Baby Nursery Checklist: Must-Haves in the Baby Room

When it comes to a nursery, emotions often affect logical thinking. Expecting moms are in their nesting period. They want everything that stores suggest, though lots of the nursery items are not usable at all. Follow our baby nursery checklist and provide a safe and functional baby room without spading a ton of money!

What you really need for the nursery in 2023!

When arranging the nursery, functionality, and safety are in the first place! Keep in mind that your baby won’t mind how the nursery looks. She won’t complain about wall colors, fluffy rugs, or the wrong patterns.

Of course, you can include the latest trends, adorable decorations and paint the walls with your favorite color. After all, you will spend a lot of time in the nursery, so it has to be appealing to you. But if you want to follow the latest safe sleeping guidelines, you will have to give up certain nursery items, like those cute matching crib bumpers and blankets. They pose a high risk of suffocation or strangulation for the baby!

Another important thing you have to consider is … you are arranging a nursery for yourself. Yes, you! As I said, you will spend a lot of time there, so make it comfortable and practical for yourself! The nursery has to offer mental, physical, and emotional comfort for the mother. A happy and calm mom, a happy and relaxed baby!

And last but not least, the layout and pieces of furniture in this room will change at least three to four times before your child grows into a teenager, so think ahead. Nowadays, you can pick a lot of juvenile furniture that grows with your child, including convertible cribs, changing units, etc.

2023 Baby Nursery Checklist

Ask yourself what nursery items are essentials to you! Someone who is living in a smaller home, where rooms are close to each other, might not need a baby monitor. Yet, someone else feels more comfortable with a baby monitor or baby cam.

What I want to say is that there are nursery items, which are essential for everyone, items that are potentially needed, and some that you can avoid entirely!

Must-Haves in the Nursery

Let’s begin with the list of the nursery essentials that should find their place in each nursery.

1. Crib, Cradle or Bassinet:

Although if you are planning to use a newborn baby bassinet during the first months, I recommend you pick a sturdy and quality crib before your little bundle of joy arrives.

Baby Nursery Checklist: Crib is a Must-Have
Babyletto Hudson 3-in-1 Convertible Crib with Toddler Bed Conversion Kit
  • For a small nursery, opt for a mini convertible crib, which is as functional as a full-size model, just in smaller dimensions.
Graco Benton 4-in-1 Convertible Crib Review
Graco Benton 4-in-1 Convertible Crib

RELATED: Baby Crib Buying Guide

No matter what type of crib you choose, it has to meet all required safety standards! All cribs went to rigorous testing to meet all applicable standards, so if you are purchasing a new crib, there shouldn’t be any problems. Otherwise, make sure your crib was made after 2011 when the new safety standards took into place.

2. Proper Crib Mattress:

Purchasing the right baby crib mattress for your selected crib is crucial! Choosing the wrong one puts your baby in danger, despite having a safe and sturdy baby crib.

RELATED: Baby Crib Matresses 101

  • You have to choose a snuggle fitting crib mattress! There should be no more than two fingers of space between the mattress’s edge and the crib’s frame. A wider gap poses a risk of the baby’s entrapment, which may have severe consequences.
  • A crib mattress must be flat and firm, without any visible gaps or dents. High firmness is essential! If it feels too hard for you, it is probably great for your baby.

I know it might seem a little intimidating, but it’s not as difficult as it sounds. Knowing what to look for can help you find a proper crib mattress at a glance. You can find all guidelines in our baby crib mattress buying guide.

The best baby crib mattres: Newton Wovenaire
Click on the Picture for the Best Baby Crib Mattresses

3. Fitted Crib Sheets (2 – 4 pieces):

First of all, you need at least two sheets, ideally four or more. And second, choose machine-washable and dryable sheets for your convenience!

Nighttime accidents will happen despite the nappy, baby may vomit, spit-up, etc. You have to give yourself an option to swap out dirty sheets during the night.

Choose tight-fitting sheets for your baby’s safety. There shouldn’t be any loose parts in your baby’s cribs. As they remain fit and snug all night long, I’ve decided for those with a 360-degree elastic band.

A soft 100% cotton sheet will keep your baby cozy and comfortable. Such a sheet is also breathable and helps to prevent overheating.

4. Receiving Blankets (4 – 6 pieces):

Their primary purpose is, of course, swaddling babies. But receiving blankets are very versatile, so you’ll soon find yourself using them for almost everything.

You can lay it on the ground to provide your baby with a quick, safe place to lie, tummy time, and play, or use it as a changing mat substitute, a burp cloth, etc.

5. At least 2 Sleeping Sacks:

Sleeping sacks or wearable blankets are a must-have in the nursery. If you have to cover your baby, use a sleeping sack, not a blanket!

It is so much safer! A sleeping sack reduces the risk of entrapment and suffocation by blankets, clothing, or loosens bedding. Not only that, but it also comforts babies by giving them a snug feeling of being in the womb. That’s why it is also an excellent substitute for traditional swaddling in a blanket.

Depending on the time of the year, you can choose between thin sleeveless sleeping sacks or long-sleeve fleece sleeping bags.

Nursery Essentials for the Parent’s Comfort

1. Crib Mattress Covers (1 – 3 pieces):

Save yourself the trouble of cleaning the crib mattress, and purchase a waterproof mattress pad. You should have at least two pieces so that you can change the crib if the nighttime accident occurs.

For your convenience, choose machine washable and dryable models. And be careful that they are of soft material, which eliminates noisy “crinkling” sounds.

Crib mattress covers are either water-resistant or waterproof. The water-resistant cover keeps the liquid on the surface only for a particular time, then it starts slowly penetrate inside. The waterproof model keeps the liquid away from the mattress’s core and should be your preferred choice.

