Usually, the arrival of a new baby precipitates many new big-ticket purchases, including furniture and home furnishings – and not just for the nursery. The life changes that come along with children often include moving into a new apartment or home, with an opportunity to furnish it in a baby- and kid-friendly way. This can be very intimidating, especially when you are potentially laying out a significant amount of money, while it is very difficult to think into the future, about how your family will use these items in 6 months, 6 years, and beyond. It’s not hard to understand why some people simply do nothing, and opt to wait until their children are much older to even think about making investments in decorating their home.
Through my own network of moms, I have collected their top tips for buying furniture and furnishings, based on their real-world experience. I will be posting a second part later this week with my own perspective and advice on these same topics, which bubbled to the top from the other moms I spoke with.
This is by no means a comprehensive list (and I should add, it’s not a post about baby proofing or safety, specifically) – but it does represent the collective wisdom of real parents who have been there and done that – what could be more valuable? I have to say, I learned a lot, too!
1.) Room darkening window treatments.
“I didn’t get these but really wish I had. We had blinds and got curtains in [baby’s] room but it was not enough so we ended up hanging black garbage bags under the curtains. Definitely not classy!” -W.C.
2.) Crib usability and quality.
“Don’t buy a crib that you haven’t seen in person or be sure you understand exactly how high the front railing is. I love our crib but it is so tall that I need a step stool to get our son in and out. It’s a huge pain! If I had known, I would have gone with a different crib from the same manufacturer.” -K.D.
“I have a hand me down from a friend’s friend. But, if I were buying one I would get one low to the ground. Lifting a soon-to-be tot on the lowest setting can be a back breaker.” -M.M.
“I am glad I bought a pretty cheap crib because she has chewed it up and I would be really sad if it had been expensive or if I had been planning to use it as a full size bed frame like it says you can.” -B.B.
3.) A comfortable chair for the nursery.
“Sit in every glider, regardless of how it looks and buy the one that is most comfortable – not the one that necessarily ‘looks the best.’ Initially I wanted a cushioned arm-chair glider. At the greatest insistence from my mom, I reluctantly sat in a wooden glider…It was the most comfortable chair I’ve ever sat in. I spend so much time in that chair I can’t imagine what life would be like without it. I am so happy I listened to my mom!” -K.D.
“It can be hard to find [a rocking chair] that’s comfortable and nice looking but it’s definitely worth it. Ours is from Pottery Barn Kids and the rockers come off and has legs you can attach when they’re older and you want an arm chair instead of a rocking chair.” -W.C.
“My wish: a really nice glider and footstool for the nursery. We had an old glider, but it really wasn’t big or comfortable enough as I was learning to nurse.” -C.M.
“I adore our Dutailier rocker and ottoman. It was a gift from a friend who wished she had bought something comfortable. We used it multiple times every day up until recently when we ended the bottle feeding. It was my favorite place to feed [baby].” -C.F.
“…you absolutely live in whatever chair you have in the nursery those first few weeks (or months). Having something that you totally adore is really worthwhile. I wanted to use an old rocker we had but [my husband] convinced me to get something new and more comfortable – he was very right.” -M.D.
“I so hate my glider, it makes horrible noises when you rock. I guess I wish I would have found something higher quality…” -B.B.
“I bought the Monte Luca. Love it. Before baby I rationalized by telling myself someday I will put in in my living room. Now, I would say doubtful. Not because I do not like the glider. I love it. Have spent countless, comfortable hours nursing in it and now my daughter loves to glide in it by her big girl self. But because I can’t see it as anything but the nursing chair. Maybe it’ll end up in my bedroom some day. Regardless, my #1 furniture recommendation.” -M.M.
4.) Nursery casegoods built to last.
“I love [baby’s] Romina furniture. It is super sturdy, doesn’t seem to scuff or scratch, and the self-closing feature makes it easy to close the drawers quickly with little feet approaching (without slamming) and I can sneak in to put laundry away while she is sleeping.” -C.F.
5.) Creatures, critters, and things to touch, feel and talk to.
“Buy bedding with creatures or faces or objects that are fun to look at and will capture your child’s attention (i.e. don’t get the neutral, pastel or patterned bedding)…Our son easily spends 30-45 minutes talking to his bedding and mobile every morning. It allows me to sleep in a little later and lets him work on his verbal skills.” -K.D.
“My recommendation would be – invest in amazing rugs! We got this one for [baby’s] room. It’s soft, plush, fun for my tactile baby and you don’t realize how much time you will spend on the floor before you have a baby – I LIVE on the floor! Having a soft and comfortable rug is a must. We have a pretty plush one in the living room too and it gets much admiration during playdates.” -M.D.
“Our must is a sheepskin rug — [baby] has loved it from her early days (touching, rubbing) and now runs across it throughout the day, loving the way it feels on her feet.” -J.M.
“In the lessons learned category, [baby’s] cream colored rug has not faired well. I thought our ‘no shoes’ policy made this a no brainer. I have no idea what happened but it looks awful.” -C.F.
6.) Places to change baby.
“Since we have two floors and [baby’s] room is on the 2nd, we got a changing table for downstairs (in our family room) in addition to his nursery. We use that one way more and it was a lifesaver at the beginning when he was being changed constantly” -W.C.
“My wish – a larger changing table — ours was really small and [baby] has pretty much outgrown it.” -J.M.
“My favorite furniture piece: the slide top changing table from Bellini. It slides out to give you a big, wide surface for changing your baby so I didn’t have to change her sideways on the dresser top.” -C.M.
7.) What to do about tables in the house…
“We have round end tables and no real coffee table, plus a leather (slick) couch so we quickly realized that we needed more stuff for [baby] to pull up on when she was learning. We ended up getting her a small table for his purpose…now of course it is a moot point but I would advise looking at all living area furniture through the lens of ‘is this safe/easy to pull up on’.” -M.D.
“I would recommend (which I am in the market for) is a large ottoman- ditch the coffee table. Obviously, the safety reason most importantly, but a great tool for pulling up, cruising and practicing those early steps. No need for unattractive safety corners.” -M.M.
8. Storage solutions
“We have a padded leather storage ottoman that works great! Not only does it hide toys and clutter, but we don’t have to worry about [baby] bumping her head. Although I would love something a little nicer looking at some point when she’s past this stage…” -J.D.
“…you can never have enough storage – I like the collapsible fabric bins, they are very [baby] friendly.” -J.D.
“…an accessible place to grab books. I’ve heard the Ikea [Expedit] cubes are great and can be covered with a seating pad for a cute look.” -J.M.
Be on the lookout for Part 2 of Furniture Buying Tips From Real Moms, where this real mom (aka me) dishes on her own experience and advice for parents on creating a home that is stylish, functional and comfortable for you and your children as they grow. I will update this post with the link once that is published. Until then, I hope this is a useful starting point for thinking about your home furnishings as you plan your family!