Minimalist Bedroom Nursery: a no fuss, functional, and beautiful guide to creating space for baby
It definitely doesn't seem like it as a first-time mom, but the newborn phase can be so sweet and simple if you let it. Of course, it can feel tiring and overwhelming at times, and if you take most people's word for it, it can seem like your new little human comes with a mountain of stuff, but I'm here to tell you that with a little creativity, it's simple to fit your baby into your home.
There is so much fuss about "the nursery," and Pinterest is full of beautiful ideas for all budgets and styles, but for most people, none of that is actually relevant for the first few months. The AAP recommends keeping babies in your room anywhere from 6 to 12 months to reduce the chances of SIDS, and for many of us, who chose to cosleep or don't have an extra room, our kiddos may be in our bedroom for many months after that. Regardless of the time the baby is in your room, even if it's just a few months, you'll want to create a space for them and for the little things you need in the early months.
How high is your bed? Will you be able to easily reach over the top to put your baby in your bassinet? Even with a home birth, it was tough with our low bed, so in case of a c-section, choosing one you can lower a side on might be worthwhile.
How much space do you have? I've seen clever in-room nursery ideas using closets (with doors removed) and curtains or room dividers to separate out an area of the main bedroom. Some people find that either they, or their baby, sleep longer stretches if they're slightly separated. That will also determine the type of bassinet or mini crib you go with.
How long do you intend to use it? I mean this in terms of how long you might keep your baby in the bassinet before transitioning to a crib or floor bed and if you want to use the bassinet for multiple children. Check the age, height, and weight ranges.
Do you need to move it around? I wanted to take the bassinet downstairs easily, but I ended up using it in the bathroom for the most part. You may want to be able to move it from one side of the bed to another so your partner has easier access some nights or into the other room when you're cleaning or have someone else caring for the baby.
There are a lot of considerations when selecting a bassinet. I didn't necessarily commit to cosleeping before the baby was born, but I knew it was very likely the route we would take. For that reason, I also thought about the bassinet's functionality as a nap space. I landed on the Design Dua Bassinet and Changing Basket because of the rocking base option and the fact that I could take the Moses basket out to bring it into the bathroom or downstairs when needed.
The Design Dua Bilia Bassinet is a beautiful piece supporting local artisans in Ghana. While I found both pros and cons, it is a functional and heirloom-quality piece I'll continue using for subsequent babies. My main cons are that I didn't find it super comfortable to put the baby into the bassinet from our low bed at night and, with a taller baby, we had to stop using it by the 5-month mark (not super critical because she was rolling over and sitting up anyway.) I liked that the Snuggle Me Organic fit into the bassinet because sometimes she only wanted to sleep in it, not on the mattress. I didn't end up bringing the Moses basket downstairs often, but I did carry it into the bathroom to shower in the mornings before she was old enough to sit in the bouncer. I recommend going with the Organic Kapok Pad upgrade. It's much more comfortable and breathable than the standard pad. For bedding, I used the mushie Extra Soft Basinet Muslin Crib Sheet and mushie Muslin Organic Cotton Swaddles along with this beautiful Linen Tales Quilt my friend gifted Noah.
Alternate Option: By the time we have a second kiddo, I hope we'll be able to upgrade to a king-sized bed, making it easier to cosleep with or without the snuggle me. If not, I may consider another option called the Baby Bay Maxi. It is a side-car mini-crib option that seems ideal for extending the sleeping space while keeping the baby in their own space. It comes in a larger size and with a full bassinet side attachment and adjustable height that may help extend use.
Baby loungers are certainly not essential for many people, and their use, especially as co-sleepers, is controversial. You can lay your newborn down flat on a blanket on any firm and safe surface, including your mattress, if you practice safe bed-sharing guidelines, and this may be better for their alignment anyway. For whatever reason, I got a snuggle-me, and it's a must-have for us now. In fact, we have two. It created a safe space for our baby, who otherwise did not want to be put down, and as much as I love contact naps and baby-wearing, I needed a little reprieve at times. The Snuggle Me Organic Infant Lounger fits in the Design Dua Bassinet and is a portable and familiar sleep space for early travel. Please make your own informed decisions about safe sleep, but I could not complete this nursery registry list without including the Snuggle Me.
Sound machines are a split camp in the parenting world, and there are definitely families that successfully get their kids used to the ambient sounds of their households. I opted to get a light-free Hatch Rest Mini sound machine, which helped to dull our crazy loud hundred-year-old stair squeaks, the dogs barking, and work calls that really carry in our house. I was worried about adapting to the sleep environment on the go, but our sound machine has become an excellent sleep cue regardless of our location, not just for the baby, but for me as well. We got the Frida Mom 2-in-1 Portable Sound Machine + Nightlight for on-the-go and while I have some qualms with how it attaches and how difficult it is to see the buttons at night, it sounds great, it is super sturdy and has an insane battery life, getting us through at least two whole nights.
I may try the new Hatch Rest Go in the future because of the simplicity of how it functions and clips on.
