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How to Build the Perfect Baby Nursery

When putting together your baby’s nursery, it can be easy to get caught up in all the fun details—the cute artwork, the fluffy stuffed animals, the fancy chandeliers. But remember, it’s important for your baby’s room to be as functional as it is adorable. Use these shopping tips to ensure you buy everything your baby needs to live (and hopefully sleep!) well in their nursery.

  1. Crib. Though it may be tempting to score a deal on a used crib, it’s always best to purchase a new crib. That’s the only way to ensure it meets the latest federal safety guidelines, which took effect in June 2011. (Those guidelines also banned the sale of dangerous drop-side cribs.) Some people prefer convertible cribs that can change into toddler beds, then into twin or full beds. And if you’re short on space, portable cribs are a handy option to keep in mind. These cribs are compact and convenient. They can be put in your room during those early days of frequent overnight feedings and moved to the nursery when you and baby are ready.
  2. Crib Mattress. When it comes to crib mattresses, the firmer the better. According to the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, soft bedding poses five times the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) as sleeping on firm bedding. Foam mattresses tend to be lighter, making for easier sheet changes. Innerspring mattresses, which contain a steel coil support system, should have a coil count of at least 150 so they’re not too soft. Whichever type of mattress you choose, make sure it fits snugly, with no space between the side of the mattress and the crib frame. And protect it from accidents with a waterproof mattress cover.
  3. Crib Bedding. The American Academy of Pediatrics warns against using crib bumpers, pillows, blankets, and any other loose items in your baby’s crib due to the suffocation risks they pose. All you’ll need is a fitted sheet and, if you prefer more coverage for your baby, a wearable blanket. If you buy a crib bedding set, be sure to remove the quilt from the bed whenever your baby is in it.
  4. Glider or Rocker. A glider or rocker can give you a comfy place to sit during 2 a.m. feedings and help soothe your baby back to sleep. Rockers move in an arc, while gliders move forward and back. Some gliders recline or swivel, and many have a matching ottoman. Gliders also tend to be larger than rockers.
  5. Dressers, Nightstands, and Bookshelves. Consider your storage needs and the nursery’s size and layout when choosing dressers, nightstands, and bookshelves. Carefully measure your space before buying furniture to ensure everything will fit. With a lot of stuff comes clutter, so these pieces of furniture will keep you organized, while making the room look inviting and clean.
  6. Changing Station. If you have space in the nursery for a full changing table, it'll be a nice addition to keep all your diapering needs in one place. If space is an issue, a contoured changing pad attached to the top of a dresser works just as well. But you may want to add some bins for diaper storage.
  7. Extras. You may also want to pick up these extras:
  1. Night light. Though your baby may not be afraid of the dark, a night light can help him distinguish between night and day and help you see in the middle of the night.
  2. Baby monitor. Monitors give parents another set of eyes on baby when they can't be in the room. Read our baby monitor buying guide to help you choose the best monitor for your family.
  3. Storage and organization. Baskets, bins, hampers, and more can all help you corral the clutter in the nursery. Some are designed to add cute touches.
  4. Humidifier or purifier. Help keep the nursery air moist and clean with a humidifier or a purifier. Check out our humidifier guide to see which is right for you.

Once you’ve gotten all of the essentials, unleash your inner design star and have a blast decorating. Our selection of nursery décor will get you started!