Do I really need a changing unit?
“A changing unit is an essential piece of furniture for a nursery,” says Kathryn Saggers, interior designer and property stylist for TV’s House Doctor. “They’re the perfect height for changing your baby without straining your back, and it’s a fantastic space and storage saver.”
Andrea Maflin, interior designer and author of Children’s Rooms, agrees: “When your baby’s really young, it’s nice to have the flexibility to change him wherever you are in the house, so a moveable changing mat will do. But, as you settle into a routine, you’ll find it easier to have your changing area in one zone with all your equipment easily accessible.”
“We bought a merchant chest so it held all of Ethan’s clothes, toiletries, nappies and wipes. The top of the chest had a changing mat, and since he’s now out of nappies, it has his ornaments and things he’s made at nursery on it,” said Sarah Briggs, 31, from Essex, mum to Ethan, 3, and 23 weeks pregnant.
East Coast Colby dresser, £189, Tesco Direct
Cot or cotbed? While they both start life looking rather alike, there are a few key differences that’ll help you decide which will work best for you…
Cot or cot bed?
“If you have the space I always recommend a cot bed over a cot,” advises Andrea. “A cot bed will last until your little one gets to about 4 or 5, while a cot is only suitable to 2 or 3, then you’ll have to buy a separate bed.” If you only have room for a cot don’t spend too much, but do look for certain features.
A height-adjustable base and drop sides make it easier to get your growing baby in and out. A teething rail will help to soothe sore gums. And don’t forget casters, so you can have the cot in your room for your little one’s early days, as recommended by experts, before he heads to the nursery.
Hemingway II Cot-bed, £229, Funky Kids Furniture
Is a blackout blind essential?
“Young babies are really sensitive to light, so a blackout blind is invaluable,” says Andrea. “There are lots of reasonably priced blinds on the market, so you don’t have to pay the earth for a couple of extra hours shut-eye in the morning.” Going for curtains over the top of a blind will also give the room a warmer feeling than you’ll get with a blind alone. And watch out for cords hanging down if you have toddlers – they’re a big cause of accidents.
“We got through the winter without them but as soon as the mornings got lighter, Christian’s wake-up time got earlier and earlier. Desperate for a night’s sleep that didn’t end at 5am, we invested in some blackout curtain liners, which are great because they attach inside your existing curtains so they don’t ruin the look of your nursery,” said Kate Baty, 29, from Cheshire, mum to Christian, 10 months.
Carpet or wooden floors?
“Carpets on your nursery floor are softer on the knees when your little one starts to crawl, and will be cosy on your feet when you’re up during the night feeding,” says Andrea. “If you’re worried about stains, there are fantastic anti-stain carpets on the market that are very affordable. Abingdon Stainfree carpets are a good tip for money-conscious mums with messy little ones, as they have a 10-year stain resist warranty on household stains.” If you only have wooden floors, add rugs for colour and warmth, but remember to add rug grippers to stop slippage.
Barnslig Rund rug, £10.20, in green or pink, Ikea
How much storage will I need?
“Little people have so many clothes, but most won’t need hanging up, so shelves are ideal,” says Andrea. Fix up some mdf shelves into existing wardrobes or alcoves in the nursery to avoid having to splash out on anything new. And try some cheap baskets to keep under your cot – great for tidying away blankets, towels and toys.
Large storage tubs, £9.99 each, in pink or blue, Mothercare
When it’s time to decorate the nursery, choose chemical free paints
Are neutral colours a safer bet?
It’s all too easy to go mad on a specific theme, but probably not money-savvy in the long run. “In the current economic climate, choosing more neutral colours means the room design will last longer, so you’ll be spending less on decorating over the years,” explains Kathryn.
“If you do choose more neutral colours, you can have fun with accessorising, which is easier to adapt as your child gets older, compared to redecorating the whole room.” Wall stickers are a brilliant way to temporarily decorate your nursery – great for when your baby reaches toddler age and becomes faddy with his interests. Fun to See have great branded ranges of stickers for tots.
“We painted the nursery magnolia and then bought wall stickers that can be put on walls or mirrors. Most importantly they come off without leaving any sticky marks, so we’ve been able to change the look of the room loads of times, at not much cost, and without having to pick up a paintbrush,” said Briony Ross, 26, from South Lanarkshire, mum to Jacob, 5 months.
Butterfly wall stickers, £24, Lula Sapphire.
What about lighting?
Dimmer switches are a must for keeping the light down when you’re creeping in for checks, especially if you have two tots in one room. Or at story-time for an older child while a younger sibling sleeps. They also stop you from being dazzled by bright light during night feeds.
Another must-have buy is a nightlight that can be left on overnight, invaluable for checks with no hassle of waking your baby.
What paint should we be using?
“Go for eco paint when decorating your nursery. You’ll be thankful if you’re pregnant and painting as the smell from standard paint is incredibly strong,” says Andrea. Your baby’s sense of smell is also heightened when he’s very young, so you’ll both be glad of some lighter-on-the-nose fumes.
Earthborn paints, from £21
4 easy ways to accessorise for less
1. “A mirror is an essential as it reflects light and makes a tiny nursery look a lot bigger. It’ll also reflect any colours in the room and babies love watching their reflection,” says Kathryn.
2. Don’t be afraid to have fun using fabrics to customise cushions, changing tops and surfaces. Offcuts of material are really cheap and can jazz up a space super-simply. Sewing virgins don’t even need a needle and thread, thanks to cool glues and fusibles that bond fabrics simply by ironing, such as Bondaweb. Visit www.cottonpatch.co.uk for fabric ideas.
3. Andrea advises going for a high shelf well out of reach of little hands, to be filled with cute toys to dress the room.
4. “Also, depending on how crafty you are, making personalised art for the wall can help give the nursery a real family touch,” says Andrea.
Karin Joyce, 38, from Cambridgeshire, mum to Ella Louise, 13 months, agrees. “As we have family dotted all over the world, I had each close family member take a 6in x 6in canvas square and paint a picture for Ella’s nursery. Everyone painted something of their choice and we hung them on the wall next to the crib.”