One of the largest tasks parents face when they begin to plan for the impending arrival of a newborn is preparing the nursery. Although deciding on a color scheme and picking out baby’s first wallpaper may be a fun way to while away an afternoon on Pinterest, you will also be faced with many other less fanciful but far more important decisions, such as when exactly the room should be ready for your little one.
When deciding when your baby’s room should be complete, you should consider if gender will figure into the decor, your overall budget, any plans you may have, and whether your baby will be sleeping in the nursery from day one. In general, you should plan on having the room ready by the end of your second trimester, and by week 36 at the latest.
Read on to discover the best timeline for getting a nursery ready, which elements should be done first, which items can wait, and what the perfect time is to be “done” with your baby’s room.
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When should my baby’s nursery be ready?
Before deciding when to set up your baby’s nursery, you should consider your own situation and plans.
The best time to set up a nursery will vary depending on each family but is usually during the second trimester as that is when mom will likely have the most energy.
Many couples, especially those who may have battled infertility or experienced frequent miscarriages in the past, like to wait until they are sure the pregnancy will be viable before investing time and money into the nursery. Some parents choose to wait until after the gender of their child has been revealed, so they can plan and design a nursery around a specific theme or color.
Many families should also consider mom’s pregnancy symptoms, dad’s schedule, and the couple’s budget for a child’s nursery.
When is the best time to set up a nursery?
It is a good idea to have your nursery at least somewhat completed before the baby shower, so you have a better idea of what you have and what you still need to ask for from guests and family members. In addition, little ones can sometimes arrive early, so it is important not to wait too long.
Generally, for most families, this works out to be sometime around the end of the second trimester (week 27). This ensures that the room is ready even if your baby comes early.
If you are planning on having baby sleep in mom and dad’s room for the first several months, you have a little more leeway, but you should still plan on being done by week 36 as new parents rarely have time to work on baby’s room with a newborn around (and it’s always best to avoid exposing babies to dangerous fumes).
While planning can begin at any stage, you might not want to start putting the entire room together just yet if you are only 6 weeks pregnant. While no one likes to think about miscarriage or infant loss, it happens, and having a perfectly designed room may only just rub salt in the wound if you put it all together too early.
Throughout the first trimester, mom is likely dealing with early pregnancy symptoms like morning sickness or pain. There’s no reason to add to her load by attempting to paint a nursery, but there’s nothing wrong with spending some relaxing time picking out colors or reading crib reviews.
You also won’t know the gender of your baby yet, which can make it hard for first-time parents to plan and design a room.
This early on, it’s possible that you may not yet know if you will be moving during your pregnancy, as many couples choose to upgrade their homes at this time.
If you wait too late to begin to put the room together, you not only risk being stressed out and overwhelmed at the last minute, but you also may end up stuck with items you don’t even like. For example, if the crib you really wanted is on backorder and takes 6 weeks to arrive, but you waited until the third trimester to even begin looking at furniture, you may end up stuck with your neighbor’s old crib instead.
Mom is more likely to be exhausted, having trouble sleeping, and dealing with limited mobility or even bed rest during the third trimester. Dad may be taking on extra hours at work to save up funds for the baby or may be busy on the weekends with other projects such as installing the car seat.
To ensure that you can really enjoy this time together and soak it all in, don’t wait until the third trimester to begin planning and executing a nursery plan.
In general, the second trimester is the ideal time to work on the baby’s nursery. This “sweet spot” of pregnancy usually brings extra energy and nesting motivation for mom. By this time, any morning sickness from the first trimester has usually passed, but the exhaustion of the later weeks of pregnancy has not yet set in.
During the second trimester, you will be able to find out if you’re expecting a boy or girl (if you choose to find out) if you are having multiples, and what you expect to receive from your baby shower. Friends and family may have already begun to pass on hand-me-downs or purchase special gifts. You’ve probably browsed at least a few stores and have begun to purchase at least a few cute outfits and décor items. And if you’ve been saving, by the middle of the second trimester you should have the funds to knock it out.
Be sure to account for shipping time, the time it takes to actually assemble furniture, paint the room, and all the other aspects of planning you will be doing such as researching car seats and strollers. Remember that most work will likely be done during the weekend, and you really don’t have that many weeks left until your little one is here.
Beginning to put all the pieces together during the second trimester should ensure that your baby’s room and all the items that go with it are ready long before their actual arrival.
Timeline for getting baby’s nursery ready
Your baby’s nursery will become a fun and relaxing haven not just for your baby – but also for you! Sitting in your little one’s rocking chair, holding your belly, and reading them a bedtime story in the womb can be a fantastic way to bond with your baby before they even arrive.
Many pregnant moms love to spend hours in their child’s nursery, organizing clothes, nesting, and daydreaming about the future. Having the nursery ready can create a sense of calm and peace for parents who have been worried about getting everything done.
Although not a necessity on the same level as a car seat or diapers, a room or special space for baby is a high priority for most new parents.
So what is the timeline for your baby’s nursery and what should be done when?
