Decorating the nursery is one of the most exciting pieces of getting ready for your new baby. After all you will be spending so much time in this space, where you will soon be putting away tiny baby clothes, changing diapers, and rocking your little one to sleep. Preparing the bedroom can make reality set in that there will soon be a new addition to your family!
However, there are also many things to think through as you decide how and when to start decorating your nursery. To make tackling this project a little less overwhelming, it can be helpful to think through the timing, steps, and theme before you get started.
When Should You Start Setting Up the Baby Nursery?
In pregnancy, the second trimester is often the time you will find you are most comfortable and energetic! This can be a great time to start decorating the nursery. Many mommas are pretty nauseous with morning sickness during the first trimester and if you haven’t yet announced your pregnancy it may be a bit premature to start on a nursery. The third trimester often comes with lower energy and an ever-growing baby belly that makes a once easy physical task feel like quite an ordeal.
It is perfectly fine to start daydreaming about what you might want for your nursery early on, and quite normal to wrap things up in the final month or two before the baby arrives. You will just want to plan on doing the brunt of the work in those “golden months” that make up the second trimester.
Baby Nursery (Stress Free) Timeline
When you are ready to start decorating the nursery, it will help the process to go much smoother if you think in advance about what all you need to complete, and what order those tasks should be completed in. The steps below can be useful in forming your plan.
1. Pick a room in your house
This may be an obvious choice for some, but if you have more than one option, be sure to think through how much space you will need for all of your baby’s needs (crib, changing table, rocking chair, etc.).
You should also consider the proximity to your own room. While your baby will likely sleep in your room for the first few months, you may still find yourself making somewhat frequent nighttime trips to check on or comfort your little one after he or she is in the nursery.
Try to have this done by around 14 weeks, right around the start of the second trimester.
2. Clean it out:
Most likely, your future nursery is currently being used for an office, guest room, or maybe even storage space. Decorating your nursery will be easiest if you are starting with a blank canvas, so be sure to take the time to find new homes for the furniture, decor, and other items currently occupying this space.
This will probably be a high-energy chore, and it will ideally be completed at the beginning of the second trimester (14-17 weeks).
3. Decide on your theme:
While you may do some daydreaming and window shopping in the first trimester, once you have the space for the nursery, it’s time to get serious about your theme. See below for some tips on choosing a theme.
Try to have this completed by around 20 weeks, so that you still have plenty of time (and energy!) left in your second trimester to finish the physical work of decorating the nursery. However, if you want to go with a gender-specific theme, you may need to wait until after your 20-week anatomy scan to make a final choice.
4. Painting and floors:
If you plan to paint, this will be your next step. Make sure to prioritize your health and safety by picking a low VOC paint; getting help from your significant other, a friend or family member; and keeping the room ventilated while you work! If you plan to make any updates to the flooring, that should be completed as soon as you are finished painting.
Painting should be done with plenty of remaining time for the room to air out. This is especially true if it is winter and you are not able to leave the windows open for long stretches. Aim to wrap up your painting projects by 24 weeks, so that you still have a few months for the smell to dissipate.
5. Furniture shopping and assembly:
Next up is picking your furniture. You will need to decide on a crib, mattress, changing table and/or dresser, and rocking chair. You may also want to consider some shelves for toys and books, as it won’t be long before your baby will be ready to play! Before making these purchases, be sure to check all of the measurements to ensure everything will fit well in your space without it feeling too crowded (or too sparse).
This will likely be the most expensive part of your nursery, so you may want to start preparing financially in the first trimester. Make it your goal to have all of your furniture purchased and assembled by around 26 weeks so you still have time to get started on decorating before your third trimester arrives.
6. Final touches:
The last piece to add to the nursery will be your decor and other accessories. This could include family photos (it can be fun to put up some pictures from your maternity shoot, if you plan to have one!), miscellaneous wall decor, additional lighting, bedding, curtains, rugs, and any other special items you want to incorporate.If you plan to complete a lot of DIY projects, you may want to start as soon as you pick your theme so you leave yourself plenty of time to wrap them up.
Ideally you will want to complete these final touches by 28-30 weeks in case the baby shows up early (and before you run out of energy)!
Tips for Choosing a Theme for Your Nursery
Aside from deciding when to start decorating the nursery, the other big nursery choice you might be thinking about is your theme! Depending on your personality and interior decorating skills, you may find this to be a source of delight, a source of stress, or somewhere in between. Regardless of how you are feeling about this particular task, thinking through the following will be beneficial in making your nursery as perfect as possible for your growing family.
Before you get too far into deciding a theme, think ahead about how this room will be used in the coming years. Does the idea of redecorating in a few years sound appealing? If not, make sure to consider these things:
- Will this be the dedicated nursery for any future children? If so, you may want to keep things more gender neutral in case your next baby is the opposite gender.
- Will your little one still be using this room in 5 years? This could be a good reason to go with a theme that can easily be adapted to be age appropriate over time.
- If you plan to keep this decor for a number of years, you should also aim for a timeless style rather than what might seem trendy today.
- Between endless Pinterest boards, advertisements, and social media pictures of your friends and family members’ nurseries, you may feel pressured to have a perfect, elaborately decorated nursery. However, comparing your own theme and plan isn’t worth the stress it may cause. Even the most simple nursery can be a perfectly wonderful nursery! The most important thing is to create a comfortable space for you and your new baby.
- As you think through a theme and decor plan, you will also want to make sure your nursery is practical and safe! Be cautious with where you place wall hangings, and make sure you prioritize safety over fashion when it comes to the crib (no bumpers or blankets where your baby will be sleeping)!
- What will YOU enjoy? In the early months, your baby will be far more in-tune with how you are feeling than how the room looks. Make sure that your baby’s nursery is an atmosphere that helps you to feel relaxed and happy. This will have a much greater impact on your little one than the actual colors, furnishings, and decorations.
Deciding when to start decorating the nursery is ideally something you will consider early on in your pregnancy so that you have plenty of time to get things ready. Picking a theme and planning out your steps before you get started on decorating is a great way to stay on task and keep things going smoothly so you are ready in plenty of time for baby. However, if you are already in the final few months of pregnancy and just now getting started, there is no need to stress. Your baby probably won’t notice the color of the walls or how coordinated the decorations are!
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