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Nursery Items for Baby’s First Year: What You Do and Don’t Need

Setting up a nursery can be daunting. Glossy ads from baby stores make it look like you need to create a $10,000 nursery for your little one. BabyCenter’s cost calculator estimates an average of $1,700 for a fully decked out nursery.

We kept things really simple and have been happy with how our nursery turned out. It cost us around $400, and it has served us well for two active boys.

Here’s what we used:

  • Crib. We like the Stork Craft combination crib and changing table. Walmart has a few variations of this crib ranging from $159-$259. We have a small nursery, and this type of crib saves a lot of space and money. Once the baby starts rolling and climbing around, it’s safer to change him or her on a changing pad or blanket on the floor anyway. If you’re really efficient, you can even just place the clean diaper under the dirty diaper, so you don’t even need a changing pad on the floor for wet diapers.
  • Crib Mattress. We went with the basic Safety 1st Heavenly Dreams White Crib Mattress.
  • Crib sheets (2). We went with the really basic Carters Easy Fit Jersey Crib Fitted Sheet.
  • Crib mattress pad (2). We like the Carter’s Keep Me Dry Waterproof Fitted Quilted Crib Pad. If you have a plastic mattress, you can even use a non-waterproof mattress pad, which may be more comfortable for the baby.
  • Glider. I love the Stork Craft Custom Hoop Glider & Ottoman. It’s compact—it fits well in our small nursery—and you can’t beat the $134 price for both a glider and ottoman. I’ve nursed two babies in this, and it still looks like new.
  • Humidifier. It’s great to have a basic cool mist humidifier on hand for cold and flu season. I like the cool mist because I don’t have to worry about my little one burning his hands if he grabs it.
  • White noise machine. We have a white noise machine in each of our children’s rooms. It’s great for blocking out noise, especially when one child is awake and the other is napping.
  • Blackout blinds. These have been essential for daytime naps and bedtime in the summer. We got insulated cordless blackout blinds from Blinds.com and have been really happy with them.

What You Don’t Need

  • Bedding sets. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that babies sleep on their backs in a crib with just a fitted sheet over the mattress. Pillows, blankets, toys, and crib bumpers are all SIDS risks. BabyCenter has a good article on SIDS prevention.
  • Expensive changing table. We did well with a crib/changing table combo (and saved a lot of money and space). You can also just change the baby on the floor.
  • Crib bumpers. They are a SIDS hazard.  By the time the baby is old enough that they are no longer a SIDS hazard, the baby starts using them to try to climb out of the crib.
  • Expensive curtains or other nursery decorations. I waited to see what my toddler liked before going crazy decorating his room. Also, you may want to keep the nursery gender neutral in case you have more children. Our baby spends most of his time playing in the living room or his brother’s room anyway. That’s where all the action is.
  • Crib mobile. Once your baby is pushing up onto his or her hands and knees (usually around 4 or 5 months old), experts recommend taking the mobile out of the crib anyway. I used a lullaby CD and a white noise machine to soothe my little ones.
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A Classic, Affordable Crib: Graco Lauren 4-in-1 Convertable Crib

When our second baby arrived just a little over a year and a half after our first one, we weren’t quite ready to put our 19-month-old in a toddler bed. He slept through the night well, but bedtime was still a bit of a struggle. I didn’t want to give up the option of placing him in something he couldn’t escape from just yet, especially with a newborn to take care of.

Our first crib was a white Stork Craft model with a changing table attached to it, which was perfect for a newborn. But our older son had long outgrown the small changing table on the side of the Stork Craft crib, making it pretty much useless for him. I had taken to putting a contoured changing pad on the floor for our large, hard-to-lift son, so I only needed a basic crib for his new room.

I didn’t want to go all out and buy a designer $600 crib. I wanted one that converted to a toddler bed, but I’m not planning on keeping the crib forever, so a good-quality, basic model would do. I opted for the Graco Lauren 4-in-1 Convertible crib in a natural finish. I like the stylish headboard, and the wood is good quality. I especially like the edging on the top of the crib rail; it adds a bit of design to the piece. I bought the Sealy Baby crib mattress to go along with the crib, and it seems to be holding up well.

I have yet to convert the crib to a toddler bed, but the headboard on the side of the crib seems like it will look nice and a bit more “grown up” than the Stork Craft model.

Overall, the Graco Lauren 4-in-1 Convertible crib has been a great addition to our toddler room.