9 unsafe nursery trends to avoid

Long gone are the days of home décor magazines, TV shows and early 2000s bloggers dictating nursery trends!  Today’s expectant parents are turning to social media for tips on everything from the best pregnancy products to sleep schedules.   

So naturally, when it’s time to design your nursery, chances are Instagram, Tiktok, Pinterest or Youtube are one of your first ports of call. And why not?  It has never been so easy to have so many design style ideas at your fingertips, from Japandi, to transitional, to bohemian!   

However, between the beautifully curated and #paidpartnership posts, it’s important to realise that these stylised images, whether from brands or influencers, are often just that – stylised and not designed with real-life use (or safety) in mind. Unsuspecting parents can easily replicate these designs, unaware of the safety risks associated with them.  

But it’s time. Time to name and shame the unsafe nursery trends we’ve been seeing all over social media these past few years. Afterall, nothing is more important than the safety of your little one’s sleeping environment.  

Blue cot bumper inside natural wood coloured cot

1.) Bumpers 

Number one on the naughty list is bumpers (as well as DIY pillow bumpers). It's hard to scroll down your phone without seeing them everywhere, and while they may appear to protect baby from hurting themselves, bumpers actually increase the risk of suffocation and overheating should your little one roll over at any point.  

For older babies, bumpers pose the additional risk of acting as a step that mini-Houdinis can use to try to climb out of their cots, which can unfortunately lead to nasty falls.   

What about mesh bumpers? According to Red Nose, Australia’s leading safe sleep authority, they can also be hazardous if not fitted correctly and are unlikely to actually reduce impact if your child hits the cot as they are not padded.   

You may assume that if a product is widely available to buy in Australia - like bumpers are - they must be safe. However, while Australia does have great safety regulations, not all products on the market have been formally tested, so parents are encouraged to make an informed decision based on the evidence of product safety available. If in doubt, refer to Red Nose’s many safety resources, where bumpers clearly fall in the ‘avoid’ category.  

A baby lying in a beige baby loungers 

2.) Baby loungers   

A close second on the list are the seemingly innocuous baby loungers, also known as sleep pods. You’ve likely seen them around – large pillows with an indented middle that can be placed on any flat surface and provides a snug fit for your little one without the need for any straps or buckles. They’re so popular that it can be hard to scroll through Instagram, TikTok or Pinterest without seeing them everywhere! 

When every second influencer seems to use one, it may come as a surprise that there are significant associated safety issues many parents are not aware of. 

They’re actually fine to use while baby is awake and supervised... however the problem arises when parents need to step away or use it as a sleep space – even if baby falls asleep after play and you are reluctant to move them at the risk of waking them. Many parents are not aware that
its soft, padded sides pose a suffocation risk should baby roll or even just turn their head to the side.  

The sides are also low enough that baby could roll out of it, which poses an even higher risk if the baby lounger has been placed on a higher surface like your bed, tables, chests of drawers, etc. – an enticing option for many parents due to the baby lounger’s portability. The risk of the lounger being knocked off furniture (with baby in it) should be enough of a deterrent to avoid this at all costs.  

Finally, it is common to see a baby lounger placed inside a cot, bassinet or even Moses basket (see next point) on social media. This defeats the safety regulations that cots need to abide by, and does not meet the
safe sleep guidelines set by Red Nose. Sadly, soft surfaces and bulky bedding increase the risk of sudden infant death.   

Read Are pram bassinets safe for overnight sleeping? →  


Baby lying in a Moses basket 

3.) Moses baskets  

A Moses basket is a sweet and portable sleeping solution designed with newborns in mind. It usually features a wicker or palm basket with a fabric lining, convenient handles, and a cozy mattress for the baby to rest on. These baskets offer parents the flexibility to keep their new bundle of joy nearby in different rooms, which can be quite convenient. 

However, there are safety risks associated with Moses baskets, most notably the fact that they are not subject to the same strict safety regulations as traditional cots or bassinets in Australia. This means they may not adhere to safety standards designed to protect babies during sleep. 

Some potential concerns include their lightweight and portable nature, which can make them less stable than fixed cots or bassinets. Placing them on an uneven surface may lead to wobbling or tipping over. The small size of these baskets can also become a problem as your little one grows and becomes more active. Babies who start rolling or sitting up might find themselves a bit too cramped for peaceful sleep, and it could also impede their breathing. 

