Nursery Setup Guide for First-Time Moms

 In Baby Preparation, Pregnancy

The Essential Nursery Setup Guide

In planning for my nursery, I was surprised with HOW much information there was out there. Everybody has a different opinion on what you and baby needs. Let’s get real. Baby ‘stuff’ is a huge industry. The industry wants you to feel like you need ALL the things or you’ll struggle. The reality is, babies don’t NEED all the things.

I wanted to share my nursery setup guide to help you get the crash course on what you might need, why you need it, and how to best design the layout of your nursery. This post is the cumulation of hours and hours of research – and hopefully, it’ll make your life a little bit easier!

From Man-Cave to Baby-Cave

I’ve been excited about setting up our nursery since I found out I was pregnant in September 2016. The same can’t be said for my husband. My nerdy husband has loved his man-cave ever since we moved into our Las Vegas 3-bedroom home. As a gaming fanatic, he’s enjoyed having his space to binge-play games on his PC, X-Box, and PS4. But, with a baby on the way, and limited space, the man-cave had to become a fully decked baby-cave. To be fair, once he got used to the idea, he was surprisingly cooperative and volunteered to move out before we reached the eviction deadline. I half-expected him to cling on to his man-cave until the last minute!

Slightly before Christmas, I started having some major nesting urges. We had my dad and brother, who live in England, coming for Christmas and so partially I was on a deep-clean frenzy to prepare for house guests, and partially I was itching to dive into some necessary pre-baby reorganization. I slowly took over the closet – hiding my baby purchases and registry freebies. We took the opportunity of extra manpower in the form of my dad and brother and did a whole bunch of furniture reorganizing over Christmas.

I thoroughly recommend taking the opportunity to do a deep clean in an empty room if you have the chance. Before we moved all the baby stuff into the room, we hired a carpet cleaner, touched up the paint where there were marks, and cleaned the skirting boards. It didn’t take long but is SO much easier to do without furniture in the way.

This post contains affiliate links, which means that if you click on one of the product links, I’ll receive a small commission. I only ever link products that I personally use, love, or thoroughly recommend.

How to select the big-ticket nursery items

We (ahem, *I*) decided we were going to go with a somewhat traditional nursery. I would love to be able to get the baby to sleep in the nursery from a fairly early age. Our shopping list consisted of a crib, a dresser, and a nursing chair. We already owned a 9-cube storage unit that we moved into the nursery as a bookshelf/toy storage/side table combo.

I’m fairly thrifty where I can be. Our home has a combination of high-quality pieces, budget items, and second-hand furniture pieces. Sometimes budget overrides getting the best furniture piece money can buy. Shopping for our nursery items was no different.

The Crib

I stumbled across some great reviews of IKEA’s Gulliver Crib during my research. The piece is one of the cheapest I’ve seen on the market, at a modest $99.00. People praised this crib for its simplicity, functionality, and sturdiness – and the low price was just the cherry on top. The mattress has two different height options, and, once your little one is climbing/walking, it converts into a toddler bed. After checking out the crib in-store, and giving it a wobble test, I knew it’d do the trick. I feel like this crib can easily out-live one kid – but even if it didn’t I’d still feel like I got more than my monies worth!

There are some beautiful cribs on the market at various price-points, but at the end of the day, your baby won’t notice the difference as long as the crib is functional and most importantly safe. I think I’d rather save the $100+ and spend that money on other baby items.

Changing Table/Dresser

I decided that a stand-alone changing table wasn’t the best use of space or budget for our nursery. I wanted something that would have a functional purpose for longer than the baby is in diapers. For this reason, I decided to place a changing pad on top of a dresser. I saw the dresser as an investment furniture piece that can timelessly transition from baby to toddler, tween to teen.

As an IKEA fan (and delighted that Las Vegas finally got a store) I quickly found the Hemnes 8-draw dresser. The dresser has a clean and sleek design and the ample storage space. Building this dresser took several hours, and I probably over-extended myself a little putting this together – but the final result is beautiful. At $249 it is an absolute steal! I can only imagine what other furniture stores charge for an item like this. I’ve seen some images across Pinterest that show this dresser with the drawer handles switched out for something more playful – colored knobs, stars, etc. I also think this dresser would look great in the future painted a different color, should the white no longer fit with the décor.

