What Are Your Baby Nursery Must-Haves?
You’ve got the room cleaned and cleared out, a registry to fill, and perhaps even a few images of beautiful baby rooms pinned to your mood board for inspiration. But where to begin preparing your nursery for your baby’s arrival? For us, beginning with essential nursery items is the first thing you should check off of your baby nursery checklist before your new baby arrives.
The nursery is where you and your baby will spend some of their earliest, most intimate moments. It should be filled with items that provide comfort and promote relaxation, but that also fulfill the basic daily needs of caring for a child through their earliest years — from sleeping to diaper changes, feeding and playing, to simply sitting and enjoying each other’s company.
Every parent has a different approach to setting up their baby’s room. Perhaps you prefer to buy all of your baby gear necessities ahead of time so that you can have the nursery completely designed and decorated before your newborn’s arrival — nary a sheet untucked or a baby monitor uncharged. Or perhaps you prefer to design as you go, starting with the big items first to get the space up and running, and then slowly and deliberately adding more as needed.
While each parent will outfit their baby’s nursery with items that feel personal and meaningful, there are a few nursery must-haves that we’ve found are absolutely vital for a comfortable, functional environment for you and your baby. From practical baby furniture to soothing decor, here’s our checklist of exactly what you should include when setting up the foundations of your nursery.
1. Crib and Crib Sheets
Plenty of sleep is essential to your baby’s growth and a parent’s peace of mind. While few can expect an infant to sleep through the night in their first few months, we advise making your baby’s sleeping space comfortable to ensure they’re getting as much rest as possible. Look out for a crib and crib mattress that is both durable and safe, with attention to construction, materials, and safety certifications. Additionally, we suggest investing in a waterproof mattress pad to keep your baby's mattress adequately protected.
Cribs run the gamut from beautifully crafted heirloom furniture to inexpensive and functional pieces that get the job done. Popular materials are wood and metal, both in a variety of stains, colors, and finishes. One feature that parents look for in a crib is convertibility, and many coveted cribs on the market are 3-in-1 or 4-in-1 modular beds that adjust (usually with a conversion kit that must be purchased separately) as your baby grows, from crib to toddler bed, to daybed, to a full-sized bed. Many of these cribs also offer a platform that can be adjusted to multiple heights to accommodate your growing baby. We love the look of a minimal crib in a neutral tone that can be accented with colorful patterned crib sheets to bring texture and energy to the space. As with all textiles used in your nursery, we recommend keeping a backup crib sheet or two in the event of unexpected accidents, spit-ups, and other messes that may need immediate cleaning.
Whether you’re working within a set color scheme for your nursery or you’d like to mix and match, Lewis crib sheets feature botanical and nature-inspired prints in an array of serene colors that will keep your baby's crib looking beautiful. Explore our take on marine life with our Alligator, Blowfish, Seaweed, Stingray and Oyster prints, and vegetation-inspired patterns Pods, Geranium, Radish, and Parsnip. For a one-stop-shop of all bedding baby essentials — and if there’s a print you just can’t get enough of — choose a baby bedding set, which includes a crib sheet, quilted blanket, toddler pillowcase, swaddle, and a set of two burp cloths, all in the same pattern.
All of our bedding is made from 100% organic cotton muslin, which we chose for a number of benefits. Muslin is lightweight, breathable, and gentle on sensitive skin. It’s easily machine washable and has a light texture that is soft and touchable.2. Changing Table
A reliable changing table is another key item for any nursery. Your baby will need their diaper changed several times a day, and the ability to do this at a comfortable standing height will make all the difference. Spending time hunched over a mat on the floor or a low surface can put strain on your body. Think of your nursery’s changing station as a workspace and tailor it to suit your ergonomic needs — your back will thank you.
For space efficiency (and to store onesies, wipes, diapers, and creams when not in use), we love the idea of converting a dresser to a changing table by outfitting it with a soft, comfortable foam changing pad (with a non-skid bottom and safety strap to keep your baby in place during changings) with cover. Removable changing pads have the added benefit of being able to be stored away when your baby’s diaper days are through.
On another note, changing a diaper can be — as you might guess — quite messy. Having a dedicated surface for diaper changes will help ensure that you have the space to accommodate the unexpected. Additionally, having this close to a diaper pail will make the process much more convenient for you, especially in those wee hours of the night. We recommend also opting for a changing pad that’s soft, padded, and waterproof to further mess-proof your setup. Some pads and pad covers are coated with vinyl and other performance fabrics that boast features such as being anti-bacterial and hypoallergenic, though parents interested in sticking to natural fibers can find a plethora of cotton options as well. Many pads are also contoured to account for any potential rolling around your baby may get in the habit of doing. Lastly, look for anchoring straps that secure your changing pad to your changing table or dresser.
Relatively new to the market in the last few years are wipeable changing pads, which eliminate the need for any covers, so those might be great options to look into as well.3. A Place To Sit
Sitting with your baby is essential for feeding as well as for reading and providing your baby with plenty of warmth and care. Create a peaceful corner in your nursery where you can sit comfortably for long periods of time, with plenty of back support and perhaps even a footrest or ottoman for utmost relaxation. Comfortable seating can mean different things to different people, with some parents opting for a large plush lounge or reclining chair and others enjoying the sleep-inducing effects on babies provided by the gentle motion of a rocking chair. We’re partial to rocking chairs — both traditional and gliders — for the soothing effect they have. Some nursery chairs we’ve found boast features like performance fabrics (for easy cleaning of inevitable spills), 360-degree swivels (for changing up your view every now and then and storage (for further optimizing space in your nursery).