Unless the Moses basket has clearly labelled age or weight limits, breathable sides with easy visibility for parents (either mesh or robust vertical bars), a sturdy bottom, smooth surfaces with no hardware or sharp bits sticking out, as well as a firm, snug mattress that doesn’t leave a gap when pushed against the side of the basket, it is always recommended to use a full-sized cot or bassinet that meets with Australian safety standards instead. 

Read should my newborn sleep in a bassinet or a cot? 


Bunting hanging off a cot in a boho style nursery 

4.) Hanging decorations off the cot

The trend of hanging items such as bunting, mobiles, or other cute and decorative items from a cot is undeniably charming and highly Instagrammable. However, new parents may not realise that the picture-perfect images that inspire these trends often come from brand photoshoots. In those instances, the goal is to make the product look as visually appealing as possible. Unfortunately, these spaces aren't always designed with real-life use and safety in mind. 

Let’s be straight. Those adorable decorations, like bunting and ribbons, may pose risks like entanglement or suffocation if they accidentally get too close to your baby's face or body during sleep. And as for those charming mobiles? The tiny parts and strings could fall into the cot, possibly posing a choking risk. As cute as they are, there’s no place for them in real nurseries. Let's make the nursery a safe and enjoyable space, ensuring that your little one's cocoon is both cosy and safe. 

String lights hanging in a nursery  

5.) Fairy lights 

While fairy lights can add a whimsical and enchanting ambiance to a nursery, they do pose some hidden risks not all parents are aware of. Firstly, babies and toddlers are naturally curious and can easily reach out and grab objects - including the strings of fairy lights. The delicate wires can become entangled around a child's fingers, neck, or other body parts, potentially leading to injury or strangulation 

Their inquisitive natures also mean many small children like to explore by putting any objects they can into their mouths. Unfortunately, if a child chews or bites on fairy light wires or batteries, there's a risk of electric shock or significant injury. To ensure your child's safety, it's best to keep fairy lights well out of their reach, ensuring they are securely fastened and away from the cot or play area. If electric, the power point should be child-proofed, and if using batteries, it’s safest to screw or tape them securely inside.  

Baby surrounded by decorative pillows in a cot 

6.) Decorative pillows and throws  

Another trend seen all over social media are decorative pillows and throws, and while they certainly look like a cosy addition to a nursery, they can increase the risk of SIDS when placed in a cot or bassinet. Remember, babies and toddlers are still learning to master the motor skills and coordination needed to move objects away from their faces, and a pillow or throw can accidentally cover their nose and mouth, leading to suffocation or overheating. 

Entangled in the soft, loose fabric of throws is always a risk, not to mention the more adventurous variety of tots can try to use pillows, throws and other soft furnishings as a step for their grand escape to climb up (and potentially fall out of) the cot. Consequently, Red Nose states, “it is safer to wait until the child starts to sleep in a bed before introducing a pillow or other soft bedding.” The barer the cot, the safer the sleep space! 

Remember, most of the styled images you see of throws on cots and bassinets are either to promote the throw itself, or the cot. In most instances they are merely product displays, not real life. 

Pink canopy over soft neutral nursery

7.) Canopies  

Not only do they make a statement and serve as a decorative focal point, but canopies are popular in nurseries due to the dreamy, fairytale-like qualities they evoke. However, when it comes to safety, it’s best to wait until your child is a few years older before introducing a canopy to their sleep space - here’s why: 

First and foremost, canopies can pose a genuine suffocation or strangulation risk. The fabric can accidentally fall or drape over the baby's face, potentially obstructing their breathing. Infants are not always able to move objects away from their faces, especially during sleep, and canopy material is often too thick to be breathable. 

Additionally, the canopy frame itself can be dangerous. We’ve established that babies are quite curious and like to pull things they can reach. If they pull the canopy, the fabric or frame could collapse and fall into the cot or even on the baby. To ensure your baby's safety, it's best to avoid using canopies over cots or bassinets. If you do want that fairytale feel, consider wall decals, murals, art or even soft, warming light fixtures that can create an enchanting glow in the room instead!  

Teddy on nursery floor 

8.) Soft toys in the cot 

Soft toys, while incredibly adorable and cuddly, should not be left in the cot or bassinet with your baby until they are at least seven months old. It's essential to understand that this guidance is rooted in a commitment to creating the safest sleeping environment for your little one, allowing them to thrive and grow in a secure and comfortable setting.  

