A lot of time is spent by parents and children in a nursery or children’s room. It is a place to change baby’s nappies, a safe play area and children spend many hours sleeping there. So it’s worth paying attention to. Parents can make their children’s room personal and special by using beautiful furniture, soft textiles and special nursery decorations. What are the trends?
Interior design trends for the nursery and children’s bedroom furniture
Nowadays children spend more time indoors than outdoors. Now, during the corona pandemic, children spend even more hours indoors. A child’s room is not only used for sleeping, but also for playing, gaming and doing homework. This means that even more attention is paid to the design and styling of a nursery and children’s room. When it comes to furnishing, a bed, a wardrobe and a desk are the most important starting points, but creating a certain atmosphere has become just as important.
Chosing furniture for the nursery
Once the space of a nursery or children’s room is known, the furniture can be chosen. In doing so, parents immediately set up a coordinated whole. If space is limited, the trick is to think big, so don’t put too many small things in a room. In terms of furniture, there are several trends: first of all, the emergence of co-sleepers. Since parents are increasingly laying their babies to sleep in the parents’ bedroom during the early stages of life, there has been a growing demand for co-sleepers, which have taken over the role of baby baskets or Moses baskets. More and more brands are introducing their own co-sleeper. Another furniture trend is that parents are not necessarily looking at the brand of furniture, but are looking for a certain design, such as vintage or modern.
Reusing furniture in the future
Parents are more aware of the costs involved in buying a baby room, so they prefer to opt for furniture that can be reused if you are planning for, or are pregnant with, a second baby. But also from a sustainability point of view. So not just a cot, but one that you can convert into a single bed or a small sofa. Think also of chests of drawers and wardrobes that can be converted into a functional dresser or otherwise. Buying nursery furniture is one of the biggest expenses, so parents want value for money. Quality, functionality and price are the main considerations when making a purchase.
In terms of design, there is a lot to like in children’s room furniture. A design cot, chest of drawers and dresser can determine the entire look and atmosphere of a small room in one fell swoop. Some parents will feel attracted by this, but most parents play it safe and consider good value for money more important. The internet and social media channels such as Instagram and Pinterest are used to gain inspiration and make the final choice.
How about safety?
A large group of parents prefer to buy second-hand or vintage furniture. Recent research by WIJ monitor (further in this issue) shows that some 57 per cent of furniture is bought new and 43 per cent second-hand. Safety remains an important consideration with second-hand items. A sleeping place for a baby, toddler or child must be safe first of all, so a cot must have correct distance between the cot bars, side walls of a minimum height and splinter-free material. The position of the baby bed is also important, away from the dangers of electrical sockets, cords of curtains or blinds. A dresser is increasingly being used as a changing area and this is a matter of concern; there are guidelines for a chest of drawers with raised edges for a reason.
Styling trends for the nursery for 2021:
Meet the world – velvet
The crisis hinders us from travelling, but we would like to make plans and create memories. Combine furniture and/or accessories from countries you love or still want to visit. Dark colours like burgundy, sapphire blue and emerald green and various shades of brown are combined with earth tones like beige and pink. For the nursery or children’s room, it is wise to use them in moderation, otherwise the room will be too dark. Think of shiny fabrics and rich materials such as velvet, leather, brass and bronze, when you want to use accent colours. Combinations with large floral prints and ethnic patterns give an extra rich feeling. In this way, parents can turn their room into a voyage of discovery for their children.
Sustainability is here to stay. Generation Z chooses socially responsible and eco-friendly brands and likes to do its bit for a better environment for the sake of their children, irrespective of whether they choose a single recycled piece of furniture or a whole children’s room. Rattan and vintage furniture straight out of the fifties or sixties is extremely popular. They are combined with materials from nature, such as sea grass baskets. All these natural tones combine well with natural fabrics, such as organic cotton, jute and wool. In addition to woven fabrics, we also see velour and corduroy, which are soft and cuddly and perfect for use in baskets, playpen covers and lampshades. The colour palette consists of brown and beige tones combined with greens, from deep green to a watercolour effect with a spicy red, orange or yellow accent as a contrast.
