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Are you nesting yet? I’m glad I started nesting when I was about 4 months pregnant, because Lyons Cub arrived at 8 months (three days after my baby shower), and had I waited until his due date, I wouldn’t have finished in time and wouldn’t have had his nursery ready when he came home from the NICU. It’s better to be prepared, not just because you might have a preemie like I. Some things you order may take longer to arrive; especially now during the pandemic, you have to count on longer delivery times. Don’t think you’ll have time to arrange much once baby is here! At least, this has been my experience (and I pumped every three hours and fed every three hours an hour after pumping, including at night, so guess how much I slept. I was also working full time, so if you can still find time to assemble furniture and create a nursery, you’re a mom wonder!). Let’s see what all you will need for your nursery.
And how do I know? Well, I was a first-time mom, so I had absolutely no clue (my doctorate or age (over 40) didn’t help, either); I was reading mom blogs and scribbling down lists I found online (and asked younger moms silly questions, for example whether I could still produce milk, since I did IVF *face palm*). Then, I looked up those items on the Internet and compared prices. Every mom is different, so some of those suggestions didn’t apply to me or sounded out of my league. Then, I had more requirements than some moms because I was a widow and also needed to provide for a nanny, because I worked full time (room, insurance, second car seat, etc.). Some things, I needed to get immediately, and others could wait a few months (or even until Lyons Cub had his 1st birthday party). Now, I can say I speak from experience and hope to be able to help some moms who need a bit of inspiration like I did a few years ago.
Don’t fool yourself, it’s gonna be expensive; having a baby is not easy on the wallet. However, you can avoid things that are not absolutely necessary (or leave those for your baby shower, gifts from friends and relatives, make something yourself, or get stuff second hand. Maybe your newborn has older siblings to pass down stuff.). I’ll divide what mom needs into three categories, “basic,” “luxury,” and “redundant,” because some items are not essential for survival, but nice to have, and others have proven futile and a complete waste of money – at least, in our case. I don’t claim exclusivity; there will always be something I forgot (mom brain, with a toddler in the background!) or didn’t need myself. Feel free to fill out my contact form if you want to add to my list! Again, I’m not giving medical advice, so if your pediatrician said you need a humidifier because your newborn has a breathing condition, it’s a good idea to get one, although I didn’t need it at all (and I had gotten two of them).
- crib or bassinette, wherever baby will sleep (unless you co-sleep)
- bottles and lots of nipples
- pumping gear for those moms who pump (I was an exclusive pumper), nipple cream
- baby formula if you don’t nurse or pump (or, if you have to fortify, like I had to do)
- car seat
- high chair
- baby clothes
- burp cloths
- thermometer, diaper cream and/or powder, baby shampoo, gas drops, iron and multivitamin, pacifiers
- baby’s own room (maybe with a theme, painted, child proofed, furnished, decorated)
- baby bath
- nursing chair
- baby gates
- baby swing
- baby bouncer
- changing bag with mat
- boppy pillow
- baby cam
- play pen
- foam mat and foam blocks
- baby mirror with handrail
- toys (rocking horse, activity mat, dolls, door frame bouncer, books, cars, rattles, stuffed animals, mobile, etc.)
- bulb nose sucker
- wall decorations (shadow box, pictures, wall hangings, shelves, etc.)
- newborn pictures
- bottle warmer
- changing station
- nanny cam
- silicone breast pump
- air humidifier
- soft baby helmet
- breast pads
- shopping cart cover
- electric snot sucker, Nose Frieda
Lyons Cub had his own room. It was tiny and held the most necessary things; the decoration was just for the looks and for mommy’s well-being. I had it painted in a water-based color weeks before he moved in (no oil-based color, because you’ll have to make sure your baby doesn’t inhale any unhealthy fumes). For a theme, I had picked OCEAN. Thus, the walls were light blue, the ceiling white, the bed sheets had sharks, dolphins, or anchors on them, and there were three little shelves in nautica style, on which I placed books, photos, and toys. The fish shelf and the fabric wall hangings were from eBay, the wooden shelves from Amazon. The turquoise shelf was the Dr. Seuss New Fish Wall Shelf. You can get wall decals from Etsy, eBay, and Amazon. Of course, having a theme is totally redundant, but if it makes you happy, go for it! Your baby won’t care for a long time, and if s/he cares some day, it’s time for repainting and getting rid of that jungle or safari or Disney princess theme… If your baby sleeps in a crib, bassinet, or play pen next to your own bed, you can forego all this hassle. I found it fun to hunt for specific things while anxiously awaiting the birth of my child. I just felt in my heart that I “had to do something.” Maybe you feel the same way? That being said, my preemie ended up in the NICU and could have died. What would I have done with all that clutter I had assembled? In hindsight, at my age and with a high-risk pregnancy, I should maybe not have splurged so much creating a custom nursery. Many little things, like decorative items, can be bought later on, when baby is already there.
