Creating a baby routine starts with nursery necessities. This expert guide will deconstruct the nursery, highlighting all of the various components that will improve your nursery’s functionality. You will be equipped with exactly what you need to design a sleep supportive oasis for you and your baby.


Cradle, crib, or bassinet The safety standard for cribs changes frequently so avoid using a crib that’s more than a couple of years old. Slats should be no more than 2 3/8 inches apart—about the width of a soda can.
Bedding and sheets You should own at least two sets of sheets. Try covering the mattress pad with a crib sheet, then layering your spare pad and a second crib sheet on top. That way when the baby wets through the first layer, you can just whip it off and the crib is ready to go again.
Crib mattress According to the Juvenile Products Manufacturers Association (JPMA), “crib mattresses should fit snugly with no more than two fingers width between the edges of the mattress and the crib side.” For safety’s sake, a mattress should be firm, too. You’re not looking for the cushy feel you may prefer in your mattress; you want something that will holds its shape and stay flat.
Mattress pad and/or waterproof cover You’ll want at least two of these since you’ll need a dry one on hand to replace a soiled one in the middle of the night. Make sure to use a cover or pad that is recommended for your crib mattress dimensions. You want a tight fit to avoid it coming loose and becoming a suffocation hazard.
Diapering supplies Cloth or disposable? The decision depends on your lifestyle and personal views. If you’re using cloth, you’ll need three dozen diapers, five waterproof diaper covers, and a diaper pail with a close-fitting lid. You can also employ a diaper service and arrange for weekly delivery and pick-up. If you’re using disposable, avoid the temptation to buy several packs at once, because little ones grow into the next size before you know it!
Baby monitor Invest in a monitor with two receivers so you can keep one in your bedroom for nighttime and another in the kitchen, living room, or home office for the day. Some monitors have the ability to intermittently scan two rooms to listen for a napping toddler and newborn at the same time. Others may interfere with your cell phone or garage door opener, so keep the receipt and do a couple of test runs before choosing a monitor.
Smoke and carbon monoxide detector Both items are as important as a car seat. No nursery should be without them. Pick up one of each or a combination alarm at any hardware store.


Dresser It’s amazing how many tiny clothes you can accumulate in so little time! Besides holding an extensive wardrobe, infant dressers often come with slide-out changing tables and little nooks for diaper cream and wipes.
Electric outlet covers While the danger of electrocution isn’t eminent until your baby becomes mobile, it’s a good idea to start off on the right foot and plug all your outlets now. Packs of outlet plugs are available at baby stores, hardware stores, even supermarkets.
Crib, cradle, or bassinet bumper Soften the sides of your baby’s sleeping area with bumpers. Just make sure they are installed correctly and fit snugly against the sides of your crib, cradle, or bassinet.
Baby clothes Five to seven soft, cotton onesies are essential. So are a couple of hats to help baby retain her body heat and protect her from the sun. Socks are helpful in colder months, but get them all in the same color to make new pairs since you’ll lose at least one a week! Gowns, sleepers, sweatpants, and T-shirts are great as long as they are comfortable and easily washed.
Changing table or table-top changer Changing tables are surprisingly expensive but they are also back-saving and functional. A good option may be to buy a changer top and keep it on baby’s dresser or find a changing table secondhand. Just make sure the changing pad has curved sides and a waist strap to prevent falls.
Receiving blankets Depending on climate and season you’ll want to have at least five cotton or fleece receiving blankets for swaddling and snuggling. For days when you’re on the go, a stroller blanket is essential.
Burp cloths You’ll find many uses for these cloths while feeding and cleaning up after your newborn. Cloth diapers make excellent burp cloths and are sold in bulk, so they are fairly inexpensive.
Nightlight Some babies enjoy the soft glow of a nightlight, but this handy gadget is really to save the toes of parents as they slip in and out of the nursery for nighttime feedings. If it’s plugged into a floor-level outlet, remove the light once the baby becomes mobile and late-night feedings end.
Diaper disposal system These terrific gadgets minimize the smell of diapers and only need emptying about once a week. Many parents only use them for dirty diapers, and breastfed babies might not require one until they begin solid foods.
Bookshelf It’s never too soon to begin reading to a child, so you’ll need a bookshelf for your budding library. If you’ve only got a few baby books so far, use the extra shelf space for a piggy bank, a spare stack of diapers, or a place to set the intercom/monitor.
Storage baskets, bins, or bags You’ll be amazed at how much stuff a tiny baby can use, so invest in some simple, inexpensive storage for all your baby’s diapers, wipes, outfits, stuffed animals, crib sheets, burp cloths, and toys.


Portable stereo Researchers have found that babies will breathe in time to music they enjoy—and they can remember and prefer music heard before birth over a year later! While some studies tout the benefits of classical music, any soothing songs will do. You can buy a lullaby CD or just turn the radio to a soft rock or easy listening station.
Glider or rocker and ottoman If Mom is relaxed, chances are Baby will calm down as well. Gliders and rockers offer fussy little ones two of their favorite activities: rocking and snuggling with a loved one. Turn off the lights, place your baby on your chest, and rock until you’re both drowsy and happy.
Room thermometer Infants, especially preemies, have a difficult time regulating their body temperatures, becoming chilly or overheated quickly. An inexpensive room thermometer may help you clue in to why your baby is fussy.
Mobile While colored butterflies circling overhead nearly hypnotize some babies into sleep, all that color and movement can stimulate others. Try a mobile and see how your baby responds. There’s no need for stark black and white mobiles to make your baby smarter. Get something you think is cute and your baby will love it, too.
Wipe warmer This little device is helpful for parents living in colder climates, but wipes are cold no matter what. Be aware that most warmers will dry out the bottom third of a stack of wipes, so the wipes may require remoistening.
Books Educators recommend reading to babies from the minute you bring them home. Newborns are indifferent to the topic, but older babies love touch-and-feel books, bright colors, and anything having to do with farm animals!
Toys Newborns can’t really play with them yet, but rocking horses, wagons, and other time-tested toys not only look cute in the nursery but will provide hours of fun before you know it. If it makes Dad feel good to buy a baseball glove, go ahead! It will look great on the dresser.
Baby swing Newer swings not only move in a front-to-back motion, but also a side-to-side motion to mimic the motion of Mama’s tummy. If your baby will only sleep in a swing, you’ll want one with batteries for continual motion rather than the hand-cranking version. There are several portable models for on-the-go parents, too.
Bouncy seat Sometimes babies get positional fatigue, meaning that they’re tired of being in a fixed position. If your baby has been lying down or held in a front carrier for a while, try putting her in a bouncy seat for a change of scenery. Many come with a vibrating function that infants love, but avoiding turning on the annoying plinky music or flashing lights since they could cause overstimulation and exacerbate fussiness.
Play yard It used to be that families used this handy bit of gear as a travel bed or playpen, but newer play yards include changing stations, mobiles, net or shaded canopies, and more.
Wall art Nothing makes a baby’s room look sweeter or more complete than accessories and wall art. Inexpensive solutions include hanging a quilt, using foam letters to spell baby’s name on the wall, or even framing the beautifully illustrated pages of your favorite children’s book such as The Velveteen Rabbit or Winnie the Pooh.
Closet organizers Adjustable closet organizers are available at home improvement stores nationwide. Debbie Wiener, designer and owner of Designing Solutions, LLC, advises parents to “position shelving [in the closet] to suit your height and needs, and as your baby grows more independent, you can position shelving so that he or she can reach clothes and toys.” You can also rotate seasonal clothes, large blankets, and extra toys in the closet so that there’s less clutter in your child’s room.