First-Time Parent's Guide to Creating a Nursery

Last updated 13th August, 2020

Are you planning to build a nursery for your newborn or soon-to-be-born child? The following guide will look at nursery essentials and ideas, including DIY designs. This article is perfect for first-time parents who would like to have an overview of what is involved in creating a baby room.

This guide will prove very useful if you are planning to build a baby nursery, whether by hiring a professional to construct one or putting it together by yourself. From this article, you will learn about elements such as furniture, colours and lighting for a nursery as well as what a nursery is and unique nursery accessories.

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What Is a Nursery?

A home nursery is either a room (or area of a room) set aside for a newborn baby. A nursery is important as it gives a space to focus on the needs and interests of your baby while providing them with a safe environment that is both comfortable and visually stimulating for your child. A nursery not only makes it easier to meet your baby's needs, but it makes things easier for you and your child alike.

It gives you peace of mind and a way to keep your baby's toys, cot and other items within close proximity, making organisation as straightforward as possible. It will make it simpler for your baby as they will gain familiarity with the location, which may benefit with learning. Further, bright colours can stimulate visual and brain development in young children. You can allow your baby to avail of this benefit by decorating their nursery appropriately or/and by fitting brightly coloured items and fixtures.

The term nursery has its initial origins in Proto-Indo-European language with the word nutrio, meaning to breastfeed, suckle or nurse. In Latin, nutricia means wet nurse, and in Middle English, the words noricerie or norserye evolved next, meaning children's nursery, education, upbringing or a state of being nursed or fostered.

Nursery Essentials

Let's now look at what you need to make a nursery. The focal point of any baby nursery will probably be the cot. Whether choosing an elaborate or simple crib, you want to ensure that it is durable and made of high-quality materials. Cots are essential since they provide a warm and safe sleeping environment for your baby. Baby nests, on the other hand, are not appropriate for baby rooms.

This is because when you're not watching your child, there is a risk of suffocation. To go with the cot, you'll need baby bedding. This is not only important for the comfort of your child but can also play a part in nursery decoration, adding to the aesthetic of the room. Bedding might include cot sheets, pillows, blankets and cot skirts. The right bedding can keep your baby warm and cosy when napping or for sitting atop of during playtime.

Storage baskets are also arguably essential parts of a nursery. These baskets will allow you to keep your child's toys and any other nursery items tidy and organised when not in use. Changing tables are vital too. There'll be 1000s of dirty nappies to deal with during your baby's first year.

So a changing table will help with cleaning up their messes. A baby monitor of some kind is also crucial for keeping an ear or eye on your child while they are at rest. You should set one up in an appropriate position of the nursery (e.g. on top of a changing table or drawer) and ensure that it's powered sufficiently at all times when in use.

Baby monitors are instrumental in caring for your baby so that their needs can be met and any distress they are in can be tended to right away. Other items which are important for a nursery and may or may not be considered essential are a rocking chair (which can help you get your baby to sleep), clothes hamper, nightlight and drawers.

Nursery Ideas

There are many approaches you should take when creating a nursery. In this section, we will explore different baby nursery ideas such as those which relate to furniture, colours and lighting. For each of the following baby room ideas, we will also discuss various examples.

Nursery Furniture

Aside from the obvious examples of a cot, changing table and drawers, you may also wish to purchase additional toy storage, children's wardrobes and baby chairs or/and highchairs. A comfy adult-sized chair and blanket can also prove a helpful addition.

This doesn't have to be a rocking chair, but some kind of comfortable seating will help if you wish to calm your child after they wake up crying from a nap, for breastfeeding or if you want to rest them to sleep. You could also line toys up, spread out along several shelves both for convenience and aesthetics. The aforementioned furniture fittings can provide you with high-quality nursery décor.

Nursery Colours

There are three primary nursery types.

The first is a simple and stylish design which tends to involve the use of uniform colour. This is often pale white or cream, classic two-tone which utilises two contrasting colours and a wood finish (where wooden furniture is used to give a unique timber look to your child's nursery).

Many nurseries generally involve simple colour palettes like neutral tones, white, yellow, monochrome, regal red or light, pale blue. You may wish to decorate the wall further with decorative stickers, which preferably should be varied, colourful and contrast the wall they are laid on. In the case of a wood finish, the light to medium brown (unless painted) of timber fittings can give a unique look and feel to a nursery. There are plenty of nursery themes to choose from, and colour plays a crucial role in bringing any given design to life.

Nursery Lighting

It's important to purchase the right lighting for your baby room. It's preferable to keep the lighting relatively soft. Aside from giving a cosy, warm feeling, soft lighting reduces the contrast between dark and light and prevents overstimulation of your baby's eyes. To light your nursery, you should avoid exposed halogens or bulbs.

