Once the kitchen is streamlined, then consider the baby’s room and the baby’s bedding, which both need to be given some thought. Often the baby’s room is the smallest. It is, however, well worth remembering that a baby grows quickly into a toddler who needs lots of space to move and play and into a child who wants an enormous railway set!
In the early years, a toddler is not happy for long playing out of view or earshot of his mother, so it is important to consider the room as a place where you will need to spend time reading, writing, sewing or knitting while your child plays.
It is wiser to plan for this, rather than to allow the child to get into the habit of bringing his toys into the kitchen. The kitchen, unless part of it is partitioned off, is rarely a safe place for play and a child cannot be expected to respect a sitting-room until he is older.
If the home is centrally heated, see that it is also equipped with humidifiers. Those that are electrically operated can be very helpful in relieving a dry atmosphere. They will also ease chest ailments, eczema and other skin conditions.
From birth, a baby needs a room which is continually heated to about 21 deg C (70 deg F). If you do not have central heating, the best and safest alternative is a thermostatically controlled electric radiator or a convector heater with a child-proof grid.
Floor coverings for a child’s room need to be easy to clean, safe to walk or crawl on, good for the efficient running of clockwork toys-and not too precious, because accidents will happen!
Walls are best covered with emulsion paints which can be wiped clean and easily repainted, or with a washable paper. Painted walls can be livened up with nursery friezes, paintings or collages. When choosing curtains, look for subtle colours and simple designs which give the room a restful appearance. The true function of curtains is to keep out cold and draughts-they are, therefore, best lined and interlined.
A top priority is a working surface on which to change and dress the baby, This could be a waisthigh chest of drawers, or a steady table, padded with a folded towel, a terry-towelling mattress or né a ready-made changing mat.
Alternatively, you could buy a specially-designed baby dresser and storage unit. A bed is not suitable. It is normally too low for comfortable use and causes unnecessary strain on a mother’s back. If you are going to feed the baby in his room, then you will also need a low, comfortable armless chair.
THE FIRST BED
Until your baby is about six months old, or unable to sit up, he can sleep in a Moses basket, carry-, pram body, cradle or even a drawer! Anything, in fact, that he feels secure and comfortable in and which protects him from draughts.
Whatever your choice, make sure that your baby sleeps on a firm mattress and non-wobbly surface. If a wooden drawer is to be used, it should be carefully investigated for splinters and then well padded.
Wicker cradles and Moses baskets should be lined to protect the baby from draughts. A carry-cot, with non-porous lining, should have its sides lined or padded with a blanket to prevent the possibility of the baby rolling to the side of the cot and being suffocated.
By about six months of age, or when he can sit up, your baby will need a full-size cot. This should have a safety catch to prevent the sides being let down; and the vertical bars should be spaced close enough together to prevent any chance of the baby getting his head stuck.
The cot should be sturdy enough to stand up to vigorous shaking; there should be no harmful inner projections and no horizontal bars which could be used as a step- ladder for climbing out! Any paint used should be toxin-free.
The mattress should be firm and a perfect fit for the cot so that there is no danger of the baby becoming wedged in a gap between the mattress and the cot. It is best covered from top to toe with a waterproof cover. One side of it could have a porous lining. Making a mattress from foam rubber is not recommended.
An unprotected mattress must be protected by a waterproof sheet. This needs to cover the whole mattress, as a baby’s urine spreads across quite a wide area. For the baby’s comfort, an underblanket or flannelette sheet should be placed between the waterproofing and bottom sheet. Choose waterproof sheets that can be boiled.
A pillow should not be used for the first twelve months of a baby’s life. The baby does not need it, and the possible risk of suffocation is enough to ban its use. Fitted stretch terry sheets are comfortable and make bed-making easy; flanelette sheets are warmer than cotton but take longer to dry and will not last as long. Cotton sheets can easily be made from the unworn outside sections of full-sized sheets.
Cotton cellular blankets are light but warm, they are also machine-washable and can be boiled. Some woollen blankets can be machine washed. Old blankets cut to size can be used. Blankets should be bound with satin to protect a baby’s face and neck from irritation. Fringes are best avoided on blankets because the baby will suck them.
Shawls can be used, but avoid those with an open-work lacy pattern in which a baby can catch his fingers and toes. Cot-size blankets can be folded and used doubled in theor pram. The number of blankets needed will depend on how warm the room is; they should not be piled on. You will need to allow sufficient for frequent washing and changing.
Only from the time a baby can sit up should these be used for prams and cots. Choose washable Terylene quilts made to Government Standard specifications, of the correct size.
These are especially useful for travelling. They need to be large enough for a baby to stretch his legs, and should not be tight round the neck or wrists. They should be easy washable. If you use a sleeping bag regularly you will need more than one.