Q&A about nursery furniture with John Lewis
Designing a room for your new baby and deciding what to buy for it can be a daunting task. Luckily, Mumsnetters had the unique opportunity to put their niggling questions to a John Lewis nursery expert
As well as having 22 years-worth of experience within the nursery industry, including six years at John Lewis, nursery expert Deborah Glen is also a grandmother to two little boys - so she has bucket loads of both personal and professional knowledge to share. See what advice she has to offer in response to Mumsnetters' questions below.
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We're squeezed for space and any potential new baby would eventually have to share with my son, who'd be about five by then, all things going to plan. What's the best way to ensure each child has their own space when sharing is inevitable? And how do we 'sell' sharing to my son as a positive thing rather than baby being seen as a usurper? (TornNotTorn)
Deborah Glen: I come from a very large family and the key is to make sure everyone has a space - no matter how big or small - to call their very own. When I was younger I had to share a room with three other siblings. My dad's solution was to divide the room into four by using carpet squares as boundaries. It was really fun and actually helped us learn how to share and have our own space at the same time. My top tip would be to make the base of the room neutral, and then each child can add their own splash of colour and make their creative mark as they get older. You could include your older child by asking them which colours they think would work best for the new arrival, helping build excitement about a new sibling.Similarly, there are books which help the older child prepare and come to terms with things. One example is ’Baby and Me,’ by Emma Dodd - I found this very helpful!
I'm expecting twins so spare space in our nursery has suddenly got a lot smaller (as we're fitting in two cots rather than just the one). Any space-saving tips for the rest of the furniture we'll need would be great, along with any other twin-specific suggestions. (WhatWillGeorgeDo)
Deborah Glen: Keeping furniture closer together will give the appearance of a larger room and take up less unnecessary space. Having storage units under the cots will also save space and keep the room tidy, as unused items can be easily stored away. I would recommend getting two of the Orthex SmartStore Classic 35 Storage Box (31L) to go underneath the cots. They will not only store all your essentials, but are also super-usefully see-through, so you will be able to see, at a glance, what's inside.
I'm having to put my second child, who is arriving in January, in our tiniest box room. We're just about able to fit a cot in there but I need some storage and would love a nursing chair. Do you have any recommendations for compact storage / places to change and feed baby? (Ntinyn)
Deborah Glen: There is a really great range called Stompa which have excellent storage solutions - they are sturdy, long-lasting and pass all British safety and quality standards. There are so many options to choose from, including under-bed storage, if you are lacking space. Most pieces of furniture also come in a whole array of different colour options, so you can make it even more personal for your child. For your nursing chair, my favourite is the Kub Haywood Glider Nursing Chair and Footstool, which comes in two different designs.
What would you say are the five 'must-haves' for a nursery? Not gimmicky or fashionable, but practical, useful and still nice to look at. (WelshGirlSeeksMarmite)
Deborah Glen: My children are all grown up now, but there are a few things that I could not, or would not have been able to live without. The very first piece of nursery furniture I ever bought was a dresser, as this saved my back from the continuous nappy changes and bending down. The John Lewis changing unit has space for storage boxes, so that you have all your items to hand. What's more, the best bit is that the unit can then become a piece of furniture for the child to display their favourite toys on. The next thing I recommend is choosing a cot bed and wardrobe with adjustable shelves, so that the furniture can grow with your family. It is also essential to have a comfortable chair and a box to tidy away toys. Alternatively, the Martha Sleigh cot and the Silver Cross Canterbury both have a draw underneath to store all your essentials.
Is there any particular advantages of a nursing chair over a comfy arm chair? I’m hoping the latter might have more life for snuggling and reading books with toddlers, and then as comfy chair in an older child’s room. (waitingforwombat)
Deborah Glen: I find that, as long as the chair has either a gliding or a rocking motion, it will be suitable to use as a nursing chair - it allows parents to have a special moment with your child while you are feeding. A couple of options available from John Lewis Are the Kub Haywood glider chair with foot stool and the Olli Ella Mo-Ma gliding nursing chair.
Is there guidance on what is better for the baby in terms of décor and things to see? For example, can a baby become overwhelmed if there is too much detail/colour or too many objects/toys in a room? (kateandme)
Deborah Glen: What I like to do is change and move things like toys around as it helps to keep little ones interested in different objects. Anything that can help stimulate the child will aid their development. I always buy wooden toys for durability, or the Lamaze range of toys is great. I think the best item Lamaze has is the Octotunes Octopus as it smells lush and you can teach babies tunes with it too. Vtech has a range of noisy toys which my grandson loves - and a happy child is a happy parent.
