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When you’re putting together your baby’s nursery, it’s easy to get caught up in “cute but soothing.” Most nurseries feature pictures of cartoon characters or baby animals, pastel colors and soft surfaces. While it’s true that you want the room to be a safe and beautiful (but still functional) place, it’s important to understand that your baby will be doing more in the nursery than sleeping.

Your baby’s nursery is for more than just naps and bedtimes. Your baby will likely spend as much awake time in that nursery as she does asleep so why not create an environment that does just as much to stimulate her growth as it does to soothe her (and you) to sleep?

Furniture Arrangement

There’s no need to wait until your baby is out of her crib to think about “feng shui”-ing the space. Granted, the feng shui of your baby’s nursery is going to have more to do with function than it will with form, but there are still a few things to consider:

Keep the diaper supplies near the changing table—preferably right next to or under it. Most changing tables these days have built-in cupboards and drawers, so make sure they’re fully stocked. The last thing you need is to have taken off a soiled diaper only to find that the closest clean one is clear across the house.

The crib should not be near the window. You might like the idea of your baby being able to look out at the stars but windows are noisy and they leech air (even if you have good ones), and that can get in the way of a restful night’s sleep. More importantly, should the window break for some reason, you don’t want glass raining down on your infant.

Always Something to See

Babies take in stimulation from all of their sources, but when they are newborns their sight is the sense that needs the most help. It takes babies a while to develop the ability to properly see the pastel shades that you’ve used in the nursery. A newborn retina, for example, can only distinguish between very light and dark shades. This is why black and white toys and stimuli are such great ideas for your baby’s nursery. A mobile featuring only a few very bold/bright primary shades will help your baby’s eyesight develop far better than a sea of pastels.

Maternity listen music to hear babyDig Those Groovy Tunes, Baby

Before the baby is born, most parents have very lofty ideas about what type of exposure they will allow their babies to have. How many times have you thought “I will only allow my baby to listen to classical music. It’s brain food and rock and roll is just candy,”?  It’s true that listening to classical music can be soothing to both you and your baby, but it doesn’t actually make either of your smarter.

According to PBS, the best thing you can do for your baby’s auditory senses is to give her a variety of music to enjoy. The best music is music that changes its sound a lot. This is where the myth that classical music is best, because classical and orchestral music often changes drastically between movements. But really, the more variety the better.

It’s also important to know that, according to that same PBS article, we teach our children to enjoy music not just through listening but through vocalization and movement, so don’t be afraid to dance around with your baby!

Just a Touch

Parents tend to gravitate toward the softest and gentlest materials for their baby’s nursery. It’s easy to understand why: babies lack the gross motor skills required to keep from accidentally bashing themselves on the face with their toys. It’s understandable that if they’re going to be flinging something around, it ought to be soft. It’s important, though, that your baby encounter a variety of textures. While the crib mattress and blankets ought to be soft, it’s okay to put a few things in the crib that are nubby or ribbed in texture.

Variety is the Spice of Life

What it all boils down to is variety. You want your baby to be exposed to everything, so make sure your nursery isn’t too mono-sensory. Yes, you’re hoping the environment will soothe her to sleep but you don’t want to dull her senses when she’s awake and in needing of stimulation, do you? Remember: if something doesn’t work, you can always change it!