Free Nursery Checklist PDF and Ultimate Nursery Set Up Guide

Does setting up a new nursery feel like an insurmountable task? It doesn’t have to! This nursery checklist PDF and setup guide is straight to the point, offers my favorite product recommendations…and it’s printable 😉 

Check it out below!

Nursery Checklist PDF (1)

I am 90% sure I started designing my daughter’s nursery in my first trimester. Despite having a BS in Interior Design, I felt completely overwhelmed by the task. Buying decorations was easy. Figuring out what my baby actually needed? Which products were best? The best layout? That was the scary part! 

I created this post because I wanted moms to have an easy-to-follow nursery checklist PDF (if you’re like me, checking off those boxes is so fulfilling) and trustworthy product recommendations from a mom who’s already been there. If you’re feeling a little overwhelmed by this whole process, I hope this little post helps.


Download Your Free Nursery Setup Bundle!

Subscribe now to access your free nursery checklist, newborn essentials checklist, and nursery layout ideas!

    You can unsubscribe anytime. For more details, review our Privacy Policy.

    This post may contain affiliate links. If you make a purchase from one of the links I will make a small commission at no charge to you. Blunders in Babyland does not diagnose, treat, or give out any professional advice for any medical conditions.

    Nursery Essentials Checklist

    I’m dividing this post into two parts: what your baby really needs and what your baby doesn’t actually need but you, as the mom who needs to take care of the baby, definitely needs. In other words, the essential non-essentials. 

    Let’s start with the nursery must-haves.


    If you can, buy a new crib from a reputable baby furniture manufacturer. This ensures that you won’t worry about shoddy craftsmanship or an unsafe environment.

    If you want to plan ahead, purchase a convertible crib. This can transform into a toddler bed later (some require additional attachments) and a full-sized headboard after that. 

    If you need to buy second-hand, don’t despair. Chances are, any crib sold in the United States that was built within the last ten years, will be JPMA or CPSC certified. Make sure it is, or check to make sure it fits the guidelines. I highly recommend you check out the linked resource, but to sum it up: no more than 2 3/8 inches between slats, no corner posts over 1/16th inch high, and no cutouts in the headboard or footboard where your baby’s noggin can get stuck.   

    Here’s some other things to avoid if you’re buying second-hand:

    • Side Drop Rails
    • Wide space between bars
    • Broken pieces
    • Paint that might contain lead


    Your crib should be equipped with a firm mattress from a reputable brand.

    Why new? Research suggests that new mattresses can reduce the risk of SIDS, possibly due to lack of bacteria in mattress.

     It needs to fit snugly into your crib, with no large gaps. Cribs and crib mattresses are standardized in the US, so you shouldn’t have to worry about the size too much. 

    I chose the Graco Premium Foam Infant and Toddler Mattress. I love that it is Greenguard gold certified, and already equipped with a breathable mattress cover.

    Graco is a trusted brand, which made me feel more comfortable. 

    Mattress Pad

    This is just my opinion, but I think mattress pads are 100% a necessity. Waterproof mattress pads protect your crib mattress against spills…because accidents do happen. Especially in the newborn phase. Especially in the potty-training phase. 

    Make sure that the mattress pad is both breathable and fits snugly. Ideally you’ll want one that is made of hypoallergenic material, just in case your little one has any sensitivities. So glad we did this!

    Once again, I recommend buying from a reputable brand. We opted for the Sealy Protection Waterproof Protector.

    Baby Nursery Checklist - Free Printable (1)

    Fitted Crib Sheet

    Most standard, fitted crib mattress sheet will do, but you can always look for hot phrases like “organic cotton” or “breathable.” I washed my sheets with baby detergent, just to remove any lingering warehouse debris or chemicals. 

    Diaper Pail

    Some moms use regular trash cans and I applaud them for that. However, I could not have survived without my diaper pail. Diaper pails are equipped with sealing lids that hold in the scent of stinky diapers.

    You will likely need to empty a regular trashcan daily. A diaper pail can hold about 3 days worth of diapers before you need to empty it.

    The most popular diaper pail  is the Diaper Genie, however, I chose the Munchkin diaper pail. I really liked the increased capacity and its self-sealing capability (self-sealing means less stinkiness). 

    Blackout Curtains, Shades, or Blinds

    Out of all the nursery items on this list, this is the one you might be tempted to skip. Listen, blackout window treatments are only essential if you want your baby to nap during the day and not wake up at the crack of dawn.

    Babies are sensitive to light. They naturally depend on light to develop their circadian rhythm. So, any light in their nursery can wake up their little bodies and disrupt naptime. 

    My point is this: whatever window covering you choose, make sure it is blackout. 

    I love that Target has caught on that parents need blackout curtains. They sell adorable and relatively inexpensive blackout curtains online and in-store! I just purchased a pair from Target myself. 

    You may also want to invest in some blackout curtain rods, where the curtain can wrap around to the wall. 

    If you don’t plan on opening your windows much, you can also try the velcro shade, Blackout EZ.


    You will be spending a lot of time in your nursery, holding your sweet, sweet back. Adding a comfortable rocking or gliding chair is an essential item for your nursery checklist! 

    I personally prefer gliders (which don’t “walk” while you rock) with plenty of cushion and an ottoman. We went with the Storkcraft Tuscany glider. It was a great price, included a lumbar support pillow and gliding ottoman, and was equipped with side pockets. 

    If you’re limited on space, I compiled a list of my favorite gliders for small nurseries here.


    Just to clarify, the nightlight is not for your baby. Your baby sleeps better in complete darkness and won’t get scared without a nightlight. 

