10 Nursery Essentials: What You Really Need

By Natalie Myers | Houzz.com
I have been spending most of my waking hours planning for my baby's nursery and pulling together just the right mix of practical and cool. Since this is my second, I know what I really need, what I can reuse from my first and what is a complete waste of money and space. As a minimalist with little square footage, here are my recommendations for pulling together a nursery. Yes, there are many extravagant options out there you will be tempted or coerced to put on your wish list, but here's what you will actually need.
Related: Browse photos of kids' rooms

Photo from: Lauren HufnaglPhoto from: Lauren Hufnagl
1. Crib. I feel that a simple model such as the Jenny Lind is just right. You don't really need the convertible versions that change from a crib to a toddler bed to a full size bed. Most of them look awkward in their non-crib forms. They are more expensive than the basic crib models offered by Ikea, Land of Nod or Pottery Barn Kids or Craigslist. And, realistically, by the time your child is ready for their next stage of sleeping, you will probably be over the original style you chose. And it takes all the fun out of buying their "big boy/girl bed." Make sure that the model you pick is not on any recall list. See more of this nursery

Photo by: Cristi HolcombePhoto by: Cristi Holcombe
2. Changing station. You don't need a dedicated changing table; it just takes up room. The best solution I have found is placing the changing pad on top of adresser. When your baby grows, the changing pad will come off and you will still have a great piece for storage. You can take the opportunity to mount display shelves on the wall above for decorative toys, photographs, books and other mementos. Pick a dresser that is deep enough for a changing pad and wide enough to accommodate a basket of diapers, wipes, balms, lotions and hand sanitizer.
More: Browse thousands of changing table photos

Photo by: French LarkspurPhoto by: French Larkspur
An antique dresser can be refurbished and restyled to create a darling changing station.

Photo by: Cristi HolcombePhoto by: Cristi Holcombe
3. A glider or rocking chair. You will be spending a lot of time nursing and rocking your baby to sleep. Make sure you have a comfortable chair set up close to the crib, with a foot rest and lots of back support in the form of pillows. It doesn't hurt to also have a small side table to place a cup of water, your phone, a journal with pen for logging your baby's feeding and sleep schedule, and some reading materials.
More: See more rocking chairs

Photo by: Sharps FarmPhoto by: Sharps Farm
4. Storage. Whether it's a closet, shelves of boxes, a free standing armoire or dresser - you will need a lot of storage for all their little clothes, shoes, bedding, diapers, toys and baby gear. Boxes with clear labels of the contents within will help. If you have open shelving, keep lids off boxes for easy access.

Photo by: Erika Everett DesignPhoto by: Erika Everett Design
5. Soft surfaces are important too once your baby is crawling. A nice sheepskin rug you can throw on the floor or on a chair, a pouf for them to lean on as they start standing and scooting, and any soft floor rug (a cowhide is shown here) are all ideal.
Bonus: Notice the wallpaper on the ceiling for an original jolt of visual interest as your baby stares up from the crib.

Photo by: Jute Interior DesignPhoto by: Jute Interior Design
6. Dark window shades or blackout curtains are very important for nap time. It takes a while for your baby to start sleeping normally outside of the womb. Dark shades or curtains will help you get them down for naps much quicker and enjoy some me time while you can grab it.
7. Soft low light in the room or baby's sleeping area is more important for you than them. Babies aren't scared of the dark, but a soft low light will create a soothing environment for them and keep you from bumping into furniture when you stumble into the room in the middle of the night for a feeding.
8. Mobiles are one thing you don't need. Newborn vision is too blurry to make out a mobile above the crib. And some mothers believe that older babies get distracted from sleeping by mobiles. I'm not saying you shouldn't install a mobile, just that it won't really aid your baby in sleeping.
Photo by: Lucy McLinticPhoto by: Lucy McLintic
9. Mature color palettes will serve you in the long run. You may be itching to deck out the room in princess themes if it's a girl, sports for a boy or jungle safari for gender-neutral, but your baby will be a toddler with his or her own likes and dislikes before you know it. Instead of redecorating every couple of years, pick a neutral wall color and install removable wall decals with your theme of choice. A good idea for an accent wall is to pick a wallpaper that you can envision in an adult bedroom or office - just in case. A gender-neutral room also does not have to be green or yellow. Creams, taupes and beiges offer a soothing nursery.

Photo by: The Virginia HousePhoto by: The Virginia House
10. A guest bed or futon is not a nursery essential, but it will be a welcome addition if you have the floor space for it. Sometimes during nursing you will be too pooped to make it back to your own bed and you will just want to lie down.
When you start sleep training, it will be a comfortable spot for you to wait. It can also be a cute corner for reading time and an additional sleeping spot for that out-of-town guest (a.k.a. grandma).

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