At some point during your pregnancy, it’s time to prep a room for your second child. Often, you have some choices to make, you can 1) have both siblings share a room, 2) have your first born move into another room, or 3) makeover an existing room into a nursery.
Since my son was five when I was pregnant with his sister, and old enough to have an opinion, I simply asked him, “Do you want to stay in your room or move into the other room (aka my former home office)? I wanted him to feel some sense of choice and control over the upcoming upheaval of his world. His response, “Well which room is bigger?” So we measured the rooms and when it was revealed that his current room was indeed the bigger room (by 2 sq. ft), he replied, “I’m staying.” But we still felt it was important to update his room to a real big boys room (removing the dreaded baby border I’ve come to despise), so thus we had two room makeovers at the same time.
1) Hire Eco-Friendly Painters that useZero-VOC or low-VOC latex (water-based) paints and stains. Outsource this one. You can do the next paint job. It’s worth the investment. You don’t want to expose yourself or your family to any potentially dangerous chemicals when renovating or repainting a room, especially if the last paint job was prior to 1980. To find a certified painter, conduct a local search online for a “certified renovator and remediator for lead-based paint” or try epa.gov.
2) Skip the Border. Use neutral color palette that can easily transition to a kids room. Borders have no purpose in this day and age other than to frustrate an already busy mother who thought it would be cute before she had kids and didn’t realize how much of a pain it would be to take down 12 months later. It’s a short term delight that will quickly turn into a regret.
3) Skip the Fancy Bedding Sets that include bumpers and pillows which are a health risk. Find colorful valences that can create the impact you desire. For my daughter I spent hours online finding the perfect bedding set. When I realized I would pay $200 for a set in which I would be scrapping the bumper, blanket, and pillows, it occurred to me, hey I really just need some nice curtains and maybe a neutral bed skirt and new sheets. Then I started shopping for curtains in department stores, found the perfect print, and it all came together for 1/5 of the price. And the curtains are still in use in her big girl room.
4) Recycle or Borrow recent baby furniture (your own or others) that passes current regulations. White, light, or dark wood furniture can work for any gender. With a little creativity, what you used to think was “boys only” or “girls only” furniture can quickly change to something spectacular. Oh how I wanted white furniture for my daughter’s nursery, but more importantly I want to send her to college. So I made my son’s baby furniture set work. Anything goes these days and there are so many great design resources online to help you. Just check for regulations and recalls at CPSC and Crib Recalls.
5) Consider the Cradle for first 2-3 months (up to 20 lbs) to buy some time if you still need the crib for your first born toddler. Use the regulations above to check for the latest updates.
6) Fit the Futon. If possible, leave space in room for a small futon; function over style will be appreciated on those sleepless nights. We had a old, rickety spare loveseat/couchbed that we considered putting in my daughter’s nursery. But it was blue and my daughter’s color palette was pink and mint green, so I was resistant to put it in the room. Eventually I found an inexpensive neutral slipcover and added the loveseat to the room, thinking I will never actually use the bed. Sure enough, I ended up sleeping on that darn couchbed for one year, as my daughter was born with a breathing problem and wanted to be as close to her as possible. I could kiss that couchbed if we still had it. Plan to spend some nights sleeping in the nursery. An air mattress or futon is always better than the floor.
7) Mark a Territory for your first born to keep some toys for the first few months so you can all be together. Give him a designated box, corner, or drawer that is completely his so he feels comfortable in the room with you and your newborn for diaper changes, feedings, and bedtime preparations.
8) Prioritize. Safety is a must-have. Design aesthetics are a nice to have. I personally chose to spend more time and money when it was time to get big girl/teen furniture that would be used for several years and so far I haven’t regretted it, nor has my daughter.
Overall, remember your child doesn’t care what the room looks like. It’s really for us. And the second time around, you just may not have the energy and that’s okay. Your children just need your unconditional love and a safe place to sleep, eat, and get changed.
If you haven’t already please check out Project Nursery who has great ideas and inspiration for designing a nursery. And below are some other helpful links.