main image of the perfect nursery: navy and white themed nursery with crib, chair and rocking horse

17 Items You Need to Set Up the Perfect Nursery

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Getting ready for baby’s arrival? One of the biggest steps before having a baby is setting up the perfect nursery. Use our guide to be sure you have everything you need for your little bundle of joy. You can start getting ideas for your perfect nursery as soon as you find out your pregnant. I would hold off on making any purchases though until you know the sex, unless you’re planning on a gender neutral nursery.

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Does a nursery need a theme?

Your theme will determine the whole look of the nursery and can be as simple as a color scheme. Are you going for gender specific or gender neutral? Do you want animals or movie characters? Will it be playful or chic? Your theme will determine what color you will paint the room. It will determine if you have light or dark furniture. It will determine the style of wall decorations and the crib sheets and blankets.

What is the most important item in a nursery?

The crib is the most important item in your nursery. You need three things to take care of a baby: 1) food, 2) clean diapers, and 3) a safe place for the baby to sleep. You want to get a crib that is most functional for you.

baby boy in blue blanket in crib
Photo by Alicia from Pexels

1. Find the Best Crib for Your Space

I used a crib that had a changing table attached and also had a drawer underneath for storage. It has offered the most space for my changing station and is a great place to store crib sheets and baby blankets. These cribs are larger, so if you don’t have the space, you may want to try a convertible crib that changes to a toddler bed as your child grows. You may even consider using a pre-owned crib, given to you by a family member. Just be sure that it follows current safety standards and is no more than ten years old.

2. Crib Mattress

The crib sadly does not come with a crib mattress. The good news is you get to choose your own. The bad news is more research for you. You want a supportive mattress, preferably one that is waterproof. I suggest the Sealy® Select 2-Cool 2-Stage Crib Mattress. It has a supportive side for your infant and a softer toddler side. It’s waterproof and stain-resistant, and it’s lightweight to make changing the sheets super easy.

3. Crib Sheets

Crib sheets are one of the fun choices you get to make in setting up your perfect nursery. This is where your theme comes into play. Choose crib sheets with the same colors or patterns of your theme. Most themes are based around the crib bedding and come as a set with sheets and a blanket, along with much of the other room décor.

If you choose one of those sets, you will be able to check off most of the items on this list. However, for safety reasons, nothing should be in the crib with baby, including blankets, toys, or crib bumpers. It’s also a good idea to get 3-4 crib sheets, in case of those night-time diaper blowouts or spit-ups.

4. Waterproof Mattress Pad

You’ve spent a decent amount of money on a crib mattress, make sure you protect it with a waterproof mattress liner. Get two of these waterproof mattress pads so baby’s mattress is always protected, even when the other liner is in the wash.

white lamb mobile over bassinet
Photo by from Pexels

5. Mobile

Mobiles are good for baby’s brain development and for entertainment. This is another item in your nursery where your theme will come into play. Babies love to look at bright colors or contrasting blacks and whites. Choose the mobile that best suits your space. Just remember to remove it around the five month mark for safety reasons.

What furniture should be in a nursery?

Most of your time taking care of your baby will be spent in your perfect nursery, so you will need more furniture than just the crib. You will need at least one dresser, a rocking chair, a changing table (if not attached to your crib), a lamp, and a hamper. A book case and a toy chest are also good to have from the beginning to match your other furniture.

6. Dressers

Even if you plan on using a closet to store your baby’s clothes, having at least one dresser or a storage shelf is important to store things such as bibs, towels, diapers, blankets, and anything else that can’t be hung in a closet. I wanted a set of high-quality wood dressers to match my crib. This 4-drawer dresser and 6-drawer dresser gave me more than enough room for all the baby clothes and extra necessities. Whatever dresser you choose, make sure it is able to be anchored to the wall, so it doesn’t tip over.

mom and baby sitting in chair in nursery
Photo by Vicki Yde from Pexels

7. Rocking Chair or Glider (with ottoman)

You will spend so much time with your baby in the nursery. You need a comfy place to call your own. Whether you’re feeding the baby or reading to him or rocking him to sleep, get a comfortable glider with an ottoman. I suggest the Storkcraft glider with ottoman. I like the glider better than a rocking chair, as there is less of a chance of your baby pinching his fingers once he starts crawling around.

