Designing a nursery room can be an exciting time for new parents, and the options for fun and stylish rooms are endless. Most parents will be focused on color, furniture layout and choosing just the right personal touches. Safety can play second fiddle, so when you’re in the throes of design excitement, here are a few things to keep in mind.
It can be fun to refurbish old, antique furniture for a baby’s room. Maybe you’ve got some pieces that have been handed down and hold personal value, but they may simply not be the safest option for your new little family member. Safety standards have changed and antiques or retro cribs and furniture aren’t likely going to make the cut. Crib slat spacing and hook-on mattress supports may pose an entrapment hazard, bassinet sides may not meet current height requirements, and even the paint may be a cause for concern due to lead content. It’s not just changing safety standards, some products that were popular in your childhood may even be banned as is the case with walkers. Don’t despair – sometimes pieces can be salvaged and brought up to code with some changes. Just do your research and plan accordingly. Also keep in mind that, while extra pillows and comforters look cute, they can present their own safety hazards for babies and young children. Keep your design simple and hold off on bedding frills at least for the first year.
Window dressings can be just the thing that ties a nursery together, but sometimes blinds can present us with another set of safety challenges. Numerous deaths could have been prevented if cords had been properly set out of reach, or sometimes avoided all together (cordless valances, shades, or curtains are great options). Furniture placement can also be detrimental. If located too close to a window, furniture can present an opportunity for a young child to climb, and screens won’t provide any type of failsafe. It’s best to keep windows clear of any furniture or toy bins.
Heavy furniture should be bolted to the wall even if your child doesn’t show signs (yet!) of being an industrious climber. Even a light bookshelf, when loaded with stories or decor, can present enough of a danger that it’s best to make sure there’s no risk of having it fall over. And it’s not just bookshelves that pose a tipping hazard; any chest, dresser or storage unit over 30 inches tall should be secured to the wall. Most new furniture includes anti-tip straps and many hardware stores carry lines of straps, bolts and plates with exactly this type of use in mind.
Outlet plugs are a must, and it’s best to tape rugs to the floor to prevent slips and falls. Keep change table necessities well out of reach (oils, powders, creams); cosmetics and personal care products are the most common forms of poisons ingested by children under age 6. When looking for wall decor, search for pictures that are lightweight and not easily breakable. It’s a great idea to hang simple, frameless pictures or prints on canvas and avoid dangers of heavy falling items or glass breakage.
Your baby’s nursery can certainly be the gem of the household. A bit of forethought will ensure a safe and stylish room in which to share time with your child.