Babies have limited control over their movements and may accidentally turn their faces into or against these soft objects, which could potentially obstruct their airways during sleep. By removing soft toys, you are helping to ensure that your baby can breathe freely at all times, reducing the risk of SIDS. Once they get a little bit older, they may start to find comfort from familiar toys, but in the early months, that cute teddy or plush bunny won’t help them sleep any better. 

Your baby's cot is intended to be a sanctuary of peaceful and safe rest. It's a place where they can learn to sleep soundly and develop healthy sleep patterns. By keeping the cot free from soft toys, you're still creating a nurturing environment, but also one that prioritises your child's well-being and encourages their development. Don’t worry - you can still introduce soft toys for playtime and comfort during awake hours, but by providing a clean and safe sleep space, you're taking an important step in safeguarding your baby's health and ensuring a peaceful night's sleep for everyone. 

Unsafe nursery set up with a heavy mirror directly above the cot  

9.) Wall decorations above the cot

Decorating the nursery is a joyous and creative endeavour, but when it comes to wall decorations directly above the baby's cot, especially those hefty mirrors that are currently in vogue, we need to be mindful of safety. While those mirrors may add a touch of elegance and expand the room's visual space, they also come with some potential concerns. 

It’s simply not worth putting any heavy item (no matter how well secured) directly above the cot just in the smallest chance that it could fall where your little one spends so much time sleeping. That mirror, floating shelves or picture frames can be a wonderful addition to other parts of the room where they can be securely hung, allowing your child to explore their reflection or appreciate the trinkets when they're awake and a bit older. 

If you are keen to decorate the space above your cot, consider peel and stick artwork! And always remember to leave a gap between the cot and the wall, as well as any windows or furniture.  

With a little safety-conscious planning, you can still have a beautifully decorated nursery while keeping your baby's well-being in mind. Creating a safe and soothing sleep environment sets the stage for countless sweet dreams and peaceful nights, making it a win-win for both you and your precious little one. 

Read Your 10-step nursery safety checklist 


Glowing oil diffuser 

Honourable mention: Essential oil burners 

It’s safe to say that essential oils’ popularity has positively exploded over the past decade. Introducing essential oils into your nursery can create a soothing and inviting atmosphere, but it's essential to consider safety when using essential oil burners - especially around children. While these devices can promote relaxation and pleasant scents, here are some simple safety steps you can employ to ensure your little one is safe while you use them.   

Firstly, essential oil burners typically involve heating oils to release their fragrances, which can lead to hot surfaces. To prevent accidents, make sure that the burner is placed out of your child's reach, ensuring they can't accidentally touch it or bump it. 

Secondly, consider the choice of essential oils you use in the nursery. Some essential oils can be potent and may not be suitable for babies, as their delicate systems can be sensitive to strong scents. Opt for child-friendly, mild oils such as lavender or chamomile, and dilute them appropriately. Always follow the instructions on the oil's label and consult with a healthcare professional if you have any concerns about using essential oils around your child. 

By taking these precautions and ensuring that essential oil burners are used safely and responsibly, you can create a comforting and delightful nursery environment that promotes relaxation and peaceful moments for both you and your little one. It's all about balancing the benefits of aromatherapy with the safety of your child, ensuring a happy and serene atmosphere in the nursery. 


Modern nursery with pom pom bunting above bed  

While it's tempting to take inspiration from Instagram, TikTok, or Pinterest for the perfect nursery decor, it's essential to remember that those picture-perfect images often prioritise aesthetics over safety. And at the end of the day, safety
is the ultimate real-life nursery trend.  

Want to design a truly incredible nursery for your little one? Consider researching ethical and Australian made products. Clever convertible products that grow with your child. The most gentle fabrics for your baby’s skin. The most supportive cot mattress that your little one will spend the majority of their day sleeping on during the early months.  

The good news is that when it comes to brands like Babyrest, you don’t need to choose between safety, aesthetics and ease of use. In fact, much like ornate buildings don’t need much decoration for a wedding, beautifully and thoughtfully crafted products like a Babyrest cot don’t need bunting, throws, or canopies to shine and command your attention. 

By making informed and safe choices, you're creating a space where your precious little one can grow, learn, and dream securely, allowing them to flourish. When it comes down to it, babies don’t need all that much - just a safe space to sleep, to be clean, to be fed, and to have you for comfort. Anything more is a bonus. 

You’ve got this! 

Have any questions? Anstel has a team of passionate expert representatives. Get in touch with us today with any questions about your nursery essentials.      


Safe sleep information:   


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