Interior that radiates calm with a minimum of accessories and where shapes are important. It seems to be a combination of Scandinavian and Japanese influences. Here, attention is paid to beautiful incidences of light, quiet forms and natural materials. Many rounded shapes that make everything softer and in which we can withdraw now that so much is going on in the world. With a light colour palette such as a mix of shades of white and powder tones here and there, combined with black. This includes fabrics with different structures such as linen, felt, silk, wool and teddy combined with light wood and even sleek tiles for a tidy feeling.
Whether animals, boats, cars, flowers or fairy tales are involved, themed rooms never go out of fashion. Usually it is a mix of old, new and a theme. It is the imperfection that makes it exciting. The starting point can be a beautiful wallpaper, or a special lamp or poster. Once the theme has been chosen, there are plenty of accessories available to further style the room with cushions, blankets, toys, lamps, coloured storage crates, baskets and even a rug. With wall stickers or a nice wallpaper, parents can create a certain atmosphere in a short time.
Trends in the use of colours
Colours evoke feelings, so careful thought should be given to the correct use of colours. Red stimulates and leads to activity, yellow is cheerful, green and blue have a calming effect. Do you want to read more (in Dutch) about the effect of colours? See https://www.baby-wereld.nl/kleuren-babykamer/
At the moment we see a lot of old rose, green tones and rust colours in the baby room.
Do babies move enough? What is the current situation and what could be done better at home and in childcare? In adults, the importance of exercise is clear: it ensures good health and has a positive influence on, for example, blood pressure and heart condition. In short: exercise is good for your health. In the case of small children, there is much more to it. By moving, a child exercises his musculature and becomes stronger and stronger, which is good for his self-confidence. But there’s something more: with movement a child also learns to discover his or her surroundings and his or her own body.
For this subject, we interviewed expert Marije Magito, director of the ‘Jonge Kind Centrum’ which organises various workshops for parents with themes such as ‘Sleeping’, ‘Playing with your baby and toddler’ and weekly activities such as the Baby Club, Toddler Fun and Toddler Steps. In addition, the Jonge Kind Centrum offers training programmes and workshops to professionals in childcare. We also asked Tineke van Westerop some questions. She is paediatric physiotherapist and expert in the motor development of children from 0 to 4 years of age.
How do things stand with the motor skills of babies and toddlers?
‘Babies don’t move enough, not enough attention is spend on this’, according to Marije. Baby clinics do keep a close eye on developmental delays and overweight, but parents are not so aware of this as to allow babies to move more and better. Parents need to learn to facilitate and support this, especially with babies. There are local workshops such as baby yoga, baby swimming, a Baby Club like the ones in Almere and Rotterdam and baby massage. Massage (touch) is more important than you think because it supports, among other things, the development of body awareness. Babies are born without any awareness of their body and this awareness grows as they get older and gain body experiences. Just think of the baby who discovers his hands for the first time. Then you see the amazement. By naming the experience, the baby begins to link words to those experiences and thus learns that his hand is his hand. During a massage, babies experience the sensation of touching their body and thus the awareness of their own parts of the body and therefore their musculoskeletal system. And you can only ‘control’ that musculoskeletal system properly if you know which part is suitable for what. This means that babies need to be able to practice a lot and they literally and figuratively need ‘space’ to do so.
If a baby is going to push himself forward on your lap by stretching its legs, he is just practising until he is strong enough to carry his own weight. Children must be given the opportunity to move and therefore learn. The Feldenkrais method assumes that babies discover themselves and the world around them on the basis of their experiences. In addition, there are the ‘SpeelRuimte bijeenkomsten’ [Playing Area meetings] according to the Emmi Pikler method, especially popular in the north and east of the country. Babies can play freely here and parents and supervisors can watch from the sidelines what their babies experience and learn’
Marije Magito, general manager Jonge Kind Centrum
Parents are impatient
She continues: ‘Babies naturally have their own drive to move, as a parent you don’t have to do so much about that. Around 8 months of age, children will be able to sit on their own and then they will be strong enough. But parents would like their children to be able to sit and enjoy some cozy time at the table in the highchair a little earlier. Children will then be secured completely and producers will develop all kinds of things to meet the needs of parents. The fact that a child cannot sit down yet, has to do with the fact that his body is not yet strong enough for this. Instead of supporting him in this by ‘securing’ him to something, it is better to give a child more room to move so that he can strengthen his muscles.