Baby will need to sleep somewhere. In Europe, co-sleeping is quite common, and we did that on occasion, too, but in the U.S., it is not recommended due to fear of SIDS, and your pediatrician will make you fill out a form on your first visit on which you have to say where your baby sleeps, and you’ll raise a red flag if you write, “in bed with me.” Lyons Cub had his own crib, the Dream On Me Jayden 4-in-1 Mini Convertible Crib and Changer in Cherry, and this thing was so complicated to assemble that I had a crew do it (it took four men four hours, and they charged me more for it than it was worth to begin with). I had picked this crib because it could be transformed into a toddler bed, and we did use it as a toddler sofa in the play room later on. It also had a changing station mounted to it, which I originally thought was absolutely needed – turned out only my nanny used it; I changed my son on my master bed, which was more roomy and comfy for me.
Let me say this – it doesn’t matter what kind of crib you get. I picked one in a cherry stain because the rest of my furniture looked like that, and I wanted it to fit well with the dresser. Also, I wanted to invest in the future and have a baby bed that could be transformed into a toddler bed down the line. If you are worried about bumpers, don’t get any. Some people are scared that baby could suffocate himself when turning his face towards them in his sleep. My bumpers hung so high, they were way above my baby’s face. I didn’t need the changing station, since I changed my baby on my bed, but I was happy about the extra drawers, which held lotion, diapers, wipes, and burp cloths. What I liked about mine were the looks and transformation to a toddler bed, and what I didn’t like was the fact that it didn’t fit through a door, so when I had the carpet torn out to lay a laminate floor, it couldn’t be moved outside, and the workers had to place it in one side of the room while working on the other side. That was a drag. (Hint: If you’re redoing the floor, do it AFTER you paint the walls, but BEFORE you move the crib in! Of course, I set up the crib first, then changed the flooring, and then had the walls painted!!!)
This is how small Lyons Cub looked when he got home from the NICU after three weeks. He almost vanished in that big crib! He also accumulated lots of plush animals, most of them lions. These were the first two of 11 or so. 😉 His diapers were so tiny! They were the preemie diapers, and that’s not even the smallest size (there’s also the micro-preemie size). It took a while until he reached the newborn diaper size (and of course, at a baby shower, everyone gifts newborn size or size 1 or 2, assuming the baby will be born big or will soon need a bigger size). Thus, I had lots of boxes of huge diapers just standing there for months, waiting for Lyons Cub to grow into them.
The beautiful Waldorf doll was from Etsy, from the store LittleBeetleToys.
THE FOAM MAT, BLOCKS, AND TUNNEL
When baby cannot walk yet, there will be many falls. What could possibly be better than a padded environment? Lyons Cub was in a gymnastics group (Dance Force) where he was the only boy, and there, he learned to climb, roll, and balance on differently shaped and sized blocks. We had done that at home already since early on, and had worked on it during his Early Intervention sessions to improve his gross motor skills. We used the ECR4Kids Soft Zone Climb and Crawl Activity Play Set, had bought some extra blocks, and a dark blue tunnel that turned out to be the main attraction.
