The infant room at a day care center serves two important functions. It provides a pleasant and stimulating environment for babies to learn and grow, and a safe, efficient and professional workspace for the adults charged with caring for these infants. Striking a balance between these two functions will create the optimal space for infants and adults to interact. Decorating the day care center’s infant room begins with effective space-planning and wraps up with attention to those sweet details that make infants feel safe and loved.
No matter what decorating style you select for the infant room, plan with safety in mind. Make sure all outlets, windows, doors and sharp corners are covered or gated to protect infants from injury. All decorations, textiles and furniture should be appropriately cleaned and sanitized. Any audio or video cords should secured safely out of infant reach. Don’t use air fresheners, since these can be irritable to infants’ sensitive nasal passages and lungs. Select tempered mirrors and non-toxic paints.
Planning Room Flow
Make sure cribs, changing tables, play stations and other larger pieces of furniture are placed so that adults can quickly and safely move from infant to infant without obstruction. Although big spaces can make older children feel excited to play and run, these spaces can feel intimidating and scary to smaller tykes. Create cozy nooks with bookcases, storage cabinets and rocking chairs. Dimmer switches on room lights can also help adjust mood, so that it feels quieter and darker during nap times.
Infants and toddlers experience the world as a sensory adventure, filled with things to see, hear and touch. Alter floor-based tactile experiences by scattering rugs to contrast with floor tiles. Ceiling hangings and mobiles can create visual patterns that infants find appealing. Soft, quiet places for resting are also welcome. Soothing colors are best for infant rooms. Choose blue to encourage relaxation, or pink to create a glowing, loving feel in the room. Pale greens can create a natural feel, and a light yellow can feel sunshiny and warm. Crib bedding should be soft and pleasant, but don't use extra bedding, pillows or stuffed animals for decoration, as these could pose a risk of suffocation.
Responsive Learning Environments
Create playful learning environments for infants to explore their world. Low, stable equipment, such as padded bolsters, allow infants to investigate by pulling themselves up for a good look around. Sensory materials, such as clay, markers and crayons, can be safely and colorfully stored in transparent containers for an additional decorative touch. Keep toys stored openly and on low shelves so that infants can easily grasp them.
- Cornell University: Designing Childcare Settings
- Vanderbilt University: Classroom Goals
- Syracuse University: Infant Room
- Mother Earth Living: Nursery Colors: Choose the Best Colors for Your Baby's Bedroom
- U.S. General Services Administration: Child Care Center Design Guide
- Colorado Department of Human Services: Rules Regulating Child Care Centers
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