Monday, March 14, 2011

Preparing your Home for Babies

This is one of the really fun aspects of becoming a mommy and daddy. Preparing your home is a fun way to anticipate your coming bundles of joy. But rather than just glancing through the latest Pottery Barn Baby catalog and needing your jaw re-aligned after seeing the price tags, here are some other things to think about.
You probably have already scoped out a room or space in your home for babies. We had two bedrooms in addition to our own and chose the one that shared a common wall with us, ensuring that we would hear any beckoning calls, even if our bedroom doors got shut. It also faced west, so it would be getting evening sun, instead of morning sun – which as night owls, was a significant factor for us! You might also consider other environmental factors like noise - the sump pump right below a room that runs 3 times a day in spring, or the neighbor's loud motorcycle that he revs at 6 am every nice summer morning, or how that corner room doesn't stay very warm in winter.
The problem we faced is that the best location was the smallest room and we weren’t sure how everything was going to fit! Two cribs, a dresser, changing table, nursing chair, clothes hamper, diaper pail, lamp, and toys…all in 10 x 13 foot room!  For that, Mr. Geek (DH) made a diagram on graph paper and actually cut out little models of all the furniture we had to fit! It actually worked out quite well.
We decided that though we would have 2 cribs, we would only set one up at first; it gave the room a little more ‘breathing space’.  For our younger twins, we did use a crib separator (essentially 6 inch square strip of foam covered in cloth) which helped keep them from kicking one another for a little longer, maybe an extra month is all. They slept together in the one crib until around 5 or 6 months before they began to roll all over one another despite my best efforts.
We forwent a changing table in favor of a dresser, because we needed the clothing storage space and because the dresser doubles as a changing table by just putting the contoured changing pad on top of it. We hung wall-mounted baskets above it to house diapers, wipes, creams and other supplies. Instead of a diaper Genie or similar expensive diaper disposal system, we opted for a plain foot-pedal operated can. I found that the diaper disposal systems often required 2 hands to operate (something I don't usually have - especially while changing a diaper) and that they required specially-designed refill bags that are not cheap. And with 2 babies, we figured we would be emptying the can often enough to keep the smell at bay. Sure it smells when you open it, but only for a millisecond, not enough to permeate the room!
We also hung a battery-operated ‘tap light’ next to the changing area. This was great because it cut down the need to turn on the bright lamp in the middle of the night, which can of course signal to an infant is that it is morning and time to wake up! I recommend putting the light to the right of the changing tale (if you are right handed) so that it shines toward babies’ bottom and not in her eyes!
Also handy were a set of TV trays which were small enough to fit in most any cranny and provide flat space for wipes and supplies, Kleenex and reading material next to my nursing chair.
We bought a clothing hamper for the room and a nice floor lamp (since there were no overhead lights in the room, it needed that anyway). I also got a mesh lingerie wash bag to hang on a corner of the hamper for baby sox and mitts. It helps keep all the pairs together!
In the closet, we assembled a cube storage system of metal mesh panels that I had from my college days. It was perfect for tucking boxes and baskets of toys, books, shoes, socks and other clothing and supplies. You could also use something like this – which would be useful outside the closet when baby gets older.
Though our living room and hall floors were laminate, the bedroom was carpeted, so baby would have plenty of soft, snugly area for playtime. But if your home is wall-to-wall hard wood floor or tile, you might consider ‘softening’ it up a bit. These large foam floor tiles
can be arranged wall to wall for a pretty reasonable price. You can either leave them visible (these have a nice natural wood appearance), or buy a carpet remnant from your local home improvement store to lie on top. Just line the remnant up with one wall and cut it to size along the walls or edge of furniture and it will look just like wall to wall carpeting!
For seating, we had a stuffed chair which was not too large and the perfect height for my short legs. The pattern was outdated and overbearing for a nursery, so I picked out some fabric and asked a friend make a cover for it. This was also great because the cover can easily be removed and thrown in the washing machine - which is priceless when your kid has the stomach flu! I also got a nursing stool, which was really helpful because having it under my feet raised up my knees so they were about the right height for supporting the babies’ heads on a boppy, enabling me to tandem nurse in football hold. Without the nursing stool, tandem nursing would have been quite difficult. Making a cover for the chair and buying a nursing stool was much less expensive than buying a rocker or glider…especially a Pottery Barn one!
For the one window in the room, we bought a blackout roller shade. Anything to help babies sleep during daylight hours.
Some people choose to get a co-sleeper or bassinet to place in their own bedroom. I did debate on doing this, but the babies’ room was so close to our own I decided it wasn’t necessary and that they could sleep in the pack ‘n play in our room any time I wanted. For our second set of twins though, I did end up buying a guard rail for the edge of my bed, deciding that if I wanted them close to me, I would just bring them to bed with me – which worked very well for us, in fact I wish I had done it with my first set of twins as we would have gotten much more sleep! For more on sleeping arrangements, check out this post.
I think in total, we spent less than $1000 for furniture and everything in the nursery, which we thought was pretty good for a nicely furnished room. We did have help though because the bedding and several decorations were given as gifts and we were really fortunate to find matching cribs being sold as floor models at a local children’s furnishing store that was going out of business.
You could always buy used and find other ways of saving money too. Mothers of multiples clubs often have huge sales of their members’ baby items that can be tremendously helpful (and are very helpful even if you don't plan on buying used!). If you are interested in saving money, do your best to find similar bargains locally and online with websites like Craigslist or ebay local.


  1. Thanks for the information on preparation of baby room.. Your post is a great help to me as I was confused what to do first.. I have gathered a huge knowledge and definitely follow the instructions.. You solved a great problem..
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  2. It's such fun planning the nursery but boy, it can get expensive. Start early and look everywhere--bargains are out there!

  3. Hi,
    Thank you for sharing your experiences. I am Frank, and I am going to be a father in about 3 months. I am reading books, planning on all requirements of the baby.. Thanks :)

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