    No, this is for those middle-of-the-night feeds where you stumble into the nursery bleary-eyed and incoherent from exhaustion. Ideally, this nightlight will be motion detection or easily accessible for you to flick on. You should also look for a nightlight that produces warm light, rather than cool light.


    Nursery Essentials - Dresser (1)

    You’ll need something to store your baby’s clothes, bibs, diapers, and blankets in. If you can’t spring for a dresser, don’t sweat it. There’s plenty of options. Try cube storage or even just organized closet space. 

    I have yet to buy a dresser for my daughters. I organize their clothes with a combination of cube storage and closet space. It’s a great system for us, but many moms use a dresser and make the top a changing table. 

    Changing Station

    Speaking of which, you need a sturdy surface to change your little one’s diapers.

    Once again, opting for the budget-friendly route,  I purchased a diaper changing pad to place on top of an antique desk. Many moms place the changing pad on a dresser if the height allows for it. 

    Don’t forget to purchase a changing pad cover.

    The Non-Essential Essentials

    Alright, we’ve gone over the essential items you need for setting up a new nursery. The items below aren’t 100% necessary. However, as a mom of two, let me tell you that they make your life infinitely easier. 

    Baby Monitor

    A baby monitor is the gift that keeps giving. Believe it or not, I actually still use a baby monitor for my toddler for a number of reasons:

    1. It’s equipped with a thermostat.
    2. My room is across the house. I would never hear her scream if I was in a deep sleep
    3. In the newborn days, it can provide peace of mind for SIDS. However, if you find yourself constantly checking the rise and fall of your baby’s chest, you might want to try a baby movement detector like the Levana Oma Sense or an Owlet. 

    My favorite baby monitor? The HelloBaby Video Monitor. I really enjoy its ability to link multiple cameras to one monitor, the temperature reading capabilities, and the price was very affordable. 

    White Noise Machine

    Seriously, I wish I had known about the power of a white noise machine when I was a firsttime mom. I feel like I could’ve avoided so many wakings. I was against it because I heard children become dependent on it and now I’d like to think of myself as the president of the white noise machine fan club.

    Here’s why: One study found that babies using white noise machines fell asleep faster than those without. And that’s a truth I’ve experienced time and time again.

    It’s up to you but, speaking from personal experience, my little ones always sleep better with one.

    If you’re looking for a great budget-buy, Yogasleep Rohm portable sound machine. You take it anywhere with you (At the store, with a blanket over the carseat…) and it produces an impressive sound level.

    If you’re looking for a white noise machine with all the bells and whistles, I really like the Hatch as well. It grew with my girls. They still use it as an alarm clock and nightlight. 

    Breastfeeding Station

    A breastfeeding or nursing station is usually a little basket next to your rocking chair. It’s super helpful during those nighttime feeds. 


    • Nipple butter
    • Water bottle
    • Cell phone charger
    • Nipple Shield (if necessary)
    • Nipple Pads
    • Burp Cloth
    • Nursing Pillow- Can you nurse without a nursing pillow? Absolutely. Do you want to? Eh…
    Baby Nursery Must Haves (1)

    Decorative Items

    Creating a warm, cozy space for you and baby is essential! You’ll be spending so much time in this room–creating so many memories. Why not make it a place where you both can unwind?

    You don’t have to go crazy, but here’s a few items to consider:

    • Wall Decor -Quotes, pictures, framed memorabilia, name signs, etc.
    • Blankets- Not in the crib, of course, but for your rocking chair or shelves. Eventually your little one will take a blanket! For now, though, it’s just decorative. 
    • Rug- Generally, you want to have a low pile or rubber rug that is easy for your baby to do tummy time on. 

    Nursery Safety

    I hope this baby nursery checklist was helpful for you! Before you go, though, let’s talk briefly about nursery safety.

    Here’s the deal, your baby isn’t going to be moving much for the first two months. Eventually, though, she’ll be rolling, scooting, crawling, and then climbing. If you want to hold off babyproofing because of financial concerns, that’s totally understandable. However, it is much easier to babyproof now, before preventable situations occur. 

    Here are a few concerns you should tackle now:

    • Keep all electrical cords, strings, blankets, and other tangle-able items away from your baby
    • Place cribs away from windows (the window coverings and blind cords are dangerous.)
    • Cover all outlets–I used these electrical outlet covers. They’re cheap and my little dragon wasn’t able to pry them off. 
    • Consider mounting all large furniture that your baby may try to climb.

    Don’t Forget to Grab Your Nursery Set up Checklist PDF

    Download Your Free Nursery Setup Bundle!

    Subscribe now to access your free nursery checklist, newborn essentials checklist, and nursery layout ideas!

      You can unsubscribe anytime. For more details, review our Privacy Policy.

      Well, Mama, I hope this nursery checklist was helpful to you! The best approach is to buy the essentials and go from there. Your baby will always keep you on your toes and you’ll find yourself buying new things you never expected to get. However, if you buy the essentials on the front-end, you’ll be so much more prepared when your baby does get here.

      Two more things: Don’t forget to grab your printable nursery checklist pdf. It’s free and it also includes a newborn essentials checklist and some nursery layout ideas!

      Secondly, don’t forget to add these items to your Amazon Gift Registry, especially the big ticket ones. While you probably won’t receive a free crib on your baby shower, your guests are able to pool money together to help with the cost. And after your baby shower, you will receive a 10-15% discount on qualifying items still left on your registry. That’s a huge chunk of change!

      If you’re not sure how to set an Amazon Gift Registry, click here to read my tutorial

      Do you have any essential items that you think should be added to this list? Let me know below!

      Similar Posts

      Leave a Reply

      Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

      I accept the Privacy Policy