Diffused or shaded lighting fixtures can provide optimal levels of brightness as the key light source of the room. It's essential to ensure that all lighting fixtures are out of reach of your baby. Also, you may wish to have nightlights fitted in the nursery. There are countless designs to choose from when it comes to nightlights from cloud wall lights to projected stars to simple night lamps. Battery-powered nightlights are the best option for safety purposes as that way you don't need to worry about your child grabbing any loose wires.

DIY Nursery Ideas

There are plenty of ways you can construct fittings for a nursery by yourself. DIY nursery ideas can save you money by avoiding the cost of expensive materials and the labour cost of a hired professional. Let's explore some of the options.

Nursery Wall Art

There are countless ideas to consider when it comes to creating wall art for a baby room. More straightforward ideas include painting or drawing simple, colourful images that fit well with a baby's room. Other nursery wall art might consist of using buttons against a surface such as a wooden backdrop to create a design (e.g. a collection of green and brown buttons to create the image of a tree) and faux letterpress print blocks as a fanciful DIY assembly.

You could also use fabric to create 3D wall art. These are just some of many baby room decoration ideas which involve wall art. By Googling' nursery wall art ideas' you will find 100s more examples. The same applies to each of the remaining subsections.

Nursery Wall Mural

A nursery wall mural can be achieved by adding stickers of various kinds. Options include star decorations, collections of safari animals and cartoon characters, among others. A wall mural will add colour and vibrancy to a baby room.

You can visit online stores like Etsy for countless additional ideas. To create your own stickers, you can either design them by hand or use a website like Wall Boss to design your stickers virtually. You may also wish to add nursery wallpaper to achieve a similar effect and design as you would with stickers. Nursery wallpaper can also mean adding new background colours to the walls.

Nursery Mobile

Baby mobiles, which hang from a ceiling or cot, are far more than just cute objects to decorate nursery interiors. They can help to calm and soothe your baby and also support their brain development. Sensory interaction is essential for newborns, and nursery mobiles are a great way to achieve this. There are an entire plethora of designs to choose from, such as hanging safari animals, birds, clouds, stars, rainbows, hearts and trees.

You could make a nursery mobile yourself with stuffed toys or by creating your own 2D or 3D designs such as with card paper or other arts & craft materials. Cotton buds, pom-poms and yarn are just some examples of additional materials you could use.

Nursery Shelving

Baby room shelves can act as a way to store clothes, toys and other items for your child and add aesthetic value to the room. From traditional several-tier shelves to honeycomb shelves to solid wood bookcases, there are many choices to consider when it comes to shelving for a nursery.

Shelves should ideally be made to compliment the nursery design as a whole. For example, you may wish to have two timber shelves fitted to a wall with a painting or/and stickers of birds in a tree, such that the shelves appear to be a part of the tree branches. There are plenty of online guides to building shelves DIY which will help you construct shelving for your nursery by yourself!

Unique Nursery Accessories

There are many unique accessories which you may wish to include in your baby room. Let's look at some new and exciting nursery room ideas, including those related to smart home technology.

Personalised Canvas

A unique accessory is a tailored canvas to give your nursery a personal touch. For example, it could display the name or/and image of your child. Personalised canvas' can play a significant role in creating a high-quality baby room design.

Smart Lighting

Smart nightlights for your nursery can allow you to adjust the lighting for your child remotely. Some devices like the Echo Glow can be paired with any Alexa compatible device, allowing you to control brightness and colour by voice command.

Many smart lights can be set to adjust by a timer so that they change to an appropriate brightness or/and colour around your child's bedtime.

Smart Monitors

As alluded to earlier, visual monitors are becoming increasingly common nowadays. Some smart Wi-Fi monitors, whether camera-based or just auditory, offer two-way communication. With these monitors, you can reassure your child if they wake up crying so that they are not left in too much distress before someone can make it upstairs.

Modern monitors are available in both wireless and wired models. Some smart monitors even provide hi-tech features like monitoring of your child's heartbeat, breathing and even room conditions. With smart technology, you can watch over your child in ways that simply weren't possible a generation ago.

Bunting Flags

Flags with designs for children are another attractive accessory worth considering. These flags can be laid across a wall, attached from one end to the other. It's possible to find bunting flags with cartoon designs such as of Winnie the Pooh and generic designs like those of pirates and animals as well as simple, coloured designs.


You should wait 2 to 3 days at a minimum before moving your baby into a newly painted room.
With light bedding or a lightweight, well-fitted sleeping bag for your baby to rest in, the room temperature should be 16 to 20°C.
Most cots come with a price-tag between £80 and £200.
Some of the top cots on the market for a newborn child are the IKEA Sniglar Cot, Tutti Bambini Modena Cot Bed and Babymore Eva Sleigh Cot Bed.
Ideally, it should feature soft shades of colour like blues, pinks and greens. These colours are easier to perceive for a young baby and can support their brain and visual development.


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