Budget Nursery Ideas

List of Things You Need for Baby – The Five Big Must-Haves

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When you are planning a new baby nursery, everyone will have an opinion of what you need and what you don’t! But if you’re on a budget, you want a list of things you need for baby that is complete but not excessive. As a mom of three kids, I’ve learned over the years what the necessary items are and what is optional.

A Place to Sleep

Most often, babies will sleep in a standard size crib. You can learn more about buying cribs on a budget here. To go with your crib, you’ll need a crib mattress with waterproof cover and at least two fitted crib sheets. Crib bumpers are typically not needed or recommended anymore, but if you do use one, make sure it is a breathable mesh material to decrease the risks of SIDs.

There are other options for a place to sleep though. Some families choose to co-sleep, either by sharing a family bed or using a co-sleeper that is designed to attach closely to the parent’s bed.

Some parents choose a bassinet for the first few months. These are great because they are fairly small and lightweight. You can keep them in your bedroom for convenient nighttime nursing or in baby’s room. Just keep in mind, the weight limit on bassinets is typically lower than a crib, so baby will grow out of it much more quickly.


With my first child, I received a fancy Cadillac-model pack and play through my baby registry. It was a real splurge, but several people went in on it as a baby shower gift and it ended up being totally worth it! Besides the typical play yard space that comes in handy for traveling and playing, it had a bassinet attachment and a changing table attachment.

When my son was very little, he slept in the bassinet attachment in my room. This made nighttime nursing and diaper changes so much more convenient! After a few months, he transitioned to the crib in his nursery and I moved the pack and play downstairs. It became a space for him to play safely near me while I cooked dinner or did laundry. And it was still another super convenient changing area. It’s one splurge I totally recommend!

The one I used was similar to this one currently available at Amazon that has great reviews:

I love products like this that have more than one function! But above all, choose a safe place for baby to sleep that is convenient and affordable for you.

A Place to Store Things

It goes without saying that babies have a ton of stuff. Where are you going to put it all? A quality wooden dresser is a great place to start. Many dressers can do double duty as a changing table. Just add a waterproof changing pad and cover to the top and voila! Plenty of drawers will help contain the tiny baby socks, onesies, sleepers, and diapering supplies.

If your dresser won’t work as a changing table and you don’t want to buy one, you can easily change diapers on a towel on your bed. I suggest laying down a waterproof pad underneath for unexpected leaks.

Utilize hanging space in the closet for any fancier clothes (but really, all baby needs for the first few months are onesies and zippered sleepers, I promise!).

A Place to Cuddle

Many parents like to have a comfy chair or glider in their nursery. These come in handy when nursing, feeding bottles, reading stories, and just cuddling. It’s not a necessity, though, so if you don’t have the space in your room or budget for this item, don’t worry! You can use a chair or couch you already have in your family room, your bed, or even make a cozy spot on the floor with pillows and blankets.

A Place to Ride

Car seats and strollers. To me, this was such an intimidating and overwhelming subject. There are a million options, a million opinions, and a million features to sort through. I will give you my best budget tips but probably need a whole separate post to discuss all the choices out there.


Convertible Car Seats

Convertible car seats, in theory, can last from infancy until early childhood as long as your child remains within the weight and height limits. The downside? They are large and not portable. They are also not compatible with strollers.

Travel Systems

A travel system is a combination of car seat and stroller that work together. These make transporting baby so much easier! These are my preference for infants. Nothing beats the convenience of bringing a sleeping baby inside still in her car seat. You can plop the car seat right into the stroller attachment for walks or shopping.

I used to bring my baby grocery shopping and just place the groceries in the bottom basket of the stroller. It was so much safer than sticking the car seat in a grocery cart (that’s a no-no!) or moving baby into a cart with an infant seat (ick).

Pro tip: always buy gender neutral items. Trust me, your 6-month old daughter will not mind a gray car seat. Your son will not mind yellow crib sheets. Gender neutral items can be used for more children and may also have higher resale value. Plus, it’s 2020, girls don’t have to love pink and boys don’t have to love blue!

The Final List

  1. Crib
    1. mattress
    2. fitted sheets
  2. Play yard (with bassinet/changing station optional)
  3. Dresser with drawers (with changing table optional)
    1. a handful of onesies
    2. zippered sleepers
    3. diapering supplies
  4. Carseat
  5. Stroller

Folks, these are literally the minimum things you need for baby. The rest is truly optional. Monitors, wipe warmers, baby bathtubs, feeding supplies, swings, baby blankets, mobiles, etc. are all extras. They might be nice to have in some cases but they also add expense and clutter. I remember my linen closet being FULL of those wimpy baby bath towels that are so much less cozy than bundling baby in a plush, soft, fluffy regular plain towel. Don’t let the marketers fool you!

Your baby needs a few basic items for health and safety. Think about our parents and their parents – what did they need for us? While we’ve come a long way with safety (hello, car seats!), most of baby’s needs haven’t changed over the years.

