Getting the nursery ready for your newest addition is one of the most exciting parts of a pregnancy. Whether you have an extra room that you always reserved for a bundle of joy, or you’re converting perhaps an office or a guest room into your baby room, there’s lots to do. Baby girl nurseries are traditionally full of flowers and rainbows, with pinks and purples all around. Then, there are gender-neutral nurseries for those who do not wish to know the gender of their baby before he or she arrives into the world. But what if you know you’re having a boy? You’ll need some great baby boy nursery ideas, tips and tricks to make his room his safe haven, and sanctuary of rest.
In this article, I’ll go through the history of the crib, crib ideas, nursery murals, storage ideas for baby boy nurseries, tips and tricks for the nursery, and we’ll even go through a step-by-step tutorial for building a beautiful moon-shaped baby crib.
History of the crib
Baby cribs have evolved in very interesting ways over the years!
Nurseries are a relatively new concept — for most of human history, babies slept beside their mothers (and indeed, still do in many parts of the world). The world’s first nighttime sleep device was probably the arcuccio — Italian for “little arch”. Designed in the 17th century, it was a half barrel with all but three slats removed, and sat atop the mother’s bed with the baby inside. The design allowed the mother easy access to her little one for breastfeeding, without the chance of her rolling onto her baby or her baby accidentally rolling out of bed. Until central heating became the norm, babies spent the first few months in their mother or parent’s room, since body heat kept the space cozy. At this time, apparatuses that attached to the mother or parent’s bed (like today’s co-sleeper cribs) was quite trendy.
Later, the first baby cribs started to take shape. Babies, you see, are soothed by gentle rocking motions, scientists think because they are constantly rocked inside the womb as their mother goes about her day. Baby cribs got their start as hammocks. Baby hammocks were eventually replaced by wooden cradles. In the 19th century, though, wooden cradles were thought less hygienic, and so were replaced with ones made from metal.
Historic records of inventions sent to the US Patent and Trademark office show that people have been working on new designs for baby cribs and carrying devices since the mid-1800s. Most of them involved some sort of rocking mechanism, and many provided seating for the parents as well. Some clever designs offered all-in-one-type capabilities. By the 19th century, cogs, spring motors, and hand cranks started making their way into the designs, to help the cribs and cradles rock on their own — at least for a few minutes. It wasn’t until 1924 that an electric cradle was invented.
The Moses basket
The Moses basket makes you newborn feel safe and protected.
The bassinet, or Moses basket, is essentially a basket for holding a newborn. It has roots in the biblical story of Moses, who was placed in a basket and sent floating down the Nile river (Exodus 2:1-10). The Moses basket, as it was named, took shape as a basket that was placed on a stand — usually one that could rock — but was detachable from that stand so that it could be moved as the parents or nanny needed or desired. Traditionally, after four months in the Moses basket, or bassinet, babies would be transferred to their crib.
The baby box
Finland was the first country to introduce the baby box concept, sending the kits out to all expectant mothers who attended a prenatal class. The box contained baby essentials, including diapers, a thermometer, socks, and winter wear, and doubled up as a baby bassinet. The baby box was such a success in Finland that parts of the US and countries like England, Canada and India have all experimented with offering baby boxes.
The window crib
At the start of the 20th century, it was believed that babies should spend a certain amount of time sleeping outdoors in the cold to strengthen their immune systems, and renew and purify their blood. As such, “window cribs” became a thing, and were baby beds that were suspended from, or attached to, window frames. In the city, these took the form of baby cages suspended from windows in apartment buildings that looked out over the city, particularly popular in New York and London. Yes, seriously. Even Eleanor Roosevelt is said to have used such a device for her baby Anna — until a neighbor threatened to report her for child cruelty, that is!
The air crib
In the mid-1900s, a psychologist named B. F. Skinner invented what he called the “air crib”. It was completely enclosed with three solid walls and a ceiling. At the front was safety glass, so the baby could be observed inside. The idea was temperature control — Skinner felt that babies were far too restricted when bundled up in traditional cribs, so to allow them freedom of movement, he invented this temperature-controlled baby cage, of sorts. It didn’t really take off.
The future of baby cribs
Everyone got pretty excited when, back in 2016, it was discovered that one of Google’s subsidiaries, Nest, filed a patent for a ‘smart crib’. The crib was designed to measure important baby vitals, like temperature, tell parents if the baby was awake or asleep, and even proposed an algorithm that could work out whether a baby was crying, and amazingly, tell the parents why — whether it needed a diaper change, or was tired or hungry. But as there’s been nothing but silence on Google’s end about the smart crib, it’s either been abandoned, or they’re taking their sweet time developing the next generation of baby cribs!