I also see that activities meant for ‘big children’ are being offered to a far younger age group. There are sports clubs where children from the age of 1.5 years can play football for toddlers. Fathers who used to play football themselves, for example, would like their son to play football as well. Preferably as soon as possible. Resulting in 30 toddlers walking around in a group going all directions except the right one. They are just too young for that, both physically and mentally. Grass does not grow any faster by pulling it either, children grow into it on their own. It would be nice if parents and organisations could be a little more patient. In addition, the musculoskeletal system is stressed far too much on one side. Starting this kind of activity too early is not a good thing, and there is a good chance that parents will overcharge their young children and allow them to have negative experiences in something they want so badly. And this surely cannot be the intention.’
Do parents not know how to handle a baby?
‘Absolutely!’, Marije replies. There are many parents who do not know what a baby needs in order to develop properly. This is determined by a demographic history. The first baby held by young parents is often their own, whereas we used to babysit small children on a regular basis ourselves. Families used to be bigger, so there were always siblings to look after. And the mutual ties in the community where people lived were stronger. Now families live more apart, because you travel everywhere by car, with the result that families become isolated. At the Baby Club, we see parents coming in who do not know what else to offer a baby other than food, a clean nappy, cuddles and toys. It is also difficult to imagine what the life of parents is like now without help and with all the technology currently present’.
What about making toys available?
Children are now lying in the playpen with so many toys and cuddles that they can hardly move. They look at a babygym and above it hangs another mobile, they experience sensory overload and will not be able to play anymore. Babies get fixated, cannot filter so they will not let go of this image. The problem is also that parents do not know what all these toys now mean for their child’s development. When parents join us at the Baby Club, we offer them a bowl and a ball and tell the parents: take a good look at what your child is going to try out himself. Then you will see that children discover a tray completely with their hands and mouth, put the ball in and discover that the ball can be thrown out. This way, parents learn what their child is learning. There are many beautiful toys available, but parents have no idea what exactly children learn with them. Manufacturers should be able to explain that much more clearly’.
Marije herself is a big fan of balls in all sizes, especially beach balls. ‘They are light and very instructive; if you push it, it rolls away; if you push harder, it rolls further away. They get to know the shape, the weight, the material, they just engage in arithmetic! You can roll balls, throw them, you can sit on them, you can do massage and balance exercises on beach balls so that children can train their muscles’.
Is there enough information available for parents?
‘I sometimes see parents who really don’t know how to pick up their child and what to do with their child. Parents no longer know where to get information for the care of their child. There are so many parenting questions. They read too little and sometimes too much. In addition, they often mirror themselves to role models on social media and this does not always make them happy. And this also includes highly educated parents. The problem is much bigger than we think’.
She gives an example. Parents no longer know how to teach their little one how to climb and don’t want to, afraid of falling and bruising. These are all risk-averse behaviours for which they can now buy baby helmets, knee and elbow pads and even a pillow-shaped backpack online. We have a layer of pyramid-shaped wooden furniture with a gangway. Instead of teaching the child to climb and clamber barefoot so that it learns to assess risks for itself, they hold the child by the hand and want the child to walk up on a slippery board with socks on. That does not work, of course.
What about childcare expertise?
