Before I was pregnant, I imagined that we would have a baby one day when we could spare no expense for our nursery decor. I imagined a nursery that felt cozy and modern, yet simplistic. The idea would be to focus on decor where less is more with quality pieces.
When Joel and I were expecting, nursery decor was only one category on a long list of essentials.
As first time parents, how are you supposed to know what to actually splurge on? Does the nursery actually need to be complete before the baby comes? How do you know what you will need for an adventure that you have never been on?
Joel and I rushed to finish the nursery before Thea came. Yet in reality, she slept in our room for the first three months. In fact, we moved the majority of her nursery into our room after waking up 6 or more times per night. It’s easier than walking into a different room. While it’s nice to have a finished space to organize, it's okay if not everything is perfect beforehand. I would say you learn more about the space and what you will actually need after the baby comes. We had to move so much around that it would have saved time if we had waited until we knew what we would actually need.
Without knowing everything that we would need, we used Pinterest and friends to help us create a list of essentials. We started by making a list of everything that we could think of from a practical standpoint. This included any nursery essentials from a crib, to a changing pad, wipe dispenser, and bins for toys. Anything else we added was for pure decorating purposes. We focused our funds on those essential items.
I began collecting nursery decor inspiration, but most of the furniture that I loved was $400 plus. I have an expensive taste and I wanted nursery decor that I could afford without compromising my vision.
We got our furniture from IKEA and added accented details to bring the room together. I purchased pink curtains for a feminine feel and a tassel light as a statement piece in the center of the room. I added colorful books with wooden shelving to bring in practical, decorative items.
What 10 Nursery Decor Items Are Essential?
I originally looked at the Hudson Crib, but I went with a simple crib from IKEA after looking up reviews on how bulky other cribs can be. It was way more affordable and I love the crib that we have. It will turn into a toddler bed when we hit that stage. I have used other cribs while out of town or with friends, and I can say the bulky ones hurt my back bending over them. I am short and it takes more effort with the other cribs that I have tried.
I'm sure most people have a closet in their nursery, but we do not. We purchased this IKEA wardrobe and fit everything that we need with shelving for storage. The more space to organize items, the better. I bought baskets and bins to hold the items on the shelves to make it easier to organize and grab. If you do have a closet or buy a wardrobe, be sure to add baby clothing hangers to your list! I love the wooden hangers from IKEA. They are stylish and affordable.
We splurged and bought the Newton Baby Mattress for the crib. Our thought was that with a quality mattress we felt safe with Thea sleeping in her nursery alone, as well as better quality sleep for her overall. In the long run, that means better quality sleep for us. We do not regret our decision and our mattress is worth every penny. We invested in the Newton Mattress and I love it. It's worth it. I purchased a mattress protector, but have not used it once. It defeats the purpose of the Newton Mattress. It's meant to be breathable and easy to wash. We tested it with the mattress protector on and we couldn't breathe through as easily. It matters because babies often sleep on their stomach regardless of how you lay them down at night. It's their natural sleeping habit once they are old enough to roll over.
If you have a closet or wardrobe you don't NEED a dresser unless you have a lot of nursery items. We didn't need both since I was trying to keep the nursery decor simplistic, but we had this IKEA dresser from our bedroom that doubled as a changing table. It's convenient to have drawers to stash diapers and clothes in to easily grab while changing an active baby.
Curtains are essential to blocking out sunlight. I didn't buy blackout curtains, because I wanted her to be able to sleep even when there was some light in the different sleeping situations. However, a curtain of some kind is essential and doubles as nursery decor. I love these pinkish-purple velvet curtains from Amazon.
6. Baby Monitor
A baby monitor gives peace of mind to keep an eye on your baby when they start sleeping in their own room. We have this monitor by Motorola. It works great and has a decent range when in the backyard. The power cord is somewhat cheap and we have already had to replace it in less than a year, but the camera and monitor work great. The monitor has a microphone option to talk through the camera to the baby.
7. Sound Machine
We put the Hatch Sound Machine on our registry and love it. A sound machine is a necessity if you have a small house or dogs as we do. I don't keep the volume too loud at night, but it's nice to have a buffer while we are still walking around and have friends over. It has a feature that allows you to change the colors to indicate quiet time, reading time, and bedtime as they get old enough to associate the colors with sleep patterns.
8. Changing pad
A changing pad of some kind is a necessity. It keeps your baby comfortable while changing diapers on an area that is easy to clean. We originally went with the Summer Infant changing pad because the Peanut Changer and Hatch Changer were so expensive. We ended up purchasing the Hatch Changer and immediately loved it so much better! The Summer Infant pad is cheap, but it requires a cover and we would constantly be changing it out. We kept the cover off to avoid the hassle, but it gets dirty and won't come completely clean. The Hatch also came in handy when she started really moving around. The sides made it much harder for her to turn over, which makes diaper changing easier than with the cheaper pad.
Sheets are a simple necessity. I opted for Burt's Bees Organic Sheets and a very soft pair from Pottery Barn Kids. Both are equally soft.
10. Drawer Organizers
I didn't go out of my way to buy a lot of organization items for the dresser drawers. However, I did buy one basket that was low enough to fit and one IKEA bin to keep safety items in. It does make it easier to throw things in and out of the drawer, while still keep them organized because it's in a designated container.
8 Nursery items that are nice to have:
Bookshelves are essential depending on how organized you want to be and how many books you receive. We received a ton of books, and having them on the floor felt messy to me. We invested in two bookshelves and still need more shelves for books.
A comfortable nursery chair seems to be at the top of every mother's list. I put it on the top of mine and put this one on our registry from IKEA. We got it and I LOVE it. It is so comfortable, but I can tell you I have never needed it or used it more than a handful of times. I think every parent's situation is different, but I nursed her at night in bed to try and not wake myself up too much every time I had to get up. The chair would have come in handy if I wasn't taking her back to my bed with me, which was right across the hall. It's nice now that Thea is older and plays in her room while I sit in the chair next to her.
This is not a necessity, but I bought one because I thought a warm wipe would be less shocking. It seems as though it would be more soothing if diaper rash is an issue as well.
As you can see from the photos, we still need to buy a rug. We have hard floors, so a rug is a necessity for us when she starts playing in her room more. I haven't purchased one yet, because they can be very expensive depending on the size that you need. I have my eye on one from Urban Outfitters that I plan to buy to fit the space.
Baskets are a necessity for throwing toys, blankets, and stuffed animals in. It's nice to have a way to organize, even if you are throwing items into them.
Wall hooks are not purely decorative, they are functional as well. I use wooden peg hooks to hang towels, swaddles, and carriers on. Hooks are awesome for organizing these types of everyday items.
7. Fancy Ceiling Light
A pendant light was the one thing that I splurged on. I felt that it would be a centerpiece to bring the room together while we were buying practical items for the rest of the room. I still found this tassel pendant light and LOVED it.
Our monitor didn't come with a wall mount, so we purchased it separately. The wall mount is not essential, but it's convenient to have.
Things to Consider For Your Nursery Decor:
- Storage for extra diapers + wipes
- Bins safety items - baby scissors, thermometer, etc
- Organization for diapers + wipes in use
- Organization for sleep clothes
- Organization for baby towels + wash clothes
- Organization for bibs + burp cloths
- Organization for clothes 3m+
- Storage for extra sheets
- Organization for hats + socks
- How long will the baby sleep in your room?
- What items do you need to store in your room to have handy for nighttime feedings and changes?
- What kind of sunlight do you have coming through?