Setting up the nursery – decor and essentials

Keep it compact and neural until you know what you are having.

Keep it neural until you know what you are having.

Setting up the nursery can be daunting or delightful. Some of us are just naturally organised and some are hopelessly disorganised.


It helps to have a list, so you don’t miss something essential.

Somewhere for baby to sleep: Seems a bit obvious but you need to decide if baby will be sleeping in their room to start or in yours. If its in your room you need a bassinet and a cot.

Even if they are not going to sleep in your room, I recommend a bassinet because it is just so easy to move around and have in the room with you during the day.

However, putting them in their cot for every sleep builds good sleeping habits of association.

Have a safe sids approve mattress. Something firm that fits the cot or basinet snugly.

A comfy chair or rocker: You are going to spend a lot of time in the nursery feeding bub or reading stories. Make sure to invest in a good chair that has support for you and baby. Large padded arm rests mean you can rest your arms, or baby’s body, on them when feeding.

Change table and dresser combo saves space.

Change table and dresser combo saves space.

Somewhere to change your baby: a change table, with safe sides and a good height for you. Don’t forget a waterproof change mat.

Those ones with a fluffy cover might look good. But I tell you having one that is one pice and waterproof is much easier when there is a poo-splosion.

You can even get blow up ones, that do come cloth covers. You can take it with you anywhere easily and its sturdy enough to use everyday at home.

IMG_3349Diaper bin:something with a secure lid so a toddler cannot get into in and the smell cannot get out. After much trial and error we got a large foot peddle one with a removable insert. We use cloth nappies, so we we can just take the insert downstairs like a laundry basket – and the lid is very secure.

This would still be great for disposables, because you don’t have to take the whole bin down to the rubbish bin.


A drawer on the bottom is a great place to hide small items or toys you don't want out.

A drawer on the bottom is a great place to hide small items or toys you don’t want out.

Book storage (and books): a bookshelf or tubs for books. It is so important to read to baby for their development and language skills. Aim to read right from the day you get home. You only need a few books to start and you are sure to get some from friends and relatives.



Quirky Bubba has toy chests in white, walnut and black.

Quirky Bubba has toy chests in white, walnut and black.

Toy storage: you may not have many toys yet, but oh you will. When your bub goes nuts over everything all the other babies at mothers group have.

Plan to have somewhere to throw toys, its easier to toss them into a basket or toy chest than to arrange them on a shelf. A spare laundry basket is great to carry under one arm and run around the house tossing toys into it. Then you can tip it into a toy chest.

Sheets: Buy at least five, plus a few waterproof mattress protectors. If you have a bassinet you need them for that as well. Trust me a waterproof sheet is absolutely essential. There are some great ones made from Eucalyptus.

Laundry basket: Babies go through a lot of laundry. A lot. A big basket that is easy to take back and forth to the laundry room is a lifesaver for an exhausted new parent. Plus its good to keep babies washing separate, especially if you use a sensitive washing powder just for them.

Clothes storage: Your baby probably already owns more clothes than you do. A dresser and a couple dozen mini-hangers go a long way in keeping their room organised. Plastic tubs in the larger bottom drawers are great for socks and onesies.

Also thing about weather the dresser is going to suit a child’s room. Change table/dresser combos that you can take the change table bit off once baby is a toddler are great because you save space, have more storage and don’t then have a change table you have to store.

Decorations: Big bright posters – toddler education ones are great with the alphabet and numbers. You would be surprised how fascinated bub will be with what is on the walls.

Black-out shades: Your womb was peaceful … and dark! Help baby tranquil and less stimulated by putting up black-out blinds on his windows. It really helps with day time sleeps.

Safety gear: Don’t wait to baby-proof your house. Baby will crawl about quicker than you realise and you will be exhausted and so busy it will take you by surprise. You’ll be out trying to buy cupboard locks and stair blockers at midnight.

Think safety before bub comes along, that way by the time they are crawling and running about you have had time to really think about things.

Night-light: This is more for you than bub at the beginning. You want a nice soft light that is easy to turn on in the dark, wont wake baby and wont blind you.

We found a little ghost from Ikea that charges from the wall then can be carried around wirelessly glowing softly. Just enough light to change bub, give them some milk and both of you can go back to sleep.

Baby monitor: Believe it or not, there will come a time when you don’t want to run into the nursery 40 times a day to check if baby’s awake.

Clock: You might not want to know precisely what time it is when you’re up for the fifth time in a night, but a clock is great for scheduled feedings and medicine dosing.

CD player or iPhone dock: Soft music playing when bub naps during the day can make the difference between a 10 minute or 2 hour nap.

Wastebasket: For non-diaper trash like wipes and tissues, cotton buds and other things. However, if you are going disposable you can just put it all in the same bin really.

Bath and grooming items: A baby tub or baby bath sponge, a few baby towels and washcloths, nail clippers, and a comb/brush set. As well as baby soap and olive oil. Olive oil much better than ‘baby oil’ and recommended at the hospital.

Activity mat: Tummy time is more fun on a mat that has colourful things to look at. Try getting one that is easy to clean. We use a few quilts and just them in the wash every time one gets spat up on.

Nursing gear: A breast pump, because its great to be able to express a bit of milk so you can go out for more than an hour. A nursing pillow, half a dozen cloth diapers for spit-up and burping, breast pads and nipple cream. Stash it all in a basket near your chair in the nursery, so you don’t have to get up after baby starts drinking.

Diaper change necessities:A stack of diapers, wipes and nappy rash cream near the changing table are critical, because once you get started, you can’t walk away without carrying a half-naked baby with you. 

Floor rugs: not only make the room look more colourful, they protect the floor from spills and stains. If you have wooden floors they warm the room as well. Just be sure to stick them down so you don’t trip.

The Decor

Think about creating a décor that will last and adapt easily into the toddler years, and make any particularly “baby” touches removable, like stickers. Chances are you’re not going to have the time or money to redecorate for each new stage. The golden rule is to keep the basics simple and accessorise with specifics

Simple bright colours and bold stripes or large dots will help babies development. But dont overdo it or bub will never go to sleep!

Consider making the nursery gender neutral, even if you do know what you are having. It is easy to add a few pink flower stickers or sailing boats to the walls. If you are planning on having more than one bub, and the nursery is the room closest to yours, you may want to re-use it for the second and move your first to their own room later. 

Let us know what you have done in your nursery in the comments!


One thought on “Setting up the nursery – decor and essentials

  1. So many excellent items to have in the nursery. I prefer not to have big bookcases in a nursery just because as the child gets older, it gives up the fear of the book case falling on the child. You can get long ones as opposed to tall ones which are a lot safer!

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