21 Nursery Must-Haves – Ultimate Checklist For Your Baby’s Room

Expecting parents can feel overwhelmed with ‘must-have’ baby products marketed to them. Some of the things are the list are expensive too! Do you really have to have both a bassinet and a crib? A changing table and baby’s own little dresser? Some folks don’t have space for all that, let alone the budget for it.

Here’s a secret: the must-have list is actually pretty small. After that, the ‘nice-to-have’ list totally depends on your budget and space.

While the list of items you may feel pressured to buy can seem unending, just follow my nursery checklist and you’ll be sure to have everything you need for your little one.

This article is not a substitute for medical advice or consultation.

When Is The Best Time To Set Up A Nursery?

Some moms start planning for the nursery as soon as they get a positive pregnancy test, with others wait until the second trimester.

You may decide to wait until after you learn baby’s gender or have a baby shower. It might be easier to know you’re designing a baby boy’s nursery than making a gender-neutral one, totally up to you.

Also, remember that a lot of pregnant women go through a ‘nesting phase’ where they experience this intense urge to clean, organize, and arrange in the third trimester. It’s okay to wait to set up the nursery until you’re ready.

Hey, you can even finish organizing and decorating the nursery after your bundle of joy has arrived! All you really need is a safe, clean space for your baby to sleep.

When Is Too Late To Set Up The Nursery?

As long as you have a safe place for baby to sleep, you can set up the nursery after your baby comes into the world.

A newborn will not notice how you decorate a nursery for the first few weeks, anyway. If you’re stressed out, don’t worry about setting up the nursery, just get their sleeping space prepared.

Nursery Must-Haves To Bring Baby Home

The only thing you need is somewhere safe for your baby to sleep. And, experts agree – your baby should sleep in the same room as you for the first six months, anyway.

So don’t stress out if the nursery isn’t ready yet, you have plenty of time for setting up your baby’s nursery, even after they are born.

You’re probably bombarded with ‘essential baby items’. I get it, and really, I’ve used and tried more items that I actually needed for my babies!

There are a lot of products that make life with a baby easier, but that doesn’t make something a must-have item, just a convenient one.

The basics haven’t changed much over the years: babies sleep, eat, and poop, so they need somewhere to sleep, something to eat, and a way to clean them after they make a mess. The rest can be fun decor and helpful items, but if you’re in a pinch, you certainly don’t need all the extras.

What Are The Essentials In A Newborn Nursery In 2024?

I’ve separated the popular ‘nice-to-haves’ later down, so it’s very easy to see what is necessary and what is a convenience item. This way, you can easily decide your own nursery checklist, based on your preferences and budget.

1. Baby Sleep Essentials

Here are the baby items you will need to create a safe and cozy sleep area for your little one:

  • Bassinet Or Crib

Baby needs somewhere safe to sleep – preferably in the same room as Mama for the first six months of life.

Some moms opt for a bassinet for the first months of life, as a great way to do safe side-by-side sleeping, especially with some of the swivel bassinets that can be used for naps in any room of the house.

Cribs are a good investment, too, as many modern cribs convert to toddler beds and can be used from birth up to 2.5 years – or even longer!

Some parents choose to save the crib for the nursery and use a bassinet with a new baby. It all depends on your budget.

Just remember one thing – no pillows, no blankets and no crib bumpers! They are not safe.

If you can’t decide whether a bassinet or crib (or a mini crib) would be a better option for your baby, check my comparison here.

PRO TIP: You could also use a pack-in-play – but do NOT use crib mattress with a pack-and-play, that’s a suffocation hazard.
  • Breathable Mattress

Some cribs don’t come with mattresses so make sure to get a matching crib mattress.

Look for a breathable and washable mattress, like the Newton ones, because they are so easy to clean.

  • Waterproof Mattress Pad

At some point your baby may get sick or have a diaper explosion in their crib. Having a washable crib mattress is great – but you won’t be doing laundry in the late night hours.

It’s easy to pull off a waterproof pad and throw a new one on. You can deal with the laundry in the morning.

