Your Guide to the Perfect Nursery (Including the One Thing You Can’t Forget!)

Creating the perfect nursery doesn’t have to be stressful or overwhelming! Our perfect nursery guide includes everything you need to make the best space for your little one, whether you have a huge dedicated room for your new addition, or your making a space for them in your own bedroom.

And, I’ll share the one thing you CAN’T forget when designing the ultimate space for your baby! Let’s dive in!

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First Things First: Furniture

nursery wall decor

If you’re going to splurge anywhere, my vote is to splurge on your furniture. If you find the right pieces, you can buy things that will last from birth to college, or last for all your kids’ time in the nursery.

We decided to buy all our furniture at Pottery Barn Kids, which yes, I know, is very pricey. But, we hear from lots of friends whose cribs were falling apart after 2 years, and I didn’t want that to be us.

To help with the cost, we asked for Pottery Barn gift cards on our registry. And, we waited a few months and watched for sales every week and struck when we saw the lowest price we’d seen over a few months (20-30% off nursery furniture + free delivery).

Crib

crib

The most important thing to look for in a crib is one that is convertible. The 3-in-1 and 4-in-1 cribs will grow with your baby from crib to toddler bed to full bed, making it the first and the last bed you’ll ever buy for your child! How’s that for cost savings?!

I absolutely love our Pottery Barn Kids Larkin 4-in-1 Convertible Crib in Heritage Fog

Is it pricey? Yes. Is it worth it? Yes.

The deliver and assemble it for you, so no worrying about who’s going to help your partner carry the box upstairs, or how you’re going to reach the back corner of your crib to get the last screw with your pregnant belly.

You also know it meets the latest safety standards for cribs (which is the biggest concern in getting a used crib).  And, it’s so well made it won’t fall apart or scratch before your child’s off to college.

Tip: We bought the conversion pieces for the toddler and full bed options when we bought the crib, so we didn’t freak out if they discontinued the products before we needed the conversion kits. They typically get discounted a couple times a year, so if you can’t buy them right away, watch for a sale to pick them up!

Dresser

open drawer with baby clothes folded in
So many things to store for baby!

You’re going to want a dresser to at least coordinate with your crib, if not match. Any wood tone will work with either gender (no more white for girls and dark woods for boys), so pick what color works best for you and your style!

We got the Pottery Barn Kids Larkin Dresser in Heritage Fog–it’s the matching dresser for our crib in the smaller size, since we had a smaller nursery. And, it was perfect for our baby’s clothes, diapers, linens, and things for baby to grow into.

Is baby sharing a space in your room, or with another child? They don’t need their own dresser! Choose a top drawer in your own dresser for their clothing, and you’ll be set! They wear a whole lot of onesies and one-piece outfits in the first few months, so they don’t need a lot of room.

Nursery Chair

grey nursery chair

Honestly, our nursery chair is now my favorite piece of furniture in our whole house. It is the comfiest, coziest spot in the house!

I wanted an upholstered chair, so I was comfortable during the hours I knew I would spend in it the first few weeks for feedings and bed time. I wanted it to rock for baby soothing and bedtime stories. And, I wanted it to recline so I could put my feet up without an ottoman.

I thought this would seriously narrow down my choices, but no. You can find tons of chairs that fit these descriptions in lots of budgets.  A few of my mom friends had bought nursery chairs at baby stores. When I asked them about their chairs when I was nursery chair shopping, they said theirs were falling apart, or torn, or the recliner didn’t work after a few years. 

I wasn’t psyched about spending a good chunk of money that might break in a few years, so we decided to go with Pottery Barn Kids for the nursery chair too.

After trying their chairs in their store, we went with Comfort Swivel Nursery Glider & Recliner in Basketweave Slub Ash (aka grey).

Let me tell you: it’s AMAZING! It’s so comfy and easily fits me and my husband (we’re not little people).  We went with grey for the color, since we planned on using it for all our kids.

After a year of heavy use, it has no stains and no signs of wear or tear.  I’m confident it’ll easily make it through our baby time and then will move into Momma’s office for her continued enjoyment.