I hope you enjoyed this article! Please let me know if I left anything else that you feel was a necessity. I’d love to hear from you in the comments.


  • Carol

    Nice post, I must say you have opened up a very lovely idea to nursing mothers.
    So many nursing mothers don’t even know what they need for the process of raising a baby, but through your post a lot of people no3 know the necessary things and the optional ones to get for a smooth baby nursery.
    The crib is one of the most important thing to note though and a space for nursing as well, so getting this things ready at birth will make things comfortable for both the nursing mothers and the baby

  • Carol

    Nice post, I must say you have opened up a very lovely idea to nursing mothers.So many nursing mothers don’t even know what they need for the process of raising a baby, but through your post a lot of people no3 know the necessary things and the optional ones to get for a smooth baby nursery.The crib is one of the most important thing to note though and a space for nursing as well, so getting this things ready at birth will make things comfortable for both the nursing mothers and the baby


  • arzu hosan

    Many thanks to you for giving us such a beautiful article and I have seen through you some of the most beautiful crib for babies that I would like to buy and I have taken courses on children myself. I was looking for a little crib to for my  baby sleep and  I want to buy this crib very soon and I will share my experience with you very soon and thank you again for giving me such a beautiful article. 

  • RazvanIlie

    Thanks a lot for such an amazing review about LIST OF THINGS YOU NEED FOR BABY – THE FIVE BIG MUST-HAVES and explanations are given.

    Not long ago I learned that I will have a child with my wife. So slowly we start to get ready for what we need. I have read many articles on the internet, but this is the best of the best. I will definitely order them all.

    Thanks again and keep in touch !

  • Abagatan

    I appreciate this article having a list of important things you need nursing your baby. I only have the reservation on the use of crib for a baby starting to crawl because I saw it by myself how the head banged the wooden crib. Is there a crib that is well protected on the sides with such cushion so the hard wood will not hit the head of the baby?

    • Katie

      Great question! I definitely understand the concern. But what the safety experts have found is that babies can’t really hurt themselves that way – it sure makes their parents feel bad though!  Cushioned bumpers increase the risk of a much more dangerous issue (SIDs, or Sudden Infant Death Syndrome). They do make mesh bumpers that may provide some cushion however, but are still breathable. Thank you for your comment, Abagatan! 

  • Juan Saladin

    Thanks for a great guide I wish I had when Alisha was recently born 3 years ago!

    Welcome to the greatest project of your life. Being a father or mother is a journey (nor a title neither a benefit).

    It’s a good idea resolving as many of those needs as possible with one integrated solution. The Graco Pack ‘n Play was the best investment ever. My 2 daughters used it and I ended up donating it to charity as It’s still in great condition. The only disadvantage I could come up with is that it has too many small and medium-sized parts, so you need to take care of them to maintain functionality. 

    In regards to the car seats and wheelbarrow, I have a recommendation for you: Don’t estimate on the price to avoid buying twice.

  • Shanta Rahman

    Many thanks to you for sharing such an essential article with us .I have a baby and she is three years old so I am always very careful about her care and all the things I need. I sometimes get wrong so your article will be very helpful to me and there is a lot I can learn from it.I have to be the first mother this time . Three things are very important for my child .The two things I need the most are a crib for sleeping and a wooden dresser to hold things .I will be buying them soon and will share my experience with you soon .

  • Rhain

    Hey Katie, this is very important especially for new and intending parents. This takes me back to the period my eldest sister had her first baby, a lovely and adorable girl. Like you pointed out, everyone of our family members and friends either had an opinion or a straight up recommendation as to the basic items required to look after the little cutie.

    I have to say, it didn’t help at all. It brought about more confusion and anxiety instead. This article does make the decision process a whole lot easier. I have no doubt she’ll appreciate an article like this as she is now expecting.

    How can a mother stick to a this budget list? Can you make a post to educate us further on this?

    • Katie

      Hi Rhain! Thank you for your comments and congrats to your sister! 

      I appreciate your suggestion and would be glad to make a post about sticking to a budget. I’d like to see myself how little I can spend getting these essentials. Will get started on that soon!

      Best wishes to you! 

  • Feji ben

    This are indeed th needed thing when you are having a baby and those must haves are very important if you don’t have them then you are in for a bumpy ride.but I just wanna ask because most time the diffent type of baby foods I see I get confused….so what is the ideal type of baby food for babies do 0-3months?

    • Katie

      Thanks for your comment, Feji ben! 

      There are lots of baby food options out there so I understand your confusion. Babies from 0-3 months should typically only be having breastmilk or baby formula. Around 3-6 months, most pediatricians recommend starting some solid foods, like rice cereal. 

      I’m a fan of a concept known as baby-led weaning. I’ll try to make a post about it soon but the main idea is to skip the pureed foods and give baby safe finger foods. It worked great for me! 

  • Nimrodngy

    Thank you very much for this article. Me and my wife are getting ready to have a baby together and we are very stressed. Everyone gives us advice on what we need and sometimes we feel like we know nothing. I think you have put here the most essential things that we need for our baby. We have seen the prices and I can say that we fit in the budget we have.

