So you’re expecting a baby. Where are you going to put him or her? Planning a baby’s nursery today entails pretty much the same basic elements it has for generations: crib, dresser, changing table and rocking chair. However, like everything else, the choices have become more sophisticated — and numerous.
Take cribs for instance. The major advantage to today’s cribs is that, with the aid of conversion kits, they transform into full-sized beds.
“Just make sure you have room for a double bed,” William Preston, of Planet Kids in Menlo Park, said.
The traditional crib, which is even on all sides with a side rail that goes up and down, is now designed to relieve back stress for parents and babysitters. “The mattress often has two to three levels,” Preston said. The highest level is used for the newborn.
Some of the models are available in up to 20 different stains, but best sellers are black and chocolate.
Planet Kids also carries hand-painted furniture, which can run into a major investment. For the budget-minded, conversion cribs with adjustable mattress heights are available at Ikea for under $100. Heritage cribs may not meet current safety standards.
One rule of thumb is that the slats have to be sufficiently close that a can of Coke cannot fit between them. Also, the mattress must fit snugly.
Because infants and young babies don’t have the musculature to lift their heads off a cushiony surface the begin- ning mattress has to be firm. However, Baby Luxe makes a “two in one”: firm on one side and memory foam on the other.
The choice of bedding — sheets, bumper pads, quilts, dust ruffles — is truly mind-boggling: There are books full of choices.
“Nova is our number one for custom,” Preston said, adding that one could easily spend a thousand dollars on matched bedding. And that doesn’t even include the coordinated window valences, lamp shades, night light, pillows, night lights, rugs, drawer knobs and wallpaper.
Bedding companies also provide mobiles that coordinate with the rest of their products. “Some are chosen just to make the nursery look pretty,” Preston said. “But for the first couple of months babies respond best to contrasting colors, like black, white and red.” Gliders are the new version of rocking chairs. They are upholstered chairs engineered to glide as well as rock. Some have lumbar support as well as support for the back of the knees and thighs. Footstools are ei- ther pop-out or separate. A nifty feature: flared sides or extra space for siblings. A separate changing table is a relatively inexpensive item. However, it is also quite expendable when the baby outgrows diapers. This is why many opt for a dresser that can accommodate a removable top pad. For longevity, Preston recommends a three- to four-drawer dresser.
Preston estimates that about 20 percent of the customers at Planet Kids come in with an interior designer.
Jacob Scherer, one of the owners of Miller/Dolezal Design Group in Portola Valley, said few of his clients ask for help in nursery design, “but we do get them. ... They’re looking for a more serious kind of décor that works with what’s going on with the rest of the house — no light pine, but a richer and more exotic look.”
Scherer said that he tries to create a unique design. He describes a piece of driftwood he found on the beach. “We mounted it on the wall and hung stuffed monkeys from it.”
This is not to say that Scherer is unaware of such practicalities as covered plugs and elimination of sharp edges. He also advises use of Sunbrella fabrics because they are impervious to stains and can be washed with soap and water. Scherer recommends plenty of storage space. One of his tricks of the trade is to use an ottoman that opens.
“Since the baby is looking up when in the crib, I aim the lights at the ceiling,” Scherer said. He also avoids harsh lighting. “I’d prefer that the baby wake up to a glow rather than to an FBI interrogation,” he added.
Scherer believes in creating a comfortable spot for the mother to sit and nurse. “I like to use a double-size chair, which folds into a bed,” he said. “Baby is used to his/her own room, so this gives the parent(s) a place to sleep if need be.”
Of course, carpeting needs to be easily cleaned. “I recommend 100- percent wool with thick padding,” Scherer said. “You can border the carpet with an alternative pattern.” The carpet provides sound dampening, which can be complemented with upholstered walls.
One expectant Palo Alto mother used Shalene Smith of Ga Ga Designs in Southern California to create “the nursery of my dreams” for her new daughter. She advises planning four to five months ahead, especially if you’re ordering custom-made furniture.
“We painted the entire room so that if furniture is re-arranged it won’t look strange,” the mom said. Set amongst the painted clouds in the ceiling is a glittery light fixture from Viscusi Elson in Los Altos. “I wanted a chandelier, but we kept it flush for earthquake safety,” she said. “Nothing hangs on the walls, and we’re bolting the armoire to the wall.”
The window screens are wired into the security system designed by Geoff Beale of Surveillance Solu- tions, Los Gatos. Two security cameras, one over the crib and another aimed at the changing table allow for computer access.
Sarah Granger and Chuck Pletcher of Menlo Park kept their daughter Julia Pletcher in their room for the first three months.
“She slept in a Snuggle Nest, a three-sided cardboard box,” Granger said. This is a trend confirmed by Preston, who said that co-sleepers, which attach to the parents’ bed, are very popular for the first few months.
When Granger and Pletcher were furnishing the nursery they opted for a $700 conversion crib from Pottery Barn Kids. “I never regretted it because it’s very stable,” Granger said.
Granger counts among the most practical items the breathable crib pad (Baby’s R Us), soft and warm organic cotton sheets, and a breathable bumper, which she said gives her “peace of mind”.
“We used to live by the train station, so we used extra-thick, dark-purple curtains,” Granger said. “For safety reasons, the blinds have no strings.” She also mentioned that they did not place the crib near the window.
Julia also has a bookcase in her room. “It was mine when I was little,” Granger said.
Decorating young Julia’s room is now much easier. “It’s her room now, and it reflects her interests,” Granger said.