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I started researching baby gear around 16 weeks and ordered our crib as soon as we got back from the anatomy around 20 weeks. Some cribs/furniture can take 10-12 weeks to be delivered, so the earlier the better. At least to have it picked out so you know if the store you are ordering from has a long delivery time.
Other then that, it's sort of your decision.
Personally, I'm nervous about going into early labor and not having everything ready, so my goal is to have everything done by 34 weeks. Other people are not as worried about that, and some people even finish after the baby arrives. You need to decide what works for you.
We started a couple weeks ago because I wanted to still be able to pitch in and help out. In a another month or so I would imagine I will be more limited. Also, we ordered custom bedding that takes up to 15 weeks to ship. I have heard that if you are ordering furniture for the nursery they can take several weeks to ship.
Really, there's no right time to start. If you don't care about doing much research into how you want to decorate the nursery and products you want to get, then it won't matter if you wait until the last minute. Otherwise, start making a list and looking for ideas whenever the urge hits you. There is so much inspiration out there. Go to google images and type nursery, there are so many cute ideas!
I say start now! Start researching car seats, cribs, etc. Get a registry together. If you're going to paint baby's room, I'd get to work on that before you have tons of baby stuff in the way. Also, you may be able to get some great deals on things with the holidays coming up.
You can put it all together little by little, but you don't want to wait too long when you're tired and just not up to it. Shopping for baby should be fun!
bfp#1 6/28/2010 edd 3/8/2011 dd born 3/16/2011
bfp#2 7/23/2013 edd 4/1/2014 m/mc 9/29/2013 @ 13w5d
bfp#3 12/6/2013 edd 8/14/2014 cp 12/10/2013 @ 4w5d
In the past 3 years of family and friends giving birth, all were early (3 weeks to 2 months).... so that has prompted me to urge my mom who is hosting my shower to have it at least 2 months early.
Started Registry at 6 months, Will have shower at 7 months, Will complete nursery at 7.5 months just in case. My friend who was early regrets leaving things until the last month. She felt uncomfortable and tired and had too much to do and didn't have most of her to do list done by the time baby came (3 weeks early). Good Luck!