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The New Parent’s Guide to Creating a Functional Nursery

Jon Fesmire | January 16, 2017 @ 10:00 AM

Having a baby, and bringing that new baby home, is both one of the most heartwarming—and one of the most nerve-wracking—things you’re ever likely to do. In the months leading up to your child’s birth you will need to get your home ready for your new family member. One big part of that is setting up a nursery.


How much space do you have for the nursery? You’ll either have a full room for it, or you’ll set up the nursery in an section of your bedroom. If it’s going to be in a separate room, you probably have enough space for everything. If it’s going to be in your bedroom, measure the space for it. You will need at least enough room for a crib and a changing station. We recommend a 6x4 space at minimum.


The most important part of the nursery is the crib, so get a high quality one. Remember, the crib exists not only for your child to sleep, but to keep him or her safe. If you plan to have another child, you’ll want to use the crib again, which is another important reason to get a high quality crib. If you plan for your baby to be your last child, consider getting a crib that will convert into a toddler bed with a guard rail. That way, your child will be able to use the same bed for longer, and as a toddler, will be protected from falling out of bed.

The crib will also need plenty of bedding. Babies spit up. Diapers leak. Some days, you may find you have to change the sheets and blankets several times, so get five or more sets of bedding. The best is soft 100% cotton sheets, which will be soft on your baby’s skin.

Next, you’ll need a changing table or a changing top. The advantage of the latter is that you can put it on top of your dresser and change your baby’s diaper there. A changing table should have drawers where you can keep diapers, powder, wipes, and more. If you have a changing top, make sure these things are close at hand, perhaps on a shelf or in your dresser.

As with the crib, get several sheets for the changing table. After all, you’ll actually be changing your baby’s diapers there and it will get soiled.

You’ll want a comfortable place to sit while nursing your baby or holding him or her while he or she sleeps. Just like with the crib, this should be high quality. You’ll spend a lot of time here! Ideally, get a rocking chair or a glider, and an ottoman so you can rest your feet. The chair needs sturdy arms where you can rest yours, and it should be big enough so that when your child is a toddler, he or she can still fall asleep there in your lap.

Whether the chair is in the nursery or perhaps in your living room, have a shelf with a lamp next to it. While your baby is sleeping in your arms, you won’t be able to get up. A shelf will give you a place to put a drink and keep books to read to your child as well as something for you to read when your baby falls asleep.


Make sure there’s room in the closet or on shelves for all those other things you need to raise your baby. These include toys, books, clothes, a diaper back, and more.

While “storage” might not be exactly the right word for this, consider getting something like a diaper genie. These are for disposing of diapers as soon as you have changed your baby. They make it easier to dispose of diapers once the genie is full, too.

Speaking of storage, self storage is a great place to keep furniture and other items you may have removed from your home to make room for the nursery. You may also want to store the crib and extra furniture there after your child has outgrown them. If you’re considering having another child, you will need those items later.


When you’re out of the nursery, you’ll still need to know how your baby is doing so you can respond. For that, baby monitors are critical. Today, they include both audio and video monitors. Prices and quality vary, so shop around. When you’re cooking, sleeping in your room, or otherwise busy, you’ll be able to carry the receiver with you and keep an eye on your child.

Various Other Items and Ideas

Make sure that you and your partner are on the same page when it comes to where everything belongs. If others are going to help watch your child, such as grandparents or a nanny, make sure they also know where everything belongs. Babies have strange schedules and could sleep or be awake at any time. So, get blackout curtains. These will cut out as much light as possible and make it easier for your baby—and you—to nap. Get a good rug that can clean easily. Wool is great for this. If you get anything shaggy, make sure it’s very short shag, as a baby can choke from fibers in a fluffy carpet. Baskets can be very helpful. One can contain all you need for a particular task, and all you have to do is grab it and carry it where you need it. Keep them on the floor or on shelves. We suggest organizing the baby’s closet or dresser by closing size. Babies grow fast! This way, you’ll be able to easily find the current size your baby wears, and give away or recycle the clothes that no longer fit. Great charities include Goodwill, St. Vincent DePaul, and the Salvation Army. Locally, you may also have stories that purchase used baby clothes and toys.

If this is your first child, don’t worry! These suggestions will help you get started and you’ll learn a lot. Always keep in mind child safety standards and follow current professional advice. And most importantly, congratulations!

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