10 Secrets for Getting the Nursery of Your Dreams

It’s baby’s bedroom, but let's be honest, you'll be the one appreciating the decor. Here are the secrets to getting the nursery of your dreams.
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profile picture of Shannon Guyton
Contributing Writer
September 17, 2020
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Image: Tessa Neustadt
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What you need:

The Crib

The secret: Buying a convertible crib will save you money in the long run and ensure baby’s bedroom set matches throughout childhood. As the centerpiece of the room and the spot where baby will spend hours sleeping (cross your fingers!), this is one of your most important purchases. But before you buy, imagine baby is a (gasp!) little five-year-old preschooler—will you have had to buy multiple beds for all your child’s different growth stages (crib, toddler bed, then twin)? Consider a convertible crib that turns into a toddler bed and eventually a full-size bed headboard. Note: The crib (and dresser) can take 10-plus weeks to be delivered at times, so make sure to order early.

Ready to shop? Check out our crib shopping guide.

The Glider/Rocker

The secret: You may not think you want a glider (it isn’t as trendy or cool-looking), but you’ll be spending hours upon hours with baby here feeding, rocking, lullabying and reading. You need one.

Stick with a simple, classy design that’s comfortable. (Baby Bargains by Denise and Alan Fields recommends the Dutailier brand, because its gliders are high-quality and comfy. Note: They can take up to 12 weeks to order.) Still thinking a glider is too boring for you? Throw a sassy blanket over it to jazz it up. We promise it will be the last thing on your mind at 3 a.m. when you’re working on baby’s breastfeeding latch.

Do you need the matching ottoman, though? Not really. When you’re feeding baby, you can’t comfortably put your feet up that high, so a lower (and more inexpensive) stool will be more comfortable.

Browse through these best gliders.

The Dresser

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The secret: It can go undercover and do double duty as a changing table.

Look for a medium-height dresser that you can easily lean over for diaper changes (using a plush changing mat). Use the top drawer for diaper supplies. You’ll be putting away a LOT of laundry, so test out the drawers and make sure they slide easily—but not too quickly, to avoid pinched fingers (yours or baby’s!).

The Mattress

The secret: No, the crib doesn’t come with one (bummer!).

But you don’t need to spend a fortune to get something comfy for baby. Baby Bargains recommends the Sealy Soybean Foam-Core mattress for $180.

Check out some of these top mattress options.

The Crib Sheets

The secret: This will be the only bedding you’ll buy, so splurge it up!

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends avoiding any bedding, bumpers or pillows in the crib and to stick to fitted crib sheets only. So go ahead and spring for the high-quality ones in your favorite designs. Just think of all that money you’re saving by not buying a bumper and a comforter! (PS: If you can’t resist a bedding set for your child to use later, use the comforter as a wall art now.)

Here are a few of our favorite sheets.

The Mattress Pad

The secret: Baby will have numerous (okay, thousands) of pee or poop explosions in bed, and changing crib sheets can leave your knuckles raw.

There will be times when you just can’t get to baby quickly enough after her nap, and that’s one of her favorite times to do her business. And there will be times when you’ll walk in and it will look like World War Poo happened. Make your life easier and not only get a waterproof mattress pad, but also a mattress cover that can snap off easily to save your knuckles during crib sheet changes. (Check out this one from Summer Infant.)

The Storage

The secret: There’s never enough storage for all the baby odds and ends.

Wherever you can, incorporate shelving, baskets and drawers to contain the chaos. You’ll save money by acquiring these at crafts supply stores, discount stores — and any other store that doesn’t have the word “baby” in its title (a great tip from The Complete Book of Baby Bargains.

Here are some adorable (and practical) storage solutions.

The Decor

The secret: Personalize, personalize, personalize.

Murals: Do it yourself by having your sketch or drawing put on a transparency to project and trace on the wall, or by using removable appliques with a favorite saying or nursery rhyme. Hint: Sometimes you can find great appliques at T.J. Maxx, Ross or other discount stores!

Say my name: Paint wood letters that spell out baby’s name in a color or motif to match your nursery theme, or if you’re not as craftily inclined, buy them inexpensively from shops like Etsy or eBay.

Knob accents: Another fun, inexpensive idea—add fun knobs to a simple white dresser to accent baby’s room. They can be easily swapped out for Star Wars ones when he turns six. Have older siblings do artwork: Older siblings love to contribute a painting to their new baby sister or brother’s room.

Darkening curtains: These can make a huge difference in helping baby take naps or go to sleep when it’s still light outside during the summer. JCPenney has a nice selection of bold kid colors.

Mobile: Stick to primarily black-and-white patterns for baby’s first six months, like this cute one from Geenny.

The White Noise Machine:

The secret: Baby has just left a very noisy womb, and white noise can have a calming effect and help him or her sleep more soundly. You can purchase a white noise machine with preset types of noises, but you can also just use your favorite boom box from the ’80s and purchase a few white noise CDs to put on repeat (sorry, not the time to introduce Salt-n-Pepa…yet).

The Monitor

The secret: You’ll have a love/hate relationship with this machine. You finally lie down to rest and then bling go the lights on your monitor. Aaack! While you don’t need to see baby in full HD color, if you two are on a different floor or if you have really solid, soundproof doors, you’ll need a monitor of some kind to let you know when baby’s up.

Here’s a roundup of the most impressive monitors we’ve found.

The Night-Light

The secret: Get enough light so you can see in the middle of the night, but not so much light that it’ll stimulate baby into thinking it’s time to play. This may take some trial and error—test a few before baby comes!

Other nursery tips we love from Bumpies:

“Don’t just look in baby departments and baby stores for room decor. Some of my favorite pieces came from a trendy, urban-college-kid type of store!” — dharmarebel

“Pick one thing you love — a piece of art, a clothing print, a blanket — and then pull colors from there! This way the nursery will look pulled together.” — MommyKisses

“Treat the nursery like you would the rest of your home: If you love modern design, go with it. Don’t feel the need to fit some old-fashioned criteria. Otherwise, your child will grow up to have terrible taste in home decor.” — MadameBlack85

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