There are different companies offering those soft blocks at varying prices; just combine whichever shapes you want and whichever color fits in your nursery; some have zippers to take the inner part out to clean the shell, and some don’t. I think it’s the perfect toy for a daycare or for children with disabilities, or for tiny IUGR babies like mine, who struggle with gross motor skills due to their short limbs and big heads. They can’t hurt themselves; they can climb over and through them, smush them, and throw them. When we moved overseas, we left the blocks behind but took the mat with us; it still serves a 3-year-old well when playing with Legos or other games with prolonged sitting and kneeling. Even mommy enjoys the softness. And if kiddo passes out from all the playing, the mattress is right there 😉
At the back of the wall, we had a little mirror with a handrail, for Lyons Cub to practice pulling himself up and standing, while looking at himself. Already as a beginning crawler, he arm crawled and scooted towards it to look at his reflection. It looks a little like a ballet bar, but if you have a child with motor issues, it’s a helpful accessory. The puzzle carpet was very popular with Lyons Cub, but with Lyoness, not so (well, somebody had to put all the pieces back together when they were littered all over the place!). Once your child is old enough to solve such a puzzle, I can imagine that it’s fun.
THE RIDE-ON TOYS AND ROCKERS
Still searching for ride-on toys for the time your kiddo becomes mobile? We were going mostly for animals. Lyons Cub had several rockers and ride-on toys to train on with mommy or Early Intervention. Some I got for him, and some were presents, such as the Brilliant Beginnings ride-on toy train, which hasn’t lost its appeal in three years. He still used his wooden Happy Trails ride-on giraffe when he was 3.5 years old! It’s a very fast toy and for more advanced toddlers. The same holds true for the Prince Lionheart Wheely Bug Plush Toy Hedgehog, which goes off like a race car. His very first one was the Fossil Dinosaur Rocker, which had crinkle ears and played music; this one is really a baby rocker. The most advanced one is the huge Teamson Kids Wooden Rocking Pirate Ship; it’s over a meter long and still suitable for pre-school kids.
They were all great in developing his gross motor skills! I kept rotating them in the nursery and playroom, depending on his age and interests.
MONTESSORI MIRROR AND THE PUZZLE CARPET
Have you thought about where you want to nurse, pump, or bottle feed? I admit, I mostly did it on my bed (and I pumped every few hours in my office in between classes). But having a comfy rocking chair can be really nice. In the beginning, I had my blue jeans-covered nursing chair with pedestal mostly for the nanny, but later on, Lyons Cub used to sleep in it, and I liked to sit it in when watching TV with him. Especially pumping is a longer affair, so it’s important to be able to put your feet up and relax, because it’s taxing on the body. I used to pump one hour in a row, and when you sit on your bed doing this, you can get a back ache. I propped myself up with pillows. However, nothing’s better than a soft rocking chair. There are so many offers out there; if you have the opportunity, go sit on some and pick the one that feels best. I ordered everything online due to my work schedule, so I trusted the reviews. One thing that’s important: Make sure the surface is easy to clean. There will be drool, spit up, and projectile vomiting coming your way! I had no idea it could be this bad 😉
When Lyons Cub was a year old, we ditched the crib and he moved into a Montessori floor bed:
This way, he had something to climb and could get in and out by himself, to have some autonomy. Astonishingly, he stayed in bed at night to sleep. One might fear kiddo would wander around when not confined to a crib, but that does not happen. It’s a good idea to leave some space to breathe underneath the mattress, to prevent mold. Some house beds have the mattress sitting right on the floor. Ours did come with slats. Lyoness assembled it together with nanny’s husband. It took a day’s work, but looked correspondingly. You can get such beds from Etsy for 500 bucks or less. I stained ours first; it came in natural color.
The crib, in the meantime, became a sofa for reading, snuggling, and playing. One could easily take out the front rail. I did not even bother to set up the short rail I had purchased, because we didn’t use it as a toddler bed, after all. It was still a useful investment and looked nice in the room.
THE TODDLER ROOM
And thus, through the addition of a book shelf, a learning tower from the kitchen (which served as ice-cream stand, lemonade stand, or puppet theater), a little chair from the flea market, and a wooden train set, the nursery was transformed into a toddler room about 1.5 years later.
Well, now you’ve seen a few examples of what our nursery looked like, and how it was transformed when it had served its purpose. We hope you have just as much fun creating your baby’s room to your liking. There are no boundaries to your imagination! And if you’re short on budget, it might help to create an Amazon baby wish list, as I did, for your baby shower and later baby’s first birthday. This will prevent friends and family from gifting things you already have, and they still get to pick personal items from your lists. There was even a welcome box when registering for it 🙂