From choosing a name to attending birthing classes and stocking a nursery, impending parenthood can be overwhelming. Getting the nursery in order before the baby arrives is a good way to relieve at least one of the big stressors in the lives of new parents.
But this process can also be overwhelming. Parents may feel frustrated by the mountains of information, furniture, gear and clothing that make up the $4 billion baby products industry. Start with the basics - crib, changing table, storage solutions and a few other essentials, advises Peter Fougerousse, father of three and principal of Rosenberry Rooms, an online retailer that specializes in furniture and accessories for children and infants.
"Start by determining your budget and take care of the basics first," says Fougerousse. "Then, you'll know exactly how much you have left to spend on the extras."
Here's what every well-equipped nursery should have, and what parents should keep in mind when shopping:
* Crib - Function and style should be your key considerations when choosing a crib. How will you use this crib? For one child only? Or will this baby's future siblings be using the same crib? Most cribs offer adjustable mattress heights and a movable side rail for easy access. But some don't. How important are these features to you? Do you want a style that can also convert into a toddler, twin or even full bed?
The crib is the focal point of the nursery, so choose a style that you can build your dÃ©cor around. Wood and iron are the two main options. Wood cribs really only go with other wood pieces. An iron crib can be paired with either iron or wood pieces. When buying bedding, stick with the same guidelines of style and function that best suit your needs.
Finally, be sure whatever crib you buy meets all child safety laws and guidelines.
* Changing table with pad - It's essential to have a safe, convenient place for changing your baby. Most modern changing tables can be purchased as a set with a coordinating crib. Open changers feature shelves for storage and decorating accents, and provide the classic changing table look. A dresser/changing table is essentially a dresser fit with a changing station on top. This style provides enclosed storage and the ability to use the piece as a dresser only, once your child is out of diapers.
* Storage solutions - Boxes and baskets are easy, decorative ways to address storage issues. Decorative boxes conceal the contents for a clean appearance and can add dimension and character to a room. Baskets can easily store on the open shelving of a changer to hold baby essentials. A large basket in the living room can hide toys and books. A basket under the bathroom sink keeps all baby's bathing essentials and toys tucked away when not needed.
* Other essentials - Considering how many sleepless nights are in your future as a new parent, having a comfortable rocking chair in the nursery will be a life-saver. From basic, high-backed rockers to plushly cushioned gliders, you can find a chair that fits your dÃ©cor and provides the comfort you need. A good baby monitor is also a nursery must - for the parents' peace of mind and baby's safety.