Planning and dreaming can be done at any stage of pregnancy, or even before, as many Pinterest-loving moms can attest. If you are early on in your pregnancy or have been planning in advance, you may even have multiple designs planned depending on your baby’s gender and your overall mood.
This is a fun time to get the input of friends and family, browse online and in person, and fully enjoy the planning stage. This is also the time to begin considering your budget, your wish list, and your baby registry plans. You definitely want to start planning during your first trimester.
Friends and family may begin asking you early on in your pregnancy what they can help you buy, so it’s a good idea to know the basics of what you want (and don’t want) fairly early on. Grandparents in particular will probably begin buying items as soon as they hear the news.
Ideally, you would want to paint before you have begun to move in the crib and other baby furniture that will just need to be moved or covered and protected during the painting process.
To avoid this, some couples chose to paint with a gender-neutral color and accessorize the room with other pink or blue touches later on. However, it does not always work out that way. Other families prefer to wait until after the gender scan so that they can design the room with fully customized wall colors, fun accents, or decals.
If you end up creating your baby’s room “out of order” by gathering furniture before you paint, that is perfectly OK. It will just take a few extra steps to get the room ready for painting.
Usually, painting the room is a job for dad, since it is likely that mom will want to avoid exposing herself to any potentially harmful chemicals or fumes. This means that unlike other items on the list, painting the room is going to largely depend on dad’s schedule (or the family’s budget to hire professional painters). This may mean that it has to wait a while, and that is perfectly OK.
Just don’t wait too late, or you run the risk of having lingering paint fumes when you bring baby home from the hospital. Nobody wants that!
Your baby’s crib and nursery furniture will likely be among the first items you purchase. Unless you plan on selecting a pink Cinderella-themed crib, most baby furniture is gender-neutral and the rest of the room can be designed around it once you know what you are having.
If you do not plan on moving during your pregnancy and have enough funds to make such large purchases upfront, you can go ahead and begin shopping for the crib and other large furniture items during the first trimester. Making these purchases early on can help make the upcoming addition to the family feel more real and give you and the father something to bond over.
On the other hand, if you think you may be upgrading to a larger home before the baby comes, or you need to focus on other essentials first, the furniture can wait until you are a bit more settled and ready to take such a large step. Baby furniture can be expensive, large, and bulky to move.
Sometimes couples have been using the baby’s room as storage, office space, or a home gym, in which case it will take time to reorganize the home to accommodate the new addition. It is perfectly OK if you do not buy the crib and other furniture until the second or even third trimester.
Keep in mind that baby furniture can take time to order, arrive, and be assembled. Sometimes cribs can be on backorder and may take a few weeks to make it to your house. Especially with the demise of stores like Babies R Us, most nursery shopping these days is done online. Make sure you allow a few extra weeks for shipping so that you don’t fall behind.
Gender-neutral décor can be purchased at any time, even before a pregnancy is confirmed. Sometimes couples have already begun scouting for baby décor and planning the nursery long before they see the positive result on the pregnancy test.
If you will be designing your baby’s room around a specific girl or boy theme, you will want to hold off on purchasing the major design elements until at least a few weeks after the gender scan. You can also wait and see what types of décor items you receive for your baby shower, if any.
When on a budget, décor is obviously low on the priority list, although splurging on a few items can be very fulfilling for parents who are just too excited to hide it!
Although you won’t know your little one’s exact size until they arrive, it is a good idea to have a closet or dresser that is well-stocked with at least the first few months of sizes. You will want to try to get this done by the middle to end of the second trimester, in case your little one arrives early. Most parents also like to wash their baby’s clothes at least once with a gentle baby laundry detergent, so allow time for this as well.
A few packs of newborn diapers, as well as the next few sizes up, will come in handy more quickly than you think. The same thing goes with clothing, which is often outgrown before you can even get a few loads of laundry done! Your baby may be in newborn sizes for one week or may skip it altogether.
Luckily, baby shower guests are typically well versed on the sizing thing – and typically bring a variety of sizes from newborn to 6 months.
If you are on bed rest, have delivered early in the past, or your doctor has given you other reason to believe you might deliver early, don’t forget to stock a few preemie sizes.
Does the nursery need to be ready when baby comes home
Most newborns end up sleeping in the same room as mom and dad for the first few months of life anyway. In fact, some families end up never quite using their nursery as much as they intended.
While it is not necessarily a dealbreaker if the nursery is not ready by the time your little one arrives, it is still a good idea to have the basics in place. If you need to focus on other necessities first (such as a car seat, diapers, and formula), it is perfectly fine to let the nursery wait.
Whether you will be using your child’s nursery exclusively for sleep every night or it ends up as a very cute place for storage, it is still a fun rite of passage to create a room for your baby. Once the baby arrives, you likely won’t have the energy for setting up a crib or the tolerance for inhaling paint fumes while your little one is asleep in your arms.
So enjoy the nesting stage while it lasts, shop for some cute décor items, and bond together as a couple over the new addition to your family!