7 Practical Nursery Design Ideas that Save Sleep, Time and Money

Happy baby in fish themed nursery

When I was pregnant my pre-existing perfectionism kicked into high gear. I had an overwhelming need to feel prepared but at the same time I had no concept of how we would end up using the nursery after the baby arrived. Below are seven of the best and most practical decisions we made.

1. Keep a full-sized bed in the nursery

Practical Nursery Design Idea 1. Keeping a Full Sized Bed in the Nursery

In a pre-baby world when my phone wallpaper was less adorable and I could plan an impromptu weekend trip and be out the door minutes later, our nursery used to be a guest bedroom. Initially I was adamant that I wanted to remove the bed. I insisted that the nursery should be the “baby’s room” with as much open space as possible for when he became more mobile.

I cannot emphasize enough how useful it is to have a bed in the nursery. When the little guy has a rough night, one of us will sleep in that bed so that the other can get a decent night of sleep. When he was a newborn we had a comfortable place with lots of pillows for midnight feedings. If we have guests visiting we put our son in his pack and play and use his nursery as an extra guest bedroom.

2. Saving an Empty Diaper Box Near the Changing Area

Practical Nursery Design Idea 2. Saving an Empty Diaper Box Near the Changing Area
There is always a large empty diaper box next to the changing table. Whenever our little bug outgrows an outfit that fit him perfectly two days ago, I simply drop the outfit into the box. If the time ever comes to bust out the baby clothes again I will know that the clothes in the size N diaper box are the ones that fit our son during the handful of days when he was able to wear newborn diapers.

3. Using a Dresser as a Changing Table

Practical Nursery Design Idea 3. Skip the Changing Table

We limited new furniture to a crib and a glider and used an old dresser for our changing area. I did buy a changing pad to put on top of the dresser. The changing pad slid around a lot so I ended up sewing four command strips to the plastic on the bottom to attach the pad to the top of the dresser. This works perfectly and saved us from buying an item we will only need for a short time.

4. Taking the Doors off the Closet

Practical Nursery Design Idea 4. Taking the Doors off the Closet

We removed the closet doors to make the closet more accessible. I am amazed at the frequency with which we lug laundry in and out of that closet. It definitely helps to have one less barrier. As an added bonus baby clothes (and shoes!) are adorable.

As our son gets older he is increasingly able to grab clothes and toys from the bottom of his closet. I maintain that this is a good thing; however, I’m guessing parents of toddlers may disagree with me regarding the advantages of putting things away where the baby can reach them.

5. Designating a Quiet Space

Practical Nursery Design Idea 5. Designating a Quiet Space

We used Ikea spice racks to store books near where we placed the glider. When it’s time for a nap or bedtime I use that space to rock our son, sing to him and read to him.

He’s 8 months old now and the older he gets the more he associates places and activities. This is hit or miss but when you’re trying to trick an infant with the world’s worst case of FOMO (fear of missing out) into sleeping, every little bit helps.

6. Putting a Lamp With a Low Wattage Bulb Near the Door

Practical Nursery Design Idea 6. Putting a Lamp With a Low Wattage Bulb Near the Door

We have a small table lamp right next to the nursery door which we turn on instead of the overhead lights when the little guy wakes up in the middle of the night. It’s bright enough for us to navigate the room but not so bright that the baby thinks it’s time to wake up for the day. Dimmable lights would be a good alternative.

7. Skipping Room Darkening and Sound Minimizing Products

You don’t need blackout/sound blocking curtains and shades. You need a kid that learns to fall asleep and stay asleep when it’s not perfectly dark and silent. We actually have the opposite problem – our son has a hard time sleeping at night without some white noise. We keep a box fan in his room and use a white noise mobile app when we go out of town.

Bonus advice: take some photos 

I was so anxious to get everything in place as quickly as possible that I didn’t stop to memorialize the “nesting” process. I wish we had a couple of photos of us setting up the room as well as a before and after photo.

More to Come 

I wanted to share some newfound wisdom in case there are parents-to-be out there who are as clueless as I was. I am planning a separate post about some of the projects we did to decorate the nursery and I will update this entry with a link once available.

Considering adding a jogging stroller to your registry? Check out why I eventually caved and bought a jogging stroller.

Packing for the hospital? Check out my list of unconventional hospital bag suggestions.

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