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10 Secrets for Getting the Nursery of Your Dreams

Sure, it’s your baby’s bedroom, but at the beginning at least, it will be you who’s staring at the walls through tired eyes while you rock, feed, change and play with baby. Here are the secrets to assembling the nursery of your baby’s -- and your -- dreams.

What you need:

The Crib

The secret: Buying a convertible crib will save you money in the long run and ensure your baby’s bedroom set matches throughout his childhood! As the centerpiece of the room and the spot where your baby will spend hours sleeping (cross your fingers!), this is one of your most important purchases. But before you buy, imagine your baby is a (gasp!) little five-year-old boy -- will you have had to buy multiple beds for all his different sizes (crib, toddler bed, then twin)? Consider a convertible crib that turns into a toddler bed and eventually a full-size bed headboard. Note: The crib (and dresser) can take 10-plus weeks to be delivered at times, so make sure to order early.

Ready to shop? Check out our crib shopping guide.

The Glider/Rocker

The secret: You may not think you want a glider (it isn’t as trendy or cool-looking), but you’ll be spending hours upon hours with your baby here feeding, rocking, lullabying and reading. You need one.

Stick with a simple, classy design that’s comfortable. (Baby Bargains by Denise and Alan Fields recommends the Dutailier brand, because its gliders are high-quality and comfy. Note: They can take up to 12 weeks to order.) Still thinking a glider is too boring for you? Throw a sassy blanket over it to jazz it up. We promise it will be the last thing on your mind at 3 a.m. when you’re working on your baby’s breastfeeding latch.

Do you need the matching ottoman, though? Not really. When you’re feeding baby, you can’t comfortably put your feet up that high, so a lower (and more inexpensive) stool will be more comfortable.

The Dresser

The secret: It can go undercover and do double duty as a changing table.

Look for a medium-height dresser that you can easily lean over for diaper changes (using a plush changing mat). Use the top drawer for diaper supplies. You’ll be putting away a LOT of laundry, so test out the drawers and make sure they slide easily -- but not too quickly, to avoid pinched fingers (yours or baby’s!).

The Mattress

The secret: No, the crib doesn’t come with one (bummer!).

But you don’t need to spend a fortune to get something comfy for baby. Baby Bargains recommends the Sealy Soybean Foam-Core mattress for $180.

The Crib Sheets

The secret: This will be the only bedding you’ll buy, so splurge it up!

The American Academy of Pediatrics advises to avoid any bedding, bumpers or pillows in the crib and to stick to fitted crib sheets only. So go ahead and spring for the high-quality ones in your favorite designs. Just think of all that money you’re saving by not buying a bumper and a comforter! (PS: If you can’t resist a bedding set for your child to use later, use the comforter as a wall art now.)

Here are a few of our favorite sheets!

The Mattress Pad

The secret: Baby will have numerous (okay, thousands) of pee or poop explosions in her bed, and changing crib sheets can leave your knuckles raw.

There will be times when you just can’t get to baby quickly enough after her nap, and that’s one of her favorite times to do her business. And there will be times when you’ll walk in and it will look like World War Poo happened. Make your life easier and not only get a waterproof mattress pad, but also a mattress cover that can snap off easily to save your knuckles during crib sheet changes. (Check out this one from Summer Infant.)

The Storage

The secret: There’s never enough storage for all the baby odds and ends.

Wherever you can, incorporate shelving, baskets and drawers to contain the chaos. You’ll save money by acquiring these at crafts supply stores, discount stores -- and any other store that doesn’t have the word “baby” in its title (a great tip from The Complete Book of Baby Bargains.

The Decor

The secret: Personalize, personalize, personalize.

Murals: Do it yourself by having your sketch or drawing put on a transparency to project and trace on the wall, or by using removable appliques with a favorite saying or nursery rhyme, like these ones at Petit Tresor. Hint: Sometimes you can also find great appliques at T.J. Maxx, Ross or other discount stores!

Say my name: Paint wood letters that spell out baby’s name in a color or motif to match your nursery theme, or if you’re not as craftily inclined, buy them inexpensively from shops like Etsy or eBay.

Knob accents: Another fun, inexpensive idea -- add fun knobs to a simple white dresser to accent baby’s room. They can be easily swapped out for Star Wars ones when he turns six. Have older siblings do artwork: Older siblings love to contribute a painting to their new baby sister or brother’s room.

Darkening curtains: These can make a huge difference in helping baby take naps or go to sleep when it’s still light outside during the summer. JCPenney has a nice selection of bold kid colors.

Mobile: Stick to primarily black-and-white patterns for baby’s first six months, like this cute one from Geenny.

White noise machine:

Baby has just left a very noisy womb, and white noise can have a calming effect and help her sleep more soundly. You can purchase a white noise machine with preset types of noises, but you can also just use your favorite boom box from the ’80s and purchase a few white noise CDs to put on repeat (sorry, not the time to introduce Salt-n-Pepa...yet).

The secret: You’ll have a love/hate relationship with this machine. You finally lie down to rest and then bling go the lights on your monitor. Aaack! While you don’t need to see baby in full HD color, if he’s on a different floor or if you have really solid, soundproof doors, you’ll need a monitor of some kind to let you know when baby’s up.

Here’s a roundup of the most impressive monitors we’ve found.

The Night-Light

The secret: Get enough light so you can see in the middle of the night, but not so much light that it’ll stimulate baby into thinking it’s time to play. This may take some trial and error -- test a few before baby comes!

Other nursery tips we love from Bumpies:

“Don't just look in baby departments and baby stores for room decor. Some of my favorite pieces came from a trendy, urban-college-kid type of store!” -- dharmarebel

“Pick one thing you love -- a piece of art, a clothing print, a blanket -- and then pull colors from there! This way the nursery will look pulled together.” -- MommyKisses

“Treat the nursery like you would the rest of your home: If you love modern design, go with it. Don't feel the need to fit some old-fashioned criteria. Otherwise, your child will grow up to have terrible taste in home decor.” -- MadameBlack85

More From The Bump:

Nursery Tips on a Budget

Nursery Gear Checklist

Nursery Decorating Checklist

-- Shannon Guyton

See More: Nurseries