As a mother and devotee of family-oriented design, I probably look at dozens of photographs of nurseries online every single day – whether I’m shopping for my own child’s room, or just surfing great design sites and blogs. There is so much creativity out there, and it can be very inspiring. Before my child was born, I spent countless hours on these sites trying to pull together the elements of my son’s nursery. At the same time, I was doing tons of research on caring for infants, parenting, etc. – as a first-time mom, I really wanted to get it right and be super prepared when my son arrived.
These are some pictures that are relatively typical of what I found (note: the photos below are a mix of ‘selling’ images, and ‘design’ images).
Photo sources: 1, 2, 3. Project Nursery. 4. Pinterest via Justine Blakeney. 5. Dwell Studios. 6, 7. Apartment Therapy, 8. CoCaLo (babiesrus.com).
Just in these 8 pictures (which I did not search too hard for – most were already familiar to me), there are countless safety hazards for young infants. Allow me to enumerate them:
- Quilts, pillows, toys, and other objects inside the crib (SIDS prevention no-no)
- Missing crib front (yikes!)
- Strangulation risk from pennant buntings hung ON the crib. Sadly, babies are actually sleeping in these cribs, these were not staged…
- Potentially dangerous objects placed on display ledges directly above crib (Isn’t there a better place to put these? I hope they do not live in an area prone to earthquakes). Again, this one is a real nursery…
- Crib bumpers everywhere you look (AAP strongly recommends against, another SIDS prevention measure)
- A child sitting up in a crib in which the mattress should be lower (he looks as though he might topple out if he leans forward)
- An appallingly unsafe crib made of some sort of wicker or jute. I have no doubt my little mini me could squirt his way between those ‘slats’ and straight out of the crib, to say nothing of it’s overall construction, which I’m sure is not terribly sturdy. This one is just plain illegal in the U.S.
Granted, most people see these things and realize that they are, in most cases, staged – meaning, someone did these things specifically for the purposes of creating a beautiful photograph. The stuffed animals are there just for show, they don’t really sleep with baby. Or showcasing items for sale, in the case of the commercial images.
I have resisted joining others in making critical comments on these blogs and other sites, because I believe what my mother used to tell me – that if you haven’t anything nice to say, you shouldn’t say anything at all. However, to me, this is different because for that certain percentage of parents-to-be that do not do their homework, or have access to the best information about keeping their babies safe, these photos can be downright dangerous. They don’t come with warning labels, like cigarettes and alcohol – they are just presented.
So here I am, on my own turf, taking a stand against these and other staged nursery photographs. For those blogs and sites with editorial staff charged with screening and publishing user-submitted content, I urge you to educate yourself on current AAP recommendations, crib guidelines, and good old fashioned common sense – and prevent those images that don’t conform from being published on your site. That would really make a big difference – and maybe even save a life. Isn’t it worth it?
And to the government (Consumer Product Safety Commission), which does regulate cribs, why not expand your scope to cover the visual merchandising of things like bedding and other nursery accessories by companies in the United States? Why risk people purchasing or creating something that is “cute” that unwittingly puts their innocent child in peril, or worse?
Lastly, to all of the amateur and professional photographers out there – I challenge you to be creative and devise ways of showcasing a beautiful nursery that also connote safety. Be inventive with lighting and compositions. I personally don’t think anything is lost from a picture by removing a bunch of stuffed animals from a crib.Who will join me? Contrarian opinions are welcome here, too!