baby’s room. From the purely practical to the ‘nice to haves’, it’s all about creating a space that will help baby feel happy, relaxed and secure.
This is a key item, whether you sleep your baby in a cot right from the beginning, or transition them from a bassinet. New cots must meet NZ/Australian safety standards and should have a safety sticker to confirm this. If buying secondhand, then ensure the space between the vertical bars is 50-95mm, and there are no small spaces of 30-50mm that a baby’s limbs could get stuck in. Check also that there are no protrusions/fittings that might catch on baby’s clothes or skin, that the joints and screws are all tight and there are no sharp surfaces.
- Bassinet/Moses basket
There are no regulations for bassinets and moses baskets, but looking for one with a depth of around 300mm is a good guideline, and preferably with air permeable sides. If using a secondhand bassinet, be sure the material (usually wicker or cane) is still flexible and that there are no snapped, rough edges.
Babies must sleep on a firm mattress to keep their airways open should they roll over. If it is too soft they may not be able to to get enough air. Babies do not need pillows, soft toys, or other cushions in their cot as these can all be potential suffocation dangers. In a cot there should be no more than 20mm between the mattress and cot sides.
- Mattress protector
This is a waterproof layer between the mattress and bottom sheet. It can be handy to have two, so you can layer a mattress protector and fitted sheet with another set. Then, rather than having to remake the bed in the middle of the night you can simply take the top set off before changing and resettling baby.
- Fitted sheets
Have 2-3 sheet sets on hand to ensure you’re prepared for any accidents.
- Assortment of blankets
Look for natural fibres that will breathe and help regulate baby’s temperature.
- Music/white noise machine
Some mums swear by white noise machines to eliminate external sounds and help baby fall asleep. Classical music or even radio static can also help create a relaxing atmosphere for them.
- Baby monitor
These can range from simple noise monitors to camera- and wifi-enabled monitors that you can check from your phone.
- Black out curtains
These can be very helpful in darkening the room for day naps.
- Soft lighting
The last thing you want during night feeds is a bright light that wakes you and baby up completely. Consider having a small side lamp with a soft tone bulb, the main lights in the room on a dimmer, a nightlight, or even small LED fairy lights that you can switch on for feeds.
- Change table
This isn’t an essential, as you can change nappies on a bed or the floor, but given how often you’ll be doing nappy changes then having a dedicated table at the right height will save your back. Collapsible change tables are also great if space is tight.
- Change mat
These are usually padded mats designed to sit snugly within the raised sides of a change table, or will feature raised sides or a strap to prevent baby rolling off.
A mobile hanging over the change table will give baby something stimulating to look at and provide a welcome distraction once they start to get disgruntled with nappy changes.
- Storage organisation
Set up a storage space close to where you plan to do your nappy changing for essential items like nappies, wipes, creams and any toys to distract baby. Have designated bins or drawers under the change table, or a shelf nearby out of baby’s reach.
- Nappy bin
A dedicated bin with liner for dirty nappies is essential. Or consider a nappy disposal system to eliminate unwanted odours.
Handy to have
- Comfortable seating for feeds
Having somewhere comfortable to sit for feeding is crucial, particularly at night. Armchairs or lazyboys are handy, while rocking chairs are great for soothing too.
- A heater with thermostat
Babies lack the ability to regulate their body temperature, so a heater can help maintain a relatively steady temperature in their nursery.
- Bookshelves, drawers, boxes
It’s amazing how quickly you’ll amass a large amount of baby paraphernalia, so good storage is a must. Keep in mind that baby will soon be on the move and pulling drawers open and reaching for things on shelves. Make sure there isn’t anything that baby could pull over onto themselves.
If you have rugs in the nursery make sure they are taped underneath so you can’t skid or trip on them, both for your safety while baby is small and their safety once they begin moving around.
Give the room a once-over for any hazards such as peeling/flaky paint, protrusions or rough surfaces at ground level that baby could catch himself on when moving, and small gaps that inquisitive fingers and hands could get stuck in.
- Hanging cords
Make sure there aren’t any cords hanging from the likes of curtains or blinds, which are a strangulation hazard, and position the cot away from the window.
- Power outlet covers
Cover all unused outlets with plastic socket covers.
- Smoke alarms
You should have working smoke alarms throughout your house. At a minimum, install one in the hallway closest to the bedrooms. For advice on smoke alarms and how to install them visit fire.org.nz
- Earthquake proofing
Secure any large pieces of nursery furniture with braces or anchors to prevent them toppling over.