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Designing your nursery

Designing your nursery is one of the most exciting rituals of preparing for parenthood but may seem a little daunting, especially if you are a first time parent. Where should you start? What equipment do you need? How will you get everything ready in time for your baby's arrival? A few simple decisions can make the whole process more manageable.

First of all, keep it simple. Think about what the nursery is going to be used for and the furniture that you will need to meet your requirements. Making sure that your baby has a perfect night's sleep is a priority. Babies can sleep well in a Moses basket or crib initially as they provide a secure environment.

The rocking of a crib can also help a baby to settle. Alternatively, sleeping in a cot from birth is a good economic choice and means that your baby will get used to sleeping in the same place from the start. Some cots even convert into a toddler bed, easing the transition into a larger bed.

You will need to think about storage for your baby's clothes, nappies and toys. A chest of drawers is useful in the early days when your little one's clothes are so small and look lost in a wardrobe. Changing units also provide storage and can be handy for easy access to nappies. If you are short of space consider a cot top changer that will sit on top of your cot and can be removed when not in use. Ensure there is plenty of storage space for toys - do not underestimate the amount that your baby will soon have!

The nursery should be a place to rest as well as play. Consider limiting the use of bright paint or bold wallpaper by keeping it to one wall so that your baby is not over stimulated. Create a serene and restful environment with paint or paper in neutral or muted shades. Introduce colour with soft furnishings - there are some fantastic fabrics for bedding and curtains, depicting everything from jungle animals to pretty flowers. Wall stickers or bunting can also be used to liven up the nursery.

Think about where you will feed your baby. You may wish to consider a feeding chair or glider if you intend feeding your child in the nursery at night. You will also wish to ensure soft lighting is available to create a clear separation between night and day and to minimise sleep disruption.

When designing the layout of your nursery, start with establishing the best location for the cot. To help keep your baby comfortable avoid putting the cot near a window or next to a radiator. Make sure the cot is easy to get to in the middle of the night without having to navigate round other furniture or risk tripping over something.

Finally, whilst you may feel that the nursery needs to be in a finished and perfect condition, it can be helpful to see it as a base that can be added to and adapted as you get to know your baby and watch him or her grow. With the pressure taken off, take time to enjoy your pregnancy, settle comfortably into your maternity clothes and pamper yourself whilst you have the opportunity.

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