In the meantime, there’s SNOO Smart Sleeper bassinet. The responsive bassinet combines gentle rocking with soothing white noise to boost the baby’s sleep by one to two hours — or so it claims. It also connects to parents’ smartphones so that they can monitor the baby’s sleep progress, as well as other vitals. Though currently only available to US customers, expect to see more like this pop up around the world. Even Ashton Kutcher and Mila Kunis got one for their baby.
Picking out your little one’s crib is one of the most exciting parts of getting the nursery ready for his arrival!
Of course, you don’t have to invest thousands of dollars into a crib to keep your baby safe and warm and enclosed while they sleep. Here are some less expensive crib ideas for your baby boy nursery.
The four-poster crib
This bed is what it says on the tin — a baby bed with four posters. One of the great things about this crib design is that the structure makes it easy to add lights and a mosquito net to the crib for that fairytale look and feel. It’s even possible to fashion crib curtains to be hung between the posters, so that you can create a dark, enclosed atmosphere for the baby without having to darken the entire room. It also gives the crib a bit of extra pizzazz.
The sleek, clean style of Scandinavian bassinets have become popular around the world. Their minimalist style and ergonomic design gives any nursery a modern touch, and are perfect for anyone putting together a gender-neutral nursery.
The dark crib
Dark or black cribs are super modern and trendy right now. They’re perfect for a baby boy nursery, since the dark color and often sturdy design give the crib a masculine feel. They work well with splashes of color and white, in nurseries where dark colors are the primary feature.
The sled crib
Who says that cribs have to be boring? Transform your baby boy’s crib into something out of a fantasy story. Give it planks and create unique curves to give it that sleigh shape. Your baby boy will love it, particularly come Christmas, when he can feel like he’s in Santa’s sleigh.
The circular crib
For parents who are interested in having a crib with a totally unique design, circular cribs are very much in style right now. This crib design looks particularly good when placed in the center of the nursery, particularly when decorated with bows and ribbons (choose blue and grey for boys), and possibly even with a chandelier hanging overhead!
For those who love a bit of old-world charm, an antique crib may be just the answer. Pick one up from your local antique store, or perhaps pick one up on Ebay. Pair with antique-inspired furniture and matching wood for best results.
Cute, hand-painted murals will make an excellent addition to your baby boy nursery.
Painting your baby boy nursery is a fun activity that the whole family can get involved in (of course, pregnant women should be careful of the fumes). Why not kick things up a notch and do a mural in your baby’s nursery? If you’re not a natural artist, you can simply project a design or image on the wall and essentially paint by numbers. So, get inspired! Here are some nursery mural ideas to get you started:
- Under the sea: Paint the surface of the water near the ceiling, and then have fun creating an aquatic atmosphere below. Include octopi, colorful fish, vibrant coral reefs, and of course, lots and lots of bubbles.
- In the jungle: Is your little boy going to be like Mowgli? Give him the feel of jumping straight into the Jungle Book by painting tall trees, and jungle animals like giraffes, lions and tigers, monkeys, sloths, elephants, and more. Be sure to give the creatures friendly faces, so they don’t scare your little one!
- My little mountain goat: Give your baby boy the feel of the great outdoors by painting easy triangular mountains on the walls of his nursery. Make them snow-capped for an added element of adventure.
- Outer space: Mesmerize your son with a stars-and-planets themed nursery. Planets are easily painted, with simple circle stencils (or just trace around a bowl), and stars can be flicked on paint splotches with yellow or white paint.
- Farm life: Bring Old MacDonald to life — eeyi eeyi O — with a fun, farm-themed mural in your little boy’s room. Paint-friendly cows and horses grazing in the fields, pigs playing in the mud. A rocking horse would work well with this kind of theme.
- Storybook: Why not take inspiration from one of your favorite childhood books for your baby boy’s mural? Ideas include The Hungry Caterpillar, Paddington Bear, Goldilocks and the Three Bears, and The Cat in the Hat.
- Disney: Alternatively, choose your favorite Disney movie — or one that you think your baby boy will love — and depict it across the four walls of your nursery. Consider The Hunchback of Notre Dame, The Sword in the Stone, or Mulan.
💡Tip: If you’re no good at painting, and you don’t want to bother with a projector project, you can get wall stickers that look like the real thing.
Let’s face it — babies come with a lot of stuff. To keep the space from getting cluttered, your baby boy’s nursery room will benefit from unique and clever storage ideas. Here are a few to get you started.
- In-crib storage: consider either building, customizing, or buying a crib that comes with its own built-in storage. Alternatively, if your crib is raised off the ground (which most are), simply purchase some storage boxes that will fit underneath.
