Nursery Checklist: 7 Must-Haves and Nice-to-Haves

    Updated 14 April 2020 |
    Published 10 July 2019
    Fact Checked
    Medically reviewed by Dr. Anna Targonskaya, Obstetrician and gynecologist
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    The nursery is a place where both you and your newborn should feel comfy and relaxed. But which nursery items are necessities and which are luxuries? Use the handy nursery checklist below to stock up on what you need and splurge on what you want.

    Baby’s nursery must-haves

    Ideally, your baby’s nursery should be set up a few weeks prior to your due date. You never know if they’ll decide to make an early appearance!

    As a mom-to-be, you want to do everything you can to prepare for their arrival. The third trimester is when pregnant women usually experience their “nesting” phase. It’s a natural urge to clean and organize the home.

    Despite the endless décor possibilities, the top three must-have nursery items are a baby crib, bedding, and changing table.


    It’s a safe, sturdy, and cozy space for your infant to sleep without disruption. Choose one that’ll accommodate a growing child and remain suitable until the age of 3. But if they eventually learn how to climb out on their own, you may need to replace it sooner.

    In most countries, cribs are regulated by strict safety standards. While shopping, opt for the following features:

    • A simple design, free of decorative elements which may snag clothing or pose hazards
    • Vertical slats spaced 2 3/8 inches apart or less
    • A secure frame, with no protruding bolts or screws
    • Stationary sides, as opposed to drop-sides, which are considered unsafe

    To ensure a snug fit, try to purchase your mattress at the same time as your crib. Also, remember most models aren’t preassembled, so allow extra time for delivery and setup. Lastly, avoid buying a used crib to save money as it may not conform to current safety regulations.


    Safety trumps design when it comes to your baby’s bedding, too. All you’ll need are washable mattress covers and a fitted sheet with elastics.

    Skip the pillows, blankets, padded bumpers, and stuffed animals to reduce the likelihood of choking or suffocation. In the winter, keep them warm and toasty in a swaddle or wearable blanket/sleep sack instead.

    Changing table

    Plan a dedicated space for changing your little one where fresh diapers, wipes, creams, and onesies are neatly organized. Many tables on the market today have built-in shelves and drawers, guaranteeing these necessities are right at your fingertips.

    Select a piece at a height which allows you to lean over with ease. Make sure it has barriers on all four sides and can be anchored to prevent toppling. A table equipped with a safety belt is usually your best bet. But this doesn’t mean you should ever leave your child unattended there.

    How to set up a nursery

    Now that you know what you need in a nursery, the next thing on your to-do list is baby nursery setup. From daily feedings to diaper changes to getting them dressed, it’ll run like clockwork with the proper planning.

    Put everything within reach

    A well-organized nursery keeps essentials like clothing, linens, and supplies within your grasp, not your baby’s. Never store items on high shelves which cannot be accessed without assistance. Avoid blocking closet doors and dresser drawers with unnecessary clutter, and relocate non-essentials to other rooms.

    If your nursery doubles as a playroom, incorporate low, kid-friendly shelves with soft baskets for toys and books.

    Arrange furniture the smart way

    When planning layout, remember to prioritize function over form. The crib should be positioned away from windows, heaters, wall hangings, electrical outlets, and power cords. Maintain a clear path between the doorway and the crib in case you’re in a hurry or have to navigate in the dark.

    Double-check play areas for sharp objects and other hazards. Eliminate vent obstructions, and bolt dressers and shelves to the wall. It’s also wise to move your changing table and breastfeeding chair as close to the crib as possible.

    Nursery checklist nice-to-haves

    Once you’ve locked in the must-haves on your baby nursery checklist, consider adding these four nice-to-have items.


    Chances are, you’ll be in the nursery at all hours, so install a small night-light to improve visibility. Just remember to keep it away from furniture and fabrics.

    Diaper pail

    Did you know that your child will use more than 2,000 diapers in their first year alone? Curb unpleasant odors while sparing yourself extra trips to the dumpster by having a pail nearby.

    Baby monitor

    You’ll be able to hear a crying, fussy baby from any room of the house. Some monitors even feature a built-in camera, allowing you to see exactly what’s going on.

    Breastfeeding chair

    It’s challenging enough to find a comfortable breastfeeding position for both mommy and baby. Invest in a quality chair which offers proper support for your arms, back, and tushy.

    Much like hospital bag checklists, nursery checklists include helpful guidelines for ensuring comfort and safety. Since personal needs vary, however, feel free to adjust your list accordingly.

    Safety tips for your baby’s nursery

    Every parent wants to fulfill their nursery needs without compromising safety. As you’re preparing your nursery checklist, take note of the following:

    1. Plastic bags of any kind (shopping bags, garbage bags, wrappers, etc.) should never be in the room.
    2. Tuck away curtains, straps, ropes, strings, power cords, and other dangerous items, far out of your little one’s reach.
    3. Buy only flame-retardant nursery linens and furniture.
    4. Anchor large pieces of furniture to the floor or wall, and place no-slip mats underneath them.
    5. If you’re using a humidifier, choose a cool-air unit and steer clear of fabrics to prevent mold buildup.
    6. Install a smoke detector right outside the door and put window guards on all windows.
    7. Make sure the door to your child’s room cannot be locked from the inside.
    8. Never leave them in the nursery unattended, except while they’re sleeping.

    The nursery should be a safe, comfortable, and welcoming environment for the entire family. When shopping, purchase baby nursery must-haves first, then add a few luxury items if your budget allows.

    History of updates

    Current version (14 April 2020)

    Medically reviewed by Dr. Anna Targonskaya, Obstetrician and gynecologist

    Published (10 July 2019)

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