I'm looking for some easy ways to add a bit of character to my daughter's nursery, which is a bit of a mismatch of furniture and smaller than I'd like. Is there anything I can do to pull it together a bit without having to buy too much? (AbsolutelyIDo)
Deborah Glen: When you have a mismatch of furniture, or even bits that have been handed down through the family, you can cover the fronts with coordinating material to give them a new look. Also, you can choose characters to add detail - small items here and there will make a difference to the room. I have always liked stamping my own mark onto things – for a small amount of money you can get a roll of wallpaper or even fabric to brighten up a chest or a wardrobe. I would recommend any of these from the Little Home range at John Lewis: Multi Stars furnishing fabric, Little Fairy furnishing fabric, Sanderson Alphabet Zoo wallpaper, or Neapolitan they would all look great for either a boy or girl.
We have a small room and a big room to use for our children. Our first child is currently in the smallest room and baby number two is on the way. Should we decorate the larger room as a nursery for the new arrival, as a toddler room for our oldest or as a playroom (and have both sleeping in the larger room)? (smileyfacehalo)
Deborah Glen: It is nice to decorate the babies' rooms in styles that they can grow into and also grow with them. I think when they are younger it's great to have individual space, as they would disturb each other, but sharing should be fine as they grow up. The Little Home range at John Lewis has many options to help you choose and samples can be ordered to assist you further. Stompa is a popular brand, when looking at having two young children sleeping in the same room. One of the best features of the beds is that they have solid slats and many of the bunk beds can be split into single beds, so the room can be reorganised as your children grow up.
My husband wants a really child-centred nursery. I think, for the first 12 months at least, the person spending the most time in there will be me, so it would be nice to decorate it how I like and then redecorate when our child starts to have their own preferences - am I completely wrong? (FenellaMaxwell)
Deborah Glen: A compromise would be to focus on one part of the room. When my son was younger, I decorated just one wall in a nursery theme and kept the rest easy on my eyes. This then changed as he grew and developed tastes, such as toy themes, relevant to the age he was. This is also a way to keep costs down, as you are only redecorating one wall each time. John Lewis has a range from Little Home that has options which allow you to take key pieces from themes like the sea, robots, butterflies and the moon. The jungle theme is my grandson’s favourite at the moment.
I have a seven-month-old girl, ready to go into her own room. I'd like to stay away from pink as so many girls’ things are pink. What colours would you recommend? (Singbluesilver)
Deborah Glen: The colours which could suit are yellows, mauves and pale blues. If you find a theme that you want to go with, normally that will grow with them until they find their own style. There are many examples of colour options in the Little Home range at John Lewis or on the website.
How do you know which furniture needs to be secured to the wall to prevent it tipping onto a toddler? I know that tall chests of drawers do, but what about bedside drawer units, wardrobes or bunkbeds? (sianihedgehog)
Deborah Glen: Any furniture that moves when you open the bottom drawers should be secured to the wall with either a strap or a bracket. I would also secure every bunk bed as the little ones will be up and down all the time. Bedside cupboards are always on the move so make sure they are secured. You should also make sure that the bedside cupboard is a short distance away so that your child does not bump their heads on the sides. You will see that a lot of nursery furniture already have the straps attached and ready to go. They are very easy to install. If you have any more queries or doubts just pop into your local store.
Like others, I'm confused about cot bumpers. Are they actually dangerous or are people being overly cautious? (CordeliaScott)
Deborah Glen: As long as you are cautious and know how to use them properly, it should be fine. When your child starts to be able to sit and move about you should lower the side to a lower level. You should remove the bumper altogether when the child is able to stand inside the cot (as it can be used as a wedge to climb out). There is a very fine air wrap bumper that I mentioned above which, if used, stops their limbs being caught in the sides of the cot.
