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10 Things You Need in the Nursery


When the nesting urge strikes, create a safe and comfortable space for baby

By Joelle Klein


With your belly expanding, your baby moving and your due date approaching, your anticipation of baby’s arrival is probably kicking into high gear. It’s a great time to channel that nesting energy into creating a safe and comfortable nursery. Feeling overwhelmed about what you need? Here are 10 must-have nursery items, with some expert-backed safety advice for how to choose.


Crib, Bassinet or Co-Sleeper

empty brown crib against a white backgroundThe safest place for your newborn is in your room, in their own bed. Beyond that, it’s up to you whether you choose a crib, bassinet (a baby-sized basket kept alongside your bed) or co-sleeper (a mini-crib that connects to your bed for easy nursing access). To further make your infant’s sleep environment as safe as possible, use a firm mattress and a snug-fitting sheet, and keep the crib bare, says Tanya Altmann, MD, founder of Calabasas Pediatrics and an assistant clinical professor at UCLA Children’s Hospital. “Bare means no bumpers, loose blankets or stuffed animals,” Altmann explains. And always (always) put your baby to sleep on his or her back. Following the above-mentioned advice has been proven to greatly reduce your baby’s risk for SIDS (the sudden and unexplained death of an infant under 1 year old).


Changing Table or Station

While you can purchase a table specifically designed for changing diapers, you can also pick up a changing pad that securely straps to the top of a dresser. Whatever you use, always keep a hand — and your attention — on your baby, even if they’re strapped in, to prevent a fall. To make it easier to focus on the baby, keep changing station staples like diapers, wipes, diaper ointment and change of clothes within arm’s reach, suggests Altmann.


Laundry Hamper

wicker laundry basket

Babies get dirtier than you’d expect for people who can’t feed themselves or walk around (at least not yet). They spit up, they drool, and that’s not to mention those diaper blowouts. Don’t be surprised to find yourself changing baby’s clothes multiple times a day. You want a hamper that’s open, accessible and easy to use with one hand (you’ll be tossing in dirty clothes while also holding baby). You can also try a soaking pail with water and a basic, baby-friendly powdered detergent for the best stain elimination; pour the whole pail into the washer when you’re ready to do a load.


Diaper Disposal

Dirty diapers can stink — badly. A good diaper disposal system should be simple to use and contain the smell. Consider ease of use before design. You want it to be easy to open (think pedal step), but secure enough that baby can’t get in when he’s older and out exploring. You also want a liner system that’s easy to put in and change out. Some brands allow you to use regular kitchen garbage bags, which can save you on costly liner refills. 


Clothing Storage

Light wood chest of drawers against white background

Once again, think easy to grab from or store in. Open bins or baskets are good options, and keeping them in a closet keeps them away from little hands that might make a mess of things. If you opt for a dresser, bolt it to the wall for safety so when baby starts to move around, there’s no danger of them pulling it down. 


Nursing Station with Glider or Rocking Chair

A glider or rocking chair is the perfect place to relax and bond with your baby, whether you’re feeding her, reading to her or just snuggling. Denver-based CAPPA-certified doula and lactation educator Sarah Murane advises keeping a special nursing pillow or a stack of regular pillows nearby to help you get comfortable while you nurse. Also have snacks and water within reach, as well as your mobile phone, so you don’t have to run across the room to answer an important call. It’s also handy for timing feedings. 


Baby Monitor

baby monitor

While it may be tempting to get a high-tech monitor that tracks your baby’s vital signs, a study in The British Medical Journal found no added health protection from these monitors and specifically no evidence that they reduce SIDS. Stick with a monitor that works for your household, whether video or audio. But do keep cords away from the crib, and definitely don’t place the monitor in the crib itself. 



A dim, glowing nightlight in your baby’s room serves dual purposes: it can help you safely navigate the nursery at night for feedings or diaper changes and, when baby is older, soothe any fears of the dark. Murane says to shop for a red or orange light, which is the least likely to disrupt the circadian rhythms that support healthy sleep. “Avoid blue or LED lights because they can have the opposite of a soothing effect on baby,” she says. 


Fan or White Noise Machine

metal fan on white background

“A lot of babies can be soothed by a white noise machine because it’s similar to the noise they heard when they were inside mom,” says Altmann. Just make sure to keep the volume low. A 2014 research study tested 14 different infant sleeping machines and found that, at maximum volume, they all exceeded the recommended noise limits for infants. The study authors recommend placing noise machines more than 6 feet away from the crib and keeping them at a low volume. Set fans on low and across the room from baby.


Colorful Contrasting Art, Mobiles and Family Photos

“Colorful mobiles and family photos can only aid in having a great stimulating learning environment for your baby,” says Altmann. Start with black and white mobiles and images for the first few months, since at first your baby can’t distinguish color, then switch to full color. Also, be sure the mobile and any other decorations are placed high enough that your child can’t reach them, Altmann warns.


Published on November 3, 2015.


Joelle Klein is a Denver-based health and lifestyle writer and mother of two. 


© Treasures and Travels / Stocksy United
Reviewed by Susan Spencer, MSN, RNC, IBCLC on August 26, 2015.
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