Monday, November 4, 2013

What you REALLY need for a baby: The Nursery

When I was pregnant with Makayla I spent weeks pouring over "registry checklists" and baby guides trying to decide what I really needed to buy/ register for. I had no experience with babies outside a couple baby sitting jobs when I was 14 and really had no clue what I needed. I ended up doing pretty well overall but there were still a few essentials that I missed and a few things that I really never needed. With Number 2, I did a quick mental inventory of what I had and what I hated and finished my list in less than a day. For fun, I went back and compared that to the registry checklist at Babies R Us and realized that there is a lot of fluff in there that you really don't need. So here is my very own guide to what you really need for a baby as well as what is nice to have and what you can skip. As I was writing this, I realized that to put everything in one post would be way too long, so I'm starting with the stuff needed to set up the nursery. Future posts will cover other areas of baby products.

The Nursery- Must Haves

Crib: I know some people do the whole co-sleeping thing but it's not for me. The American Academy of Pediatrics warns against co-sleeping as it may increase risk of SIDS or death by suffocation from blankets and pillows on the bed, etc. With Makayla, I also had a bassinet that she slept in for the first three months in my room. I didn't really need it. We lived in a one floor duplex and it would have been just as easy and quick to walk across the living room to the nursery as it was have her in our cramped little room. In our current house though, the nursery is on the second floor and I know that I'm not going to want to walk up and down the stairs every couple of hours to nurse him so I will be using both. As far as what crib to use, drop side cribs are out- they're not safe and have been recalled so if you have a hand-me-down crib and it has a drop side, don't use it. Personally, I love the convertible cribs that go from a crib to a toddler bed to an adult bed. I've gone through all of the iterations with Makayla and they have all been easy enough to convert to and I haven't had to buy multiple pieces of furniture every year or so as she outgrows the previous one. I bought furniture that is built to last, and I have not been disappointed. The only downside to a convertible crib is that you need a new one with each baby. 

Crib Mattress: It seems self explanatory but cribs don't come with mattresses, you have to buy that separately. I bought a two sided mattress, infant and toddler. Theoretically, the infant side was firmer and the toddler side was more like a standard mattress. I'm fairly certain the infant side would have sufficed for the toddler years. The important things to remember about crib mattresses are: they need to be firm and fit tightly in the crib. There should not be a gap between the walls of the crib and the mattress. Gaps are suffocation hazards for newborns.

Bedding: If you haven't heard, the latest in crib safety says that cribs should have nothing in them except fitted crib sheets. No bumpers, no blankets, no stuffed animals or toys. All of these things are said to increase SIDS risk.

  • Fitted crib sheets: Most lists that I've seen recommend a large number of fitted crib sheets. I personally needed no more than two. One to be on the bed, one to be in the washer. 
  • Waterproof mattress pad: Depending on the type of crib mattress you buy, this may or may not be necessary. Many mattresses are already waterproofed. If yours is not, buy two, one for the crib, one for the wash.
  • Wearable Blankets/ Swaddling Blankets: I tried several types of swaddlers and the only one that I liked was the Halo Sleep Sack with Swaddle. They have velcro positioners on the back to keep them from riding up and you can swaddle easily and securely. I never got the hang of swaddling with just a blanket and I hated the Kiddopatumus swaddlers, they didn't stay put at all. 

Dresser/ Changing Table: I am a big fan of the combination dresser/ changing table. A separate changing table seems like a complete waste of money. After the baby is out of diapers what are you going to do with it? I've seen several types of combo dressers, as long as it's at a comfortable height, you can put a changing pad on top of any dresser.

Changing Table Pad: I've used several different changing pads. My favorite was one that was made of a dense foam (Kuster Jelly Baby mat) that wiped up easily. Several of the cheaper ones that I bought simply fell apart and shredded in a short amount of time (LA Baby, Summer Infant).

Glider/ Rocker & Ottoman: You need somewhere to sit when you're feeding the baby, reading stories or just snuggling. Choose whatever type of chair you're most comfortable in but make sure you get some type of footrest, especially if you're breastfeeding. It just made things so much more comfortable.

Nightstand/ Side Table: Somewhere to put a lamp- no one enjoys a bright overhead light in the middle of the night. Also useful to set up a monitor on and a white noise/ music player. It shouldn't be near enough the crib that the baby could pull the stuff inside the crib as it grows, it's more convenient and useful to have it near the chair, in my opinion.

Lamp: Like I said, no one wants to be woken up with a bright overhead light. A simple lamp is a necessity.

Hamper/ Laundry Bag: You need somewhere to put dirty clothes!

Trashcan/ Diaper Pail: I didn't go for an expensive diaper disposal system the first time around- I just used a smallish Simple Human trash can (small so that it had to be emptied before the smell got too bad!) and was as happy as one can be with a diaper disposal system. After Makayla was mobile, I found that I needed a locking lid because ain't nobody got time for toddlers playing with dirty diapers. I added a stick on lock designed for baby proofing things like refrigerator or washing machine doors. I know that Simple Human makes some now that have locking mechanisms built in. I used disposable diapers so if you're using cloth, I've got nothing.

The Nursery- Nice to Have Extras

Diaper Stacker/ Changing Table Organizer: Having an organized system to hold diapers, wipes, lotion, etc. is nice to have. It makes things easier to find and more functional. Plus it looks neater.

Curtains/ Window Treatments: Black out shades can be nice to have, especially if you have a baby who doesn't like to nap with too much light. Decorative curtains are cute and make the nursery prettier. Whatever type of window treatments you choose make sure they are cordless. If you have standard mini-blinds, take them down and figure out a cordless solution. Babies/ toddlers can strangle themselves not only in the pull cord of mini-blinds but also in the cords that lace together all of the blinds.

Storage Bins/ Closet Organizers: Bins can be helpful to store toys and stuffed animals (which you will always have too many of) and there are lots of nice closet systems that make things neater and easier, but they're not really necessary.

Decorations: While not strictly necessary, most parents will want some type of decor in the nursery.

Sound/ Light Machine/ CD player: Something to provide background/ white noise can help some babies sleep better. Makayla had a CD player with a CD of lullabies and a ladybug nightlight that put stars on the ceiling. She still can't fall asleep without them.

The Nursery- Things you DON'T Need


  • Sheet Savers: Sheets are easy to wash. Don't waste your money.
  • Bumpers: I know they're cute and I know that you're worried about your baby getting an arm or leg stuck in the rails but soft, pillow-y bumpers are a suffocation risk. If you simply must have a bumper, they make breathable mesh bumpers that prevent arms and legs from getting through the rails
  • Quilts/ Loose Blankets: Loose blankets and quilts should also not be used in the crib. If you want to have one for decoration, so be it but really, babies shouldn't be too warm anyway and most babies stay plenty warm with a wearable blanket. 
Changing Table Pad Covers: Changing tables are for changing diapers. Changing table pads will get poop and pee on them without fail. It's far easier to just wipe up a waterproof surface than it is to change the pad and wash the dirty ones.

Of course, not everything needs to be new. If you are using hand-me-downs or purchasing things from thrift stores check to make sure that the used item has not been recalled.