Jump directly to the content
Saying No to the Cutesy Baby Nursery
Antruz Photo / Flickr

Saying No to the Cutesy Baby Nursery


Apr 25 2013
We made room for our newborn, just not a room of her own.

I knew I had passed the ambiguous "Is she chubby or is she pregnant?" phase when people started posing direct questions about the baby like "When are you due?" or "How far along are you?" Later in the conversation, they'd ask, "Do you have the nursery set up?" or "What colors are you doing your nursery?"

The first few times I was caught off guard. We didn't plan on having a nursery. Over the next few months, I had to develop a standard two-line response, a justification for a decision I didn't expect to be so counter-cultural.

I am one of the first of my friends to have kids, so I didn't realize what a Big Deal nurseries were. Turns out, they are a Big Deal. Pregnancy magazines offer tips for designing the perfect nursery, not to mention the "inspiring" design ideas on the web and Pinterest.

Our decision to forgo a nursery started out as a practical, maybe even slightly selfish one. We live in a two-bedroom condo, with a bedroom and an office/craft room/guest room. Not ready to give up the multipurpose second bedroom, we set up a changing table and Pack 'N Play in our room and felt ready to go.

The more I thought about it, I realized that baby nurseries—like so many other seemingly insignificant aspects of life—symbolize certain cultural values we express and pass along to our children. Then I read Our Babies, Ourselves, by Meredith Small, an anthropologist who studies ethnopediatrics, child-rearing across cultures.

Before my baby was out of the womb I already felt tired of debates over the Right Way to parent. As she looks at cultures around the world, Small asserts that there is no Right Way. Instead, "Every act by parents, every goal that molds that act, has a foundation in what is appropriate for that particular culture. In this sense, no parenting style is 'right' and no style is 'wrong.' It is appropriate or inappropriate only according to the culture."

In the United States, we value individualism, so we place babies in their own cribs, in their own rooms. But in Italian culture, children sleeping on their own is considered "unkind," and Mayan parents were shocked when told of the American practice of putting babies to bed in their own room, saying it was "tantamount to child neglect." How we raise our children has practical implications, and I realized how important it is for my husband and me to be intentional about our decisions, whether they align with the prevailing wisdom from our nursery-loving, individualistic culture or not.

To add a comment you need to be a registered user or Christianity Today subscriber.

LoginorSubscribeorRegister
More from Her.menutics
We Wish You a Busy Easter

We Wish You a Busy Easter

Why the extra services and special meals of Holy Week are good for us.
Neither Fully Widow Nor Fully Wife

Neither Fully Widow Nor Fully Wife

Alzheimer’s puts caregivers in painful in-betweens.
The Epic Jesus Follower Fail

The Epic Jesus Follower Fail

The cringe-worthy subplot of Holy Week underscores the truth of the gospel.
How Female Farmers Could Solve the Hunger Crisis

How Female Farmers Could Solve the Hunger Crisis

Fighting gender inequity in global farming.
Include results from Christianity Today
Browse Archives:

So Hot Right Now

Raised in a Christian Cult

‘Girl at the End of the World’ adds to an important line of ex-fundamentalist survivor stories.

What We're Reading

CT eBooks and Bible Studies