The Only Nursery Checklist and Guide You Need

Last Updated: April 12, 2024
Liesel Teen, RN-BSN

By Liesel Teen

BSN, RN, Practicing Labor and Delivery Nurse

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Maybe the thought of putting your baby’s nursery together excites you, maybe it overwhelms you, and maybe it makes you feel a little bit of both. Whether you are feeling excited, overwhelmed, or anywhere in between, this article, the only nursery checklist and guide you need, is for you!

Putting together an organized, functional, and tasteful nursery can take time but it doesn’t have to be stressful. This article will serve as a guide to planning and organizing your nursery. Consider this to be the only nursery checklist and guide you need as a soon to be mama!

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Planning your nursery

A lot of parents and parents-to-be pour a whole lot of time, energy, love (and let’s not forget money) into their baby’s nursery. Nursery planning and organizing doesn’t have to be stressful and it doesn’t have to break the bank either. 

Before you dive into the nitty gritty details of nursery planning, here are a few big things I want you to consider: budget, space and layout, and theme.


You and your partner should determine a realistic budget and stick to it! There are different price ranges for essentially every single item you could need for a nursery. Don’t get caught up in all the bells and whistles, trust me, your little one is never going to know the difference. Maybe pick one or two splurge items but don’t stretch your pocket book too thin on the nursery, mama!

Space & layout

Everyone has a different size room or space they are working with for their little one’s nursery. Some people get very creative with their space and I totally applaud them. There are ways to make various spaces work for a nursery; don’t let a small space deflate you or a large space overwhelm you!


Some parents pick a theme and color scheme based on their baby’s sex and others prefer a more neutral approach. Choosing a clear theme for your little one’s nursery is a common choice among parents-to-be.

To decide on a theme you can gain inspiration from animals, seasons, books, movies, pop culture, and more!

Essential nursery items checklist

Let’s get down to the meat and potatoes- all the essentials coming at ya now!


  • Crib or crib alternative: I could go on and on about picking the right crib or crib alternative but I have actually done that already, in a previous article. For specific guidance on finding the right crib or crib alternative be sure to check out my articles
  • Crib mattress: similarly to the crib or crib alternative topic I have also previously put together an article on the best crib mattresses. Personally, my favorite crib mattress is the Newton mattress
  • Crib sheets: accidents happen, I can assure you of that. I recommend having at least 3 sets of crib sheets on hand so you can always have a clean one if needed. You will want something that is soft and gentle on baby’s skin. Look for something made of muslin cotton, cotton, or bamboo. Otherwise, make sure you find something fits nice and snug on the mattress to avoid it from coming off or any bunching
  • Sound machine: a must, in my opinion, for baby sleep. Yogasleep Hushh is one of my favorites!


  • Diapers and wipes: can’t decide between cloth and disposable diapers? I’ve got ya covered right here
  • Diaper pail: my personal favorite is the Ubbi diaper pail but I’ve written a whole article about diaper pails that you can find here!
  • Diaper cream: I’m a Desitin gal myself but there are lots of good diaper cream options out there
  • Changing table: not required but if you have the space you might want to consider one. The changing table dresser combo is a good option!
  • Changing pad liners: such a simple product but one that can be a total game changer. Blowouts will happen and diaper changes will inevitably get messy. Keep your changing table (or wherever you plan on doing diaper changes) clean with these!


  • Bottles and nipples: even if you plan on exclusively breastfeeding I would still recommend having a few bottles and nipples on hand. You might end up wanting to pump to have your partner or someone else feed baby.
  • Formula: to learn more about organic vs. non organic formula click here. If you want to read about supplementing with formula you can check out this article!
  • Burp cloths: you are going to want a lot of these, trust me!
  • Nursing pillow: Boppy or My Brest Friend are my favorites!
  • Breastfeeding and bottle accessories: looking for breastfeeding essentials? Look no further than right here. And bottle feeding equipment? Right here, mama!
  • Tap light: okay, so maybe this one isn’t a necessity but I promise you want one! Here is the one I used with my boys – a total game changer for those middle of the night feeds and diaper changes
  • Nursing chair or glider: a big investment and expense but think about all the time you will spend in that chair. You deserve something nice and comfy!
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Health and safety