When looking for ideas online, I see lots of nurseries with pictures and other bits above the cot. I'm worried about them falling off the wall onto the baby - am I mad or is that possible? (user1463652193)
Deborah Glen: If you are worried about items falling onto your child, make sure that they are well secured and out of reach. As children get more active and interested in their surroundings, they will start to stand and grab for things. You can help prevent accidents by making sure items are not directly above their heads and are a good distance away.Even a cot mobile should be removed once the child gets active, as they could pull this onto themselves. When my son was younger I had drapes around the cot but once he was active I removed them and replaced them with other interesting items around the room. If you are really worried, you can use child-friendly paint around the room to create interest, rather than hanging things. The Little Greene Company, which is part of the Sanderson's Group, is available on the John Lewis website and is great for this very purpose.
How can I design my nursery to encourage daytime naps? Are blackout products necessary and do they really work? (YesYABU)
Deborah Glen: Daytime naps are great for babies (and you!). There are a few things you can do: remove any noisy toys as these will distract your little one, invest in some blackout blinds/lined curtains with blackout material and create a calming atmosphere with a light projector and soothing music.
What is the best bed/bedding to use to reduce the risk of SIDS? (CurlsLDN)
Deborah Glen: As recommended by FSID, the safest place for your little one to sleep is in the ‘foot to foot’ position, which means keeping their feet to the bottom end of the cot. The bedding should be no higher than the shoulders and bumpers should only be used for the first six months (once they are able to move around then they should be removed). If you are choosing to use a cot then an Angelcare monitor can be used to help put your mind at rest. There is also a very fine air wrap bumper that stops a baby's limbs being caught in the sides of the cot. The benefit of this is that you are still able to see your little one and the air can flow straight through it. I have used this for both my grandsons and found it oh-so-useful. The bumper would go around the top of the cot or cot bed, in either the highest position or on the second highest. Once your child is able to stand and the base is moved right down to the lowest level then the bumper should be removed.
How far away from a radiator should a Moses basket on a stand be? I want to put it next to the bed but have not got much space and a radiator is on the wall to the side of the bed at a right angle. (poopoopoo)
Deborah Glen: As the child is only in the basket until they weigh 9kg, I would suggest reorganising the room so that the basket is as far away from the radiator as possible. As a temporary measure, you could even remove a bedside unit on one side of the bed, just until the child outgrows it. I would also turn the radiator down to its lowest setting, so that it won’t be a hazard to the child.
We live in a really old draughty house which gets ice on the inside of the windows in winter! What's the best bedding to use to keep my baby warm, and how do we know if he/she is getting too hot? (CocklesandMussels)
Deborah Glen: There is a Grobag range of bedding which is 100% cotton with different tog ratings, from ½ tog to 3.5 tog, which can be used all year round. In order to keep your baby warm, it's best to use layers which can easily be removed if they get too hot. It is also worth looking at John Lewis' range of grow bags as you will not need as many blankets. This means your child is less likely to wake up, too, as they cannot kick the covers off themselves. The Angelcare Video with movement and sound monitor AC1100 will be able to show you the temperature of the room, or you could get a Braun No Touch Plus forehead baby thermometer, which shows you the baby's temperature very easily.
When cot beds are turned into beds what age will they be suitable up to? (Ihatechoosingnames)
Deborah Glen: Cot beds become toddler beds once your child gets very active and tries to climb over the sides (I have found through my own experience that this tends to be around two years old). They will then last until your child is approximately six years old, so it is worth investing in a good quality mattress to see them through. There is a selection on the John Lewis website to help you decide which one you like best. The one which I would recommend is the pocket spring mattress - it is firm and supportive with individual springs housed in separate fabric pockets. The springs work independently to offer support for your little one where needed.
Where do people change older babies? Most of the changing tables I've looked at are suitable up to a year or so, but clearly potty training is a long time after that! (pestov)
Deborah Glen: When they get a bit more active, you can use a changing mat on a bed or the floor. I have always kept a changing mat both upstairs and downstairs in the house as you never know when you are going to need one! The current bestsellers from John Lewis are the blue star and the floral mats - both come with a liner but you are able to purchase more should you need them.
How can I plan my baby's nursery so that it is suitable for him as a young baby but also adaptable for his changing needs as he grows and becomes a toddler? (Zephyroux1)
Deborah Glen: If you choose items that are part of a matching set, they can grow with him. A wardrobe that has more than one rail, or shelves that can be removed as he grows are invaluable. Also, a baby changing unit that has removable sides so that it can look like a chest of drawers. I think that the Silver Cross range of bedroom furniture in the Canterbury design is the most adaptable and will grow well with your child.
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Last updated: 5 months ago