Creating an environment that is calm, comfortable, and conducive to sleep is essential when you’re setting up your baby’s nursery. We’ve put together a list of nursery must-haves — according to the baby experts, Newborn Care Specialists — to help you create the optimal sleep environment for your little one!
Changing table or changing pad
Whether you have a dedicated changing table or you set up a changing pad on top of a dresser, we definitely recommend using one with a cover. A cover makes cleaning up after any particularly messy diaper changes easy — just pull it off and throw it in the washing machine.
Diapers, wipes, cream, and disposal system
Keep these items close by the changing station for easy access. You may want to invest in a diaper genie for disposing diapers in, or simply use a lined garbage bin with a lid.
Crib (or bassinet, followed by crib)
You can decide to have your newborn sleep in a crib right away, or you can start with a bassinet and then transition them to a crib as they grow.
Firm mattress with waterproof mattress pad and tight-fitting sheets
Whether you’re using a bassinet or a crib, we recommend using a firm mattress and tight-fitting sheets, in order to reduce the risk of the sheets coming off and entangling or suffocating your infant. We also highly recommend putting a waterproof mattress pad underneath the sheets for easy clean-up following accidents.
Swaddle or sleep sack
Rather than using a blanket for warmth, newborns and infants should be placed in a swaddle or sleep sack at bedtime. Loose items, like blankets, increase the risk of entrapment or suffocation and should not be used in the bassinet or crib.
Babies have a natural need to suck using a pacifier helps meet that need, while also soothing them. In addition, the use of pacifiers is recommended, as they help reduce the risk of SIDS (sudden infant death syndrome).
Blackout or room darkening curtains aren’t essential, but they do minimize the amount of natural light in the room, which may help your baby sleep a little bit longer.
Sound machines help muffle outside noises, soothe the baby, help them complete sleep cycles, and can create a calm, peaceful sleep environment. They’re not essential, but they are highly recommended.
Soft night light
Having a soft night light in the nursery is more for the parents’ and/or the Newborn Care Specialist’s benefit. It can help you move around and navigate the room while the baby is sleeping, without disturbing their sleep cycle by turning on a bright light.
These days, there are more options out there than the walkie-talkie style sound monitors we grew up with. You can now purchase movement monitors, some of which you can even connect with your phone, which alert you when your baby does not move/breathe for a period of time. Video monitors are also available, so you can check on your baby without entering the nursery and disturbing their sleep.
Comfortable chair or glider
You are going to spend a lot of time feeding your baby and rocking them to sleep, so you want to make sure you have a comfortable place to sit while you do so. A good, comfortable chair or glider is a worthwhile investment, in our opinion.
Nursing pillows help prop the baby up during bottle feeds and/or while you are breastfeeding/chestfeeding them. These pillows can save your arms from getting tired and give you more mobility.
We recommend putting a small side table or nightstand next to the nursing station. This is where you can keep small items, such as water and snack for yourself, your phone, and, of course, burping cloths for easy access.
You’ll always want to have plenty of burping cloths on hand for after feeding. Spit happens!
Small clock and baby tracker
Having a clock nearby — either a digital clock with a dim light or a quiet manual clock — can help you keep track of the baby’s feeding and sleeping schedule and patterns. A baby tracker is a useful place to record these patterns, and to ensure your baby is getting adequate sleep and feeding regularly.
Finally, we recommend having a laundry hamper in the nursery. It’s easier to just toss any soiled sheets, clothes, cloth diapers, burping cloths, etc. in a hamper, rather than having to carry them out to another room.