Skip to main content

Make your small nursery seem larger with these 5 useful tips

How much room does a baby really need? They’re pretty small, so you’d think a small room should do the trick. If you’re an expecting or new parent, you’ve probably quickly realized that babies need a lot of gear, clothes, special furniture, and accessories. But don’t worry — there are plenty of ways to make a small nursery work for you.

Small nursery design is a skill all its own, from learning how to avoid clutter to choosing multipurpose furniture carefully. If you’ve got a small room for your baby, read on for these helpful design tips for nurseries that are short on square footage but big on function and love.

A chair and dresser In a nursery

Paint it a light color

Light colors like pastels make sense for a calming baby’s bedroom, but they also make a room seem bigger. The light color reflects the light instead of absorbing it, making it seem brighter and therefore roomier. White, cream, light yellow, and light pink are all lovely choices.

Put only a small amount of furniture inside

The less you fill up the room with, the more open space there is, which will make the nursery look larger. Here are the absolute must-haves:

  • Crib
  • Changing station
  • Rocking chair or glider
  • Small amount of clothing storage for pajamas, swaddles, and sleep sacks

There are more baby necessities, but depending on how your home is set up, some items could be placed in other rooms. For example:

  • Daytime clothing storage
  • Hamper

If you have a huge closet in your room or extra space in your own dresser, why not add your baby’s clothes in there and get them dressed in your room? Same goes for a hamper — your baby can use yours. If you do have a closet in your baby’s room, maximize it. You can store boxes of diapers in there, hang up some clothes and sleep sacks, put the hamper on the floor inside it, or even fit an entire dresser inside the closet.

Here’s what you don’t really need:

  • Table
  • Footstool to go with the rocking chair or glider
  • Floor lamp
  • Floor-space toys like a rocking horse

A small table can be nice for certain practicalities, but a white-noise machine can go on the floor, and a lamp can be replaced with a nightlight that is put into a wall socket.


Make any furniture multipurpose

Combine, combine, combine! Get the combo crib-changing table, get the combo changing-table dresser, get all the combos! Again, more open floor space makes the space look larger.

Look at the image above, for example. That is the only piece of furniture you need in a small nursery besides a chair for you to rock your baby to sleep. There is storage for clothes, sleep sacks, swaddles, pajamas, fresh diapers, diaper cream, and clean crib sheets all in one, and the top surface can be used as a diaper-changing area. Remember that things like baby onesies are very small, so they don’t take up much space in a drawer, and you only need a few on hand at a time (the rest can be stored in your room or the baby’s closet).

The rocking chair can even be multipurpose. Get one with a side pocket in the armrest for board books and leave your feeding pillow like a boppy on the chair when not in use. You only need a couple of small bedtime books in the nursery at a time; the others can be in a bookshelf in a different room.

Set up to avoid clutter

Decide that your baby’s bedroom is not a playroom. Keep the nursery associated with bedtime, which will not only help with your baby’s sleep but also keep the space free of anything not needed for naps and nighttime. Toys and books can go in the living room and keep the nursery floor free.

Use the walls for decorations instead of table space or floor space. A small nursery can be decorated with cheer without having knickknacks taking up space.

Don’t over-register

It can be tempting to get every little bauble you think would be helpful, but a lot of those items serve one single purpose and aren’t truly necessary. Ask people to contribute toward the crib instead of getting another accessory. Keeping your small nursery simple and spare will help it seem bigger than it is.

Ready to get painting, buying, and decorating? Setting up your baby’s nursery can be exciting and fun … and a bit like piecing together a puzzle while finding all the just-right items to put in the space. Be selective and enjoy!

Editors' Recommendations

Sarah Prager
Sarah is a writer and mom who lives in Massachusetts. Her writing has appeared in The New York Times, The Atlantic, National…
Your baby fell off the bed! Do these things immediately to ensure proper care for your child
Have a little roly poly? Here's what to do if baby falls off the bed
A mother changing a baby on a bed.