Marije: In 2018 the law IKK came into force. This stipulates that only 3 babies are allowed to be under the supervision of a baby carer, that a mentor must be present to better monitor children’s development and there is compulsory further training for the carers working with babies. But that has made baby groups unaffordable. For practical and financial reasons, they are placed in vertical groups of 0 to 4 years and that’s a mistake. After all, babies cannot be placed on the ground between racing bicycles and there is often insufficient space for playpens on the ground, with the result that they are all too often placed safely in high playpens. Research data of the ‘Landelijke Kwaliteitsmonitor Kinderopvang’ (National Child daycare Quality Monitor) from 2018 show that the educational quality in the vertical groups for babies is lower than in a (horizontal) baby group. With the introduction of the Child daycare (Innovation and Quality) Act (IKK Act), there have only been more vertical groups. The big question is what this means for the educational quality of babies. Crowds in the group can cause babies to experience sensory overload and stress, but with the new act the risk of understimulation lurks because they receive less attention and care, especially if they are quiet babies. In doing so, the IKK Act is counterproductive’.
Ten years ago we interviewed paediatric physiotherapist Tineke van Westerop on the subject of babies and exercise. She expressed her concern about the many small children being stuck in bouncers, lounge chairs, child safety seats and highchairs, but also in strollers and buggies and the consequences for small children.
What is the current situation, do babies move enough?
According to Tineke, we have to distinguish between childcare and the home situation. In childcare, more attention has definitely been paid to dealing with babies. Employees are more aware that babies need room to move, but in practice this is difficult due to time pressure. An example: educational assistants are busy and for practical reasons they feed the babies while they are in a bouncer. Sometimes two or three in a row, that saves time. In order to prevent reflux, they let the babies digest their food comfortably in a bouncer for a while, while carrying out other tasks. Before you know it, the babies have to go back to bed or have fallen asleep in the chair without being able to move freely for a while. Educational assistants do want to organize things differently in the group, but they run into that time pressure’.
Has there been any change in the home situation?
Tineke van Westerop, paediatric physiotherapist
‘At home with the parents, little has changed in my opinion. It is certainly not unwillingness, but there is little knowledge of motor development. In any case, in today’s society there is much more interest in children’s cognitive development than in motor development. Also from the side of the government. Some children only get 1 hour of physical education per week in primary school, nothing has improved in recent years. Exercise physiologists see teenagers who don’t even know that their heart will beat faster when they start to exercise. Orthopeadic surgeons such as Piet van Loon have been working hard for years for more prevention, because they are worried about all those children with back problems… What’s more, all the fun of old-fashioned television is now available 24/7 on mobile devices via the Internet. You could not wish for a nicer sop. In short, from birth, children sit in a bent position for many hours. The back muscles are used far too little. This will certainly have consequences such as various musculoskeletal complaints at an increasingly younger age’.
A bouncer is handy, isn’t it?
Tineke: ‘Parents are convinced they can’t do without a bouncer and buy too much stuff for their baby anyway. While a baby’s real needs are very basic; love, attention and being able to eat and sleep at set times. If babies can rely on this, they will be able to develop optimally without our help’. She’s continues: It would care a lot if the children, including the babies, were lying on their stomachs while looking at the phone or tablet. In this way they train the back muscles and strong back muscles will give you pleasure for a lifetime. Put the baby in the playpen rather than in a bouncer, because the more exercise experience a baby is allowed to gain, the better it is for brain development!’
Buggies are ideal for short distances. They are small, light, have small swivel casters and are compact foldable. Besides functional models there are nowadays buggies on the market which, given their many extras, have evolved into mini strollers! As soon as children can sit up a bit and don’t want to miss out on anything in their surroundings, a buggy is a very convenient and additional option for them. In folded state, a buggy hardly takes up any space, which is convenient in public transport, airplanes and even on bicycles with special buggy carriers. The latest models can be folded into such a small package with their 3D folding technique that they even fit in a backpack!
The catch-up process of buggies
Functional buggies are inferior to full-fledged strollers because of the stiffer springing, narrower seat, less comfort, lack of a carrycot, reducer, foldable seat and fewer reclining or sleeping positions. For long walks in the forest or park, a stroller is usually a more comfortable alternative, especially if the baby is still very small. Buggies are significantly affected, because of a first, second and sometimes third child climbing in and out, groceries you can hang in and on the buggy and riding through sand and pebbles. Reasons enough for parents to make the choice for a little quality!
