A room for baby

The pregnancy test came back positive.

The gender announcement party has taken place.

Now, it’s time to decorate the nursery and do some baby-proofing to welcome your new arrival.

Room theme

Do you need a theme for the nursery? It’s up to you. A newborn isn’t going to notice the theme until they are older.

Gender-neutral themes such as baby animals, nursery rhymes, storybook illustrations, travel and others can be done inexpensively. Web searches will garner lots of ideas.

One thing to keep in mind, whatever you choose, is to ensure to that the paint, wallpaper or wall treatment can be easily cleaned. Babies can be messy, and everything in the room should be washable or able to be wiped down and sanitized.


The days of pink for girls and blue for boys are long over.

“Parents are now choosing more gender-neutral colors including white, black, gray, mint green and coral,” said Tricia Kerth, buyer and manager at Sprout at Steve’s Ace Hardware in Dubuque.

Did you know that newborns can only see black, white and gray? As their sight develops, the first color babies recognize is red. Painting the walls gray or white with some red accents is one option to consider. Soft hues such as blues and greens are also good options.


Even though newborns are small, they need several pieces of furniture:

A crib. Babies sleep a lot — 16-17 hours per day. The crib should be safe and sturdy with slats on all four sides. The mattress should be waterproof and also covered in a waterproof mattress cover. Choose eco-friendly natural and organic materials and avoid foam mattresses which contain polyurethane foam, PVC, phthalates, chemical fire retardants and many other chemicals that babies and children will inhale.

A dresser. For all of the cute onesies, bibs, socks, clothes, mittens, wash clothes diapers and other accessories for baby is another important piece of furniture.

A changing table for diaper changes. Some moms choose to use the top of the dresser for the changing table with the addition of a changing pad if space is an issue in the nursery.

A nursing chair. Consider one that rocks, reclines and swivels so that when you are nursing the baby, you are comfortable. Babies feed about every hour, so you’ll be spending a lot of time in this chair.

Kerth added that natural wood grain furniture is being used in nurseries. Something to be aware of when buying wood furniture is to avoid pressed wood as it contains chemical additives which are released in the air and the baby will inhale them.


While nursing the baby, you’ll want to have the lights dimmed which can be accomplished by installing a dimmer switch for the overhead room light.

Tabletop lamps with children’s designs also are a nice addition to the nursery.


Having everything necessary for a diaper change within easy reach will be very helpful. You’ll want to keep your newborn from rolling off the changing table since you only have so many hands to reach for items, secure the baby, clean the baby and change the diaper.

Make some space near the changing table for diapers, baby wipes, a laundry hamper, changing table covers, burp cloths, a pacifier, lotion, ointment, a diaper bucket and anything else needed to make baby comfortable during and after a diaper change.

From newborn to infant, toddler and beyond

Think about the transition from newborn to infant and toddler as your child goes from a crib to a bed, how will the room colors and furniture transition?

Baby-proofing and safety

A nursery monitor which allows you to listen to the baby from wherever you’re located in the house is a helpful gadget. Some parents like a baby camera so that they can see the baby in the crib.

While the newborn might be too small to get into much trouble, they will soon be ambulatory and moving around the house fast. Some simple baby-proofing includes adding a safety gate at the top of a stairway and installing outlet protectors so the child won’t get shocked if they stick something into the outlet.

Kerth said that Sprout carries baby gates and a collection of everyday safety products including stove knob covers, door knob covers and outlet protectors.

“We have kit with all the basics included that makes a great shower gift,” she said.

Secure furniture including dressers and bookshelves and TVs with furniture straps so that if toddlers try to climb the furniture won’t topple over on them. Put corner bumpers on furniture with sharp edges.

Secure the toilet lid with a lock and remember to relock it after using the toilet.

Use cord holders to gather cords from electronics close together to avoid tripping or tugging hazards.

Don’t use blankets, crib bumpers, quilts or anything heavier than a sheet in the crib. Keep stuffed toys out of the crib.

Keep medications out of reach of children. Ask for child-proof lids at the pharmacy.

Keep cords from window blinds out of reach or attach breakaway tassels.

Lock up cleaning supplies and chemicals.

Adjust your water heater to avoid scalding during bath time. Never leave the baby or toddler alone in the tub.

Prevent falls from windows by keeping the crib and other furniture away from windows.

Choose a safe toy box, one that is light with a removable lid or one that slides. Don’t choose one with a hinged lid that could slam down on the child.

See the world from your child’s point of view. Actually get down on the floor and crawl around to notice hazards that you would otherwise miss from an adult height.

Jill Carlson is a freelance writer from Madison, Wis.

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