7 baby nursery must-haves for your new home

Whether you’re preparing to make a move to accommodate your growing family or you’re settled into your forever home with a baby on the way, your new addition is going to need space of their own.

When you’re expecting or adopting, books and baby stores and websites and well-meaning people will tell you that you need everything on a giant registry checklist.

Before you buy all the things, listen to an experienced mama who has overdone and underdone it with the baby gear plenty of times.

Let’s start in the nursery, with this manageable list of must-haves for you and your new babe.

A comfortable place to cuddle

Invest your dollars or time in refinishing a seat where you will nurse, rock baby to sleep, whisper sweet lullabies and take meditative breaths on hour two of a midnight screaming session.

This may be an upholstered chair you can sink into, a simple rocking chair or glider, or even a little couch or daybed. Whatever you choose, give it a test ride, and if you will be nursing, be sure it has comfy supports for your arms and back.

Upgrade with a stool or ottoman. One that rocks in sync with your chair is especially heavenly.

A place for the baby to sleep

Crib, co-sleeper, cradle, convertible bed, Swedish organic cotton baby hammock – make the choice that best fits you and your little one’s needs (pro tip: ignore, laugh at or flip off anyone who comes at you with judgment about this personal parenting decision as if you entertain their opinions, they will only have more to say about how you feed, read and entertain your child, too).

Even if you and your baby get most of your sleep in a recliner (no pediatric association ever recommended this but, real talk, it happens to the best-intentioned among us), give yourself some peace of mind and space to breathe by creating a rest spot in baby’s room.

One day (on day one or even a year or two later), it will be glorious to lay your baby down in his own sleep sanctuary.

Most importantly: Do your research to find a bed that meets all safety standards, for even more safety’s sake don’t fill it up with bumpers and stuffed animals and every blanket your granny ever crocheted.

Do feel free to let your kids sleep happily in their cribs until they are four, as I have (*deflecting judgment*).

A hideaway for the thousands of tiny onesies you will be gifted

Your friends, family, co-workers, church ladies and your favorite checker at Trader Joe’s will delight in bestowing you with gifts to honor baby’s miraculous arrival.

About 90% of that celebration will be in size 0-3 months, with experienced parents stepping in with sized-up gifts. The clothes will be freaking adorable, yes.

And if you want your child to wear all of them, you will have to commit like you never have to anything before by changing your wailing, conked out or irritated newborn’s outfit multiple times a day.

Get ready for this fashion challenge by making a place you can easily store and access all those clothes.

A dresser with drawers that don’t stick and outfitted with dividers for tiny leggings, shirts, sleepers and fancy clothing has always worked beautifully for me, but other parents I know love to see it all hung up neatly in a closet or are happy to shove it all in under-bed baskets.

Want more teeny tiny clothing advice? Roll it (and those blankets) up so that you can easily unfurl them with the flick of one wrist while the other hand holds the baby.

A basket for stuffed animals (there will be even more of these than onesies)

If this is your first child, I am here to tell you that you cannot fathom how many stuffed animals, lovies, baby dolls and tiny plastic creatures your child will collect before the age of three.

Do yourself an organizational favor and get a mesh laundry hamper, big old basket or bin of some kind to contain them all now.

Safety moment on repeat: do not arrange them adorably in the crib or place where your child will sleep.

A soft rug for your feet and baby’s chubby knees and little feet

Many of us city-dwellers live in homes with lovely hardwood floors that are not made for kneeling, unkind to bare feet on cold winter nights, and are particularly tricky for babies having tummy time, learning to crawl and walk.

Invest in a soft place for the family’s feet to land with a rug, customizable carpet tiles or full-blown wall-to-wall plush stuff.

Bonus: You’ll protect the neighbors from the echoes of squeals and screams (baby’s…or your own).

A home for books

No doubt you are already collecting board books, Harry Potter first editions and The History of Everything to read aloud to your child. There might not be enough to fill a bookshelf now, but there soon will be.

Organize in baskets or go right for a secured bookcase (one that bolts to the wall). A prominent home for books also is a visual cue to your newest family member that reading matters this much.

A little nicety: pull a few books every week and place in a handled basket that you can stash in other rooms or next to the comfy chair so you’re sure to read regularly.

Blackout curtains…and a door latch cover

If you are type-a prepared, you may want to stock up on extra sleep supply reserves. Nurseries that get glorious morning light or are prime seating to your neighbor’s marital dramas are great now and will become your nemesis as soon as a baby comes home to live.

Get good deals on blackout curtains (if don’t see them in the style you like, hang a double rod and place the blackouts underneath a layer of cute window dressings) and something to muffle the loudest click ever of a door.

Funny-not funny: the very best sleep defense comes on a sticky note over your doorbell.

Written by Jessica Ashley
Jessica Ashley is a writer, coach and the voice of Single Mom Nation and its sister podcast. She wears inappropriately high heels to the playground, is mom to a teenager and a threenager and lives with her chef boyfriend on the north side of Chicago.