Ready to start nesting? Setting up a beautiful and functional baby nursery is one of the most fun parts of preparing for your new arrival. Maybe you’re envisioning an outdoor theme with rustic furnishings and woodland stuffed animals. Perhaps you’re leaning towards a boho-inspired nursery with rattan light fixtures and macramé wall hangings.
No matter what your personal style, there are a few nursery essentials that every parent-to-be needs to have for their tiny tenant. Not sure what to buy for your baby’s room? Don’t sweat it—just follow our baby nursery checklist and you’ll have a calming and functional space in time for the baby’s homecoming.
Baby Nursery Checklist: 15 Must-Haves
Ready to set up the baby nursery of your dreams? From big-ticket items like the crib and changing table to the less expensive—but no less important—sound machine and musical crib mobile, here is everything you need in a baby nursery.
If there is one nursery item that you should buy and set up early, it’s the crib. Even though your little cutie will likely sleep in a cozy bassinet by your bedside for the first few months, your baby will eventually grow out of it—maybe sooner than you anticipated. You want to have the crib set up and ready to go when your baby needs it.
Another reason to buy the crib early? It can help you design the rest of your baby’s nursery. The crib often serves as the focal point of the room, so once you buy the crib, it’s usually easier to pick out the rest of your nursery furniture and décor.
Money-Saving Tip: To get more bang for your buck, consider buying a convertible crib that transforms into a toddler-friendly bed. Even though convertible cribs cost more upfront, it will end up saving you more in the long-term.
2. Crib Bedding
Once you have the crib, it’s time to pick out crib bedding for the baby. These days, baby boy bedding and baby girl bedding come in a wide variety of cute and colorful designs to match the theme of your nursery. Why not have some fun with baby’s bedding? For instance, if the baby nursery has a zoo theme, you could choose crib bedding with an adorable giraffe pattern.
However, be sure to keep baby’s safety in mind with crib bedding. Look for crib sheets with reinforced corners that won’t slip off the mattress and pose a suffocation hazard. To further reduce the risk of suffocation and injury, the American Academy of Pediatrics advises against using pillows, stuffed animals, crib bumpers, quilts and comforters in the crib.Shop Baby Bedding
3. Baby Mobile
Baby mobiles (also called crib mobiles) are more than just a decoration for your baby’s room. In addition to calming the baby around bedtime, baby mobiles are often designed to stimulate brain and sensory development. Crib mobiles now come in a variety of colors, patterns and textures to engage your little one. Some even play lullabies to soothe your little one before bedtime or project light to keep the baby entertained. When shopping for a baby mobile, look for one with plenty of color. According to WebMD, babies don’t develop full color vision until around four months.
4. Changing Table/Dresser
We probably don’t need to tell you that babies go through an enormous amount of diapers in their first year. To make the diaper-changing experience as pleasant as possible, a well-organized changing table is a must-have for your baby nursery.
If you’re hesitant to drop hundreds of dollars on a changing table that your baby will eventually grow out of, consider using a regular dresser and a changing pad instead. A changing pad is especially useful if you’re limited on space. You could also buy a changing table that can be repurposed into something else later, such as a bookshelf for the baby’s books or a toy bin.
5. Diaper Pail
There’s no getting around it—you need to put those dirty diapers somewhere. An odor-blocking diaper pail located next to the changing table will help contain and neutralize the smell so you don’t need to run to the garbage can every time your baby makes a mess in her diaper. As you shop for a diaper pail, consider the size you’ll need for your space. The size of your diaper pail will also determine how often you’ll need to empty it, so be sure to take that into account as well.
6. Nursery Rug
Does your baby’s nursery have a hard floor? A nursery rug can provide a soft surface for the baby to play while elevating the look of your space.
While you may be tempted to go by looks alone, there are a few things you’ll want to consider before buying a nursery rug. First and foremost, choose a rug that feels soft against the baby’s skin. The rug shouldn’t be too high or shaggy because curious babies might put the long fibers in their mouth. Don’t forget to buy a rug pad to go underneath the nursery rug so your baby doesn’t slip when she takes her first steps.
Do not overlook the importance of a glider in the nursery. You need a cozy spot to feed the baby, rock her to sleep, read to her and simply spend quality time together. Choose a comfortable glider that matches your design taste and pair it with an end table and a small lamp. Other items you may want to add to your baby nursery checklist include a throw pillow for back support, a cozy blanket and an ottoman to put your feet up.
