Nursery decorating basics: Designing a smart nursery

Bringing home a new baby is a very exciting time in the life of any parent. An important step in preparing for baby's arrival is decorating the nursery. Selecting paint colors, deciding on a nursery theme, and finding the best furniture for baby rooms is a lot of fun. Designing a smart nursery that is functional, cute, and filled with comfort for parent and child, is a learning experience.

Baby rooms are not just for babies. At least not in the beginning. As a parent, you'll spend quite a bit of time in the nursery rocking the baby to sleep, changing its diaper, dressing the baby, and spending quality time together. To make everyone comfortable, safe, and happy, use these nursery decorating basics for designing a smart nursery.

Paint color - When decorating the nursery, it's best to use gender-neutral paint colors that will lend themselves well to any nursery theme. Yellow, green, or any neutral color tone, will be easy to decorate with now, and as your child ages.

Paint type - Select a non-toxic, zero-voc paint that doesn't emit any harmful fumes or toxins. These paints don't contain volatile organic compounds, which have been known to be bad for the environment, and the health of some individuals. You'll be still be able to choose any paint color you'd like from these type of paints, but they are much safer to use around infants.

Creature comforts for parents - Parents need a place to sit and be comfortable, so take this into consideration when decorating the nursery. Place a padded rocker or glider in the room that fits with the nursery décor, and add a side table that can hold a cool drink, cup of coffee, baby bottle, or other items, when you need a free hand. If there is enough space in the room, add a small bed for quick rests during baby's naptime.

Crib design and safety - One of the biggest decisions in decorating the nursery is choosing a crib. Of course you want the crib to be attractive, but safety and proper crib design is of utmost importance. The U.S. Consumer Products Safety Commission recommends that you adhere to the following safety guidelines when choosing a crib:

- Do not buy a drop-side crib (these cribs were banned in 2010).

- Do not use broken or modified cribs, or those older than 10 years.

- Ensure hardware is solidly attached to the crib body.

- Never place pillows or thick quilts in a baby's sleep environment.

- Ensure there are no gaps larger than two fingers between the sides of the crib and the mattress.

- Do not place a crib near a window with curtains or blinds.

To extend the life of your child's crib, and to get the most for your money, look for a crib that can be converted into a toddler daybed later on. It's always important to plan the design of baby rooms around your child's growth and development.

Choosing a motif - It is terribly tempting to cover the walls of baby rooms in nursery-rhyme wallpaper, or another motif suitable for a baby. But keep in mind that the theme will need to be reevaluated in a very short time. In a year or so, your new baby will have outgrown a baby theme, and be ready for a big boy or girl room. Use our recommendations for "Baby Nursery Decorating Ideas that Transition with Your Child" instead.

More from Jennifer Wagner:

Ten Tips to Soothe a Crying Baby

Shopping List for a Newborn Baby

Themed Ceiling Fans for Kids' Rooms


Personal experience

Jennifer Wagner - Yahoo! Contributor Network