Nursery Design Must-Haves: Here's Your Definitive Checklist

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If there's one thing that's certain about the wonderful journey of having a baby, it's that they come with them comes an exhaustive list of must-haves. In anticipation of your newborn's arrival, you'll want to focus on prepping and stocking your nursery — which will see A LOT of action during the first weeks and months of your baby's life.

To make welcoming your little one home as easy as possible, get a head start and check off the following essentials well ahead of your due date, because babies have a way of being a bit unpredictable in their arrival. Of course you'll discover that you need additional things as your baby grows (and grows), but here's a comprehensive list to get you and your nursery design started:

For Sleeping

Crib

Newborns spend close to 16 hours per day in their cribs, which means that this will be the most used item in your nursery design. Safety guidelines are updated regularly, so forgo hand-me-downs on this one — buy yours new to ensure it meets the current standards. A simple crib with slats like the one above (as opposed to one with solid sides), makes those periodic peek-ins more fruitful (because you can actually see your baby from a distance).

Add to cart: Babyletto Lolly Natural 3 in 1 Convertible Crib, $399

Mattress

Cribs and crib mattresses are sold separately — you'll want to make sure the mattress you select is firm and fits snuggly, leaving no more than 2" between it and the crib frame. Organic mattresses cost a bit more but are worth the extra expense if you can afford it.

Add to cart: Naturepedic Classic 150 Organic Crib Mattress, $259

Mattress Pad

Breaking news: Babies are messy. A waterproof mattress pad (keep a couple extras on hand) will preserve your crib mattress and save it from the inevitable diaper overflow and spit-up.

Add to cart: Naturapedic Ultra Breathable Crib Mattress Pad, $129

Crib Sheet

Keep your crib accessories minimal. We love these muslin crib sheets by Australian-based company Aden + Anais, which makes equally covetable swaddle blankets, pajamas, and accessories.

Add to cart: Aden + Anais Classic Muslin Crib Sheet, $29.95

Noise Machine

A portable noise machine works wonders both at home and on the road. Trust us when we say that you don't want to be tiptoeing around your house when baby is napping or down for the night, and a noise machine makes a great buffer. Plus, who doesn't love falling asleep to the sound of rain?

Add to cart: Dreamegg D1 Sound Machine, $35.99

Blackout Curtains

You can't really appreciate the magic of blackout curtains until you try to get your baby to sleep in the middle of the day. Opt for the floor-to-ceiling variety in your nursery design, which will create the visual effect of longer windows and maximize light coverage.

Add to cart: Pottery Barn Emery Linen/Cotton Blackout Curtain, $159 - $359

Night Light

A night light will softly illuminate your nursery so that you can check on your baby in the middle of the night (and not trip over stray toys) without the overwhelming glare of overhead lights. A soft glow will also go a long way in soothing babies as they get older.

Add to cart: The Container Store Llama Nightlight, $9.99

Area Rug

A plush rug is a workhorse nursery idea that will see a lot of action as your baby gets older and begins to practice tummy time, rolling over, sitting up, and eventually crawling. A cozy option like this one by CB2 will cushion knees and soften tumbles. And, oh yeah, it looks super cute, too.

Add to cart: CB2 Stratus Ivory Shag Rug, $699 - $1,899

Baby Camera

We get it: The temptation to watch your baby 24 hours a day is real. Give yourself some much-needed time apart by setting up a baby camera near the crib where you can watch from a distance and the comfort of your bed.

Add to cart: Infant Optics DXR-8 Video Baby Monitor, $165.99

For Diaper Changes

Changing Table and Washable Pad

Along with a crib, a changing table does a lot of heavy lifting in the first few years of a baby's life. Good news: You don't have to sacrifice the style of your nursery design in the name of function. This changing station pulls double duty as a dresser, creating extra storage for baby's many needs.

Add to cart: West Elm Nash Three Drawer Changing Table, $899 - $1,099

Changing Table Pad and Washable Cover

A changing table needs a stain- and water-resistant pad for cushion, as well as a soft, fitted and washable cover for accidents (stock up on at least two covers for frequent washes).

Add to cart: West Elm Vinyl Changing Pad, $36 and Organic Matelasse Changing Pad Cover, $39

Diaper Storage Bins

Keep your changing table organized by storing and sorting regularly used items in easy-to-access bins: wipes, diapers, creams, etc.

Add to cart: The Container Store Stone Woven Plastic Storage Bins, $14.99 - $17.99

Or leave organization to the pros with this starter kit.

Diaper Pail

Some people prefer to dispose of dirty diapers the old-fashioned way, by simply putting them in a separate bag and throwing them away outside. Others like the convenience of a designated spot in baby's room where they can be tossed out right away. Just be sure to find one that contains odors well.

Add to cart: Dekor Hands-Free Diaper Pail $31.89

For Feeding

Rocking Chair

A rocking chair is a nursery design essential that offers a soothing motion to calm babies, and an extra place to feed and snuggle. We recommend one that's upholstered and oversize for maximum comfort. In this nursery, Shea of Studio McGee anchors a corner with an ample pink rocker and adds a feminine dose of pattern with a floral accent wall and traditional rug.

Add to cart: Darby Home Co. Abree Rocking Chair, $419.99

Nursing Pillow

An ergonomic nursing pillow will do wonders for saving your back during numerous feeding sessions, many of which will take place at all hours of the night.

Add to cart: Boppy Bare Naked Nursing Pillow and Positioner, $29.99


Jaclyn Schatzow is a freelance writer living in Santa Monica, CA

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