8. Baby Monitor
As much as you’d like to be by your little one’s side every waking minute of every day, it’s just not possible. Give yourself some peace of mind with a quality baby monitor. Even if you live in a small house or an apartment, a baby monitor can come in handy. For instance, you can step out for some fresh air or work in the garden without worrying about missing your baby’s cry.
If you’re an anxious parent, splurging on a high-end baby monitor may be well worth the cost. Modern baby monitors come with a variety of unique features to calm your anxious thoughts, such as motion and sound alerts, humidity and temperature displays and two-way communication.
9. Blackout Curtains
It’s a simple fact of parenthood: When your baby sleeps better, you sleep better. Blackout curtains are essential to your baby nursery because they can help your little one take longer, more restful naps by blocking out light. Some blackout curtains also help block noise, which is something to consider if you live on a busy street or in a noisy neighborhood. To further darken your baby’s room in broad daylight, buy some blackout shades. To ensure your baby’s safety, be sure to choose cordless shades.
10. White Noise Machine
Don’t forget to pick up a white noise machine for your baby nursery. Contrary to popular belief, babies don’t necessarily sleep best in complete silence. When your baby was in the womb, he or she was accustomed to hearing all sorts of noises. A white noise machine can help lull the baby into a peaceful slumber by blocking out other sleep-disturbing noises, such as barking dogs and car horns.
However, be aware that some white noise machines can be too loud for the baby. A 2014 study published in Pediatrics found that white noise machines were capable of producing sound at pressure levels that could potentially damage an infant’s hearing. If you decide to buy a white noise machine for your baby nursery, choose a machine that produces low-pitched, rumbly sounds and keep it at a low volume.
During the first year of parenthood, you’ll be making frequent trips to the baby’s nursery for late-night feedings and diaper changes. And when your baby gets older, you’ll find yourself waking up in the middle of the night to care for your sick toddler or to calm them down after a bad dream. Placing a nightlight in the nursery will be useful for both stages. A quality nightlight will provide just enough light for you to see in the baby’s room without pulling you or your baby out of sleep-mode, so you can both get back to sleep faster.
12. Storage Solutions
By now, you’ve probably realized that babies need a lot of stuff. Toys, books, clothes, blankets—all these items need to go somewhere. Luckily, there are plenty of clever storage solutions to help you keep your baby nursery organized and clean. For instance, if your nursery is on the smaller side, you can use wall shelving above the changing table to maximize space while keeping nursery items out of your baby’s reach.
Need to make space in the closet for cute baby clothes and random gear? A hanging closet storage is the perfect solution to keep everything organized. And if the grandparents decide to visit on short notice, a cube organizer shelf with storage bins will make toy cleanup fast and simple.
13. Baby Grooming Kit
Every parent-to-be needs to have a basic baby grooming kit in case of emergencies. Why not keep one in the nursery? After all, the nursery is where your little one will be spending most of her time. Baby grooming kits usually contain necessities such as a baby thermometer, a nasal aspirator, baby nail clippers and other important items that will almost certainly come in handy at some point. Keep your baby grooming kit close enough to the changing table so that it’s within easy reach for you, but still far enough away from your baby’s exploring hands.
14. Clothes Hamper
Once your baby enters the picture, the laundry just never seems to end. Indeed, it will make you wonder how it’s even possible for a tiny little human to create such an enormous load of dirty laundry. But we digress—a cute and practical hamper is the perfect place to dump all of the baby’s dirty clothes. Be sure to choose a nursery hamper that is specifically designed to contain odor and mess from spit-up, diaper leaks, drool and the dreaded diaper blowout.
15. Baby Care Log
During those first few months with your baby, you will almost certainly be exhausted. And in your zombie-like state, you may forget simple but important things such as when you last fed the baby or how many times he pooped that day.
One easy way to keep track of your baby’s daily care? Print out a baby care log sheet and keep it in the nursery. You can jot down the baby’s daily habits, so if anything is amiss, you can simply refer back to your log and see when he’s due for his next feeding, bowel movement, nap, etc.
A baby care log is also a great way to capture a baby’s first year. Keep a basic journal on the end table in the nursery and write funny moments as they happen, along with the time and date. When you look back at your journal, it’s sure to put a smile on your face.
Take It One Step at a Time
After browsing this baby nursery checklist, you may be feeling a bit overwhelmed. But try not to stress! You don’t need to get every item on this list right this second. Take your time, especially with the big-ticket items. Remember to make your baby’s room a “mom-friendly” space to maximize your comfort and convenience. By the time your baby arrives, you’ll have a relaxing baby nursery that both you and your little one will adore.