Baby Nursery Decorating Ideas

A glider and ottoman are comfortable for mother as well as baby.
A glider and ottoman are comfortable for mother as well as baby.
Designer: Claudia Adetuyi, Adeeni Associates

­From the moment you bring your precious infant home, his or her (or their!) room will become a special place for you and your child. Even if you keep your baby in your bedroom at night for the first few settling-in months, you'll probably use the baby's room for ch­anging diapers and other everyday tasks. The sooner you and your child feel comfortable in the nursery, the better. (Yes, you need to feel at home in the baby's room, too, as you'll be spending a lot of hours there!)

In addition to a crib that meets modern safety standards, you'll want a comfortable easy chair or cushioned rocking chair to coddle you while you cuddle your little one. If you are nursing or just want a little extra support for your back, be sure to include a footstool that's a comfortable height for you. While you're thinking of major furniture pieces, a twin bed or daybed is a good idea for those inevitable long nights when you're up and down with a sick or fretful little one. (Besides, your child will grow into that twin bed almost before you know it!)

­You may think that any sturdy chest, dresser, or table can be used as a changing table, but the safest solution is a conventional changing table with a built-in low rail around the perimeter of the changing pad. (The rail should be at least a few inches higher than the pad to help keep baby from rolling off.) If you use a unit that doesn't have a rail, be sure to install a securely anchored safety strap around baby's middle and use it every time. Why all the fuss about safety? Because, as any experienced parent can tell you, babies beyond the newborn stage seem able to move farther and faster than you'd think possible! Also look for a changing table with one or two open lower shelves that let you grab diapering supplies with one hand -- and fast. If you use a closed storage unit, you'll want to pick one that you can open with one hand (most wide drawers require even pressure on two pulls) or plan to take out whatever you need before starting the process.

Once you've got the crib, comfy chair, changing table, and optional extra bed in place, the rest is child's play. If your family includes older ­children who share baby's room, their needs will obviously dictate a lot of the furnishings and accessories. If the room is for the baby only, you may be tempted to go for broke with decorative treatments. There's no harm in doing this as long as you avoid items with small parts or cords, but you don't have to spend a fortune on special effects. Babies can't really see details or pick out the nuances of color until they're six months old or so. Until then, bold patterns in black and white serve much better to stimulate their eyes and brains.

If your taste tends toward the lively and modern, a baby's room in black and white with red accents may be just the ticket. If not, however, you can provide short-term toys and board books that stimulate baby just as well and decorate in a way that better suits your style.

Elaborate trompe l'oeil treatments that parade favorite characters across the walls are quite popular, as you'll see in the following pages. Do keep in mind, however, that babies and even toddlers can't appreciate the finer points of such artwork just yet. If you have your heart set on nursery rhyme or fairy-tale images and your budget can accommodate them, why not indulge? You can enjoy them now, knowing your child will be able to appreciate them when he or she reaches preschool age. Do remember that children as old as seven have trouble distinguishing what's real from what's imaginary, so make sure the images you provide aren't scary. Especially in a bedroom, you'll want the mood to be comforting, not disturbing.

Just about any color scheme can work, but it's usually best to keep colors on the clear, light side. Little ones don't usually like sophisticated gray tones, and dark shades can make the typical small bedroom feel and look even smaller. In these pages, you'll see how light, cheerful tints such as mint green, yellow, and timeless white, combined with a variety of special accents, can look fresh and delightfully personal. You can find these pages here:

On the next page, you'll get details on how pattern comes into play in an Asian-inspired nursery.