Get It Together

Bring your baby home to a room that's cozy and clutter-free.


Life with a newborn will keep you busy (and exhausted) enough to see your housekeeping suffer. And that's OK. After all, there's no real reason that dirty dishes or a foot-high pile of junk mail should capture your attention when you can spend quality time fixated on your new baby instead.

But even if you ditch the chores for a while, you will probably enjoy having a nursery with a place for everything and everything in its place. It can become your refuge, an inviting spot for playtime, bonding and endless baby gazing.

"Knowing where everything is can give you a sense of control in this mysterious new world of motherhood that you're just learning to navigate," says Rachael Teacher, L.S.W., a Philadelphia-based therapist and the owner of Hope and Space, a company offering professional advice on getting—and staying—organized. "When your surroundings are peaceful and organized, confidence and relaxation are much easier to achieve."

All you need are some basic organization tips (we'll help you out with those) and a few bins, baskets, drawers and shelves. Happy nesting.

Tip: Zone In.

Designate zones to accommodate different needs: a diaper-changing and dressing area, a play space, a laundry section, a spot for a rocker or comfortable chair—and, of course, for thebaby's bed (unless she's sleeping in your room).

Once you have decided where the larger furniture will go, create a personalized system for organizing diapers, clothes, toys, etc., that is intuitive and flows naturally. "When your system makes sense to you, it will be easier to maintain and should keep you motivated to stick to it," says organization expert Rachael Teacher.

Tip: Hang On.

An over-the-door pocket organizer can hold just about anything and keep it out of reach of curious toddlers.Ditto for hanging canvas closet bags—their different compartments keep everything tidy.

Tip: Think Outside the Nursery.

Use everyday kitchen canisters as catchalls for cotton balls and swabs, diaper creams, nail clippers and more, advises Amanda Sullivan, a mother of three and founder of The Perfect Daughter: Chaos Control, a New York-based professional organization service. Unfinished-wood CD storage boxes can hold tiny socks and be painted to match the room. Later, use the canisters for art supplies and the CD boxes for small toys such as Legos or blocks.

Tip: Label Stuff.

Yup, go crazy. Writer and mother Victoria Clayton says labeling the insides of dresser drawers and closet shelves helps family members and caregivers find what they need when you're not around. This type of system also helps ensure your baby's things get put back where they belong. No muss, no fuss!

Tip: Size It Up.

Keep clothing organized according to size. "Put larger clothes in plastic-drawer storage boxes in the closet so that the next size up is easily accessible when you suddenly discover those 6-months jeans have turned into capris seemingly overnight," Sullivan suggests.

Also dedicate a spot to store outgrown clothes. When you're ready to get rid of them, you won't have to dig through every piece of clothing in your baby's wardrobe. Desig-nate aspace, too, for sentimental items you want to save.

Tip: Accept Being Good Enough.

Organization isn't about perfection, Teacher says. Rather, it's about promoting simplicity and happiness in your home. When you're relaxed, your baby will sense it and you'll both enjoy the blissful haze of those first days and weeks as a new family.

What You Need: A Timeline