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How to set up a Nursery

How to set up a Nursery before Baby arrives – Dorothy Waide’s Advice

How to set up a Nursery before Baby arrives

The prospect having to create and set up a nursery can sometime be a daunting and overwhelming task. I suggest that you don’t leave this until you’re heavily pregnant and exhausted – but rather tackle it in the first or second trimester, when you’re hopefully still feeling energetic. Carrying (or building) furniture is not a job for the 39th week of your pregnancy…

If you run out of time, don’t panic – your baby will most likely be sleeping in your room for at least the first couple of months (as I write this, my baby is 9 months old and I haven’t moved him out yet!), but it is ideal to have set up your nursery before your baby is born.

I’m writing this with assistance from Dorothy Waide, New Zealand’s most sought after baby consultant and author of “You Simply Can’t Spoil a Newborn” – my favourite book from the ‘fourth trimester’.

You will also find a comprehensive list of items to buy to set up a nursery in made with love – your pregnancy journal.

Here’s a pic of when I set up our Nursery (it’s a lot messier now!)


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What to buy to set up a Nursery?


The major purchase (and only true necessity) of your baby’s nursery will be a cot. When you choose a cot, keep in mind not only aesthetics, but how easy it will be to manoevre with your ever-growing baby. Dorothy advocates the use of a cot with one side that moves up and down. If your baby needs help to settle and resettle, it is easier to do so without leaning too far over the sides. In the early days you may find it far easier to lower the level of the mattress and keep the side rail of the cot that moves up and down in its ‘down’ position until it is no longer safe to do so (when baby is more able to move).

Many parents choose not to purchase a new cot or simply find them unaffordable. If borrowing or buying second-hand, it is best to purchase a new mattress. You can skip using a bassinet and put your baby straight into their cot if you wish.

There are many cots on the market now which are adjustable as your baby grows into a toddler and beyond. Personally, we have the Stokke Sleepi cot pictured above from Dimples with the rounded edges which eventually becomes a large bed.

When purchasing products for your cot, all you really need are bottom fitted sheets and mattress protectors, no pillows, duvets etc. As you are creating your baby’s safe sleeping space, please read How to Set up Your Baby’s Cot Safely

Change Table

There’s no getting around it… you’re going to be spending a lot of time changing nappies, especially in those first few months (or should I say first few years). When you set up a nursery, you need to think about how you can comfortably and safely change your baby, without compromising on space. Dorothy recommends using a set of drawers that come up to your hip height – which gives you more space in the nursery and also provides a place to keep all your baby’s clothes. See Stokke Home Dresser.

As you set up the nursery, think about whether you will need a specific ‘nappy bin’ which masks the scent, or whether you will be regularly emptying the bin, in which case you may just have a plain pedal bin. For us, as our bedroom is two storeys above the main bins, we have a Sangenic bin from Winkalotts – it’s cheap to buy but can get expensive for the refills.

P.S. We recommend Treasures Care nappies – good for baby and the environment and the only nappy Made in New Zealand, and our favourite nappy change cream is Weleda’s Calendula Cream

Breastfeeding Chair

Personally, I have always just sat in bed to breastfeed. Our baby is still in our room, and he spent the first 6 months of his life sleeping in a SnuzPod (3 colours available from The Sleep Store) attached to our bed – pictured below.

Of course, if you have separate room to set up the nursery, you will need somewhere comfortable to sit. Dorothy suggests that before purchasing your chair have a trial run of both you and your partner sitting in the chair and imagine holding a baby for a long period of time in your arms and ensure that the chair has arm rests to support you while holding your baby. Ideally your feet are firmly on the ground or on a footrest – it is extremely important to be comfortable.

Baby Monitor

If you have a very small house, you may not need a baby monitor, especially if your baby is in your room for the first little while. Whichever monitor you choose should last for all of your children, and of course it’s an easy, safe product to buy second-hand. We bought Arlo baby which connects to our home security system, described as “the all-in-one smart baby monitoring camera with 1080p HD video, lullaby player, night light, rechargeable battery and air sensors”. The only feature it doesn’t have which I might want for our next baby is the Angelcare sensory pads which sounds an alarm if your baby has not been breathing for 20 seconds. Dorothy recommends the Angelcare 3-in-1.

FAQ for How to Set up a Nursery before Baby Arrives

Should you Blackout your room?

Initially, your little person may not be so affected by light, but it is a good idea to at least darken the room for sleeps. Dorothy has travelled the world with babies and has always used darkened rooms for both their day and night sleeps. Some are light-sensitive and will find it hard to fall asleep easily in a bright room, or will wake up after only a short time. I suggest blackening out their windows totally and all the little lights from the electrical equipment in their room and see if this helps. Darkness triggers melatonin, a hormone that is released from your (and your baby’s) pineal gland, and is associated with your circadian clock and strengthening your immune system. I believe that having both daytime naps and night-time sleeping in a darkened room is the best option.

Dorothy’s favourite blackout product, and the one we now use, is the very affordable, quick and effective Sleepy Sundays instant blackout blinds – 100% blackout guaranteed.

How do you set up a nursery for twins or multiples?

To set up a nursery for twins or other multiples, think about doing so in a way that one person can work with both babies, ideally at the same time. It is best to have the cots side by side with standing room between them. For this reason, Dorothy also suggests you have cots with sides that go up and down because you are going to be settling and resettling two babies at once and this makes this step so much easier.

If you’re currently pregnant, don’t miss ‘made with love’ pregnancy journal and see also What to do when you find out you’re pregnant

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