  • Thermometer: a rectal thermometer will give you the most accurate temperature reading on an infant. I love Frida Baby’s quick-read digital rectal thermometer
  • Humidifier: Frida Baby actually makes a great 3-in-1 humidifier, diffuser, and nightlight which you can find here. A great baby registry item – hint, hint!
  • Medicine: it’s always a good idea to have infant Motrin (Ibuprofen) and infant Tylenol (Acetaminophen) on hand. There are some others I always kept in stock but those two are the biggies
  • Monitor: some prefer a video monitor, some prefer an audio monitor, and some prefer to forgo a monitor – totally up to you! There are lots of monitors, in all price ranges, on the market so don’t feel like you have to buy the most expensive one out there. You can definitely find a “middle of the road” price range monitor that gets the job done
  • Baby gate(s): depending on whether or not you have stairs and how many areas you need to keep out of, you may want to have multiple baby gates on hand
  • Outlet covers: feel like this one is pretty self explanatory

Clothing and storage

  • Infant clothing (various sizes): ever wondered how many baby clothes you actually need to purchase before baby’s arrival? Well, you can learn all of that and more in this article of mine!
  • Dresser or storage bins: both are great options, just depends on your space, preference, and organization preference
  • Baby hangers: because all of those cute little outfits need to hang somewhere, amirite?

Toys and books

Some people prefer to keep books and toys in the nursery and some prefer to keep them in a playroom or elsewhere – the decision is yours! If you do plan on keeping the majority them in your baby’s nursery, here are some things you should consider getting.

  • Books: board books are a great option for little ones. A lot of them have vibrant colors, different textures, sounds, and other fun features that appeal to babies
  • Play mat: if you have a rug in your nursery this might not be necessary. Some play mats, however, are interactive with music, colors, noises, etc
  • Toys: there are lots of options out there for babies of all ages. I actually have a whole section dedicated specifically to toys on my Amazon storefront!
  • Swing or bouncer: to find the best swing for your baby and your lifestyle you can reference my article about baby swings here

Nursery FAQs

When should I start my nursery?

Hopefully you will find my little nursery roadmap (below) helpful to guide nursery planning and organization! It’s a nice visual to help you stay on track.

Don’t stress if you “get behind”, it’s just a rough timeline to try and keep you on top of it!

This is actually straight out of my FREE Ultimate Nursery Guide E-Book – complete with designer-made vision boards, tons of info and advice, and hacks for setting up a beautiful yet FUNCTIONAL space.

Grab it here!!

Click me

Do I have to finish the nursery before baby is born?

You definitely don’t have to finish baby’s nursery before delivery day. However, finishing it before the baby is born might be beneficial. The post below spells it all out for you!

Safety tips

You will want to make sure you baby-proof the nursery! Babies don’t come out crawling, but that milestone will come at ya quick, mama! If you go ahead and baby-proof the nursery when you are getting it all together and organized – it’s one less thing you have to do after baby’s arrival.

The post below has some great information and tips on babyproofing!

Wrapping up

Putting together baby’s nursery is such an exciting milestone for pregnant mamas. I’ve hit you with all of my nursery must-haves! This article focuses on the essentials but feel free to adjust or add to this list as you see fit.

If you like what you read here feel free to share it with any other expecting mamas in your life! And if you want more pregnancy and birth related content, my instagram page and website have so much more information!

Here are just a few of my favorite pregnancy resources:

Baby Registry Guide
Liesel Teen, RN-BSN

Liesel Teen

BSN, RN, Practicing Labor and Delivery Nurse

As a labor and delivery nurse, I’ve spent countless hours with women who felt anxious — even fearful — about giving birth. I want you to know it doesn’t have to be that way for you!

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