Nursing Chair

I’m planning on breastfeeding the baby, and am also building up quite the collection of baby books for storytime. A comfortable chair for the nursery was a must for me. I struggled with narrowing down my options for a chair. Glider? Recliner? With or without an ottoman? I sat in a few chairs while browsing IKEA and other baby stores but nothing jumped out at me. I’m 5’9” and noticed that some chairs do not provide sufficient back/neck support. I’m also a curvy gal, so having enough room for my booty was a must. I had been toying around with around $350 as a budget for a chair.

One day while browsing the Facebook classifieds I stumbled across a listing for a glider. (Side note: Moms! Check out your local Facebook classifieds/Facebook baby/toddler selling groups. It’s a GREAT way to find second-hand items without the risk of sites like Craigslist. I’m HOOKED and have to remind myself to STOP BUYING THINGS). The chair had been lightly used but was only $150. I was intrigued! I set up an appointment to stop by and check it out (with my husband and truck in tow in case we decided to buy), and it was PERFECT. Reclines, swivels, and rocks, wide enough on the hips, high enough on the back AND the back comes apart, so it’s easy to squeeze into our awkward nursery doorway. Score! Needless to say, we wrote the check and took the chair home.

Later research told me that the chair was the Best Chairs Blain – sold at Babies ‘R’ Us for $599.00.  The full price was a little over our budget, but I can attest to the quality and comfort of this chair. Since setting it up, I’ve taken to working on my laptop in the Nursery, simply because the chair is SO comfortable.


Kolcraft Cuddle 'N Care 2-in-1 Bassinet

My in-laws sent us a bassinet as a Christmas gift. I hadn’t planned on buying a bassinet, but I think this will come in handy during the early weeks when having the baby next to our bed will make for easy night-time feedings. The bassinet is a bit frilly for my tastes but will do the job just fine. It also has great reviews on Amazon, comes with a battery-operated part that plays music, nursery rhymes, nature sounds, lights up and vibrates.

So in the space of a couple of weeks, I’d suddenly acquired all the big furniture pieces! The next dilemma was to decide where everything should go.

Optimal Nursery Organization

To give you an idea of what I was working with, here’s a picture of the nursery floorplan. The room is a decent size and has a sliding mirror door closet. The doorway is a little awkward to get large pieces of furniture into, but we hacked that by building everything inside the room (just please don’t make me think about how we’re getting the furniture OUT again when we next move).

After reading numerous articles on the best setup for a nursery, most had similar recommendations.

Setup Tips

  1. Don’t put the crib in front of the window. Word on the street is Babies/Toddlers can be affected by breezes, jump out of windows and strangle themselves on blind cords. Likewise, many sources recommended avoiding putting the changing table by the window for similar reasons. Better safe than sorry.
  2. Ideally, place the crib across from the doorway. This placement allows you to easily peek around the door to check the baby is asleep/breathing/has not spontaneously combusted.
  3. If you’re going to have a chair, have it close to the crib so you can smoothly transition the baby into the crib.
  4. Wherever your changing table is set up, you’re going to need a few things within arms-reach; diapers, wipes, diaper cream, laundry basket, change of clothes, diaper genie/trash can/trash bags. If you’ve got a poop-explosion scenario, it’s best to have everything you need close by to get baby cleaned up, in fresh a diaper and have the ability to swiftly dispose of soiled clothing.

With all this in mind, I came up with the following plan. (Confession! As part of my serial-planning, I drew out the floorplan in my bullet journal and used cut up post-it notes to design the floorplan.)

Initially, I thought there’d be a crazy amount of floor space, but I can tell you that we wouldn’t be able to fit any other large pieces in this room comfortably. Below is a quick photo I took with my phone of what the nursery looked like before we completely stocked up on baby stuff.

In the dresser drawers so far we have baby clothes organized by size/piece, diapers, and creams/lotions/medicines. I’ll also save a drawer as storage for burp cloths and blankets once we stock up on those. On the cube storage, we currently have books, toys, and the baby monitor. I’m going to add a lamp/phone charger, within reach of the chair.

Reap the rewards of a strategic layout

I hope this post helps new moms like me with their nursery prep, planning and organizing. I genuinely believe that taking the time to strategize your nursery layout will pay off once your baby has arrived. Please let me know how you designed your nursery layout – I’d love to see pictures.

Make sure to subscribe to my newsletter to avoid missing updates on the space! I’ll be adding new posts with organizational checklists, as well as any revisions to my setup once the baby arrives.

Nursery Setup for the First Time Mom
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