Will their be a new addition to your home arriving shortly? Kya deLongchamps advises to invest in furnishings that will grow with your child.

Will you decide to peer into the murky world of the standard 20 week scan — and beyond those tiny pulled-up knees — to determine the sex of your baby?

If you are reserving the surprise for the delivery room, or if you are keen to present a neutral gender scheme (very PC at the moment) — there’s plenty of ways to add colour beyond frothy pinks or baby blues. 

With babies there’s one word that trumps all styling — good old fashioned safety.

Colour Play

You can of course simply paint the place white or cream, and throw in the colour after your darling arrives. 

Traditional blues can be dialled back to white and a soft grey, and what about the calming Pantone colour of 2016, Rose Quartz, instead of that hysterical deep sugar pink?

Primary accents, gentle natural greens and of course the happy colour throughout so many cultures — yellow, have now been joined by monochrome schemes. 

For sunshine that’s easy on a baby’s delicate lungs- my choice would be Yum-Yum or Daisy Chain from Earthborn Paints (available through the Stoneware Studios, Pilmore Wetlands, near Youghal).

Black out blinds come in a vast array of designs — useful and enough to draw on for a whole scheme (see our blind safety advice before purchasing).

The Leander highchair can move — it’s said to encourage body consciousness and make the baby more relaxed. www.babybaby.eu
The Leander highchair can move — it’s said to encourage body consciousness and make the baby more relaxed. www.babybaby.eu

Hilary’s, (the blind specialists), range of dawn defeating products includes ‘Dickey Birds’ and a shower of floral themed goods. 

Baby will probably enjoy a feature wall close to the cot with a large decorative scheme of repeated silhouettes or friendly faced characters — but consider soft lulling schemes rather than metres and metres of acid brights.

A themed paste-the-wall paper can be easily changed by just taking up a corner and peeling it off in a single effortless move. 

Wall Murals offer DIY 12 piece, 10’ wide scenes for 8’ ceilings in everything from a Winnie the Pooh and Tatty Teddy, to fresh white scudding clouds and Disney movies from €59.99. Paste €5, www.wallmurals.ie 

Breathing easy

If the new arrival is in the room from day one, interior decorating changes should be strictly chosen to avoid the potentially toxic affect of ‘off-gassing’ from paints (including odourless varieties), new MDF furniture and laminate flooring riddled with tough, noxious glues, and stain treatments applied to new carpeting.

The sooner you get any material changes done and the more earth- friendly the materials the better. 

Polyurethane foam mattresses containing VOCs from resins and solvents included at the time of manufacture are the subject of considerable controversy, and you can choose to go to a more natural alternative such as latex, springs, natural rubber and a mattress cover in organic cotton.

One shelf, hooks and hangers — idea for babys wardrobe. Clothing: Farmyard/ John Lewis
One shelf, hooks and hangers — idea for babys wardrobe. Clothing: Farmyard/ John Lewis

At the very least, for the sake of those delicate tissues in the lungs, place any standard non-organic mattress in an airy room for several weeks before baby sleeps on it for up to 14 hours or more a day.

Unwrap new furniture and again, stand it in a dry garage for as long as you can manage. 

Use clay and mineral based eco-paints and allow the walls to ‘cure’ for several weeks or even months.

Ensure the mattress and cot fit snugly (no gaps all around) and is firm enough for newborns rather than older children. 

If using a second hand mattress, check for any stains, tears or damage and that the support is even across its surface. 

Mattresses should carry the BSI number BS 1877-10:1997.

Versatile brilliance

Babyhood is magical, but surprisingly short, so why not invest in furnishings that grow with your child?

Yes, most of these metamorphic wonders cost more, but in terms of years of use and quality — they can be very cost effective. 

Cot beds are a good entry point, and will at least get you to the 3-4 year mark (depending on the height of your off-spring) allowing sides to be slotted out and a first proper bed to appear.

Child-sized furniture is deliriously cute but the second hand ads are full of the stuff. 

We are peculiarly precious when having a baby, and once dinged no-one seems to want even worthy used cast-offs.

Limit those Lilliputian touches to changing tables and the sleeping platform, and just choose smaller scale but standard sized bedroom furniture. 

Tall-boy style drawer units even bolted to the wall are dangerous for crawlers and wobblers, who can ascend open drawers to bruising heights.

