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Organizing your baby's nursery

Maria is a licensed clinical social worker and a mother of two who has devoted her career to helping new parents make the most of their first moments with baby and beyond.

Are you sitting in a freshly painted nursery looking around at piles of new baby things you received at your baby shower and wondering where it should all go?

As a young adult, I would have never thought that I would be giving others advice about organization. I had a constant pile of clothing on my desk chair in college and several junk drawers in my first apartment! However, it seems motherhood has set me straight and I am now endlessly in search of new ideas for organization and places to store all the “stuff” that is inevitably collected when you have children. Many expectant parents are intimidated by the prospect of having to organize a baby’s room. Are you sitting in a freshly painted nursery looking around at piles of new baby things you received at your baby shower and wondering where it should all go?

First things first: Decide what you will be keeping and what can be returned.

Then: Make sure your furniture is placed in the safest configuration for baby. No shelves above the changing table or crib. Crib should not be placed near a window. You may want to purchase furniture at least three months before your due date. Sometimes it can take time for furniture to arrive and then it needs to be set up. You want to give yourself plenty of time in case there are missing or damaged parts that need to be replaced.

Finally: Remove all tags and packaging and launder layette, blankets and towels in baby-safe detergent. (The Environmental Working Group has an online Guide to Healthy Cleaning; just go to http://www.ewg.org/guides/cleaners).

Now you can get started organizing.

Closet

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Closet organizer systems help a great deal in organizing a child’s closet. You can break up the closet into different areas to maximize your storage space. Closet rods at differing heights and shelves that can accommodate baskets are the basics that you will need for your baby’s closet. These organizer systems are found in many local retail stores and are also easy to install. You will want to organize your baby’s clothing by size and keep newborn, 0-3 months and 3-6 months in the closet. Everything 6-12 months and above can be put aside in a labeled container until ready to transfer to the closet or dresser. If your child's closet is too small for a closet organizer system, check out "closet doublers." These allow you to expand the hanging space in your child's closet without having to install a thing!

Changing table/dresser

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The top drawer of the changing table (if it’s one that doubles as a dresser) should be stocked with diapers, wipes, diaper creams, tissues, aspirator, thermometer and all other essentials that need to be within arms' reach while changing is taking place. Onesies, pajamas, cotton tops, pants, socks, caps and mittens should also be stored in this area. You don’t want to have to move baby, and you cannot leave baby unattended on the changing table to go searching for these items in another place.

Feeding Area

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Whether breast- or bottle-feeding, you will need an area in your baby’s nursery where you can sit comfortably and feed baby. Alongside your rocker/glider (or whatever you choose to sit in) should be a small table where you can keep things for yourself like a box of tissue, glass of water, a book or magazine, and your breast pump if needed. It may be a good idea to store some bibs or burp cloths in this area as well.

Play area

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If you have a spacious nursery, you can set up a small play area for your baby with a low bookshelf and play mat.

Crib

Photo credit: poligonchik/iStock /360/Getty Images

This area should be kept simple to promote sleep for baby. Utilize space under the crib to store extra diapers and wipes in under-the-bed boxes.

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