Oh, Baby!A bundle of joy may be months away but the planning starts now

Babies: adorable balls of energy that keep us (read: mothers, even in 2012) up at night and which will hopefully support us when we’re old and decrepit. Nursery planning has become almost stressful as wedding planning. Friends, relatives, in-laws and colleagues’ best intentions and offers of advice often make things more confusing. So here we are to add to that white noise.

According to pop culture impending parenthood equates with happy couples building IKEA cribs in 100-square foot “spare” rooms (ah, the magic of television). But reality for most of us involves figuring out how much space you can actually spare for someone that’s seven pounds and sleeps all day. “A nursery only has to be big enough for a cot, some storage for clothes/toys and if possible a chair. There are now changing tables that fit over cots, or you could just get a changing pad and change the baby on the floor,” notes interior designer and new mother Monique McLintock.

Katherine Regan, director of Baby Central, agrees. “You don’t need a lot of space … You need a cot, a change bed of some sort. You don’t necessarily need a baby bath. You need a monitor depending on the size of your home. Some bedding, some clothes. That’s pretty much it.”

If you do have a dedicated nursery that might be a children’s bedroom one day, it is possible to avoid wholesale redecoration in a few years. Regan recommends taking some time to think as long-term as possible. “This is where you need to think a bit. Do you get a little Moses cot for six months, a cot that will do until they’re 2 or do you get one of these cribs that turn into a toddler bed that’s suitable until they’re five?” Also? Steer clear of fluffy bunnies and anything that screams “infant.” “Believe me, it won’t be long before you have a rampaging toddler on your hands and those rabbits will start to look a bit past their sell-by date,” McLintock says.

Colour is also a key to taking the nursery to kindergarten, and so avoiding one ultrababyish tone (still most often gender-based pinks and blues) partnered with white is the way to go. “What you want to do is think in terms of using three colours … Do blue, green and white, or pink, lavender and white,” McLintock suggests. “Doing three different colours can keep the nursery from looking so babyish.”

Scores of retailers in Hong Kong selling thousands of products make outfitting a nursery another issue entirely. “You can get these endless lists that try and sell you more than you need,” Regan points out. Like most baby-centric stores, the newly opened Baby Central stocks everything a nursery could need, from linens, to pharmacy supplies and accessories. “Life is very different now than when our mums were mums. You can be really overwhelmed as a new parent because there’s just so much out there. One thing we didn’t want was a baby supermarket,” Regan states. As such Baby Central carries a range of carefully considered items (like imported foods) rather than a little of everything.

And is there anything parents-to-be tend to forget about their nurseries? “Lighting is the one thing everyone forgets about,” stresses McLintock. She recommends a bright ceiling light, a regular lamp and a nightlight for a variety of tasks. More importantly, she notes, “Most people forget to use eco-friendly paint. I cannot stress enough how harmful the fumes are from non eco-friendly paints.” Regan adds one last thing that’s easily forgotten. “Mothers forget about themselves. If you forget about anything it will be about something you need.” Figures.