The new generation of cot-beds can be transformed into day-beds, useful little seating areas for playing children. Try www.babyzone.ie.

Look for rails and shelving in storage pieces that can be moved inside a good wardrobe or storage unit shifting the load from nappies and onesies to books and baskets for toys.

We love the IKEA Trofast range, with its brightly coloured plastic bins in dozens of arrangements that can even deliver stepped seating. Combinations from €67. 

Their Stuva changing table transforms not only into an easily managed open shelving, but into a child-sized desk, ideal for primary schoolers. €150.

Where space is tight and you have to use a true box-room, get what you can up the walls, to keep the triangle of cot, change station and clothes drawers easily traversed. 

Beyond shelving and hooks and hangers, pretty fabric wall pockets can be easily set up for rolled spit clothes, powder and more for those first challenging months. Congratulations!

BLIND TO DANGER?

Tragic cases in Ireland and overseas have seen children die and suffer serious injury tangled in the slats and strings of venetian blinds and more often, suffocated having becoming caught in the cord or chain of a standard blind. 

Ten children have died in Ireland from accidents with blinds since 2005. 

Make room for your little bundle of joy by preparing in advance

The EU standard for blinds only changed in 2014 (EN 13120:2009+A1:2014), so it is possible that the older blinds you consider safe could prove lethal to your baby or younger children. 

Inappropriate horizontal or vertical slatted blinds with close panels can also injure or kill. Today all blinds must be both safe by design and fitted with compliant safety devices.

Any blind that is operated by a cord or chain that can form a loop can be lethal anywhere near babies or toddlers — at the very least the mechanism should be wound up and put on a cleat high at least 1.6m from the floor. 

Break away connectors can be placed on chains, separating them into two verticals that will come apart if pulled even gently. 

Tension devices keep the chain or cord taut and flat to the wall at a safe height for adult operation. 

Roman blinds have the added danger or lifting cords disguised on the window side so look for ‘break-away’ devices that will give in the event of a child falling into the stringing. 

Don’t interfere with these breakers by tying up loose strings in a loop.

Twisting cranks (gearbox), sliding wands, push/pull rails, and spring operated blinds are now the industry standard.

Fitted blinds with the mechanism set into the reveal of the window or remotely operated blinds are generally very safe. 

The Kinder Winder, made in UK and available through Argos, dispenses with the cord mechanism altogether, with a wand that turns the blind up and down. 

It fits most roller blinds, for €9.99.

Retro fit devices and new blinds with devices should carry the EN 16433:2014 and EN 16434:2014 mark. 

No matter how well detailed your new blinds and curtains, never place furnishings or beds a child might climb onto beneath a window. 

Nothing dispenses with the ultimate protection of adult supervision.

For everything you need to know about new and older blinds of every imaginable type, go to www.windowblindsafety.ie a superb site founded by Aaron O’Connell and dedicated to little angel Arran Malley who died in 2009 in Cork at the age of two.

Baby temperatures

The temperature in your baby’s bedroom or nursery or in a cot in your room, is extremely important, as overheating is one of the dangers associated with an increase risk of SIDS or cot death. 

First of all, don’t presume the master or zone thermostat for the central heating is 100% accurate. 

Make room for your little bundle of joy by preparing in advance

Establish what the temperature is in the room with a simple wall or desk thermometer and check it regularly. 

The UK-based charity dedicated to safe sleeping practice for infants, the Lullaby Trust, recommend 16C-20C as suitable for baby in normal circumstances and presuming he or she is not under too many bedclothes or an overly warm duvet. 

Lightweight bedding or a lightweight sleeping bag for a baby is ideal. 

‘Baby sleeping bags should be well fitted, especially around the neck and arms, but comfortable, so your baby cannot wriggle down inside.’ 

You can do an extra touch test using your hand on the tummy or the back of the neck, or by taking the baby’s body temperature. 

‘A normal temperature for a baby (measured under the arm) is between 35.6C and 37.20C (96.1–99F). 

This may vary slightly depending on the time of day and what your child has been doing.’ 

Hats and gloves are not recommended for babies indoors at any time. Put baby to bed on their back.

For further information go to www.lullabytrust.org.uk. 

The HSE have some useful information on bedding and correct tucking for baby in their SIDS area.


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