Decorating a Baby Nursery for Sleep – Tips from Paige Rien

When you’re planning your baby’s nursery decor, sleep probably isn’t the first thing you’re thinking about. Coordinating colors? Which brand of crib to purchase?  Sure.  How to plan your decor around your baby’s sleep? Not so much. 

But maybe you should be thinking about sleep. After all, that’s what your baby will be doing in her nursery — sleeping (or so you hope, anyway!) And if there’s even a slight chance that your baby’s nursery decor will help her sleep peacefully, wouldn’t you want to take advantage of that? 

I would.  In a big, big way!

Designer Paige Rien knows a thing or two about good design, and she shared some tips with us about how to design a beautiful, functional nursery for your baby.     

Nursery Decor

Good Design is Emotional

As adults, we know that the design of a room can have a powerful effect on our emotions.  As Paige puts it, “Space has the power to transform us – it can relax, rejuvenate, inspire, stifle, frustrate, and sadden – babies included.” 

Ever spent time in a bright, “school bus yellow” room?  I have.  NOT tranquil at all. 

Colors impact our emotions, and they can impact our babies’, too. And that means decorating a nursery is about more than cute wall decals and coordinated bedding — it’s about creating a peaceful, relaxing space that’ll help your baby sleep. 

Good Design Looks to the Future

When designing a nursery, it’s easy to get swept away and spend big bucks on a deluxe diaper organizer or designer crib bedding.  Be careful about that. Things your child will use long-term are worth investing in; things they’ll be done with in a few years aren’t.

Paige also warns against indulging in “themed stuff” (most of which is insanely overpriced anyway.)  As she says, “Have fun using that Thomas rug again after your kid is over trains.” 

Good Design is Functional

A well-designed nursery isn’t just nice to look at; it’s functional, too.  Remember, you’re going to be doing a lot of specific tasks in there (changing diapers, nursing or bottle feeding, rocking, etc.), so you want a design that makes those tasks easier and more comfortable.

Tips for Creating the Perfect Design

At The Baby Sleep Site, we believe strongly that there’s no one-size-fits-all approach to baby sleep (or to anything baby-related, for that matter!)  And that idea applies to your nursery design, too — there’s no formula to follow.  Do what works best for you and your family.

There are, however, a few guiding principles to keep in mind as you work to create a lovely, functional space for your baby:

baby sleep site

  • Keep it dark, keep it quiet.  Most babies sleep well in quiet, darkened rooms, so plan on investing in a few sleep-friendly products, like room darkening shades and white noise machines.  Sure, these aren’t exactly “fun” purchases, but when it’s broad daylight, and your baby’s ready for his afternoon nap, you’ll be glad you bought those room darkening panels!  And these items don’t have to be eyesores.  For instance, many room darkening panels can be sewn onto the backs of prettier curtains.
  • Consider the bum (yours, not your baby’s!)  You are going to need an insanely comfortable place to sit in your baby’s nursery.  Now, this doesn’t have to be one of those baby gliders.  According to Paige, “I find them to be marginally better than hospital furniture in the looks department and completely useless past the rocking-babies stage in your house.” (Just take a gander at how many of these guys are being sold “like new!” on Craigslist.) Instead, Paige recommends you choose any comfy chair that cleans up easily (because spit-up happens!)
  • More light when you need it, less light when you don’t.  Cleaning up poop in the dark is hard, my friends.  So make sure you have plenty of light where you need it, but that you can quickly and easily dim that light when you don’t (like during middle-of-the-night feedings).  Paige advises, “Install both overhead and task lighting. The task lighting should illuminate the dirty business of the changing table and the mechanics of the nursing chair, which will likely transition into the reading chair over time.  And don’t forget to put dimmers on everything.  You can hire an electrician to do this, but Paige recommends IKEA’s plug-in options, including their DIMMA attachments that make any plug-in light a dimmer light.
  • Organize, organize, organize.  Your baby will use a lot of stuff, and she’ll use it fast.  Paige points out, “You will never see stuff come in (diapers, clean laundry) and stuff go out (dirty laundry, soiled diapers) like this – babies need and produce stuff very quickly.”  It’s key that you have a fantastic organizational system in place to keep track of all the essentials.  It’ll work best if everything you need is at your arm’s-reach but out of your baby’s, so find an organizational system (shelves, bins, etc.) that’ll help you accomplish that.  Paige prefers dressers over changing tables for this reason — the drawers provide tons of storage space and easy access, but once they’re closed, everything’s out of sight (pretty!) and out of your baby’s reach (safe!)  And of course, a dresser will grow with your baby way better than a changing table will.
  • Tread lightly!  Old, distressed hardwood floors may be in vogue right now, but here’s something HGTV never tells you:  they’re not baby-friendly.  They creak and groan at the worst possible times, and I swear, they always creak loudest after midnight (not that I’m speaking from personal experience or anything!)  You don’t necessarily need to install wall-to-wall carpeting in your baby’s room; Paige suggests a different approach.  “My favorite?  The short-napped, easy-to-clean and replace in-piecemeal-fashion, FLOR tiles that come in a billion colors and textures. Plus, ding-ding-ding – you can use them again.”   

