Baby Nursery Essentials
- July 29, 2021
- by Melissa Lawrence
Whether you’re awaiting a little boy or a little girl, decorating the nursery is one of the most exciting activities for parents-to-be! I had so much fun putting together my baby’s nursery, but there are a lot of things to remember when getting furniture. That’s why I’ve put together a list of nursery essentials for you!
Of course, not everyone has the space for a nursery. If you live out in the suburbs, you’re more likely to have an extra room available, but if you live in the city like me, then you may have to work with limited space! I still think it’s important to have a space of your own for nursing, even if it’s just a corner in a bedroom or the living room. See my guide here for how I made a nursery for Bracey in my terrace.
Watch the video above if you’re going for the full nursery package. The show covers classic nursery products. Read on for more details and the latest and greatest products for your nursery.
When Should You Start Setting Up the Baby Nursery?
As those of you who follow or followed my Pregnancy Week by Week series will know, I’m pretty familiar with babies that arrive ahead of schedule! Hence, I would recommend, as a rule of thumb, that you have your nursery ready by 36 weeks. Even if your baby arrives on time, it’s always nice to relax in the knowledge that things are good to go.
To meet that goal, decide on your theme and budget by 20 weeks. For the theme, you might take the traditional route and opt for a boy- or girl-themed nursery, or else you might take a more modern approach and opt for a gender-neutral arrangement. In any case, by this point you should know your baby’s sex (if you wanted to know it).
Shortly afterward, you’ll want to order your furniture. Do this no later than 24 weeks, because it can take three to four months for furniture to be delivered. Plan to paint the room or wallpaper it by 25 weeks, so that there’s plenty of time for the room to ventilate before your little one moves in. Hopefully, between 30 and 35 weeks, your furniture will have arrived, and you can begin putting up the extras like pictures and lighting, as well as put away baby shower presents.
What Do You Need for a New Baby Nursery?
Baby Registry List: Nursery and Furniture Essentials
Looking back now, after five children, it’s so clear to me exactly what you need in your nursery… and what you don’t. But with my first baby, I didn’t have a clue! Setting up your baby’s room is such a special thing, so have fun with it and be creative when it comes to decorating. When it comes to the basics, you can certainly purchase a complete nursery furniture set, but if you don’t have a lot of space there are really only a few items that are essential.
The number one priority if you plan to breastfeed, and maybe even if you don’t, is a nursing chair or glider. This is the most indispensable item of your nursery, if you buy just one thing! You really need something that will support your back and arms while you cradle your baby. And although this may seem like a big, bulky piece of furniture now, it is going to serve you for years, even after your baby is done nursing. It’s a wonderful chair to use when reading to your child (or children) down the road. A good investment for any mom!
I say go for one that comes with a foot stool, because propping up those possibly still swollen feet in the early days is a real plus. You can also put the chair in another room if you don’t have space in the nursery. I have a Dutalier which has been fantastic and good quality, considering the hundreds if not thousands of hours I have spent in that thing! We still use it for reading to my little ones. It might not be your top pick design-wise, but let that one go because the priority is you feeling comfortable and taking care of your back. Also, ask about fabric options because this makes a big difference, of course.
Review of the Best Nursing Chairs and Gliders
Crib and Bedding
I do think buying a crib is important, but it’s second on my list because I don’t think it’s an essential purchase to make before your baby is born. In my view (definitely check with your doctor on this!), if you need to, you really can get by with a Pack ‘N Play for a bit. I often have my baby in that for naps and even for the night. These days, most Pack ‘N Plays come with a bassinet top and many of my friends use it instead of a bassinet if they want baby in their bedroom to start. A Pack N’ Play can be taken anywhere, so you’ll be a lot more mobile. In addition, this is a great option if your baby is sleeping in the same room as you. (Click here for more on the Pack ‘N Play and a link to purchase.)
Along with car seats, a crib is something you might not want to buy second-hand. Safety standards have changed and there have been a number of recalls, so the most prudent choice is to buy a new crib. All cribs must meet federal safety standards.
When it comes to buying a crib, go classic. This is a piece of furniture you might have for a number of years, and your tastes might change. That being said, I’ve put here my top picks for simple, a bit more classic, and contemporary – all of which I think will stand the test of time.
Review of the Best Cribs
You will also need to buy a firm crib mattress. There are two options here: foam or coil spring. I personally recommend foam because it’s much lighter and you’ll be changing the sheets a lot!
You also need sheets for your crib. I recommend a jersey cotton, which is easier to fit on the crib and doesn’t shrink as much in the wash. The Kids Line Jersey sheets come in a fabulous array of colors. (Also check them out for sheets for your Pack ‘N Play!)
I think a changing table is a good investment. It’s the proper height for changing the baby, which you will be doing a lot, and provides lots of space for creams, diapers, medicines and more. It really is a good place to organize everything you will need to care for the baby. I have a show on changing tables, and believe it’s worth the investment, especially if you’re planning on trying to have more than one child.
Ikea, Graco, and Babyletto make these basic changing tables that match the cribs listed above – I like the Ikea one a lot, nice and simple. The Graco is a bit more classic, and the Babyletto is more contemporary. But all are simple and you can jazz things up with your sheets!
Review of the Best Changing Tables
You’ll probably get a lot of books and toys, especially for your first baby, and if you’re a neat freak like me, then you will want to have things in their proper place and put away. You’ll be surprised what ends up all over your home in every room.