    I would also like to buy a swinging system with an electric motor. What do you recommend?

    • Katie

      Thanks for your comment, Nimrodngy! 

      As far as swings go, there are two main things to consider: space and budget. You can find a compact swing that would do the trick for around $50, but the fancier ones that have more settings can go up to hundreds of dollars (and they take up much more space!). My preference is to borrow or buy a gently used swing from a friend or family member – mainly because your baby may not even like it – mine didn’t! 

      Congratulations to you and your wife and best wishes! 

  • Daniel


    Great list – often people think they need every gadget and gizmo out there to get what they “need” for their kids and spend a ton of money getting it.  I have five kids and will say that doesn’t need to be the case.  Totally agree with getting color neutral for bigger items such as stroller, car seat & crib. Obviously clothes are much cheaper and it’s fun to have pink and blue items as well as help others recognize whether you baby is a boy or girl although many people still miss the hint. 🙂

    A couple other things we did & this is preference but may give some more ideas or options – we have a big master bathroom and wanted to keep our babies close so opted to use a pack n play in the master bathroom.  It was on the other side of the house from the other bedrooms by the kids and so was less likely to disturb the baby and the baby was less likely to disturb the kids during the night.

    Also baby clothes is small and really doesn’t take up a ton of space and to make sure we used what would fit at the time kept only the relevant sizes out and once out grown would rotate out and would regularly rotate bigger ones in.  I would recommend having one to two size bigger available as sometimes brands run small so that way you have it in front of you and accessible to check once and a while.  But this allowed us to use a much smaller plastic storage bin with 3 shelves for a couple years.


    • Katie

      Thank you for sharing your thoughts, Daniel! Having five kids certainly qualifies you as an expert. ðŸ™‚ You’ve added some great tips about baby clothes and I love your strategy of keeping baby’s sleeping area further away from the bigger kids – anything that adds a little more sleep for all is a good thing. 

      I appreciate you connecting here and wish you and your family all the best! 

  • Md Millat

    Thank you so much for sharing such a beautiful article with us.I read this article to find out how to take care of the kids. A month ago I had a baby and I was looking for a product for my baby that I found here. Cheap Baby Cribs, I’d like to buy it. Can you help me buy it? I hope I buy this product for my son and my son will be comfortable using one and then I will share my experience with you with this product. Thank you so much.

  • sabrinamou

    Thank you so much for sharing with us such a beautiful article. I’m glad I found this article. Your article is really unique and informative. Your article is very useful for those of us who are new mothers or have become. I think they can learn a lot from this article. But reading your article has helped me a lot because I gave birth to a boy some days ago. I wanted to buy the things needed for him but I couldn’t figure out what to buy. I understand everything by reading your article. I have a question. Can you give me a link where these things are available together I can buy? Thanks for sharing your advice. I will definitely share it with my friends. 

  • MrBiizy

    Hello Katie. Thank you for taking out your time to share this helpful post on the list of things needed for a baby’s arrival and care. This is especially important for new couples and soon to be father like me 🙂

    After going through this post, I find this list very handy and cool. I was wondering if you’d have some toy cars you would recommend for baby to ride on… Any idea? Thanks.

  • Renea

    This is a great article! I have 3 adult children and remember very well those wonderful baby years💗Enjoy every minute of them growing up, it goes by so fast. I agree don’t waist your money on any thing you really don’t need, she has put a perfect list together and don’t worry about the baby bath, babies love baths in the sink, they still feel the closeness with the mom that way. 

    • Katie

      Hi Renea! Absolutely! I had a baby bathtub for my first child and I remember lugging that dumb thing around with us to visit the grandparents. So silly! I used the sink with my second two and we all loved it. Thanks for the reminder! Best wishes! 

  • Donny

    Hello Katie what I have been worried about most is the bed thing, my wife insists on sleeping with the baby on the same bed but I know myself a little better when I sleep I kinda lose my self and will most likely forget I have a baby but thanks to you for the options and tips on cribs. 

    This is the first baby we will be having and I was just overwhelmed in buying girls stuff since doctors tuned its a girl and forgot its better to buy gender neutral items for the future. Congratulate me and thank you for the eye opener.

    • Katie

      Hi Donny and thank you for the comment! Congratulations to you and your wife – how exciting! 

      I totally understand wanting to buy cute girlie things. It’s fun! Girl clothes and accessories won’t break the bank – just try to keep the big stuff (stroller, carseat, etc.) gender-neutral so you can use them again easily. 

      As for the bed thing…many, many families co-sleep in one bed and are very happy and safe. Typically, it is recommended that baby sleep next to mama and dad lay on the other side of mom – it’s a little safer than baby being in between you two. Co-sleepers are great options as well – they keep baby right next to the bed where she can easily be soothed or nursed, but there is less risk. I was always too worried about the baby to really sleep so co-sleeping didn’t work well for me. Try and see what works for you. And you will continue to learn as you go! 

      Best wishes and thank you again! 

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