It's not something many people think about when planning out their registry, but I found that having dimmable light in my nursing space in the diaper change area was very important for late-night wake-ups with minimal disruption to sleep. Near our changing basket, we used our Ikea Tarnaby Lamp; we embarrassingly have 3 of them around the house because we love them so much. The dimmest setting was perfect for not disturbing anyone's sleep. Since I opted to get the light-free Hatch Rest Mini sound machine rather than the model that has the multicolor light, I added this night light I found on mazon. It's a simple thing that's one of my favorites. It dims to a minimal level, stays charged for weeks, and turns on by being flipped over.
I spent a lot of time researching the different changing pad options, not knowing what qualities to look for. I love the Design Dua Changing Basket and will explain why, but there are many good options. You will get peed on and clean up poop sometimes, but as long as you have a wipeable surface that somewhat contains the mess, I think you're golden. We use the mushie Extra Soft Muslin Bassinet Crib Sheet that's conveniently the same size as the bassinet sheet, which means fewer items to keep track of and less laundry. I put a Gathre micro on top for easy clean-up, so I rarely wash the sheet now. I loved that the pad was never cold like plastic ones can get, contained the baby in case she rolled over, even now as a toddler, without requiring safety straps, and doubled as a charming backdrop for our monthly milestone photos. You'd think babies grow out of the changing basket like the bassinet. However, it is still entirely comfortable and functional for an 18-month-old.
I got the Dékor Plus Hands-Free Diaper Pail purely because it transitions from regular to cloth diapers. I honestly have no issues with the pail apart from its less-than-exciting appearance. It never smells, is hands-free, and the bags are simple to replace and cut. We use it exclusively for cloth diapers now, so I appreciate that you can remove the smaller opening and use the full lid size for tossing in cloth diaper inserts and covers separately without crumpling. I prefer the Nora's Nursery Pail Liners over the Dékor ones.
For gear, I used a few different storage solutions. I repurposed the Ikea RÅSKOG Utility Cart I've had since college to hold our Crate and Barrel Diaper Caddy, extra cloth diaper inserts, every-day baby clothes, and pump parts. They have much cuter colors than grey these days and a bamboo lid so you can use it for different purposes down the road.
I hung the Gathre Wall Tidy near the changing station for easy access to burp cloths, swaddles, bibs, pacifiers, nail clippers, baby balm, and anything else we needed easily accessible. Gathre never disappoints. I have this hanging inside our toddler's closet door now with her hygiene products and know we'll be able to use it for toys or art supplies as she gets older.
I made sure to involve Noah in her diaper changes from birth, warning her before touch or transitions. Engaging babies in all parts of their personal care definitely helps keep diaper changes smooth and conflict free, however, having something to look at and something to hold really is key when babies are tired, or excited to get back to play. All that is to say that I think it was a great call to hang the mobile above the changing station. Honestly, the bassinet or glider is the the last place you want to distract a baby, so why not put it where you want your baby to be alert and entertained. This Pehr Little Lamb Mobile kept Noah calm and smiling from an early age, I think in part because it is black and white.
In this post, I'm only going to get into the cozy corner you feed and hold your baby before sleep. The requirements for this special corner are simple: a glider or rocker, footrest, place for books, a giant bottle of water, burp cloth, pacifier (if using), feeding pillow, and blanket. My set up was simple, I used the windowsill and the dresser for whatever beverages I needed. Usually one hot mug of mama tea and a massive Stanley full of adrenal cocktail. I hung a sweet boob hook my friend got me as a gift for a pacifier and a burp cloth, put up some basic ikea shelves up for books, and used the bed as a foot rest.
Finding a comfortable glider for a small space is quite challenging. I debated a rocking chair, but with our setup, we'd be less likely to trip over the base of a glider. I went with the Babyletto Cali and absolutely loved it. It is classic enough that it can evolve with our design style, is Greenguard Gold Certified, and has washable cushion covers, which are my top requirements. You can't see it in the photo, but that chair fits perfectly between the dresser and the window. I didn't get a footstool while it was in our bedroom because that corner was so tight that I used the corner of the bed to put my feet up. Now that it's in my toddler's room, we use this multi-use Olivia Pouf from Target rather than the coordinating footrest. I actually would suggest using a pouf that has storage or functions as extra seating regardless of how much space you have.
This was one of the decisions I made purely based on aesthetics, and I can't say I'm disappointed. The Snuggle Me Organic Feeding Support Pillow looks like a sweet little moon pillow, has washable covers, and was super comfy in the early days of trying to find comfortable or hands-free nursing positions. I have no complaints.
Only because I think their Pregnancy Pillow is the best thing ever; having tried and returned all the most popular recommended ones, I have to mention the new bbhugme Nursing Pillow. It ties in the back, which could be very helpful and has the same perfect squishy but supportive stuffing the pregnancy pillow does.
Wherever you are in your motherhood journey and wherever you call home, the space you bring your baby into matters. This precious space impacts how you feel and function as a parent. The less visual clutter you have, the fewer items you have to clean, maintain, and put away, and the more relaxed and present you will be with your baby. I poured over my registry list with a fine-tooth comb, trying to eliminate unnecessary items, and still ended up with more than needed. This guide will help you curate your list according to your space, budget, and parenting goals. If you're unsure about something, set aside a small fund for purchases once you get into a grove with your little one. You will likely find creative workarounds, and if you really need something you don't have, you'll be able to find it quickly.
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