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How To:

Plan a Nursery

Practical considerations abound when planning a nursery. Start by tackling the basic surroundings and safety issues before shifting your focus to designing and decorating. You'll enjoy the fun of adding personal touches after you bring your baby home.

Start by drawing a floor plan for your nursery. Make precise notes of the room's dimensions and its architectural features, and then begin laying out your furniture. The crib is a smart starting point, since much of the activity in a nursery will be centered around it. Make sure you don't place your crib over a heat register or near a window, where temperature fluctuations can make your baby uncomfortable. Plan ahead when arranging furniture close to your crib, keeping in mind that there will likely come a point when your growing baby will start experimenting with getting out of the crib unassisted. Tables, dressers and other items that could be used for leverage should be placed a safe distance away.

Remember that when your baby starts to crawl and then walk, they will use any nearby object to steady themselves, so make sure you use tip resistant kits on tall or heavy furniture as a safety precaution. As you're deciding how to arrange storage shelves and drawers, start from the bottom with soft, safe items, and keep heavier items (such as collections and keepsakes) up higher.

To organize the nursery, divide the room into activity zones, including sleeping, feeding, changing and playing. When choosing a changing table, look for one with easily accessible storage, so you can reach what you need with one hand while keeping your other hand securely on your baby. Open shelves with wicker baskets provide portable, flexible options. A rocker or glider is likely to be used for feedings - both day and night - so make sure it has a table within reach where you can keep a burp cloth and a bottle handy.

Set up your baby monitor on a table or shelf near the crib, and make room for a music box or a mobile that plays gentle tunes. The main thing a play area for a growing baby needs is a soft floor surface, such as a push area rug, and some low storage where you can keep books and toys at your baby's eye level.

Plan ahead by choosing a crib that converts into a toddler bed or full-size bed. Opt for a changing table that becomes a dresser, or modular shelving units that can be easily repurposed as needs change. For your comfort, think of ways to make the nursery a pleasant place for you as well. A large upholstered chair or a slipcase-covered glider with enough room for you and your baby, paired with a lamp and an end table, provides a cozy spot for spending time together now, and can live nicely in another room later.