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.
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
- fitted sheets
- Play yard (with bassinet/changing station optional)
- Dresser with drawers (with changing table optional)
- a handful of onesies
- zippered sleepers
- diapering supplies
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.