- Under-changing table storage: get yourself a changing table that offers storage beneath, either in the form of shelves or drawers or both. It makes changing time so much simpler, with all the changing accessories you need — from diaper rash cream, to diapers and wet wipes, and more — all within easy reach.
- Metal buckets: Grab some metal buckets from your local dollar store, put up some hooks around the room, and hang the buckets for easy-peasy storage for those little things, like crayons, small toys, and the like.
- Canvas bags as over-door storage: Throw up some hooks on the door to your baby boy’s nursery, and pick up some colorful canvas bags (ideally ones that match your decor). Hang these from the hooks and store whatever you like!
- Closet organisers: These inexpensive storage tools are made for the closet, but work great just hung from a hook anywhere in the room!
- Use a spice rack for books: a spice rack mounted on the wall is perfect for holding your baby boy’s books, displayed horizontally. Positioning them so the cover is facing out also has the added effect of extra decoration on the walls of his nursery!
- Make the nursery appear bigger: if your baby boy’s nursery is a small space, don’t over-decorate. Avoid cluttering up the walls with large murals, shelves, and too much decor, which can make the nursery feel smaller.
- Shower rod and curtain rings for shoes: Pick up an adjustable curtain rod and fit it in your desired location. Feed curtain hooks with hooks attached through the rod, and use this for shoes, hats, scarves, and more.
- Hanging baskets on a towel rod: Install a towel rod and use a strong piece of twine to tie baskets to it, which you can then use for storage.
- Repurpose ladders for clothes/blanket storage: Got any ladders lying around the house? These work great for holding blankets, muslins, and hats. All it needs is a nice coat of paint (try to match the nursery colors) and this trendy trick is good to go.
- Repurpose an old dresser into a changing station: Before you toss away that old dresser, consider that it’s actually perfect for being repurposed into a changing station! All you need is a top that’s large enough for a changing mat (most are). The drawers are perfect for diaper, cream, and clothing storage.
- Hang a curtain rod for clothing: Fix a curtain rod anywhere in your baby boy’s nursery room — though it works particularly well underneath floating shelves. It’s perfect for hanging your baby boy’s clothes.
- Sew storage into the canopy: If you have placed one of those trendy canopies over your little boy’s bed, why not get out your sewing machine and use it to add a few extra pockets.
Baby boy nursery tricks and hacks
There are all kinds of baby boy nursery hacks that you can do to make your life (and your baby’s life!) easier. Here are some of the best ones I’ve found:
- Sew a door latch cover to stop your baby from waking up every time their nursery door opens or closes.
- Make a growth chart. Your baby is gonna shoot up! Track his progress with a fun, homemade growth chart, ideally that fits your chosen theme of the room.
- Get convertible furniture that grows with your baby. As I just mentioned, your baby will grow quick. So furnish his room with pieces that will grow with him. A futon sofa that you can sit on while doing a nighttime feed can one day be his bed, when he’s big enough for it.
- Buy second-hand. If you’re on a budget, consider buying second-hand furniture, like a crib and a sofa, and getting either a new mattress for the crib and reupholster the sofa. This means you don’t have to worry about their condition, since you’re getting the important areas re-surfaced.
- Make a comfy breastfeeding station. You or your baby mama will be spending a lot of time breastfeeding, so make sure there’s a comfy spot for it that’s well-stocked with essentials. Make sure it’s near a plug to charge phones or Kindles, and have a drawer that’s well stocked with breast pads, a breast pump, nipple cream, a nipple shield, energy bars, and plenty of water (breastfeeding is thirsty work!).
- Get a toy chest on wheels. My girlfriend with twin boys swears by this trick, which allows her boys to easily wheel their toys from the bedroom to the living room and back again, so that her house isn’t constantly cluttered with toys.
- Make good use of drawer organisers. Baby clothes are small and don’t take up much room, so you’ll be able to squeeze a lot into one drawer. Keeping it all organized is essential!
The one-in-one-out rule will keep your baby boy’s nursery — as well as the rest of your house — free of clutter (and keep you sane, as a result!).
💡Tip: As your boy gets older, implement the one in, one out rule for toys from the toy chest. This means that every time your little boy wants to play with a different toy, he has to put the one he has out back in, and will save you from constantly having to deal with a huge mess of toys all over the floor.
