The parental practices we follow in the West are merely cultural constructions that have little to do with what is “natural” for our babies. (Adapted from the introduction of “Our Babies, Ourselves” by Meredith Small)
When I first found out that I was pregnant, I shrieked with joy, cried, and mostly freaked out at how overwhelmingly life-changing that moment was. But it didn’t take long for my mind to shift gears and immediately focus on THE NURSERY. You know what I’m talking about, right? The perfect one on Pinterest or maybe Ohdeedoh, complete with a rocking chair, matching crib set, and totally trendy, but of course learning appropriate, art on the walls. Yes, indeed, the nesting hormones were kicking in, and I was ready to dive right in.
Without a doubt, nurseries are totally the norm in American culture but, from a biological standpoint, aren’t really necessary. Babies are not designed for solitary sleep, but rather thrive through constant connection from their mother. And holy mackerel, there are some majorly awesome benefits to co-sleeping or even room-sharing. Although I wasn’t quite sure about this whole co-sleeping thing, I knew I wanted my baby near.
To top it off, I had no idea that newborn babies prefer to nurse at least every two hours (and more like continuously for the first few weeks). And my husband, drawing on his background in communication sciences, encouraged me to reject any notion of the baby being capable of “independence,” but rather to respond quickly to her needs so that we might create a trusting, loving environment.
Suddenly, the separate nursery didn’t seem to be the necessity that I had originally thought. I realized that Baby and I would be together ALL. OF. THE. TIME. Did I really want to walk down the hall to a nursery? Family and friends would be visiting from out-of-state, and I anticipated really needing their help. Did I want to use our only extra bedroom (in a small apartment) as a nursery or leave it as a guest room for our visitors?
In the end, it was a no brainer. We saved a lot of money by setting up a mini-nursery in our bedroom, and our daughter was always within arm’s reach. At 13 months, she still sleeps in our bedroom, albeit in a crib (although occasionally I convince her to cuddle with us, but she tends to prefer her own space. Sigh.) Our situation may not be the cultural norm in the U.S. (or even among any of our friends), but it feels right for us. And there are still times that I wish I had had the opportunity to welcome our daughter home to a beautiful nursery created just for her.
But when the time is right, I’ll dig back through all of the DREAM nursery photos patiently waiting on my computer desktop, and create the perfect bedroom for my newly independent little girl. But thankfully, not just yet.
Kate loves watching HGTV, planning for her dream home, and stealing cuddles from her sweet little girl. Read more about her family’s adventures and dreams at Boomerang Mama.
Did you know The Other Baby Book: A Natural Approach to Baby’s First Year is now for sale? Are you interested in learning more about gentle, mom and baby-friendly practices that foster a joyful, connected relationship? Want to introduce a pregnant friend to natural parenting? Check out our website or head over to Amazon to grab your copy today!
6 thoughts on “A Nursery Free Home”
It makes me sad when I see moms afraid to keep their babies close for fear of “spoiling”them. It’s nice to hear that it’s ok to meet BG’s needs and feel connected as a family. It really seems to be the norm for most of the rest of the world, maybe we’re just catching up. Well said boomerangmama.
It makes me wonder where the whole “spoiling” mentality even originated. I know too many mothers who are embarrassed to admit that they like having their babies close at night. Thanks for your response!
We set up a nursery, and I enjoyed every moment of the ritual of setting it up. But? Total. Waste. Of. Money. We knew we wanted our LO to sleep in our room with us at first, and we set up a bassinet on my side of the bed. I was surprised and overwhelmed by how far away he felt, even in that bedside bassinet. We moved him into our bed (with one of those in-bed co-sleeper thingies), and he’s never spent a night out of our bed. We could have totally forgone a nursery. As we prepare to make our big move this weekend to a new pad, we’re actually debating whether or not we want to dedicate one of the bedrooms for LO. It just seems like a waste of space for us right now…
Great post, Kate! 🙂 Love the quote at the head of the post!
We decorated a whole nursery for my son, my dad even painted sea turtles all over the room. It was beautiful, but Will was with us from the start. Then, we moved 5 months later! I was crushed, but we have lots of pictures. Our transition actually helped us go with our gut and just do what was best for him. We kept a pack and play right by our bed and most nights he ended up with us (and 5 years later, he still does!).
My daughter, like yours, much prefers her own space! She likes to snuggle, but when it comes to bedtime she wants her crib. At least someone’s putting it to good use. 🙂