Are you getting ready for your first child? Or expecting a new sibling for your existing kiddo(s)? Either way, you know Baby will need some space of their own. But contrary to what you may fear, you don’t have to shell out thousands to get Baby’s nursery ready. With some careful planning, designing a nursery on a budget is totally doable, as I know from firsthand experience.
You want Baby’s nursery to be special, of course. But it doesn’t matter whether you’re working with a large room or a very small space. Either way, Baby’s room needs to be newborn-ready, but flexible enough to grow with your little one. These hacks will help you get there, without sending you into bankruptcy.
This is a collaboration post. However, please know I stand behind everything written here, and only include links to products/services/resources I’m willing to recommend personally.
1. Only Get the Essentials
It’s soooo tempting to want to deck out your new arrival’s space with every possible last piece of furniture and decor. DON’T. For now, only purchase the essentials, and let yourself save up for some smart purchases in the near future!
These include the crib/bedding (or a crib alternative if you’re totally crunched for space), something for storage (more on that below), some soft lighting, a changing table, and a baby monitor. Seriously, for starters that’s all you need!
You can check out a list here for more details on what else you absolutely need to set up your nursery on a budget. Don’t worry, Baby’s room will look just as cute as if you’d gone all out on rugs, mobiles, and fancy wall decorations. You just won’t spend an arm and a leg getting there!
2. Be Smart About Storage
If this is your first rodeo with parenthood, trust me: Babies come with a LOT of stuff, which seems strange for someone so little who has such basic needs. And unless you have a plan to store it, stuff can quickly equal a big mess. Without proper storage for all of Baby’s things, you’ll find yourself standing in a pile of junk and trash within 24 hours of bringing them home from the hospital.
Fortunately, you don’t need to install a walk-in closet for all of Baby’s gear, or fork over hundreds for a fancy ottoman or built-in storage cabinets. Instead, all you really need is some boxes for storage. Specifically, you want ones that will fit easily into the space you already have, such as under the crib itself.
If you need some help wrapping your brain around nursery storage options, here’s a quick video tutorial to give you some ideas. (Video by Basilchic) I especially love her drawer-labeling hack for the clear boxes she features!
As you can see in this video and the link earlier in this section, “storage boxes” doesn’t mean “cardboard boxes.” There are tons of colorful and fun bins, baskets, and clear plastic boxes that you can purchase for as little as a few bucks each. (Personal tip: think carefully about WHAT you need to store before you go buying boxes and bins willy-nilly; then shop around to get the most bang for your buck. And as I’ve noted before, baskets don’t HAVE to be all matchy-matchy to look great together. But if you can get a good deal on bins or baskets that match, then go for it!)
Once you’ve gathered the storage containers you need, make sure you label or color-code them. This will make your storage a lot easier to manage. With a labeled home for everything Baby needs, your storage will be more organized, and (best of all) any member of the family will be able to tidy up for you! (Seriously. Game-changer for sleep-deprived Mamas with family and friends who offer to “help out” for an hour or two.)
3. Fill the Changing Table with Some Clever Products
Back to Baby’s diaper-changing area. As noted above, you’ll need a changing table – but you ALSO need a plan for optimizing that space so it’s easy to use! When Baby needs a clean diaper, the last thing you want is to have the supplies you need located across the room. So you need to make sure your changing area includes some way (e.g., a compact diaper caddy) to keep all those items on hand for easy grabbing,
And that diaper-changing space need to be well-stocked with everything you need to take care of your little one. Speaking of everything you need – yes, you WILL need diapers, and diaper creams, and lotions, and toys, and all those cute little onesies, right there where you can grab them. (My kids were famous for going through onesies left and right, and poor Essie in particular had ultra-sensitive skin and was prone to LOTS of diaper rashes.)
But how do you stock up on creams and diapers and onesies without spending a ton of money? Easy: By finding the right retailers, and seeking out the best products to cover your bases. For example, check out Mustela and their complete line of baby skincare products, from wipes and creams to lotions – even things for Mama’s skin! Our pediatrician and dermatologist highly recommended Mustela’s products, and they really worked wonders on Essie’s sensitive skin!
And while we’re on versatile products that will get the job done while keeping your nursery on a budget, don’t forget about the changing pad. DO skip all those fancy washable-fabric covers, though. Trust me, what you want/need is a basic changing pad that’s easy to wipe clean. This will save you lots of time AND money when you’re trying to clean up after a diaper explosion; just wipe it clean, and you’re done.
4. Go Minimalist With Decorations
A final point on designing your nursery on a budget: Think “long game” when you’re planning out Baby’s decor. Or even better yet, resist the urge to do much decorating until your kiddo is a little older.
Yes, the nursery may seem “empty” at first. But trust me, your baby isn’t going to understand the subtle nuances of lines and stripes on their wall, with the circle print you’ve hung up in the middle to really bring the look together. A better plan is to keep Baby’s nursery decor at the bare minimum, until they’re older. And it’s worth noting that too many colors and designs all at once can make your baby a little teary-eyed and loud-mouthed. As the experts will tell you, Baby’s eyes are still developing, which means that soft lights and colors are the way to go.
Not only will whites and pastels look best, but they’re best for Baby to fall asleep around and wake up to. Babies need lots of sleep, and walls that are too “loud” can make waking up an unnecessarily hard adjustment. Trust me, pastels and light shades will work better for this than bold, bright colors.
When they’re in their first months and years, babies really don’t need very much around them. That’s why you can really save some money by NOT buying every toy you see right now. Instead, start out slow with just one or two toys or “comfort items.” As I’ve seen firsthand, having too many toy options is at best confusing, at worst overwhelming or even upsetting.
And just because it’s minimalist doesn’t mean Baby’s room has to be boring. As your kiddos get older, they’ll have plenty of school art with which to decorate the walls; some of it you’ll want to frame, trust me. When they get older still, they’ll have their own ideas about how to personalize their own space, as 8-year-old Kimmie’s recent penchant for putting signs and pictures around her room illustrates.
Ready to Get Your Nursery on a Budget Started?
No matter what your budget, you can usually afford the basics Baby will need to stay healthy, comfortable, and happy. Especially as newborns, babies only need the basics, NOT a bunch of toys or fancy decorations. You, their parents, are usually all they need to have a fun and stimulating time (phew!).
Tempting though it may be to max out your credit cards, you CAN have the perfect nursery on a budget. (Even if it won’t have walls covered in farmyard animals or a jungle scene!) As your child gets older and develops her own preferences, THEN you can pull the parental decoration skills (or even better, the adult-assisted kiddo decoration skills) out of the bag!