Small Table

You’re going to want a small table next to your comfortable chair for your phone, the baby’s bottle, a drink for you, a snack.  Here’s where you can save some money (I know–you were waiting for me to say that!) and pick up something small from Ikea or Home Goods or use one you already have around the house, like we did. 

Baby Necessities

baby clothes hanging in nursery closet
Clothes are definitely a necessity, but we won’t be talking about those today!

Ok, now that we’re done with furniture, time to get to the things you need to include for baby in your perfect nursery.

Crib Mattress

A crib mattress is all about safety and waterproof-ness, not prettiness.  We did a little research and found that infants should be on a very firm mattress, while toddlers can be on a softer mattress. Since our crib converts to a toddler bed, I wanted a mattress I could use in the crib and when we converted to a toddler bed.

Enter the Moonlight Slumber Dual Sided Crib Mattress. It has a firm side for infants and a softer side for toddlers, and it’s water resistant.  And, to make it easy on parents, the sides are clearly labeled. E has had a few diaper blowouts, and the one that made it through the mattress protector easily wiped off the mattress without staining it.

Diaper Pail

A regular trash can only works for diapers if you empty it every day. Otherwise, you’re going to have a very stinky house very quickly. If you’re ok with taking the trash out that often, feel free to just use a regular trash can and save the extra money. There’s no way we could have stayed on top of taking the trash out daily with a newborn; we could barely stay on top of feeding ourselves. So, a diaper pail was the way to go for us.

We got the Ubbi Diaper Pail, which has clean lines and comes in many colors, so you can coordinate it best with your decor.  More importantly, it’s easy to open one handed, takes regular trash bags, and wipes clean with any all-purpose cleaner. And, it has a locking mechanism for when your toddler thinks it’s fun to dive through the dirty diapers.

Changing Pad

We thought about getting the changing pad furniture topper for our dresser, but since we splurged on the rest of the furniture, we decided to skip that piece.  We found the Keekaroo Peanut Changer in grey and haven’t looked back!

It’s soft, so you don’t need another pad (we used these Munchkin Changing Pad Liners on top since E arrived in December, but they aren’t needed).  It’s water resistant so pee won’t soak through and easy to wipe clean when needed.  We put this right on top of our Larkin Dresser, and it fit perfectly!

nursery closet

Camera/Monitor

I had a ton of anxiety bringing a new baby home from the hospital, more than I expected. Everyone told me I’d wake up just to make sure my baby was breathing, and I did. Many times at night, which led to even more tiredness on top of my pumping sessions.

But, the thing that saved the day, and the one splurge I recommend over everything else on this list, is the Owlet Duo Smart Sock and Baby Monitor. The Smart Sock monitors your baby’s heart rate and pulse oxygenation levels while she sleeps. And, the baby monitor is an audio/video monitor you can mount above baby’s crib.

Before Emory slept in her own room, we put the Smart Sock on her for every nap in her bassinet and every night for sleep. It brought me such peace of mind to know that there was an extra pair of “eyes” on her while I slept or caught up on some chores.

If I woke up worried about her, all I had to do was look at the base station. If it was glowing green, I could easily go back to sleep in a few seconds, without having to sit up, get out of bed, and lean over her bassinet to count her breaths.

And, if I was downstairs while she was napping, I’d just glance at the app on my phone to get “Emory’s vitals are all normal.”

The reassurance and peace of mind in such a stressful time were priceless to me, so I can’t recommend the product enough. And, even though it’s pricey, you can use FSA and HSA funds to pay for it (bonus!).

Sound Machine

Sleep was very important to Steve and me, so we quickly jumped on the sleep training bandwagon. Thanks to The Happiest Baby on the Block, we learned white noise can help with a good sleep routine for baby. We tried white noise apps on our phone for a while, which worked fine. But, we did some research and found the Hatch Baby Rest Sound Machine, and it’s been such a great addition to our nursery!

