The ultimate nursery checklist of everything you need (and nothing you don’t)

One of the most exciting parts of getting ready for a new baby is planning what your little one’s nursery will look like. What color will it be? Will it have a certain theme? But the most important question is, what are the nursery essentials, and what are the nice-to-haves? This nursery checklist will spell out exactly what you need before baby arrives and what’s OK to skip.

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Nursery Essentials

A crib or bassinet. Your baby needs a safe, flat firm sleeping space. Do not put any blankets, pillows, stuffed animals, crib bumpers, decorations or anything else besides a fitted sheet in the crib with your baby. However, under the crib is another story, and that is a great spot for storage.

A crib mattress. Remember, you’ll also need to buy a crib mattress to go with the crib! Don’t register for just the crib and then forget you’ll need the mattress, too. Waterproof mattress protectors (two so that you can change them out) are also good to have.

Crib sheets. You’ll need at least three crib sheets since sometimes you need to change the sheets more than once a night due to spit-up and diaper leaks.

A changing table and diaper items. This is a great opportunity to double up and put a changing pad on top of a dresser or other storage. You’ll need a caddy (or the top drawer of a dresser) for diapers, wipes and diaper cream, but you don’t need a wipes warmer. You do need at least two changing pad covers.

A rocking chair or glider. For feedings (either breastfeeding or bottle feeding) and for rocking to sleep, you do need a spot where you can sit to do this, especially in the middle of the night. The matching footstool isn’t essential, though. A nursing pillow (helpful for formula feeding, too) is very good to have, too.

A hamper. When you’re changing your baby’s outfit on the changing table, you’ll want to be able to drop the dirty clothes right into a hamper. You’ll want one that doesn’t take up too much floor space (think tall and narrow instead of wide and short) and that is easily transported to the washing machine (or with a removable bag for that).

A diaper pail. Next to the changing station, you’ll need somewhere to dispose of the dirty diapers. Ideally, something covered and sealed, like a Diaper Genie.

A baby monitor. Unless you are sleeping right next door or in the room and feel confident you’ll be awakened by your baby’s cries, get a baby monitor so you can be alerted when it’s time to go into the nursery for whatever your baby needs. A video monitor isn’t essential, but it is definitely very helpful.

Clothing storage. You’ll need either a dresser or a closet (or both!) for your baby’s clothes.

A baby and a crib
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What’s nice to have in a nursery

A humidifier. You may not need this, and plenty of babies do fine without one.

Babyproofing items. Of course, these are essential months down the line, but for now, you don’t need to worry about any latches or doorknob covers. But if you are struggling to think of things to add to your registry, why not get a jump start on these items now?

Extra diapers. Register for some size 1, 2 and 3 diapers to get a head start. They’ll definitely get used, and you never know how big your baby will be when they’re born.

Blackout curtains. Any window dressings will do, but blackout curtains will help to make sure your baby isn’t woken up by the sun during nap times.

A mobile. Your baby will do just fine without one, though they are really nice to help put them to sleep.

What you don’t need

Decor items. These are nice but of course not a need-to-have. Things like crib skirts, canopies or decorative blankets or pillows are not necessary (but go for it if you want!).

A wipes warmer. This is a non-essential item that will just get your baby used to warm wipes and make diaper changes on the go with cold ones tougher.

A baby swing. Babies should only sleep flat on their backs on a surface like a crib. While you can use a swing to get them to fall asleep, you’ll need to transfer them out of it once they are asleep (which doesn’t always work). Just skip this item since it’s used for such a short number of weeks and takes up a lot of space.

Crib bumpers. These are not safe, so skip anything that decorates a crib.

In the end, even if all you have is a safe sleeping space by the time your baby makes their debut, it will all work out. Stick to this nursery checklist, and you’ll be off to a great start.

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