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Getting the Nursery Ready

Based on content from JOHNSON'S® Baby Care Basics: Practical Tips for Parents-to-Be.

When your baby arrives, you will be the center of his or her universe. And that universe will be centered largely in the nursery. You are both going to spend a lot of time here, especially when you first bring your baby home, so it's important to make it a calm, comfortable place for both of you. You may want to plan to get your baby's nursery ready when you're about six or seven months pregnant, when you are still able to get around fairly easily.

Your baby's nursery - whether it's in your bedroom or in a separate room - should be a quiet area where there is subdued lighting and little traffic. Remember, your baby will spend most of the time here looking up - so make sure there are no bright overhead lights. It should be a peaceful place, designed for ease of use and comfort for you and for your baby. Arrange the furniture and items in a way you think makes the most sense logically, but realize that you may need to rearrange things a little once you figure out what works best for both of you.

Baby's First Bed
Your newborn's needs are simple: a firm, flat mattress and a safe enclosure where he or she will feel protected and secure. In the first months of infancy, you may prefer a bassinet. These portable baby beds can be carried from room to room so you can keep a close watch on your sleeping baby.

A bassinet is not a necessity. And since most bassinets will not support the weight of an older baby, they're useful only for the first four or five months, which makes them a bit of a luxury item.

For safety's sake at sleep time:

  • To reduce the risk of Sudden Baby Death Syndrome (SIDS), your baby should be placed on his or her back when it's time to sleep. Remember the phrase "Back to Sleep," and be sure that everyone who cares for your child follows this rule, even at nap time.
  • The sleeping surface must be firm and flat.
  • Fluffy pillows, crib bumpers, blankets, and toys should never be placed in the crib with a sleeping baby.

New cribs purchased in the United States must meet safety regulations, but if you borrow an older crib, make sure that:

  • Crib slats are no more than two and three eighths (2 3/8) inches apart - to prevent your baby's body from slipping through.
  • The mattress fits snugly - you should be able to fit no more than two fingers between the mattress and the side of the crib. Remove any plastic coverings!
  • The top section of the corner post is no higher than 1/16 of an inch, or no shorter than 16 inches if there's a canopy - to avoid snagging your baby's clothes or causing injury.
  • There are no decorative cutouts in the headboard or footboard - they could catch your baby's head or limbs.
  • To prevent entanglement, be sure to remove all mobile or hanging items by the time your baby is four months old or begins to pull himself up. And when your baby is less than four months, make sure the mobile is out of reach and securely fastened so it can't fall into the crib.

Changing Table
You can buy a changing table specifically designed for baby diaper changing or just use any other flat surface covered with a changing pad or towel. Be sure the table is sturdy. If possible, secure the table to a wall.

Never leave your baby alone on the table; always keep one hand on your baby when using the changing table. Keep all the changing supplies you need within your reach but out of baby's reach.

Childproofing

  • Keeping your house safe for your new one will be an ongoing, ever-changing process. Now is a good time to start with the basics. Give your home a thorough inspection, looking for choking hazards and other items that can be dangerous to a small child. Before your baby comes home, buy and install outlet covers for the electrical outlets that will be within reach for a curious baby or toddler. Cabinet locks should be installed to keep your baby out of areas where you store cleaning supplies and other chemicals.
  • As your child grows, you'll have to reevaluate what you need to do to keep the house safe. To learn more about childproofing your home, visit babycenter.com.
  • With everything you have to think of, it's easy to lose track of the fundamentals. That is, your baby needs an environment that's safe, comfortable, nurturing and loving. So check off each item, one by one, and dream of the day you'll be holding him, or her, in your arms.