How to Choose Baby Bedroom Furniture

Aside from the crib, your baby will need several other pieces of furniture for their bedroom.

Changing Tables

Changing tables provide a safe place to diaper and dress your baby. However, if you don't want to spend the money, an alternative will do.

To be functional, a changing table should be at a height comfortable for you to handle the baby without having to lean over. It should have a waterproof pad and enough space for open storage of shirts and diapers, or you'll waste time gathering needed items for each change.

A changing table is a safe, stable place to change your baby's diaper.

A changing table is a safe, stable place to change your baby's diaper.

It should have a safety belt that is wide and easy to use (but not so easy that the baby can release it). Never use the table without using the safety belt-it takes only a few seconds for the baby to fall when your back is turned. However, never assume a belted baby is safe left unattended.

Commercially available changing tables usually have a long, slender, padded area for changing and an area of open shelves underneath for storage. Most of these changing tables fold for storage.

When buying a changing table, look for one that has high sides around the changing area to prevent your baby from rolling out. The covering on the foam pad should be of thick, smooth vinyl, which makes it easier to clean. Make sure the table is sturdy and doesn't wobble or tip over easily. Many parents find it extremely frustrating to assemble these tables and get the legs balanced, so we suggest you purchase one preassembled.

Look for shelves that are spacious and open or easy to access; many popular models have small, narrow, half-open boxes for shelves, which can be very hard to use. Look for a model that features stable side shelves for holding washcloths and other items. Attachable side pails for soiled items are also very useful.

A changing table is useful only for about the first two years, so if you're on a tight budget you may want an alternative. You can use a wide table or even the padded top of a dresser instead. You can buy a special top that secures to a dresser to convert it to a changing table. But if you're going to use the top of a dresser, don't put your baby's accessories in the dresser -- it's dangerous to rummage through drawers to find items while holding the baby steady on the table with one hand.

You will want some sort of an open-shelf system nearby instead. Some parents construct a wall-to-wall shelf in a closet at the appropriate height and top it with a vinyl-covered pad; you might also use a portable crib raised to its highest position.

When using a changing table, keep diapers handy and ready for use. If you use cloth diapers, keep all pins closed and out of baby's reach. Have a container of water handy. Baby wipes -- or toilet paper attached to the wall -- and a wastebasket nearby makes the arrangement even more workable.

Drawers and Shelves

What you use for drawers and shelves is up to you. Lots of nice baby chests are available. Don't feel you have to buy one; having one is largely a matter of taste and budget. If you've already opted to buy a changing table, it may have enough space in the shelves underneath, and you won't need additional storage. If not, consider purchasing a used baby chest or a used dresser that you can refinish for your baby's room.

If you buy a new chest, shop as you would for any other piece of furniture. Look at the workmanship inside and out. Are you planning to have a large family? If so, you may want to invest in a high-quality chest to use for each infant. If you're not planning a big family, will you want to use the chest as the child gets older? If so, you may want to buy something that will eventually look good in an older child's room.

If you use a chest of drawers, install safety latches so a small child can't pull the drawers out and have them fall on her. Also, once your baby is walking, be sure you don't leave items, such as pins, on top of the dresser that your child could reach or pull down on herself.

Bassinets

Here are some general guidelines to keep in mind when you choose a bassinet:
  • Make sure it's stable and not shaky.

  • Make sure it has no sharp edges.

  • Check for any hinges or clips that could catch your baby's fingers.
Since many bassinets are wicker or rattan, you want to be sure it has no sharp or rough areas that could scratch your baby; adding a bumper pad to the inside may help. If the bassinet folds up, make sure the legs have an effective locking mechanism so they don't accidentally fold when the bassinet is in use. Also, periodically ensure that all screws and bolts are tight.

Remember that a bassinet's usefulness is limited because your baby will quickly outgrow it. If you must watch your budget, you probably will not wish to buy a bassinet.

Rocking Chairs

Some mothers could not do without a rocking chair; others couldn't care less about them. Again, it's a matter of personal choice, taste, and budget. You can buy one new or used. If the chair will be in the baby's room, you'll probably want a style that fits in well with the decor and other pieces of furniture.

The major consideration if you buy a rocking chair is comfort. Will it be a comfortable place for you to nurse? You'll probably want one with an armrest for support when you hold your baby.

A drawback to having the rocking chair in your child's room is that once he can crawl, he might get caught in the frame or push the chair and get hit in the head by it. He may also put his tiny fingers under the rocker while the chair is moving. For this reason, you should remove the rocking chair from his room once he is crawling and walking, or you can make special stops that prevent the chair from rocking all the way forward or backward.

Cradles

Cradles have a romantic aura, perhaps because they're historically associated with mothers and babies. Their gentle rocking motion can lull a baby to sleep.

If you buy a cradle, or if you inherit one, look for the following safety features: The slats should be no more than 2 3/8 inches apart, like crib slats. Cradles are commonly suspended by means of hooks, which sometimes stick out and can injure your baby as you put her in or take her out of the cradle.

Make sure the hooks don't protrude. A locking mechanism is a definite plus; it prevents an unattended cradle from rocking and possibly causing a sleeping baby to become wedged against the side of the frame due to the shifting weight.

Once you have your baby's room situated, you have only scratched the surface of the baby equipment that you'll require. In the next section, we will learn about high chairs.

This information is solely for informational purposes. IT IS NOT INTENDED TO PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. Neither the Editors of Consumer Guide (R), Publications International, Ltd., the author nor publisher take responsibility for any possible consequences from any treatment, procedure, exercise, dietary modification, action or application of medication which results from reading or following the information contained in this information. The publication of this information does not constitute the practice of medicine, and this information does not replace the advice of your physician or other health care provider. Before undertaking any course of treatment, the reader must seek the advice of their physician or other health care provider.