At least one (ideally 3) waterproof mattress pads really are a must-have.

  • Bedding

This means fitted crib sheets, only. No cute blankets just yet! Baby should sleep without any loose bedding until he or she is 12 months old.

Go for 3 or 4 fitted sheets, you won’t regret it.

  • Baby Monitor

For peace of mind, set up a baby monitor to keep an eye on baby, even during sleep. You could choose something that’s portable and sound-only, or a video monitor that even works in the dark, all depending on your budget.

2. Diapering

This might be controversial, but I do not think a baby changing table is a must-have baby item. I said what I said.

Here ARE the items for your checklist that are must-haves:

  • Diapers

Reusable or disposable, your choice.

  • Diaper Cream

Especially to help clean up those icky-sticky first poops!

  • Wipes

You can purchase disposable wipes or if you prefer an eco-friendly alternative – you can even make reusable wipes, do whatever suits you best. It may still be a good idea to have a few disposables in your diaper bag when you’re out and about with baby.

In general, if you prefer to go do single use wipes (which are obviously very convenient), be prepared to buy A LOT of them. Here is my calculation of how many baby wipes you will need for a day, a month and the first year of baby’s life.

  • Diaper Pail (Or Trash Can With Lid)

No matter what type of diaper journey you choose (reusable or disposable), dirty diapers are going to STINK. You need something with a lid to contain that odor.

That could be a diaper pail with matching odor-control bags, or a dry bag for reusable. If you’re on a budget, you can go for a garbage can with a closing lid and remember to take out the garbage often.

  • Diaper Changing Mat

If you forego a changing table, then make sure you have a good changing mat. This is a wipeable, easily foldable mat that keeps your bed/couch/other soft surface clean from baby’s mess during changes.

Even if you have a change table, sometimes walking upstairs to change a diaper is just too difficult, and you may opt to lay a changing pad on the couch, instead. It will protect the dirty diaper from making a mess and save you a trip to baby’s room, too.

No matter what, you’ll want a to-go changing pad that fits inside your diaper bag.

  • Changing Pad

Even if you don’t want to get a changing table, getting a changing pad may be very useful to make the diaper changes less messy. You can place the changing pad on your bed or on a dresser.

3. Feeding & Nursing

Whether you decide to breastfeed or go for bottle-feeding, there are a few items that may come in handy.

  • Nursing Pillow

No matter if you choose to breastfeed or bottle feed, a nursing pillow is so helpful with newborn feedings.

As they get older it’s a great prop for tummy time, too!

  • Haakaa

Again, it doesn’t matter if you are doing bottle feeding, your breasts might become engorged. A haakaa is a low-cost, easy-to-use option for any new mom to relieve pressure and potentially prevent mastitis.

  • Bottles And Formula (If Using)

If you are bottle feeding, then you’ll certainly need several bottles and formula.

  • Nipple Cream

If you are breastfeeding then grab a natural, baby-safe nipple cream to save you from future pain and tenderness.

4. Storage

How you choose to store baby clothes all depends on how much space you have. This could be closet organizers that fit within your wardrobe if you’re sharing a room with baby, or their own small dresser in a separate nursery.

Either way, I suggest getting at least 2 large storage boxes for clothes that are few sizes too big, and another for the ones they will quickly grow out of. Babies grow so fast, you’ll be flying through clothes and this organizer system is easy and effective.

5. Other Nursery Must-Haves

Here are few other useful nursery items:

  • Baby Swaddles

If you’re a newbie, I have a post about how to safely swaddle your little one. It really does help with baby sleep!

  • Sleeper Pajamas / Sleep Sacks

Remember, no loose bedding in the crib until 12 months of age, so keep them warm at night with these baby-safe options, instead.

  • Burp Cloths

Spit-ups may happen so it’s good to always have a burp cloth at hand. Stains from breastmilk can be stubborn!

  • Baby Laundry Basket

You’ll be washing baby laundry separately, so having a separate laundry basket (or laundry bag) is a must. Keeping it near the changing area makes it easy to toss in soiled clothes.