This isn’t an exhaustive design manual by any means, but I hope it’s enough to get you started on thinking about a beautiful, functional design for your little one’s nursery!

Giveaway from The baby Sleep Site!

To help you succeed in getting your baby to sleep, The Baby Sleep Site would like to give one very lucky winner a prize pack that includes “The 3 Step System to Help Your Baby Sleep” ebook AND a $25 gift card, WooHoo!

babysleepsite giveaway

The 3-Step System to Help Your Baby Sleep (, is a judgment-free approach to getting your baby sleeping through the night.

In it, you learn the pros and cons of all of the available baby sleep methods as well as how to incorporate each one into your own routine. You get quick and easy information on the science behind baby and toddler sleep. You learn what you need to do – in a step-by-step format – to tackle all the “big” sleep questions.  

  • How much sleep does your baby really need?
  • How do you get your newborn to settle into a routine?
  • Is there an “ideal” bedtime?
  • Why can’t my baby fall asleep without my help?
  • Why can’t my baby stay asleep?
  • How should you approach nap time?
  • What are your options as far as crying-it-out or not crying-it-out go?
  • How can you respect your child’s sleep?
  • When and how should you start nighttime weaning?
  • How can you handle an early riser?

The 3 Step System to Help Your Baby Sleep is geared toward babies under 12 months of age.

Other Info:

This ebooks are offered as a PDF to read on the computer or print out and as .epub and .mobi formats for reading on a Kindle, Nook, or iPad.

Entry is super easy using the Rafflecopter form below. Just complete the first mandatory entry to open up a bunch of optional extra entries! Giveaway is open to U.S. ages 18+ only and will end November 30, 2012 at 12:01am est. Please read the official rules at the bottom of the Rafflecopter form.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

About the Baby Sleep Site: The Baby Sleep Site™ ( is owned and operated by Nicole Johnson, a baby and toddler sleep coach, wife, and the mother of two young boys. Parents from all over the world visit The Baby Sleep Site™ each month to find solutions for their children’s sleep problems, including personalized, one-on-one sleep consultations, comprehensive e-books on sleeping through the night, improving naps, and establishing routines and schedules, free articles on timely topics, and a strong community.

Guest article by the Baby Sleep Site with tips from Paige Rien. Paige is a mother of two young boys and an interior designer. She has been featured on HGTV’s “Hidden Potential” over fifty times and has her own design consulting practice where she provides “real-life house help” to people all over the world. Paige blogs at indoorsy ( and can be found at


About the Author

A Hen's Nest occasionally partners with other knowledgeable authors, on subjects that interest her, or that she thinks will interest her readers.



  1. 1

    I hate to hear my baby crying herself to sleep

  2. 2

    With our busy schedules, it is difficult to put the baby down at the same time every night, causing problems in getting her to fall asleep.

  3. 3

    My son used to wake up in the middle of the night and I would sing a song for him to make him fall asleep

  4. 4

    things are good right now– pray no jinx!!

  5. 5

    My babies have both been great (knock on wood) although now that my oldest is 4, she has a new fear of the dark that is causing problems :(

  6. 6
    susan hartman says

    My daughter is grown now. She often ended up in our bed when she was little. She always hated being alone. Still does

  7. 7

    Those days are long behind me, but both my boys were soothed with soft, gentle music!