The latest buggies have really been catching up in luxury and comfort and approach the quality of a stroller. They can be set in different positions in no time, including a sleeping position, have a sunroof and place for small groceries. Most buggies can be folded with one hand and there are already buggies on the market with an automatic folding system.
Buggy designers speak
Lead designer and sustainability expert Aernout Dijkstra-Hellinga of bugaboo confirms that buggies have changed a lot in the last five years.
‘Where in the past the buggy was only bought as a second stroller, where the lack of comfort, ergonomics and ease of riding was taken for granted in favour of compactness, I see that nowadays people expect a lot more from a buggy. The trend is that people also want a buggy that steers and rides well, with good suspension, good ergonomics for the child, sufficient storage space, sufficient adjustment possibilities for the parent and a good building quality. A buggy can also be the first and only vehicle for many people living in larger cities. People also want a buggy that fits the style of the parent / carer, design has become much more important’.
According to Benoît Guillet, category manager at Dorel, the buggies are mainly lighter in weight (6 to 7 kilos), but also more compact and easier to fold into a package that can stand upright and be taken on the plane as hand luggage. ‘A buggy has to be versatile, which means: use from birth up to four years of age, on which a child safety seat or soft carrycot can be secured, good suspension and larger wheels’.
Easywalker’s design team also noticed the change that the two handles have been exchanged for a single push bar so that the buggy can also be controlled with one hand, and many folding methods have been developed for compact-fold buggies. ‘We see that with several buggies on the market, a number of features have been taken out of the design in favour of weight and compactness. For example, most buggies now have 4 wheels instead of 8’.
What are important principles for making a good buggy?
Easywalker design team: ‘With all of our products, the most important principle is that they are great to ride, even after prolonged use. Compactness, comfort and ease of use are also important principles. The buggy must be easy to fold in and out into a hand luggage size package that is easy to store both when travelling and at home. All our buggies offer the possibility to bring the seat into a full reclining position, so that the child can sleep comfortably in it and the buggy can in principle be used from birth’.
Aernout: ‘We always go for the best quality, both in construction and in materials, so the buggy can last at least 10 years. We are also thinking about how the buggy can be recycled . Partly because of this, we recently won the prestigious Baby Innovation Green Award. Ergonomics for parent and child is very important, we think carefully about where and how the child is positioned in the buggy. For example, a good back support and a correct upright sitting position develops good ‘core’ stability. It must also be possible to adjust the handlebar to the correct height for perfect riding behaviour, in combination with sufficient walking space. Because we want to give as much value as possible to the user, our buggies are usable from birth. The seat can also always be used towards the parent because contact between parent and child is essential. Finally, we pay a lot of attention to the appearance of the vehicle, looking at the smallest details such as the connections of the screws, but also what the vehicle looks like when folded up. A bugaboo product should look perfect in all positions!’
Are there any new materials and techniques you use?
Aernout: ‘For almost every stroller we design, we have to come up with a new way of setting and folding. Each stroller has a unique set of features in terms of functionality and appearance, so we have to brainstorm our ideas every time to make this combination perfect. We are always looking for materials that have less impact on the environment. We look at how we can execute our parts with less stressful materials, this requires a different way of engineering and construction. We are also looking at how we can use as many recycled materials as possible’.
Easywalker design team: ‘The fabrics of the Easywalker Miley are made of recycled plastic (including PET bottles). A small modification with great impact on the sustainability of the product. Also, the Easywalker Miley is our first vehicle with the ‘Unique Accessory System’. By means of a unique click system, accessories can easily be attached to the push bar and the bumper bar. The accessories we release for this purpose are a handlebar for the child, a cup-holder, an LED light for good lighting in the dark and a telephone holder’.
Buggy wishes for the modern parent according designers:
– riding nicely even after prolonged use
– good suspension
– easy compact folding, hand luggage size
– preferably with lying position
– good quality materials
– storage options
– nice design
– thinking about recycling materials
Do you want to read this article in Dutch? please see BabyWereld.nl