Your baby has a lot of needs. They need feeding, they need burping, they need playtime and plenty of socialization, and they need lots and lots of sleep. And that’s just for starters! But what your baby really needs in the nursery is another matter.

To be fair, there are Baby’s actual needs, and YOUR actual needs as the parent(s) caring for Baby:

  • YOU need a place to change Baby, some organizational systems to store the boatloads of stuff that come with new babies, and hopefully some room to grow.
  • Honestly, though, Baby could’t care less about all of these! Ditto for the elaborate wall murals and ceiling art, the fancy throw rugs and tchotchkes, or the designer crib.

What your baby really needs is a calm, quiet place to rest and feed. That’s really about it. So with that in mind, here are some tips on making sure you’ve got Baby’s needs covered when planning out your dream nursery:

Your baby has a lot of needs - but what your baby really needs in the nursery is another matter! Make sure you cover these bases when planning Baby's room.

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What Your Baby Really Needs In The Nursery:

Soft Lighting

Think about it: Your baby’s spent nine months in the cozy darkness of the womb. Is a world full of bright, harsh lights going to be a friendly and welcoming place? I don’t think so! Your baby’s eyes are going to need to get used to the amount of light in the world.

Keep this in mind when planning out that nursery. Low levels of soft lighting are key, especially for transitioning into and out of sleep times.

One of my own favorite hacks for this is stringing up some white Christmas lights around your child’s room, and keeping them up year-round. To this day, my girls each have these lights in their room for “bedtime” and “waking-up” lights. It’s a much more gradual way to adjust our bodies’ light-sensitive internal clocks. My girls LOVE the soft lighting these festive lights provide for when I’m tucking them in at night or first waking them in the morning.

Your baby has a lot of needs - but what your baby really needs in the nursery is another matter! Make sure you cover these bases when planning Baby's room.

And don’t forget about appropriate window coverings when planning out what your baby really needs! Even a good pair of curtains is a great place to start. Or if you’re really thinking long-term, look into a set of premium graber roller shades. These are a great long-term investment because of how effectively you can adjust the amount of light entering the room over time. And because they’re made to last, you shouldn’t need to switch them out as your child gets older.

A Portable Sleeping Space

Let’s face it: It’s nice to think that Baby is always gong to sleep in the nursery, but unless you’re in a tiny apartment, that’s not very realistic. There will be times when Baby needs to sleep elsewhere, and you need to plan accordingly. Something that can easily go from room to room is your best bet here.

Many parents prefer a bassinet for this purpose. Bassinets can easily roll from one room to another, especially if you live in a one-story dwelling. They’re perfect for keeping Baby in the master bedroom at night during those first months.


Other families – ours included – prefer a small play yard (pack’n’play). The secret here is SMALL; it needs to be able to fit through doorways, which most cannot. Here’s why we went this route:

  • We already had a cradle for use in the master bedroom; what we needed was a DOWNSTAIRS portable sleeping space, since our house has more than one level
  • A play yard could easily fold up and travel with us to the grandparents’ house, to serve as a portable crib there.
  • A small play yard that would fit through doorways was loads cheaper than most bassinets on the market.
  • And the play yard was something we could (and did!) use for several years, as a play space/nap space/portable crib.
Your baby has a lot of needs - but what your baby really needs in the nursery is another matter! Make sure you cover these bases when planning Baby's room.

We learned the hard way that most play yards would NOT fit through the doorways in our house!

The best model we found that fit our needs was the Cosco FunSport. Fortunately, a few other manufacturers have started making basic smaller play yards that will easily move from one room to the next (or even out to the front yard or back porch!).


A Good Rocking Chair

If you haven’t already bought a rocking chair for the nursery, trust me: You need one. Or rather, Baby needs one. (And will for years to come.)

Whether you’re nursing or bottle-feeding, you’ll want to be able to give Baby that last meal of the day in the nursery, right before bedtime. A rocking chair is a great place to do this. Having one right there in the nursery will make it a lot easier to do that last feeding and then transition Baby right into the crib for the night (or for naptime).

I’d encourage you to think long-term here, too. A rocking lounger or a glider-rocker is a great investment that you can later move to another room of your house. (When we host Christmas every year for all our extended family, the rocking seats are so popular with the grandparents that we actually have TWO in our living room now!)

On the other hand, I bought a compact, classic rocking chair second-hand for each girl’s bedroom before she was born. They still like to snuggle in these chairs with Daddy for a story before bedtime. And now that they’re avid readers on their own, it’s not uncommon to find them curled up in their rockers on a rainy day with a good book. (They’re also a great place to calm down when kids are upset and need some “alone time.”)

Your turn:

Experienced parents – what did I miss on this list of what your baby really needs in the nursery? Let us know in the comments!

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Your baby has a lot of needs - but what your baby really needs in the nursery is another matter! Make sure you cover these bases when planning Baby's room.

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