As I write this column, I am heading into the final weeks of pregnancy, and my household is eagerly awaiting the arrival of a new, tiny Burruss. My mailbox is flooded with the free parenting magazines that start showing up the moment the doctor knows you’re expecting, and they all contain articles detailing the many safety precautions responsible parents are supposed to take to prepare their homes for new bundles of joy.
Having survived the baby and toddler phases with my now-six-year-old daughter, I’m not rushing to affix every bookshelf to the wall, pad the corners of the coffee table, and install that gadget that ensures lifting the toilet lid becomes a mind-boggling challenge. I know that all we really need to get started are a car seat, plenty of diapers and wipes, some onesies, and a place for Baby to sleep (ha, ha, ha).
The magazines and Pinterest lists all emphasize the things you CAN’T have in your home such as sharp edges and corners, crib bumpers, and pretty much anything breakable. And while I certainly advocate child safety and doing as much as possible to prevent accidents, I’ve decided not to dwell on all the lovely things that may have to be packed away for a while but to focus instead on all the child-friendly décor our family can enjoy.
As a parent, I know that one cannot have too many baskets! I keep them in the living room, in my daughter’s bedroom, in the hall closet, and I have one solely dedicated just to making the trip up and down the stairs. Having baskets in every room to toss blankets and toys into makes quick tidy-ups easy, and they provide a simple solution for corralling essentials, like diaper supplies, that you may want to tote from room to room. While colorful baskets look fabulous in kid-designated spaces, I use more traditional shades of rattan in family and adult rooms. Small baskets can be tucked into bookcases or media consoles, while large sizes look stylish flanking fireplaces or large case goods. Have a lonely corner? Try a trio of similar style baskets in varied sizes for a cohesive grouping.
Who doesn’t love the image of a baby rolling about on a plush sheepskin rug? Decorators are fans of the sheepskin trend in baby-free houses too! Try tossing one over the back of the sofa in the TV Room or draping at the foot of the bed for a luxurious look you can easily transfer down to the floor for playtime. Children of all ages will love the tactile element of this versatile accessory! (My six-year-old still pulls it out for movie night.) While real sheepskin naturally repels dirt and you can spot-clean some soiling and stains with mild dish soap and water, I recommend using several smaller sheepskins rather than one large one so you can either replace it or take for a professional cleaning should a messy spit-up or diaper accident occur.
These days, children-sized furniture needn’t be a primary-colored or cartoon-character-covered eyesore. There are plenty of sophisticated options that can blend into and actually enhance your current décor. While high chairs are typically cringe-worthy designs that take up lots of space while adding no visual appeal to kitchens and dining rooms, the Stokke Tripp Trapp high chair has caused a Pinterest sensation by finally offering a simplistic wood seat that ages with your child and even acts as extra seating for an adult. Its Scandinavian design works beautifully in contemporary or minimalist homes and is sleek enough to slip discreetly into traditional, formal spaces as well.
For those with minimal space, a minimal budget, or who just can’t stand the thought of a high chair on permanent display, clip-on versions of high chairs abound! Chairs like the Mountain Buggy Pod Clip-On High Chair affix to countertops or tabletops when you’re using them, then fold up and hide away when you’re not. These options not only save space and travel to Grandma’s, they’re typically much less expensive than stand-alone chairs.
To whatever extent you decide to “childproof” your home, keep in mind how quickly the years will pass. While the bottle-drying station, never-ending cleanups, and overabundance of toys may seem as though it’s all permanent, you will all to soon be trying to create space for homework, extra electronic devices, and an extra car in the driveway!