One of my favorite things about being pregnant — ok, the ONLY thing I liked about being pregnant — was “nesting” obsessively, dreaming about the perfect nursery (I can not believe I have been through THREE nurseries already!) and having the super-woman-pregnant-hypermanic-second-trimester energy to actually get NURSERY MAKING done. (If only I could have bottled that energy, I might be able to finally clean out our garage).

Now, like I just said, I have put together THREE nurseries over the last 5 years, and I have learned a few things in the process … for instance: YES, you really need somewhere COMFORTABLE to sit and nurse, more than you need something PRETTY … and it is worth spending real money one that comfortable piece of furniture. And: NO, you do NOT need to spend $500 on a fancy crib — because it will be just as shitty a piece of particle-board-constructed crap as the comparable looking Target or Ikea models, so save your cash.

Oh, and, your baby doesn’t need a suite. She might not even NEED a crib, if you’re co-sleeping, or if you don’t have a second bedroom — she’ll be fine in a PACK-N-PLAY next to your bed, really. Or in dresser drawer, like in every movie from the 1950s. Or in your bed … or in a padded laundry basket … you get the picture. Your baby really doesn’t need much. I mean, those crazy Swedes in the Ikea catalogue seem to be able to stuff entire nurseries into closets … so it didn’t seem weird, when Diddy was born, that all we had was one half of our office to offer her.

We called our set-up “Diddy’s “N-office,” and it looked pretty much like this:

So many mistakes I can save you from in this one shot alone!

Beginning with: DON’T BUY A BUMPER. First off, they can be dangerous to active babies who get tangled in them. Secondly, they are a pain in the ass to deal with every time you have to change your crib sheets. Oh, and: DON’T BUY THE CRIB SKIRT, EITHER. It’ll shift around every time you lift the mattress to change your crib sheets. And that’s the famous RIDICULOUSLY expensive crib, too. Don’t do that either. Ikea makes great, similarly modern looking cribs for 1/5th the price. The rug I loved — it’s Land of Nod, top quality, and it seemed worthwhile to give Diddy a soft rug, but I didn’t count on our cats destroying it, which they did — the loop construction was just too delicious for them to ignore. Still, I am ok with spending cash on that rug.

Here’s the other picture worth sharing:

OK, more “not-to-dos”: Don’t shell out for that fancy Svan bouncer you can see through the bathroom door — the first time you take it apart to wash it, the whole thing will shred. (Big FAIL.) Go get the easy-to-clean BABYBJÖRN BabySitter instead. OK — that wipes warmer? Waste of cash. Your kid doesn’t need hot wipes, really. And the changing table? Go get a dresser. You’ll have more flexibility in the long run. I do, however, love that diaper pail — it’s a Diaper Champ, it takes regular trash bags, and it’s four kids in and still going strong.

Anyway, in case you’re trying to figure out what you need and DON’T need in your new baby’s nursery, here’s the boiled down REALLY IMPORTANT STUFF, as learned over time and subsequent babies. (Yes, I will post about babies and toddlers sharing a room soon — and do twins, too!)


  • CRIB / PACK-N-PLAY: Your kid will need a bed of her own, eventually, unless you are a hardcore family-bed type. I recommend Ikea cribs, really, truly. The one I eventually bought Gaga, because Diddy was still in her crib when Gaga was born so we had to buy a second one, was Ikea — and it lasted through Gaga and is holding up great for Sausage, who occupies it now.
  • CHANGING TABLE / DRESSER WITH A CHANGING TOP: You want someplace comfortable to change diapers and store extra diapers and diaper supplies and clothes and sundries. If I had to do it again, I would have gone with a dresser. You definitely want a dresser if you don’t have a dedicated closet for your kid — in fact, when Gaga was born and before we moved her in to Diddy’s room, we changed her on top of a HUGE Ikea dresser in our room and it was sort of perfect — lots of room for her diapers and her clothes, and our clothes — and if I had to set up a nursery in a closet-less space, I’d totally use that Ikea dresser again. Whatever you choose to use, load it up with extra diapers, wipes, diaper creams, pajamas, onesies.
  • DIAPER CHAMP— put it next to the changing table / dresser.
  • LAUNDRY HAMPER — Find something with a small footprint, and put it next to the changing table / dresser.
  • LIDDED TRASH CAN — You need a lid so that your kid doesn’t get into the trash when she starts crawling around. Put this next to the changing table / dresser, too.
  • ROCKER / GLIDER / CHAIR / COUCH: You need somewhere to sit and cuddle and nurse and bottle feed. You just do. The comfier the better, since you are going to spend many long middle-of-the-night hours in whatever piece of furniture you choose. We bought a Dutailier glider for Diddy (after a brief love affair with a gorgeous and incredibly uncomfortable vintage rocker I found on eBay), and used it when she and Gaga shared a room, too — I could have them both on my lap for bedtime stories, and it was awesome. When we moved into our new house, there wasn’t room in the boys’ room for the chair, so I went to Ikea and bought a narrow futon and stuck it on the floor, and threw some pillows on it, and that’s where I sat when I nursed Pancake and Sausage, or on those nights where I’ve had to cuddle a sick or teething baby. It’s been awfully handy for guests, too — I can drag it anywhere in the house.
  • RUG: Get something soft for baby to loll around on. I have been happy with Land of Nod rugs — but just as happy with the far more affordable Ikea and Target versions, too (the boys currently have Ikea, as does Gaga, and Diddy loves her pink Target rug).

You want more photos of Diddy’s “N-office” and the girl herself, hanging out in it? Go see more pictures on the ChecklistMommy Facebook page!


2 thoughts on “NURSERY SET-UP 101

  1. Thanks for the above- this is so helpful and might I add- I am loving your site!!! I have a question re: crbs. I am pregnant with my first now and we live in one bedroom apartment in Brooklyn which we intend to stay in until the baby is about 9 mos- 1 yr old. As space is limited, we were thinking of using a pack ‘n’ play for as long as possible before bringing a crib in. I was thinking that would mean the bassinet portion for the first 2-3 mos then the crib (middle) portion fpr the next few. I was totally OK with this until another mom kind of scared me into thinking the pack ‘n’ play is not strong enough to hold a baby every single night. Do you have an opinion on this? Thanks in advance!!!

    • You should be fine using your pack’n’play that long, at least! I have a dear friend in a small house whose son slept in his until he was two. Just pay attention to weight allowances as marked on the pack’n’play, and go refine there. And good luck!

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