Tips for Setting Up Your Baby's Nursery

Mother holding baby girl in nursery
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The main parts of the nursery include furniture, bedding, and accessories. Of the three, the furniture will be the largest, most expensive pieces. You should logically start by selecting your furniture first, then build the nursery around those elements.

How to Set Up Primary Furniture in a Nursery

There are four main pieces of furniture in the nursery—a crib, changing table, dresser, and a chair. The price of furniture varies and may be influenced by detailing, finish, quality of construction, and overall design. The first step in your selection is to determine how long you want to be able to use it. With planning, you might consider a nursery design so that:

  • The pieces adapt easily from a nursery to a child's room.
  • The furniture has a simple design that can be mixed and matched easily with new pieces to update the look.
  • The furniture is essentially just for a baby, and new furniture will be purchased in a few years.

You may intend to reuse the nursery furniture for several years if you plan on having more children. However, if the thought of the short life span of "baby-fied" furniture is unappealing to you, there are many other options.

Convertible cribs adjust easily to the growing child. Depending on the design, these cribs may transform into toddler beds, daybeds, and/or double beds and will be used for years to come. Some changing tables convert in a similar fashion into dressers or other storage units. By selecting simple designs that can coordinate with new pieces, you will extend the length of use of the nursery furniture.

Selecting Furniture Positions

Selecting the crib is not only about what model you choose, but also where you position it in the room as well. This is not to say that you need to position your nursery according to a strict philosophy of feng shui. Room arrangement should be about enhancing safety, efficiency, comfort, and sleep.

Be sure that you position the crib in a part of the room away from windows, avoiding outside walls if at all possible. In certain climates and homes, outside walls can be drafty and cold. Also, consider how the light enters the room at different times of the day.

When the sun comes up in the morning, you may not want it shining directly on your baby. Evening light from street lamps may also affect a baby's sleep. Thoughtful placement of the crib may help them snag those few extra minutes of much-needed sleep.

Creating Storage 

Do not underestimate the amount of storage space you will need. Babies may be little, but baby items will take up a considerable amount of room. When looking at dressers and shelving units, there are several telltale signs whether a piece has the quality to remain durable over the years.

Dovetail drawer joints and drawers having corner blocks on the interior will withstand more abuse than those without. For safety purposes, you should anchor dressers, shelves, and other large pieces to the wall or install anti-tip devices.

Choosing a Changing Table

Many parents choose to place a changing table in the room. There is a wide range of styles and designs for changing tables from which to choose. These items double as a comfortable place to change the baby and as a storage space. However, it is not absolutely necessary to have one. If space or cost prohibits you from purchasing one, you may opt to change the baby on a mat on the floor.

Some changing tables slide over the rails of traditional cribs and flip down when not in use. These are a great choice for smaller nurseries. Crib and changer units may also be a space-saving option.​

Picking a Rocker, Glider, or Comfortable Chair

The final major piece of furniture that you might want to include in the nursery is a chair. For comfort during those late-night feedings, chairs with padded armrests and a wider seat base may make feeding sessions more comfortable. You will want the seat to be wide enough to accommodate you and your baby, plus a nursing pillow if you so choose.

If the space in the room allows, wider chairs are a very practical choice. Matching ottomans may also increase your comfort, particularly during those rather exhausting nights, or consider swivel rocking chairs that are easy to slip in and out of. Definitely be cautious about squeaky chairs that can disrupt a peaceful, late-night feeding.

Consider positioning the chair near a nightlight so you can avoid turning on the lights during those late feedings. A lit room may encourage a baby to stay awake rather than drift peacefully back to sleep.

1 Source
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  1. Allen KA. Promoting and Protecting Infant Sleep. Adv Neonatal Care. 2012;12(5):288-291. doi:10.1097/ANC.0b013e3182653899

By Jennifer White
Jennifer White has authored parenting books and has worked in childcare and education fields for over 15 years.