2. Nursing Chair:

You will spend a lot of time in the nursery, so you need a comfortable and calming ambiance as well. I think that a quality nursery chair is the best investment for you!

Breastfeeding, cuddling, relaxing, or just rocking to sleep, you will use it a lot. Not only will it save you a lot of physical pain, but its gentle movement will also soothe you and your baby!

You can choose between classic rockers and modern gliders. The latter ones are more comfortable, with smoother and quieter movements, and may have added features, such as swivel or recliner.

3. Nightlight:

Babies are not afraid of the dark, so they do not need a nightlight. Thought, it is very convenient for you. A dim light allows you to check your baby, and most importantly, it does not completely wake up the baby during the nighttime feeding and changing.

I recommend you choose a nightlight in warm orange or red spectrum, as other colors inhibit the production of the hormone melatonin, which contributes to better sleep.

There are countless options when choosing a night light. You can choose one that changes colors, turns on and off remotely, has a timer, doubles as a sound machine, or is even manageable by your phone.

4. Dresser with a Changing Pad:

If your nursery doesn’t have enough space for a dresser and a changing table, a dresser with a changing pad is your winner.

The dresser offers storage space for clothes and baby changing accessories. You can easily repurpose it into a changing table by adding a changing pad on the top. And last but not least, you can use it as a standard dresser once the baby outgrows it.

5. Baby Monitor or Baby Cam:

The need for a baby monitor depends on the size of your home. If you live in a smaller place where you can hear the baby in all the other rooms, there is, of course, no need to buy a baby monitor.

However, if you think you won’t hear your baby, purchase one. It will make you calmer and relaxed, knowing your baby is not crying for sure.

Another advantage of a baby monitor is that you will hear your baby much faster when the crying only starts. This way, you will be able to comfort her easier as if the cry had already fully developed.

Infant Optics DXR-8 Video Baby Monitor with Interchangeable Optical Lens
Click on the Picture for the Price on Amazon

A fun story from my life. When my firstborn was born, we lived in a small apartment. However, I had not only a baby monitor but a baby cam. Why? Because I was alone with my baby for the whole day, and we have a dog. And a dog has to pee.

Luckily we have a French bulldog that only needs a minute and then goes to rest on the couch again. When my baby girl fell asleep, I quickly grabbed the camera and the dog, jumped in front of the house, and waited for her to pee while I was continually staring at the screen.

I have to point out that I was able to get back inside in ten seconds most. And for all dog lovers, the dog went for long walks in the morning and evening when the husband was home.

Optional Nursery Items

1. Music box, white noise machine, or other sound machines:

Yes, the baby might fall asleep faster with a gentle lullaby or white noise in the background. Those mimicking the mother’s heartbeat are usually especially comforting for newborns.

While gentle noise can block out other household noises, they often exceed recommended noise limits for babies, babies can become dependent on them, and not all babies respond well to the sound.

2. Changing table:

As I said before, if you plan on having a dresser in the nursery, but you are short on space, then a separate changing table is not needed.

However, changing tables are better suited for diaper changes, including open, easy-to-access storage spaces to keep necessary baby items like extra diapers, diaper cream, wipes, and extra clothes within arm’s reach.

Another benefit of a changing table are raised edges on the top. They surround your baby on at least three sides to help prevent rolling off of the table, which adds to the safety.

On the other hand, you can use a convenient changing table topper that is placed on top of the dresser and offers the same security as a regular changing table.

3. A crib mobile is nice addition, but it can be a waste of money too:

Depending on the model you choose, a crib mobile may stimulate or soothe the baby. I have a great experience with a crib mobile, as it was soothing to my child. However, some babies are not interested in it, or they only want to pull it down from the crib.

4. Other unnecessary things in the nursery:

  • Toy boxes and tones of toys
  • Nursery decoration, such as wall art
  • Baby room bookshelves

Nursery items that you do NOT Need!

1. You do not need blankets for the crib:

Not only do you not need them, but blankets are also dangerous for the baby. They pose a risk of overheating and suffocation!

The same applies to baby comforters, pillows, sheepskins, and plush toys. Never put any of them in a baby’s sleep environment to prevent suffocation!

2. You don’t need Infant Sleep Positioners:

Baby safe sleep guidelines recommend sleeping on the back! The purpose of infant sleep positioners is to keep the baby in such a position by preventing rolling.

Because of this, using one of them seems a perfect choice. In fact, sleep positioners used to be one of the best selling nursery items, but not anymore!

You can choose amongst many designs, from a wedge-shaped mat with side bolsters to padded plastic tubes with mesh on the sides. But, the use of infant sleep positioners is unnecessary and unsafe, so avoid using any of them!

Infant sleep positioners already caused tragic deaths when the baby pressed her face against the side of the device or became trapped between the positioner and crib’s side.

3. Avoid crib bumpers:

Crib bumpers are soft pads made of fabric, which you tie to the inside of the crib. Their purpose is to protect the baby from injuries induced by bumping on the crib’s sides.

Crib bumpers do look promising, the same as sleep positioners. But in reality, they pose a danger to your child.

Same to any other soft products in the baby’s crib, safety experts advise against crib bumpers too!

Baby Nursery Checklist

What you Need, what might comes in handy to you, and what you should never buy!

Nursery EssentialsNursery Essentials to ease your lifeOptional Nursery ItemsDo NOT buy
crib or bassinet1-3 crib mattress coversmusic box or white noise machineblankets
proper crib mattressnursery chairchanging tableinfant sleep positioners
2-4 fitted crib sheetsnightlightcrib mobilecrib bumpers
4-6 receiving blanketsdresser with a changing padtoy boxes and tones of toys
2 sleeping sacksbaby monitornursery decoration, such as wall art
baby room bookshelves

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