Setting up your baby’s nursery when you’re on a budget can feel frustrating. You want to design a room for your precious baby that’s as beautiful and special as the photographs you see of baby nurseries online, but every piece of baby nursery furniture is expensive.
Of course, as a new parent, you want to shower your baby with the best. As nice it might feel to treat your new baby like a princess by getting her a giant crib with a gauzy canopy, the truth is that your new baby doesn’t actually need a room of her own yet—much less an expensive, color-coordinated bedroom set.
All your new baby needs from you is love and food, a clean environment, clean body and warmth. And all you need for your baby’s nursery is a place for them to sleep, a place to be changed, and a place to keep clothes and possibly a few books and toys.
If you’re on a budget and/or if space is tight—relax. You don’t even need a whole room for your new baby. You can give baby what they need by setting up space in a corner of your own room, devoting part of your closet to their clothes and diapers. If you have a room to completely use as baby’s nursery, you can set it up with the basics and still be budget-friendly.
Budget Nursery: A Place to Sleep
Crib or Bed
A crib seems like the most basic of items to buy for a baby nursery, but if you’re on a budget, you don’t have to have one. Cribs are expensive, and while you’ll eventually need a twin-size mattress and bed for your child to sleep in, infancy doesn’t require that.
Alternatives to buying an expensive new crib for your baby’s nursery could include cosleeping (having baby sleep with you in your bed), or purchasing a used crib.
New parents often find that their baby’s crib ends up as an expensive place to keep stuffed animals because their newborn ends up sleeping with them anyway! That said, some cribs convert into a toddler bed. Although these are more expensive, it will give you a couple more years of use.
If you do purchase a used crib, or are given one, make sure it’s safe:
- make sure the mattress fits snugly into the crib, with less than two fingers width of gaps around the edges so your baby won’t get stuck
- make sure the mattress is clean and firm
- check with national recall lists to make sure the crib hasn’t been recalled for safety reasons
Blankets and Crib Accessories
Realize that you can save money by not buying things you don’t need for baby’s nursery. All you really need for baby’s bedding are:
- waterproof mattress pad
Newborns should not have:
- large, thick blankets
- stuffed animals
- crib bumpers
Crib bumpers used to be popular, but today, organizations like the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), Consumer Product Safety Commission, and National SIDS Alliance recommend not using them as they pose a risk of suffocation.
You may also want to purchase a bassinet. Bassinets are nice because they are smaller, so they fit a newborn better and are also fairly portable. Again, make sure your bassinet meets current safety standards.
Budget Nursery: A Place to Change Diapers
Diapering a new baby is expensive, no matter if you choose disposable diapers or cloth diapers (although cloth diapers save a lot of money), but you don’t have to spend a lot of money on a changing table. You can change your baby’s diapers on a bed or the floor or other flat surface.
Many new parents get creative by repurposing old pieces of furniture already on hand and turning them into changing tables with just a soft pad.
Of course, a changing table is a nice convenience. To assemble a budget nursery, you can look for changing tables second-hand as well. Look for one with safety rails, a strap for securing baby, and plenty of storage for diapers, creams, powders, and the like. Some changing tables are combined with dressers, which can also be helpful.
Budget Nursery: Storage & Seating
If money is tight, you can keep baby’s clothes and toys in bins. A closet of baby’s own or even a dresser, are nice things to have, but not necessary. Throughout infancy, babies grow out of their clothes so quickly that there’s no need to get fancy, expensive organizing systems for their first years of clothes.
For small baby care accessories such as hairbrushes, thermometers and nail clippers, you can use a cheap, plastic bin stored under your bathroom sink. Reuse any wicker baskets you have at home for storing socks, burp cloths, or breastfeeding accessories. Baskets and bins do work well for board books and toys. Since you can’t keep stuffed animals in the crib, you might want to purchase a stuffed animal hammock.
A Rocker or Glider
You don’t need one, but a glider or rocker is a nice addition to a nursery. Many consignment stores have used ones available at a steeply discounted price.
Budget Nursery: Decorating
Decorating the nursery can be a lot of fun. If you enjoy finding or making the perfect bedding with curtains to match, by all means go for it. But if DIY decorating is not your thing, or decorating isn’t in the budget, don’t feel pressured to make the perfect baby nursery. Your newborn isn’t going to be any less loved because he doesn’t have a special theme nursery.
All your baby really needs are a few essentials and a lot of love.