Step-by-Step Guide to Building a Half-Moon Baby Crib
Organise Material and Tools
Tools you will need:
- Hand saw — we like this Irwin coarse cut 15-inch saw
- Hammer — we like this 16 oz Estwing Hammer
- Nail Punch — We like this Malco nail punch
- Paslode Gun / nail gun (optional but makes job so much easier) — we like this Paslode finishing nail gun
- Palm or Belt Sander (optional, will increase speed of job completion) — we like this Dewalt electric palm sander
- Jigsaw — we like this Black+Decker smart select jigsaw
- Square — we like this Irwin Combination Square
Material for building your half-moon baby crib
- Nails — We like this Qualihome Hardware Nail Assortment Kit
- Plywood (18mm) Can pick up one full sheet @ 120cm x 240cm at your local timber merchants
- Wooden Cladding / Slats (thin) (you can also purchase at your local timber merchant) Ideally, you will need around 40 slats measuring 15 mm thick x 120 cm in length x 7/8 cm wide.
- Wood Glue — We like this Gorilla wood glue
- Paint, pop down to your local paint supplier and ask for whatever colour will go with your baby room pallet. Make sure to tell the shop assistant what the paint is for, to get maximum results and a paint that is safe to use on your babies crib
- Paint Brush — We like these Pro Grade Paint Brushes
- Different gradients of sandpaper — We like this Fandeli assorted sandpaper selection
1. Print out your designs
Find a design online for the half-moon crib. Here is a good one. Print your design from a computer and stick them to your work bench or wall for reference.
2. Test your tools.
Make sure all tools are functioning well, and that you have a work area set up with shelter and a power source.
3. Sand your slats
Use a palm sander for easy sanding. Lean into it for best results.
Start by sanding down all your wooden slats. Start with the lowest grit (80) and then work through to 120 grit, then eventually finish with the 220 grit for an extremely smooth finish.
4. Mark your frame
Now it’s time to mark your plywood and create the half moon shape. This will be the frame for your crib. If you are careful and accurate with your cuts, one sheet at the dimensions stated above shall be enough to complete the project. See diagram below.
Start with marking the center points of both half circles on your half moon. Then cut a piece of scrap wood to use as a makeshift protractor. Cut it to the specs below and nail the timber through the center hole you have marked.
Repeat this process on the other half moon, then cut the protractor by 5 cm to create the smaller semi circle, and that is your frame marked out.
5. Cut your frame
You’ll wind up with two pieces of frame that look like this.
Now, hook up your jigsaw and get cutting. Once the two sides of your frame are cut out, it should look like this.
6. Start attaching your frame
You’re now ready to attach a couple of the slatted pieces of wood to hold the frame together on each side. I cut mine at 60 cm long to ensure a good amount of space within the crib for the baby to grow into, ensuring a long life span of use for the half moon crib.
7. Build your shelf support
The shelf support is the area your baby will sleep on, so make sure to take extra care with this step!
Now it’s time to create a shelf support for the mattress to lie on. Use some wedges to get your crib level and in place. Measure down from the lowest point of the half moon circle about 12 cm, then, using a level, mark your straight line on each side. Use a spare slat or even an off-cut of your ply and make a shelf support on each side for the base of the mattress to sit on. Next, attach along your marked line.
Now measure your base for length and width to create the shelf for the mattress to sit on. It should measure roughly 95 cm long and 60 cm wide. You might need to piece together a few off-cuts of your ply to create the shelf. Simply nail and glue down each side.
8. Build the crib’s base
A sturdy base will support your crib and keep it from rocking and rolling when your little one is asleep.
Building the base for the crib to sit on can be as simple as a couple of wedges nailed in place or a couple of pieces of timber placed at each side in an upright position and nailed to the crib. I opted for a base unit that the crib sits directs on top of, as you can see in the above image.
9. Attach the rest of your slats
Your crib is nearly done! Isn’t it exciting?
Now move around the crib and attach the rest of your wooden slats using nails or a nail gun and wood glue to add strength.
💡Tip: Use a piece of cardboard as a spacer in between each slat to allow for expansion and contraction of the timber.
10. Decorate your crib
Get creative and add a few stars. I drew out some star shapes onto cardboard, cut them out and used that as a stencil on the side of the crib. Use the jigsaw to cut star shapes (or whatever shapes you prefer) out of the timber slats. Start by drilling and whole and inserting the jigsaw blade.
Hang a mobile. Simply add a hook and place your mobile over the top of babies crib. Buy a mobile or even create your own, to hang from the crib for your little boy or girl to gaze up at.
11. Paint the crib
A lick of paint or two, and your crib will look like you’ve just spent a fortune on it at the baby store!
For the final touch, you’ll paint out the crib. We used a simple matte white water-based paint. This had less odors, which was better for our unborn baby. Your crib may require two coats to completely, but it will stop the grain of the timber coming through — we liked this look, so we stopped at one coat.
💡Tip: Contact a custom fabric store to fabricate the mattress to the dimensions of the crib. Get a few sheets made for the mattress. Having a baby can be rather messy at times, so treat yourself to at least three — you’ll need them.