1. The crib.
The crib should be your investment piece in the room. You may be thinking this is a temporary item and not worth the expense, but many kids sleep in their cribs for three or more years. Also, if you’re planning to have more children, a sturdy crib can last through several kiddos.
- Be sure the crib meets all US safety standards. This isn’t the place to buy vintage, or repurpose your childhood crib. Safety standards have evolved greatly over the last decade, and since this is the one place you’ll leave your baby alone, it’s worth the piece of mind to invest in a quality baby crib.
- Some cribs convert to toddler beds and even full size beds. A toddler rail is a great option for babies that start climbing out of cribs at an early age, but aren’t quite ready for a twin bed. A crib that converts to a full size bed may be a moot point though if baby #2 comes along and needs the crib.
- In terms of the styling, choose a crib that matches your personal taste. If you’re going to be having more kids, keep it gender neutral.
2. The crib bedding.
The baby bedding and crib will combine to be the showpiece of your nursery. This is a great place to have fun and pull in your own style. It’s also a great place to incorporate a theme or build a color palette for the space.
- Be sure you invest in plenty of crib fitted sheets, at least 5-6 (even more if you can). You’ll be shocked at how many you’ll go through some days. And, unless you want to do laundry constantly, you’ll need plenty of spare sheets on hand.
- Crib skirts can add to the overall look, but aren’t always necessary with more modern crib designs. If you prefer a more traditional look, then definitely add a skirt.
- Look for bedding that’s soft to the touch and 100% cotton, to keep baby’s sensitive skin happy.
3. The changing table.
There’s no way around it… With babies come dirty diapers. And, really, the only way to make this experience as pleasant as possible is to be sure you have all the essentials close at hand, which is where your changing table comes in handy. First and foremost, you’ll need somewhere to actually change your baby. You have two options here, a freestanding changing table or a changing pad that can be added on top of a dresser. Either will work, it’s really all about space.
- If you have the room for a freestanding changing table, be sure to invest in one that has a life beyond baby. Can it be repurposed into toy storage? A bookcase? A bar cart? (Seriously, we’ve seen it done on Pinterest.) If you can’t envision it living on in your home, it’s not worth the money.
- If you’re limited on space, then the changing top is a fantastic option. They secure to the top of any dresser, so be sure you have a dresser that’s at a comfortable height for you. The best part of a changing top is when you’re out of the diaper phase, you can remove it and you’re left with a dresser for your big kid.
Either route you take, you'll need a few additional essentials.
- Use bins or dresser drawers to store any and all diapering related items like diapers, wipes, change of clothes, ointments, lotions, etc.
- Also, be sure to keep some baby toys nearby or hang a mobile so baby has something to play with while you take care of business.
- Invest in plenty of extra changing pad covers. Just like crib sheets, you’ll go through these at an alarming rate, so you’ll want plenty of back-ups on hand.
4. The nursery chair.
This may well be the most important purchase in your nursery, a comfortable place to sit. You’ll sit here to rock your baby to sleep, feed her, read to her, laugh with her, cuddle with her, maybe even share a good cry at 4am with her. In short, it’ll be a place of a lot of parent-baby bonding. So, choose your rocking chair wisely.
- Consider a rocking chair or glider. The movement will help lull you both to sleep. Look for a fabric that cleans easily and holds up to a lot of use. Did we mention you’ll be sitting here a lot? And there will be spit up, poop, etc. to deal with.
- Choose a rocking chair or glider with arm rests to support your tired arms. As well, one that’s roomy enough for your now tiny baby to cuddle up with you when she’s a rambunctious toddler. Be sure the chair back height is comfortable for you and your significant other. Consider adding a throw pillow for additional lumbar support.
- If it’s in the budget, invest in a beautiful rocking chair that can later move to your family room or master bedroom. A high-quality, rocking chair can become a family heirloom that you pass onto your grandkids (many, many, many years from now).
- Lastly, be sure your rocking chair or glider is beautiful and reflects your taste. If you’re on a budget, this is an opportunity to repurpose a piece from elsewhere in the house.
Additional Things To Consider: This area of the nursery isn’t just about the chair. It’s also about what you can reach while seated while holding a sleeping infant, too afraid to move for fear of waking him. So, again, like the changing table, be sure everything you need is close at hand.
- Consider a small bookcase next to the chair for bedtime stories, or your favorite novels. Choose one with a flat top so you have a place to set a bottle of water, your camera and any other essentials you might need while held captive in the rocking chair by your adorable baby.
- Be sure you have a lamp nearby that you can easily reach to switch off once baby is fast asleep. And don’t forget an ottoman, so you can put your feet up…you deserve it, it’s been a long day. And a throw blanket, so you can get really cozy if needed.
5. Storage, lots and lots of storage
You may have noticed that the tiniest people need the most stuff. Toys, diapers, books, clothes, gear, it all needs to go somewhere. Here are a few things to consider when choosing storage.
- Choose storage that fits your needs today and tomorrow. Though it seems like it, your baby won’t be in diapers forever, so be sure that basket you buy for diapers can hold something else when you’re done with that phase.
- Open bin storage is great for blankets and gear when your baby is small, and can easily transition into a toy box as he gets bigger. Keep a few larger floor bins on hand for quick cleanup when unexpected grandparents arrive at your door. Bins with a lower profile can easily be tucked away under the crib.
- Consider wall shelves near your changing table for supplies that need to stay out of baby’s reach like lotions, thermometers, nail clippers, and so on. Add bins and baskets to bookshelves to separate and organize various supplies.
- Hanging closet storage is perfect for babies. Hangers aren’t super useful to maximize space with such tiny clothes. A few hanging organizers can store a ton of gear now and be re-purposed for toys, art supplies and games later.
Now that you have most of the functional pieces of your nursery, you can get to work really decorating the space. The rug is a great place to start. It can add a lot of personality to the space. Here are a few things to consider when choosing a kids rug.
- If you have wood flooring, opt for a plush wool or shag rug. It’ll cushion baby as he learns to sit, crawl and walk. If you go the shag route, just be sure the shag is a short pile. Long pile rugs can pose a choking hazard.
- If you have carpet, opt for a flat weave construction. It will add color to the space without any additional bulk.
- No matter the construction, choose one that cleans easily. Wool rugs can take a beating and clean up beautifully. Some cotton versions can be machine washed. Just be sure whatever you choose, that it’s easy to spot clean because you will definitely be spot cleaning it.
Curtains are a very important part of the nursery design, since you’ll likely want your baby to sleep a bit in the middle of the day.
- Be sure to use a blackout shade or choose curtains with a built in blackout liner, so you can darken the room at naptime.
- If you have a small space, consider roman shades or short tailored panels. They’ll add far less bulk to the room and help to keep it looking spacious.
When it comes to decor, the only rule to follow is that there aren’t really rules. If you fill your space with things that make you happy, the result will be beautiful and will make you happy.
- The nursery is a great place to display items that have been handed down through your family, as well as new items that you’re drawn to. The room doesn’t have to scream “baby.” It should be a reflection of your taste and style, just as the rest of your home is a reflection of your family.
- If this is your second child, consider having your older child make something for the new baby’s room. Perhaps a finger-painting that you frame and add to a gallery wall.
- If you’re still intimidated by the process of the actual design, start with color inspiration. Find a photograph of an outfit or room or landscape that has an overall palette that you’re drawn to. Then, pull from that. Consider making a Pinterest board to gather ideas. It’ll really help to visualize the space.
- And, if there’s one thing parenting will teach you, it’s to ask for help when you need it. So, ask a friend or ask us. We’d be happy to design the whole room, or just look over your ideas and give you the thumbs up.