Built-in shelves or stackable storage are both great solutions for books and toys. Even a toy chest where you can literally throw the toys — amazing how indestructible they are — is really helpful. And they’re certainly a big investment, but California Closets — although pricey — are miraculous organizers.
- Badger Basket 3 Pack Polka Dot Nesting Trapezoid Shape Folding Baskets, Sage ($24)
- California Closets
Room Darkening Shades and Curtains
This is a great way to make sure that your baby doesn’t wake up with the sun. I recommend a room darkening shade in the window, and curtains with black out liners to block the sun coming around the edges of the shade. You can roll the shade up during the day so that you barely see it. With the liner, get one that fits your window best. I’ve got long and short options here, and if by chance you can afford this, put the liner directly onto your drape.
When you travel you can use these exact blackout liners and attach them with non-damaging industrial tape (I like blue tape).
- Redmon Nighttime Nursery Blackout Drapery Liner, White ($21)
- Eclipse Thermaliner Blackout Panel Pair ($16)
Good luck decorating your nursery!
Amazon.com prices are subject to change.
I totally agree with the Pack ‘N Play! We used this for the my baby for the first 9 months, and we just recently put her in a crib. Also, I love Plum Organics!
I received the glider and a changing table as a “hand me down” for my 3rd baby … survived two kids without them! and used my pack & play until baby was 2yrs old and it saved my baby from all hotel used stuff!
A comfy glider for all the late night feedings. It has become part of our bedtime routine bottle, rock and read books. My husband and I both could have fallen asleep in the glider.
A glider and good dark window shades.
My glider is WONDERFUL, I’d definitely suggest that everyone get one. But I would have to say that pack ‘n play is the most useful item that new mommies should get! We kept the pack ‘n play in our room for the first couple of months so that we could be closer to him. Now that he’s older, he sleeps in his crib in his own room but we take the pack ‘n play everywhere and it’s a great place to set the baby down in a safe area for him to play! Another important item would be BOOKS. Especially board books. Not only can you read them to your baby but they’re safe to play with. Oh, a nice stock pile of diapers never hurts either. I stock up when they go on sale!
Swaddle blankets! They make it so much easier to keep the baby swaddled at night, and really helped our DS to sleep!
I would have to say a Glider! I practically lived and slept in mine during the first year of both my girls!
I am going to have to say the Pack N’ Play! this is my 1st baby and the pack n’ play is so versatile and mobile! The one I’ve been eyeing has a changing table also!! LOVE IT 🙂 plus we like to travel a lot this comes in handy!
I would say swaddle blankets – they were so useful for us in helping out little girl get to sleep. We had about 6 and that number worked for us to not have to do laundry everyday. The rocker is also a great idea but I hardly used it when she was little, now that she is a year old I use it so much more to comfort her instead of nursing and to read books in. Also we got a leather lazy boy type chair and it is much more comfortable than the traditional glider and this way we can move it to another room when she out grows it and it will still fit in our house.
I agree that having good storage is the key! It helps to keep you organized and there is nothing worse than we you cannot find something you really need!
A sound machine with white noise is key for a sleeping baby!!
A sound machine with white noise is key for a sleeping baby!!
The most important item for the nursery for me was a nightlight, not too bright not too dim but just enough to see things. Also agree that the changing table was great since i didn’t have to bend over to change the baby and the glider or rocking chair was great too.
Great list. I agree with the storage suggestions. At the baby shower we received so many clothes in sizes from newborn to 18 months! I love the cube bookshelves from Ikea – you can get doors, drawers, fabric bins or leave them open. We did half as storage bins and half open for organizing toys, books, etc.
i agree with pack n play i love it so much, use it until this day my son is 14 months old 🙂 im obbessed with plum btw
The pack ‘n play is certainly a great addition to your nursery. I don’t think it’s a must-have but definitely helpful! I could not live without a changing table, which holds not only my changing pad, but also my wipes-warmer, a box of Kleenex, and a basket with small necessities (bulb syringe, binkies, Q-tips, etc).
I didn’t discover Plum Organics until feeding solids to my 2nd child, but now that I have, both of my kids love them!!! Their flavor combos are appealing to my kiddos. They are both toddlers, ages 1 & 2 years old. A $15 Plum Organics gift card would make our day!
Thanks so much,
I LOVE my Boppy pillow! I used it for nursing, tummy time & for my baby girl to nap in! It is a must for a new nursery! I LOVE Plum!
Agreed- glider! A cheap essential is a good night light too so you don’t turn on the big light at night so baby can go right back to sleep!!!
I would say my rocker from Pier One (best gift from the hubby when we found out I was pregnant) and of course my obsession for organization.
I would have to say the most important thing for a nursery is a nice rocking chair. Always helps ease my baby to sleep. It will also be great for story telling when she gets bigger 🙂
Thanks so much to everyone who commented with their awesome nursery favorites!! Check in this week for another Plum giveaway! xo Melissa
Thanks so much to everyone who told us what their favorite nursery item is! Subscribe to my newsletter by pasting this link into your browser — http://bit.ly/OWLioh — and you’ll automatically get 10% off Plum Organics products. Plus, you’ll get my FREE daily newsletter with fresh content for moms and exclusive offers and giveaways! xo Melissa
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What about a baby monitor??
I am due to have my second child this August. I have to say that your videos are a godsend! I really struggled as a first time mom in 2011 and took advice from all different people and felt very overwhelmed and unorganized. Your videos are really helping me to remain calm, get organized, and really figure out what is most essential. Thank you so much! I’m so glad I stumbled upon your videos on youtube when I was looking up diaper bags.
Thank you so much — love your name and best of luck with #2!