Believe it or not, it happens to the best of us. The baby fell off the bed. In fact, babies falling off beds is the leading cause of injuries for children. You happen to have your baby laying there — away from the edge, no less. You turn around for just a few seconds and then you hear that telltale cry.

What do you do? First, you’ll need to keep from panicking. Taking a deep breath and making some initial observations is a vital step to ensure your baby gets the right help. Once you've calmed down imaging your little one going over the edge, we have advice for you to follow in case this unfortunate accident happens to your child.

Read more
If you love Disney, these are the motivational quotes to complete your nursery decor
Decorating the nursery or redoing a bedroom? These motivational quotes for kids will fit right in
A crib with nursery decor hanging above it

Decorating a nursery for the first time, redoing a kid's room with a new theme, or wanting art added to your child's bedroom? Motivational quotes are always the way to go. If you're stuck with where to pull inspiration from, how about your kiddo's favorite Disney characters? Disney-loving families will find the perfect motivational quotes for kids to help keep their focus on the positive side of things while leaning on them as room decor.
To remind your child it's all about their attitude
A child is never too young to learn how to work out a problem on their own, and it's never too early to help them have a positive attitude when working through an issue. These Disney characters have the right attitude.
"The problem is not the problem. The problem is your attitude about the problem." -- Jack Sparrow (Pirates of the Caribbean)
"The only way to get what you want in this world is through hard work." -- Tiana (The Princess and the Frog)
"You control your destiny -- you don’t need magic to do it. And there are no magical shortcuts to solving your problems." -- Merida (Brave)
To remind your kid they are the only one of them out there
We all think our child is the most precious creature alive. And while we are all correct, hang one of these quotes in their nursery or bedroom to remind them daily.
"Your identity is your most valuable possession. Protect it." -- Elastigirl (The Incredibles)
"I can’t go back to yesterday because I was a different person then." -- Alice (Alice in Wonderland)

To remind them that taking a risk is always worth it
From the first step to the first day of school to the first activity they want to sign up for, every risk your child takes is worth it. Most children love risk-taking anyway, so foster that fearlessness by hanging these quotes up around their room.

Read more
Need to clean out the playroom? This is where you should donate toys
Need help on where to donate toys to tidy up your child's room? We have the local spots to go to first
A child's room that's a bit messy with toys and items all over

Between holidays, birthdays, and "just because" moments, the playroom and kids' bedrooms fill up pretty quickly with all sorts of items. If you want to declutter that toy room and get rid of the things your children no longer play with, donating will teach your kids to help others while letting you see the floor again. Instead of the places that are the usual stops for toy donations near you, try these other places first.
Local Buy Nothing group
If you don't know about your local Buy Nothing group, please look into it. It's a safe place to swap, give away, or ask for items or services completely free of charge. Sure, we'd all like to get a few bucks back from our child's toys, but if you don't want to go through that hassle, this is the best option. You don't even have to leave the house if you're more comfortable with porch pickups in your neighborhood.
Ask hospitals what they could use
Hospitals have tighter rules about what they can take, but it's never a bad idea to ask. The hospital would be the best for when you purchased something, it was the wrong size or item, and now you can't return it. Though items still in the packaging and with tags are always preferred, there are exceptions. Call and ask what your local hospital would take.
Reach out to local day cares/schools
If your children have ever gone to day care, you know how quickly they ask for donations. Day cares are open to more kinds of things, not just toys, so if you need to do a bit of an overhaul in your kids' rooms, ask your local day care facilities. The schools in your area are a great go-to, as well. Teachers always need classroom supplies, and the younger grades would need toys, books, and even clothing for when accidents happen.
Parent groups
Whether you're in a bunch of Facebook groups or are part of a group that meets in person, ask people you already know if they could use some toys your children have outgrown. You have a rapport with these other parents, and if you meet up in person, you could bring the items along and not have to make another stop.

Women's and children's centers in your area
For your donations to make a bigger impact, make sure women's and children's centers are on your list. If you were a struggling parent, you know how much it means to have a place like that to go to when in need. If you're a parent who doesn't have to struggle, pay it forward and count your blessings by donating to one.

Read more