  8. 8

    This is a great article. Having had four children I know this advice is invaluable. I would love for my daughter to have/use this for my sweet little granddaughter who needs a few things for her nursery.

  9. 9

    Right now I’m getting my granddaughter to sleep by rocking and singing. Sometimes walking and rocking. Uuuugggghhh… LOL… She’s so spoiled!

  10. 10

    My baby has the hardest time going to sleep when we are on vacation. Its not very fun

  11. 11

    My baby has a hard time going back to sleep after waking up in the night.

  12. 12

    My son NEVER fell asleep in a stroller like I would see all other kids at summertime festivals and the mall. We were so schedule bound in order to keep him…and us…happy. It all turned out ok. He is well adjusted and a good sleeper.

  13. 13

    Things are getting SO much better in this department BUT we still struggle with naps and early wake ups! I definitely agree with having a comfortable place for your “bum” I love our glider and never imagined how much time I would spend in it!

  14. 14

    It ‘s always something!

  15. 15

    The more tired he is when I put him down, the more he likes to cry and fight his sleep. He usually falls asleep within 5 to 10 minutes

  16. 16

    My baby never wants to sleep. She often ends up in our bed just so we can all sleep.

  17. 17
    Priscilla Benavides says

    Our baby always wanted to be rocked to sleep!

  18. 18

    I don’t have trouble getting him down, it’s keeping him down for a good sleep that’s the trouble!

  19. 19

    sweet sweet sleep time. two babies so different from each other.

  20. 20
    sheila askins says

    my daughter had night terrors…and used to sleep walk…cry..and scream After a paniced visit to the doctor and we found out there was no physical problems going on..we were told that some children suffer from night terrors and she would outgrow it..and she did..thank goodness!

  21. 21
    Blessie Nelson says

    When I feel she is going to sleep and I put her down, she starts crying again and I am so exhausted to continue again!

  22. 22

    My kids were good sleepers however now my 4 yr old has been sneaking into our room and climbing into bed with us.

  23. 23

    my son would fall asleep but wake up constantly throughout the night to make sure i was there.

  24. 24
    Crystal Famania says

    Still cannot get my 2 year old to sleep in his own bed

  25. 25

    Moving the baby from arms to crib is the hardest for me.

  26. 26
    Baby nursery decorating says

    You’ll be spending a lot of time in this baby room so choose furnishings and decor that YOU like and suits your style and interests. Once your baby turns into toddler, they will certainly want a say in it

  27. 27

    This is a great article because a baby’s surroundings have such a large impact on his or her ability to sleep. Well done!

  28. 28

    I totally believe that making a room is emotional. There are certain colors I can’t use because it seems to gloomy for me. My basic requirements for a room is warm lighting and bright colors. In a baby’s room, this is what I would want in it.

  29. 29

    Excellent tips. I can’t say that I ever spent anytime in a yellow school bus room, but I have to imagine its just as terrible as you say. It brings up a good point, I think functionality gets overlooked when trying to create a “cute” nursery.

  30. 30
    Kelly Mullendore says

    Hello guys, I’m a new mother and I am desperately to get my three month baby to sleep longer during night. Right now I’m fortunate to get four hours rest per night. Bless

  31. 31

    I think it’s nice to have but not a neccessity. I loved bouncing on the ball with my son but for middle of the night nursing having a cozy rocker was ideal. In the rocker with an ottoman I could sit back, prop up my feet and even close my eyes (if I could peel my eyes off my little bundle). On a ball that wouldn’t be an option. We still use our rocker now for reading at bedtime and I think it’s good looking enough to transition to another room. I agree that the gliders don’t seem like they would be as easy to transition. A nice cozy chair would do just fine as well. We don’t actually rock all that much…but that would be personal preference.

  32. 32

    When you have a baby cleaning becomes so much more important! Awesome post!

  33. 33

    Hey, re getting your baby to sleep all the night, there is a very helpful pdf document here (remove spaces) www . thepdfportal . net/tipstohelpbabysleepbetter_412186.pdf. The document was created by a non profit organization and is well worth reading. Good luck x

  34. 34

    I have some problem with my son as well. He keeps waking up during midnight ! Need to try my best to make sure he is damn tired before night time ><


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