  • Baby Care Kit

Part first-aid kit, part manicure set, this is a must-have for every nursery:

  • Baby nail cutter – with safety guards to prevent nicking tiny fingers.
  • Nasal aspirator – to help clear out mucus.
  • Brush – helps with cradle cap.
  • Extra-soft baby washcloth.

Items That Are Nice To Have In Baby’s Room

Here are my tips for more items, which are maybe not so essential but can make the first few months with an infant much easier.

1. Create Your Own Nursery Checklist, Based On Your Space And Budget

Not everything on here will be ideal for every home, so pick and choose what works for YOU and your space.

2. Baby Sleep Nice-to-Haves

If you have more flexible budget, here are some extra baby sleep items you can go for:

  • White Noise Machine Or Sound Machine

These help immensely with baby’s sleep. There are some sound machines that double as a nightlight which I found very useful.

  • Curtain For Window

These could be blackout curtains, but if you’re on a budget you could try a black-out cover on your window and choose fun curtains that match your nursery design for the same effect.

Peel-and-stick blackout window coverings that you can cut to the perfect size of your window are very affordable.

If you’re on a tight budget, you could also hang a blanket temporarily over a window to block out light that could be keeping your baby awake.

  • Nightlight

The light is for you, mostly, to help for those nighttime wakings or midnight feeds. You don’t want to turn on a bright overhead light, so a dim nightlight keeps baby’s room just dark enough so they will easily go back to sleep.

  • Fan

Did you know that your nursery should ideally be a little cool (68 F- 72F) to encourage sleep1? A ceiling fan or standing fan can create a gentle breeze and encourage airflow around your baby. This promotes better sleep.

  • Humidifier

A humidifier in the nursery is an easy way to prevent congestion, especially during cold and flu season. Make sure to position it around 6 feet away from baby’s sleeping place.

PRO TIP: The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends using a cool-air mist humidifier, not steam2.

3. Nursing Nice-to-Haves

Here are some extra items for nursing mamas:

  • Rocking Chair

If your budget only allows for a few splurges, make a rocking chair (or glider, or recliner) one of them.

You might be sitting for several hours, during cluster feeds, so you should at least be comfortable.

A glider chair or rocker will continue to be used as your little one grows up for bedtime stories and nightly cuddles.

  • Side Table

Keep a bottle of water and something to read within arm’s reach, especially during the long feedings. This isn’t for baby – it’s for you, Mama!

4. Diapering Nice-To-Haves

To handle all those diaper changes more easily, consider getting:

  • Changing Table

A changing table isn’t a must-have, but it’s a really big “nice to have”. It makes it easy to have a centra

  • Diaper Caddy

An organizer or a cart to keep diapers, wipes, and creams all in one place.

Nursery Design

When you’re preparing the room for your little newborn, it is a good idea to think about the future and choose a design and decorations that will not only fit nursery, but also still look nice as the baby grows. And trust me, babies grow fast, but you don’t wanna redecorate the whole room, paint the walls again after a year or buy tons of new furniture.

For walls choose a color that will look fit both the nursery as well as toddler’s room. Same goes for textiles. Are you worried the room will look boring? Play with accessories and fun decorations/toys. Also, invest in furniture that will serve you for years, not only when your little one is an infant.

Final Word

Did I hit all your favorite nursery must-haves?

There are my tried-and-true nursery must-haves for all parents, flexible, adaptable, and creative alternatives to suit every budget.

The purpose of this article is informative. It’s not a substitute for professional medical advice or medical care. Remember: safety first! Consult your doctor/pediatrician in case of any doubts. The author of this article does not accept any responsibility for any liability, loss or risk, personal or otherwise, incurred as a consequence, directly or indirectly, from any information or advice contained here.




About Me - Zooey BarnettHello Moms! I am Zooey. I am a wife and a mother of three amazing kids: almost 5-year-old Haley and 2-year-old twins Jesse and Matthew. I am a jogger, cooker and blogger.

If you have a question or a comment, do not hesitate to write to me! 🙂

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