It's probably best to childproof your home well in advance of your newborn's arrival on the scene, at which point life will become infinitely more chaotic. But every expectant mom knows it's more fun to browse cute baby clothes, cozy cribs and pretty color schemes than worry about dull issues such as childproofing the newbie's nursery. However, before you go ahead and buy any shiny new furniture, it's a good idea to bear in mind factors such as home safety, storage, accessibility and hygiene.
Choose furniture that has round edges and well-secured seams, and avoid items that are painted with lead-based paint. Furniture upcycler Cristin Frank, of the Eve of Reduction website, recommends covering items such as sharp-edged table tops with batting and a piece of beautiful printed cotton to make a soft but hard-wearing surface. You should bolt any heavy items of furniture, such as freestanding bookcases, to the wall so they won't tip once your child starts to pull himself to a standing position.
Choose a crib that has stationary sides. "Dangerous drop-side cribs stopped being sold and manufactured in June 2011, but some are still available second-hand," says Sandra Gordon, author of "Save a Bundle: 50+ Ways to Save Big on Baby Gear." Choose a high chair that has a three- or five-point safety harness, and never use the tray instead of the harness as a restraint, advises Gordon.
Choose sturdy storage options for items like clothes, toys and books that are crafted by reputable brands and made from good quality, natural materials like wood. "Instead of buying plastic bins, which are not good for the environment, create storage cubbies with natural woven baskets or wood, or save cardboard boxes of all sizes and shapes and have the kids decorate them and use for storing toys," suggests Anna Kasabian, author of "Kids' Rooms: A Hands-On Decorating Guide."
Take measurements of spaces such as alcoves for when you go shopping so you can choose furniture like chests or bookcases that will fit perfectly in the room, thus freeing up more space for your little one as he grows.
A wall-mounted television stand will keep the TV out of your child's reach. Some soft furnishings, like window shades, that have string attachments should also be placed high up and out of children's reach.
The best baby-changing table is one that is at the correct height for you to comfortably change your baby without leaning or stretching so that you avoid problems like backache. Choose a changing table that keeps items like diapers and wet wipes out of your baby's reach, but lets you easily access them while constantly supervising your baby.
A convertible crib is one that converts into a toddler-sized bed with a safety rail and helps your toddler make a smooth transition from crib to bed. A longer-term investment is a four-in-one convertible crib that you can adjust as your child becomes old enough to access a toddler-sized bed, followed by a child-sized bed and eventually a full-sized bed.
Protect wooden furniture and wooden flooring from marks and scratches by painting on a nontoxic and water-based wood sealant. For extra protection, cover tabletops with oilcloth for an easy-to-wipe-clean surface. When choosing mealtime furniture, such as a high chair or a dining table and chairs, Gordon recommends items that have a "minimal amount of seams or grooves in the molding, as these are gunk magnets."