What Do Babies Need in the Nursery?

A list of home nursery must-haves for babies (and parents).

baby nursery
Onur DAngel/E+/Getty Images

When trying to plan the nursery for a new baby, parents-to-be can easily become confused about what's essential, and what they can live without. While that baby wipes warmer seems like a good idea, most babies do just fine without one, and there are better ways to spend money. This might be the first time new parents realize just how expensive baby gear can be. Here are some tips on how necessary some of the most popular items for a nursery are, so you'll get those things you and your baby will need, without breaking the budget.

Crib, Crib Mattress and Sheets

There are a few options to consider when deciding on a crib. This is an area where it's worth it to spend some money, because you don't want an older crib that might not be up to current safety standards. For instance, in 2011, an update to federal standards prohibited the sale and manufacture of drop-side rail cribs.

There's a standard-sized crib mattress, which you'll want to purchase, and several sets of sheets are advisable. However, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends avoiding bumpers or other bedding in the crib, since it poses a risk of suffocation. ​

The option of a convertible crib, which can be reassembled into a toddler bed when the baby outgrows the crib is one many parents consider, and can save money over the long term. But it's not necessary, and isn't better or worse than a standard crib, but can cost a bit more up front.

Other crib options include round or sleigh-style cribs, but often those cost much more and may not be worth the investment.

Diaper Disposal System

If you're going with disposable diapers, you'll want a diaper pail designed to minimize odor and mess. There are several brands of diaper pail, but do a little research to find the right one for you, because the liners, or bags that store soiled diapers, will add another monthly cost.


For parents who choose to go the cloth diaper route, you'll want to research diaper laundering services, which launder and restock your supply of clean diapers. There's cost involved, but it may be worth outsourcing this particular task. 

Baby Monitor

To keep an eye (or ear) on baby at night and during naps, a monitor is essential. While an audio monitor will do the job just fine, for a lot of parents, a video monitor gives extra peace of mind. Often the sounds coming from baby's room, especially in the early weeks, are unfamiliar. But they're not always cause for concern, and a video monitor will let you avoid going into baby's room and risk waking him over something minor. 

Changing Table and Dresser

A safe place to change baby comfortably, which can serve as extra diaper storage, is less crucial than a crib, but since you'll need a spot to change diapers, it's a good idea to have one. And like any standard bedroom, you'll want a dresser to store clothes. Babies clothes are small, but you'll be surprised how many outfits you go through in a day, especially as your baby gets more active.


In addition to these basic items, you'll want to think about getting a nightlight, so when you go in for those 2 a.m. feedings (sorry, they're almost inevitable), you can avoid turning on too many lights. A rocking chair or glider is another good-to-have, especially for breastfeeding moms who'll need a comfortable place to sit while nursing. 

The draw to buy every item on the shelf in the baby supply section at the store can be overwhelming. But it doesn't take too much to outfit a nursery with the basic things both baby and parents will need, instead of a lot of items that amount to little more than bells and whistles. 

Continue Reading