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Celia Shatzman
Contributing Writer

The Ultimate Nursery Decorating Checklist

The complete list of dos and don’ts when it comes to decorating baby’s nursery.

Preparing baby’s nursery checklist can be an exciting task, from perusing Pinterest for ideas to picking out all the adorable nursery items on your baby registry. It’s easy to focus on the fun parts—say, choosing that crib bedding or picking out the wall art—but there are other practical things to consider on your nursery checklist that you’ll want to give just as much attention to when thinking about nursery essentials. Not only should baby’s nursery be inviting and cozy, but it should be safe and functional too, so everyone can sleep soundly at night. And getting the nursery prepared and off your to-do list before baby’s homecoming will be one less thing you have to worry about as your due date nears. Since converting and furnishing a room that was likely a home office or storage catchall for your tiny new tenant takes time, be sure to start at around three months before baby’s arrival; if you have the time and energy to tackle it even earlier, even better. To make sure you don’t miss a thing, follow our baby nursery checklist as you put together baby’s room.

Think About Safety First

  • Finish all painting and wallpapering at least eight weeks before baby’s arrival should be at the top of your nursery checklist. Leave windows open for ventilation until baby’s actual arrival. These activities release potentially harmful fumes, but finishing them early should eliminate any risk to baby.
  • Check that none of the crib slats are more than two and 3/8 inches apart, and that all the bolts and screws are tight. Make sure there are no gaps between the mattress and crib, and look out for any small parts or plastic coverings. The mattress should be firm, hold its shape and stay flat.
  • Keep comforters, pillows and bumpers out of the crib—they could suffocate baby. If a pretty blanket came with the crib set, try hanging it on the wall or using it on the rocking chair.
  • Use wood or cork floor or area rugs rather than wall-to-wall carpet if you can. They’re all easier to clean, and don’t harbor as much allergy-inducing dust.
  • Secure rugs to the floor with double-side tape. You wouldn’t want to slip while baby’s in your arms!
  • Place furniture away from the windows, and use window guards. Also, cut off any blind or curtain cords, or put them up out of reach.
  • Anchor all heavy furniture to the wall so it won’t fall over if accidentally bumped.
  • A smoke and carbon monoxide detector are nursery essentials.

Think About Comfort

  • Notice where light enters the room. Don’t put the crib somewhere that receives direct sunlight in the morning or is under a streetlight all night.
  • Don’t forget somewhere for you to sit, and make it comfy. You’ll spend lots of time reading and rocking in that chair.
  • Keep all diaper supplies close to the changing table, so you don’t have to move far from baby to reach anything.
  • The glow of a nightlight isn’t just for soothing baby—it’s also for sleepy parents to avoid stubbing their toes when they have to come into the nursery in the middle of the night for feedings. If it’s on a floor-level outlet, be sure to remove it and plug it once baby becomes mobile.
  • A crucial reason to add a room thermometer to your baby nursery checklist? Overheating may increase the chance of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), so make sure baby’s nursery is just the right temperature. Ideally, it should be between 68 to 72 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • A mobile does a lot more than add a pretty touch over baby’s crib. It can help soothe them to sleep, so look for one with gentle movement.

Think About the Future

  • Figure out how much storage space you’ll need… then put in more. Almost without fail, parents underestimate the amount of stuff they’ll acquire.
  • Make sure there’s room to replace the crib with a bed once baby is ready.
  • It might seem like it’s a ways off before baby starts crawling, but electric outlet covers are nursery essentials. Plug all the outlets now so that you won’t have to worry about them later.

Updated October 2017

PHOTO: istock