Lounge and rocking chairs are available in a wide variety of styles that provide both elevated design and optimal comfort. If you love the benefits of a traditional rocking chair but your taste is a bit more minimal, look for an upholstered modern rocker (slipcovered is even better!) with modular legs that can be switched out for stationary legs when its back-and-forth motion is no longer of service. Or, if you want to have the option of sliding, gliding, and reclining, look for a chair that combines all three. Keep an eye out for armrests and lumbar pillows too, as these can provide added comfort for those middle-of-the-night feedings.
We recommend enhancing your seating area – be it a corner, a nook, or even its own separate room – with a side table to set a bottle, your own water glass (nursing makes you incredibly thirsty!) as well as some soothing decor. You might choose to adorn a wall with a piece of art to meditate on, such as an abstract painting or a photograph of the night sky, or an antique textile in a unique pattern. You’ll definitely want some low lighting mixed into the space, like table and/or floor lamps with warm-tone light bulbs (dimmable even better!) to set a calming atmosphere for nighttime. We also recommend outfitting your seating area with cherished baby books, plenty of blankets, and baby-safe stuffed animals. If you’re able, position your seating area to face a window with a view – a garden, a sunset or even watching the neighborhood pass by can provide you with a meditative sense of calm, creating a relaxing atmosphere that brings pleasure to both you and your baby.
If you’ve ever purchased a rug for a room in your home, you’ve already experienced how it can instantly bring cohesion and comfort to a space — as if by magic. Adding a large rug to your nursery can help unify your furnishings and decor, while a small area rug can be used in a corner or cozy reading nook to define a space within the room for a particular use. Rugs help with a room’s acoustics, diffusing loud noises that can bounce off and echo from too many hard surfaces (think sound reduction during those prized moments when your baby is soundly sleeping).
Rugs are also a great way to encourage your baby’s sense of curiosity and penchant for exploration, creating a safe, comfortable environment for tummy time — from rolling and crawling to walking and running, as well as for play. Opt for rugs in soft textures that you and your baby will be comfortable lounging on for extended periods of time. For utmost safety, be sure to secure your rug with an anti-slip mat and carpet tape to avoid slipping and sliding.
One thing to consider when choosing the perfect rug for your nursery is material — synthetic materials are soft yet easy-to-clean and can often be thrown in the washing machine, while wool rugs are recommended because they’re natural, hypoallergenic, and spill-resistant. Cotton, jute, and sisal provide natural (and sometimes organic) alternatives. High pile and natural and faux sheepskin rugs are ultra-luxe and soft (and in many cases machine-washable) and are more likely to easily obscure small stains and spills.
A rug can help add texture to your nursery — we prefer natural and neutral tones that will help add warmth and texture and can transition to suit the space as your child grows.
Choosing a rug is a gratifying way to ground the space — adding a warm neutral base for layering.
5. Swaddles and Burp Cloths
Swaddles and burp cloths are our secret weapon, and we keep a ton of these on hand for tackling a variety of scenarios. Burp cloths are great to have handy for spit-ups, spills, milk dribbles, sneezes, and snot, all of which are constant in an infant’s early months. Our 100% organic muslin is perfect for burp cloths. It’s lightweight yet durable and absorbent. Drape one over yourself while burping your baby to protect your clothing and any baby clothing your little one is wearing. We recommend washing burp cloths with a mild detergent as swaddles and burp cloths sit close to an infant’s sensitive skin. We also recommend investing in a separate dresser, storage, or even baby hangers to keep burp cloths (and other clothing items) organized.
Swaddles are larger than burp cloths and are used to wrap your baby to emulate the snugness and warmth of being in the womb. Studies have shown that babies who are swaddled in their early weeks experience less anxiety and experience more of that amazing baby sleep more soundly. Swaddling also helps prevent a baby from scratching their face and helps maintain your infant’s back-sleeping position. With swaddling, it’s always important to practice safety — never over-swaddle or use double swaddle blankets, and ensure that the swaddle is secured though not too tight.
Swaddles and burp cloths are also a great solution for creating privacy when breastfeeding. Opt for a breathable fabric like our 100% organic cotton muslin so that you can safely feed without risking your baby overheating. Similarly, these burp cloths can be used as stroller covers so that your little one will be protected from the sun on walks while still getting ample airflow. If you’re out and about, swaddles and burp cloths can be used as a changing mat in a pinch. They can also be laid down on grass at the park for some tummy time on the go.
Once your child has outgrown the need for swaddles and burp cloths, these can be repurposed around the house for household cleaning, removing makeup, and anywhere else a piece of cloth would be handy.
Our Lewis swaddles and burp cloths are crafted from 100% organic cotton muslin, which is an all-natural fiber prized for its softness and absorption. Choose from our range of multi-use cloths in a variety of unique prints in bold and muted colors to mix and match.
And voilà – you now have a fully functioning baby nursery perfectly suited to welcome your little one. Once you have the foundational elements of your nursery in place, you have free reign to keep decor to a minimum or to let your inner decorator run wild. Perhaps there’s a cherished baby blanket or stuffed animal lovingly worn from your own childhood, or a chintz-inspired wallpaper you’ve had your eye on (we have those, too). Now that you have your baby room essentials, make it your own with unique personalizations custom-tailored to you and your family.