the perfect nursery: round crib with tent, mobile, pillows and toys

8. Nursing Station

If you plan on breastfeeding, I recommend setting up separate nursing stations for any rooms where you may be nursing. Get a small bin or side table to keep all your breastfeeding supplies near your rocking chair.

changing table with toys
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9. Changing Table

If you didn’t opt for a crib with a changing table, you’ll want to buy a separate changing table or use a changing pad on top of a dresser. Just make sure you attach the pad to the dresser, so it doesn’t slide around. A changing pad cover is also something you can match to the nursery theme. However, I recommend not using one. After so many diaper blowouts, you’ll soon find it’s easier to wipe off the changing pad, rather than wash the cover. If you prefer to not have your little one lying directly on the changing pad, use these waterproof changing pad liners. They fit nicely in a bassinet changer as well.

10. Changing Station

You’ll want to keep a supply of diapers, wipes, and cream near your changing area so as not to leave baby unattended. Also, keep your diaper pail nearby, so you can get rid of everything while you’re cleaning up. It’s a good idea to keep a stocked diaper caddy in any room you will be changing the baby. If the nursery is upstairs, you may not want to be running up there for every diaper change, especially just after coming home from the hospital.

11. Lamp

You want a small lamp and a low wattage bulb. You want enough light to get around at night, but not enough to fully wake your baby, during diaper changes or night feedings. This is another item that you can match to your theme, but any small lamp that coordinates with the room will do.

12. Hamper

Oh the clothes you will go through in those first 2-3 months! Get your baby his own hamper for the nursery. I suggest keeping it near the changing table, so you can easily toss in the clothes. I washed everything the baby used in one load; clothes, towels, bibs, burp cloths. It meant every load was a full load and there were less loads to do.

gender neutral nursery with white furniture
Photo by Curtis Adams from Pexels

13. Book Case

If you’ve requested books for your baby shower, you’re going to need a place to keep them. A small bookcase is nicer for a nursery, so your child is less likely to tip it over. It’s also a cute way to display favorite toys.

14. Toy Chest

For an out of the way place to keep the rest of your little one’s growing toy collection, get a safety-hinged toy box. You can get a plain box or one to match your theme.

Are curtains safe in a nursery?

Curtains are safe in a nursery if they are not near the crib and if they are the appropriate length, so your child is not able to pull them down. This is why you always see a valance (just the top curtain) included with most nursery décor. However, most babies need the nursery to be dark during the day to get the best naps, so you’ll want something to block out the light.

15. Match the Curtains to Your Theme

Whether you choose just the valance or the full curtains to match the theme of your nursery, be sure that baby is safe and not able to pull on the curtain or any cords (for blinds or tiebacks). Babies like a dark place for naps during the day, so either opt for black out curtains or a pull down shade.

gender neutral nursery with brown furniture
Photo by Curtis Adams from Pexels

16. Wall Décor

This is where your theme will shine. Nothing ties the room together like wall art. You can get framed artwork or wall decals to match your theme. Just remember, don’t go crazy. Every wall doesn’t need to be decorated. If you hang anything above the crib, opt for lightweight items that will not fall into the crib and hang them high enough that baby can’t pull them down.

17. Monitor

The #1 most important thing when taking care of a tiny human is safety! So make sure you always have eyes on your little one, whether playing or napping. Just be sure to keep any cords away from the crib.

When should you start setting up your nursery?

A typical pregnancy lasts 40 weeks, so you should start setting up your perfect nursery no later then 36 weeks, so you don’t run the risk of going into labor early. The earlier you start assembling nursery furniture, the easier it is without your bump getting in the way. It also gives you enough time to finish buying anything you don’t already have.


There’s everything you need to set up the perfect nursery. Have fun with it! And enjoy these moments thinking about holding your baby in your arms. Your little one will be here before you know it.

What was your favorite item in your perfect nursery? Let us know in the comments.

the perfect nursery: nursery with crib, bookcase and stuffed animals

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