You've got the right highchair, the perfect stroller and the safest car seat money can buy, but don't overlook the one place baby spends most of her time -- the nursery. Create a comfy, cozy sanctuary that feels as good as it looks using the ancient Chinese practice of feng shui.
Based on concepts similar to those found in yoga, tai chi and acupuncture, feng shui seeks to optimize the flow of positive energy through the artful placement of items, according to Tamara Romeo, owner of Southcoast Feng Shui.
It is both a systematic and intuitive approach to enhance psychological and spiritual well-being through well-designed living spaces, and it can help create a calm, restful room for little ones.
"A nursery should be designed as a safe, supportive sanctuary for both the baby and the parents," Romeo says. "Babies are very sensitive to light, sounds, cold and other environmental factors. Feng shui design works in harmony with the baby's natural energy and can help baby thrive and be more comfortable in his or her space."
The first step is to put yourself in your baby's place.
"Spend time in the room before you buy furniture, paint and add cute accessories," Romeo says. "Make note of the airflow, hot and cold, the way the light moves through the room and the sounds that bounce through the walls from adjacent rooms. Babies are sensitive little beings, and taking some time to be present in their environment can help make the new nursery the most comfortable room in the house."
Also, consider your own childhood room.
"We all have strong feelings. Did you love it as a sanctuary or avoid it? Why? Specifics will help you replicate the good and avoid the bad," says Regina Leeds, author of "One Year to an Organized Life With Baby: From Pregnancy to Parenting, The Week-by-Week Guide to Getting Ready for Baby and Keeping Your Family Organized."
*Choose Soothing Hues
Save the bold colors for toddlers. There's a reason so many baby accessories come in soft pastels.
"Many parents paint the room in bright, active 'yang' colors that psychologically keep babies more active and may even irritate them," Romeo explains. "Consider what makes you, as a parent, feel at ease, at peace and restful. Soothing 'yin' colors -- such as creams, beiges, metallics and muted colors -- help set the tone for restful sleep."
*Place the Crib Properly
Choosing the right location for the crib will ensure your little one gets the best rest possible. Never place the crib in the center of the room. Instead, place the crib along a wall, away from windows.
"Having a solid wall behind the baby's head is psychologically comforting and can help the baby sleep more soundly," Romeo says.
Also, be mindful of things that make ambient noise, e.g., plumbing within the walls, squeaky door hinges, creaky floors upstairs and washing machines and dryers in adjacent rooms. Fix what you can, and do your best to position the crib to minimize everything else.
*Opt for Soft Lighting
Window treatments should be adaptable enough to let baby nap in darkness yet let in soft sunlight while baby is awake. Look for drapes and shades that diffuse harsh glares while allowing the natural light to filter through.
Likewise, avoid glaring compact fluorescent bulbs and tame harsh overhead lights by installing a dimmer switch. For a night light, consider a salt lamp. Sold at specialty retailers and gift shops, these lamps feature a large block of natural salt over a small incandescent bulb, which offers the perfect amount of diffused light and emits beneficial negative ions, Leeds says.
*Pull the Plug
Leave the cell phones, televisions and laptops in the living room -- and skip the baby monitor, nursery sound system and other electrical gadgets. The electromagnetic frequencies can be quite disruptive to babies, according to Debra Greene, Ph.D., author of "Endless Energy: The Essential Guide to Energy Health."
"With the explosion in technology, household radiation has increased exponentially, and children's developmental stages leave them highly vulnerable to adverse health effects," Greene says. "Follow the three-foot rule: Create a radiation-free zone by keeping all electronic devices at least three feet away from the crib. Do not use a baby monitor, because your child will be bathed in harmful radio-frequency radiation."
Be mindful of computers, modems, refrigerators and washers and dryers in adjacent rooms, as well, as ambient radiation travels through walls, floors and ceilings.
Remember that babies put everything in their mouths, so use only nontoxic cleaners to tidy up. Look for chemical-free furnishings, and opt for additive-free bedding and clothing.
"You need to be vigilant. Chemicals can sneak in from the least likely places," Leeds says. "It's so easy to introduce fumes from paint, carpeting, stains and new furniture, and baby's newly developing brain can absolutely be impacted."
Look for natural fiber flooring, real wood furniture and VOC-free paint.
"If you can't afford the high-end chemical-free products, be sure you paint, carpet and purchase furniture in advance so you can air out the products. All detectable fumes should be gone by the time baby arrives," Leeds says.