Learn how to design your baby's nursery for comfort, practicality and developmental stimulation for your baby.
As you await the arrival of your baby, you can finally set up the nursery that you've been dreaming of. It is an exciting and important project as you create a space for your baby to grow, learn, sleep and play. Nursery décor goes much farther than just the colour of the walls – this room must offer:
- convenience and practicality, with easy access to diapering amenities
- a comfortable spot for late-night feedings
- comfort for restful slumber
- stimulation to promote your baby's development
But where to start? The obvious choice is the crib as it is the focal point of the nursery. There are a multitude of styles and sizes available, including convertible cribs that “grow” with your child, beginning as a crib, then converting into a toddler bed and finally, a full-size (double) bed. No matter which crib you choose, ensure that it complies with current safety standards.
Other basic essentials include: a change table, which could be as simple as a dresser topped by a changing pad or as sophisticated as a dedicated change table with deep-set surface and railing, a baby monitor, a comfortable and supportive chair for late-night feedings, effective window dressings to provide the right amount of light (or darkness) and a handy laundry hamper, ideally located close to the change table.
Of course you can incorporate a multitude of other elements into the nursery, such as lamps, tables, shelving, flooring and storage – just make sure that they are age-appropriate, accessible, and safe. You may want to consider setting up zones within the bedroom: a sleep zone (crib), a dressing zone (change table, dresser/armoire and closet), a play/reading zone (books and toys) and a feeding zone (chair, ottoman, side table).
Once your functional requirements have been met, it’s time to factor stimulation and development into your nursery’s interior design. Studies have shown that babies who are stimulated by their environments reach developmental milestones faster, have better coordination, demonstrate superior curiosity, attention span and memory, and enjoy a more secure self image.
Colour plays a major role in stimulating infant neurological development by formulating vital connections in the brain. At first, newborns can only detect large contrasts between light and dark or black and white, so contrasting stripes or patterns are ideal to stimulate their visual development. By month 3, this will help your baby reach the milestone of focusing on high-contrast objects, where they are able to see where one shape (or portion of the graphic) ends and another begins. This doesn’t mean that you should paint large black and white stripes on your nursery walls; on the contrary, the nursery must provide a balance of stimulation and tranquility. It is important to create an inviting and comfortable environment that will soothe (warm, neutral and pastel colours) as well as stimulate (bright and lively colours) your child. Choose a balanced palette conducive to both and accent with vibrant, attention-grabbing accessories than can easily be replaced as your baby matures.
Shapes and textures also contribute largely to your child’s sensory and motor development. Incorporate a good mix of stimulating objects such as those featuring high-contrast colours and surprise sounds (chimes, crinkles, squeaks, etc.) as well as soothing, textured objects such as stacking blocks, stuffed toys, or textured balls. You may wish to arrange your space so that different toys line the perimeter of the room at your baby’s eye level when playing on the floor to incite curiosity.
You may choose to create your nursery around a particular item, such as a quilt, a picture or a toy, or you may choose to work around a theme, such as trains, animals or nursery rhyme characters. Whatever you do, make sure that you create a secure, nurturing environment ideally suited to supporting the health and happiness of your baby.