By Nicky Goldstone of Designs by Day Interiors
As a mum of 2 I can honestly say that sleep in the first year of your child’s life is like gold. My first child Anna was an absolute nightmare when it came to sleep. She never slept through until 1 and a half years old and oh how I wish I had reached out to the experts then to share their knowledge of how to get my baby to sleep through. It would have saved me many a sleepless night.
Starting a new day wrecked from the night before due to broken sleep is not the best way to be a fun and energetic mum with a smile on your face. Coffee is a must in the first year of your baby’s life, however I would love to share some tips of how you can create a calming environment for your baby to aid in positive sleep for your little ones. I am no sleep expert (we will leave all of those tips to The Daddy Sleep Consultant) but as an Interior designer and mum of 2 I would love to share a few tips for you to incorporate into your baby’s nursery to hopefully aid in getting you closer to that full night’s rest.
1. Make it dark
Make sure the room is dark. And by dark I mean pitch black (day and night) if you can. Invest in blackout blinds or curtains for your nursery window. The summer nights are a difficult time to settle your baby as they still consider this the perfect time for play. The same goes for during daytime naps. Having the room dark enables the baby to settle more easily and sleep better. These blackout blinds can be purchased affordably from numerous online suppliers or alternatively they can be custom made with your fabric of choice, lined with a blackout fabric to make it functional. If you decide on a Roman blind please ensure that it doesn’t fit into the window reveal as light will pierce through the sides and create a distraction for baby. Rather ensure that the blind sits over this reveal so that it keeps all light out of the space. Dunelm have some great options for standard sized window dressings and Hillary’s is a great option for custom made window dressings to your specification. There are so many companies to choose from, however I am just listing a few to give you a good starting point.
2. Keep it simple & create a sanctuary
I don’t know about you but when I found out we were having a baby, much like the wedding planning, I got super excited about the nursery room set up and decor. Sometimes our ideas can get the better of us and we go full throttle on colour and pattern. This is fin; it’s great to individualise this space however be considerate to the sleeping environment where the cot and feeding chair will be placed as you don’t want to create an over-stimulating space of bold colourful patterns that distract baby and inhibit them from settling to sleep. Try and separate play and sleep environments in the room if possible. If you have the space, separating these rooms altogether is first prize; however if not, consider good storage solutions to hide away all of your baby’s toys during sleep time. Now I am not one to generally promote IKEA as, let’s be honest, every house in the UK has one of their items, but a good pigeonhole with inner boxes is the best solution for this. The Kallax or Besta units from IKEA are perfect for customising your space. They come in a range of sizes to suit your needs and can be customised to suit your space. This can be done by painting them a soft paint colour and adding customised doors and handles to suit your theme. You can use this shelving unit as a screen to create zones in your nursery by having your cot and feeding chair to one side with the play area to the other (This unit can also double up and act as your changing station as well if space is limited). Baby can then identify which ‘zone’ they are in during the day and sleep and play can be defined.
It’s so easy to want to purchase gorgeous and expensive nursery furniture for this space however your baby is in this space for such a short period of time before the room needs a refresh as your child grows. Finding furniture pieces that can be used in an alternate way when your baby grows is an ideal choice.
3. Narrow it down
The cot – goodness there are so many on the market. It’s hard to know which one to choose. My advice to you is to first look at your space. Work out what size of cot is going to work well in the space and where you want it to be situated. Please remember not to position your cot by a window and try and position it slightly away from the wall. That way when baby is a bit older and able to stand in the cot they don’t head bang onto the wall. By doing this you are making the space “less fun” for them and creating a better sleeping environment. Once you know the position of the cot in the space as well as the size you need it to be, decide on colour choice (painted or wood look) and then plug that into your online search engine. If you don’t, you will be looking at cots until the cows come home.
Choose a height-adjustable cot so that it can be lowered when baby starts to move about and stand, as you want this cot to last you as long as possible by enabling baby to grow with it. Please stay away from cot bumpers as they are a no-no according to SIDS guidelines.
When it comes to cot mobiles, although they may look great, they are a sleep aid and not recommended for over the cot area.
To start on the cot search I would recommend looking at Wayfair as they have a selection of suppliers and styles at various price ranges. Here you will be able to find something that suits your needs and style. You may not end up purchasing one from them in the end as there are many bespoke companies to choose from, however this is a great start for knowing what direction you want to go in.
4. Practicality is first prize
Furniture needs to be practical and functional as well as look good. Try to search for a low chest of drawers or dresser for storage. This can counteract as a baby changing station that looks good and is functional at the same time. If you do wish to include a mobile of sorts, I would recommend placing one over the changing station as this is where you need to distract baby in order for changing time to be easier for you. Ensure that this furniture is secured to the wall so that when baby becomes mobile and they start climbing, these furniture pieces don’t become danger zones.
5. The perfect feeding chair
Try and squeeze in a feeding chair into the nursery space if you can. Ensure that this is comfortable for you but not too low and soft as you need to be able to get in and out of it with ease while holding onto baby. By selecting a comfortable feeding chair for the nursery it makes feeding time more comfortable for you as the parent, as well as creating an easier transition for baby from feeding time to sleep time as they don’t need to travel through another space to get to their cot. If budget is an issue, possibly look at moving a single sofa from your living room into this space initially for the first few months of baby’s life. However if you want to select something unique you can either decide on something new off-the-shelf or find a vintage option online on eBay or Marketplace and then get this re-upholstered in a fabric of your choice to suit the theme you choose for the space. The options are endless.
6. Make it a space you love
There are so many things to consider in your new space as this is a space you as a new Mum or Dad are going to be spending a lot of time in. Make it a space you love and feel calm in. Select calming colours such as pastels or neutrals. Stay away from bright overbearing colours. These will come later I promise, when your kids grow up and the room needs a refresh. For now create a sanctuary.
After having my second child Matthew I reached out for help and adopted these tips and it has changed my life. My baby boy sleeps through the night and settles easily in his space. Daytime naps are easy now with having his room completely dark with no distractions and he knows his room is for fun sometimes and for sleep other times due to the different zones we have created.
I hope these few tips have helped you get started on designing your space for your little ones.
If you have given the nursery design all you’ve got and you are still feeling stuck and need some assistance, I am offering a discount code for my Nursery E-design package for all readers of this blog post.
I’m a baby and toddler sleep consultant specialising in designing gentle sleep training programmes for babies and toddlers. I work with clients on a one to one basis and I also have a series of age-specific online courses for you to implement at your own pace.