When you start buying all the baby gear, you will been soon faced with a question: where should I put all of this stuff? The cosy, idealistic answer is “the nursery”, i.e. the room your son or daughter will be inhabiting for the coming years. So, we need to get the nursery ready and if there is anything the father can do, this is it! It is better to do this latest in the early trimester as even though you are no doubt a strong, capable man, you might need some help lifting the furniture and she is less likely to help when the bump grows. Or she might feel nauseous because of the paint smell. Or you might just be too stressed and tired just before and after the birth to get yourself to do anything else than napping.
So how should you decorate the nursery then?
If you don’t know the gender of the baby, then you might want to pick some neutral colours than you can complement with some boy/girl features after they are born. Now, it is possible that you are thinking of just putting a cot or box somewhere in the spare room corner along with the other junk you have left there, because after all, the baby surely can’t tell the difference between a fancily decorated room and a messy bedroom. You might want to reconsider for a couple of reasons.
Firstly, you and her will probably be spending a lot of time in this room voluntarily (“oh look at my cute baby sleeping”) or involuntarily (banished from your own bed because of you are disturbing someone or someone is disturbing you). So you want it to be nice for your (and her) comfort as someone will spend a lot of time in that room.
Secondly, children (surprising as it is) do grow and at some point will become aware of their surroundings. Creating a nice, comforting room can make them enjoy their room more and also make them more likely to sleep well. Create a mix of fun and relaxing colours and elements (when in doubt, go for white, yellow, cream), and you will be just fine. And it is easier to do it now than in 1-2 years when you have other things to keep you busy.
What about the actual useful stuff in the nursery?
For good sleeping conditions, you want to make sure that nursery is the right temperature, with not too much light or noise. If you live in a noisy environment, double glazing is ideal. Thick curtains work well too to keep the temperature, light and noise right.
Another typical item for a nursery is a cot – with a good, new mattress. However, parents have specific preferences on where the baby sleeps and when is the right time to sleep in a separate room, so decide between you what you think is the best sleeping arrangement for your baby and when do you need a cot.
To make those night-time feeds more comfortable, you need a comfy chair – something where her arms can rest while holding the baby.
Then there is changing nappies, which happens more often than you think so you want to make this efficient and comfortable. People have different preferences between changing on a mat (safer, cheaper, less comfortable) or changing on a changing table (risk of falling, more expensive, more comfortable, storage is a bonus, but takes more space). If you go for a changing table, get one with raised sides.
You have to put those smelly things somewhere, so a good changing bin will keep your nursery smelling nice. And then some antibacterial hand gel to keep you neat and tidy.
There is a lot of new stuff that needs to be put somewhere, so you need some storage space. This could be in a changing table or as a separate storage system. Changing bag will help you take the stuff with you when you are on the move.
There are a lot of other things you need generally for your baby. We recommend you check the blog post on how to get ready for you newborn here.
So that is nursery done!
What about the rest of the house?
There is such a thing as making your house baby-safe. This is not an urgent problem, given that your baby will have to start crawling and walking around before you have to think about covering electric sockets, blocking access to stairs, attaching your drawers and bookshelves to the wall and protecting kitchen, every corner and cupboard door to make sure nothing happens.
If you want to plan ahead, which might be a good idea given you might want to prioritise a nap or other million to-dos children bring into your life, you could do some of these things while you are preparing the nursery. (Some fathers decide to act on a “has-to-happen-once-before-protecting” basis, which is not recommended.)
So here are some things to do in your house while you are at it.
1) Check the temperature. Put the cot away from radiators or direct sunlight from the windows. If this is not possible, adjust the radiators and get a blind. This will make especially daytime naps easier. You can also buy a room thermometer and a fan. Try to keep the temperature between 16-20 °C or more simply put around 18 °C (or 65 °F) as recommended by the Lullaby Trust (which provides support against sudden infant death syndrome www.lullabytrust.org.uk). Or you can get a Bluebell smart monitor (once available) which will measure the actual temperature of your baby and warn you the temperature is too high or low.
2) Install a carbon monoxide detector. You should have one anyway if you use gas or any other fossil fuel burning device. But young children are especially vulnerable to carbon monoxide poisoning.
3) Fit a smoke alarm. Again you should have one anyway. Some prefer a mains-wired system to avoid changing batteries. Fire services or insurance companies (at least in UK) offer free smoke alarms or installation.
4) Check the locks. Obviously no safety measures can compensate for supervision. Still it is worth checking the doors, windows, stairs and specific cupboards (medicines, cleaning products etc.) and fit latches, child-locks and safety gates.
5) Check for the corners and fragile items. Cover, pad or move out of reach any items that have sharp corners, e.g. coffee tables, TV stands. Also look at your house with the eyes of a small child: what fragile objects might you be able to reach and break?
So that is it, some more fatherly tasks for your to-do list (so you can say you have contributed a bit). Happy DIYing!