It provides several different sounds to use for baby (we use the lullaby to get ready for bed and the white noise for sleep). And, it has several different light colors. As a newborn, we used the white light as a night light in the room, which was super helpful for late at night feeding and pumping sessions. But, we’re excited to use it as a time to rise light as E gets older too!

And, just like all of Steve’s favorite things, Hatch has an app, so you can control your light from an app. (I know you’re thinking that’s not necessary, but it’s great to be able to turn up the white noise from the other room, or turn the light up before you walk into the room in the middle of the night).

Storage Solutions

open drawer with baby clothes

Your baby’s gonna have a lot of things–way more than you think they’ll ever need. So, you need to have some storage solutions in place before baby arrives.  For your dresser or drawer space for baby, make sure you pick up some drawer organizers for all those tiny clothes and socks. We used these from Ikea, and they worked perfectly for her clothes and her diapers (and they’re only $5).

You also don’t want to forget to take advantage of vertical storage solutions for your nursery!

hooks on back of door holding diaper bags

I added hooks to the back of the nursery door, which were the perfect place for our diaper bags (Steve and I had our own diaper bags to match our personalities).  I also added hooks to the inside of our nursery closet door to allow for easy access to some frequently used things–like spare bath towels and jackets.

And, I completely remodeled this closet just for Baby E! I’ll share more about my nursery closet makeover in a future post It was the perfect weekend project that cost less than $50, and you can complete it solo while pregnant!

And Finally, What’s the One Thing You Can’t Forget in Your Perfect Nursery?

woman holding pregnant belly

Mama!

Mama (and Dad) are going to spending hours in the nursery every day in the beginning, so make sure the nursery fits your needs too!

You need to make sure you’re comfortable first and foremost. The nursery chair will go a long way towards that, but don’t forget a warm blanket too!

Since you’ll be spending a lot of time there, and often trapped under a baby, make sure you have a phone charger. And, if you get bored of staring at the walls during 2am feedings, think about adding an iPad or a tv temporarily to stream some trashy TV. It helps. A lot.

If you’re breastfeeding, you’ll may also need a space for your breast pump and supplies, as well as any milk you may pump overnight. I had planned on breastfeeding, but E had other ideas, so I ended up needing a space for my pump and supplies as soon as I got home. And, no one was excited about carrying milk downstairs every time I pumped, so we added a mini fridge temporarily to the nursery. Let me tell you: game changer.

The mini fridge gave us a space for pumped milk, for bottles for Emory overnight, and for snacks for me (if you haven’t breastfed before, you need lots of snacks on hand; you get hangry real fast).

Ok, so here’s a summary of the things I used the most in our nursery:

  • My nursery chair (already discussed in lots of detail, but I love it so much, I’m happy to talk about it again! No? Fine, I’ll move on)
  • A warm blanket just for me to stay cozy
  • My breast pumping supplies (I exclusively pumped for 8 months with E–more on that in a future post, or email me if you have questions. I know there’s not tons of info on exclusive pumping)
  • A mini fridge for breast milk and Mama snacks and water. This graduated to this really mini frig when I stopped overnight pumping around month 4-5
  • A smart tv with Netflix and Hulu and Amazon Prime
  • A phone charger

That’s It! Your Perfect Nursery Guide is Complete!

nursery quilt

I know that’s still a pretty long list, but that covers everything you need to have for your perfect nursery. You can certainly get by without many of the items, but these were the things that made life easier in our first few weeks as a family of 3. And, they’re all things we’re still using in the nursery a year later–to me, that’s the ultimate measure of success in designing your perfect nursery.

What Did I Miss? Let Me Know!

If you’re a mom already, what did I miss? What was your favorite thing in your nursery? Or, what could you have not lived without those first few weeks? Comment below and help our soon-to-be mommas out!

Need More Nursery Ideas?

Check out our post on Creating the Best Gender Neutral Nursery and Designing the Perfect Nursery Closet to go with your perfect nursery!

And, you can follow us on Pinterest, Instagram, and Facebook for even more ideas!

stuffed animals in nursery chair

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