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One Mom’s Insider Tips to Decorating a Nursery on a Budget

One Mom’s Insider Tips to Decorating a Nursery on a Budget

As a mom expecting my first baby, I could not wait to create the absolute perfect nursery space for my son. But I soon realized that with everything I was planning to buy for the nursery, my budget was spiraling out of control, and I felt overwhelmed and a bit discouraged. My Pinterest inspiration boards and social media feeds were full of pictures of elaborate, well-decorated nurseries. It seemed like there were innumerable things to buy, both for practical needs and for decorative reasons. As a family on a budget, with limited room for the nursery – and we had to get creative with how we used our money and available space. If you find yourself in this predicament, I am here to give you tips for building and decorating a nursery when you’re on a budget.

The first thing to do when thinking about all the things you’ll need for your baby, about your nursery plans and available budget is to create a categorized list. You need a column for “Buy,” a column for “Borrow,” and a column for “Skip.” This allows you to see what important items you’ll need to purchase, what your family and friends might be able to lend you, and the nursery items you can forego altogether. This list will look different for everyone, but I’ll share my own choices as an example.

Things You Want to Buy

The good news about making “skip” and “borrow” lists is that it frees up your nursery budget for the most important things. These items make the “buy” list for me because they can be personalized for your baby, and you also want them to be completely safe.

Convertible Crib

When you’re decorating your nursery on a budget, think of purchasing items that will last you a long time. A convertible crib is one that grows with your child, giving you years of use. This crib can be converted into a toddler bed, a full-size bed, or daybed that is useful well beyond the newborn days. Because you can use this piece of furniture for years, it is worth putting a good chunk of your budget towards this piece.

Along with the crib, you want to have a high-quality crib mattress for your baby. Skip all the overly fancy and expensive bedding and stick with a couple sets of high-quality crib sheets.

Nursery Glider

In my opinion a nursery glider is one of the most important and frequently used items for your baby. Buying the best nursery glider is not just about finding one that looks good. It needs to be comfortable for both the baby and you – some even come with an added foot rest. You will likely spend large amounts of time in this glider with your baby, with feedings and rocking them to sleep. When choosing the best nursery glider for you and your baby, go and sit in them, rock them and give them a thorough “road test.”

A Few Unique Touches That Make You Happy

It can be easy to obsess over décor and decorating themes, especially when you see so much wonderful stuff available online. However, when decorating a nursery on a budget you should focus on unique touches that represent who you and your family are.

  • If it’s not in your budget to have lots of framed art, photographs and other high-end wall décor, opt for good-looking wall decals and stickers as a way to add a fun and colorful touch without breaking the bank.
  • Think about a few books or toys that will be beautiful to look at in the early days as decor items, as well as practical for your baby to play with and enjoy as they grow.
Nursery Wallpaper
Nursery with Comfortable Chair

Things You Can Borrow

When you’re working with a budget and putting together and decorating a nursery, there are several items you could borrow rather than buy.

Nursery Dresser

You might borrow a nursery dresser from a friend or family member, or receive one as hand-me-down from parents. A nursery dresser is a great item to add personality to the nursery when you apply some repurposing flair. We skipped the nursery-specific furniture piece and used a small family-gifted dresser that we sanded, repainted, and changed the knobs on to add our own personal touch. This was a great way to incorporate a family piece and avoid the expense of buying a specific nursery dresser.

Baby Swing or Bouncy Chair

This is one of the items you will be so thankful to have when the time is right. However, babies quickly grow out of them as they advance into new stages of life. Whether you are opting for an automatic baby swing or a bouncer chair, chances are you know parents with one that their baby has outgrown. Because these swings and chairs tend to be large and styles change so frequently, this is something you probably will not be saving for a future child either, so it’s best to borrow them.

Baby Play mat

A play mat is another item that is great while you need it, but in the blink of an eye will become irrelevant. While your baby is doing tummy time, you might want a cute mat for them to interact with simple colors and toys. However, sooner or later your baby will be on the move, and will no longer stay on the mat. A thick baby blanket on the floor can also work.

Baby Activity Table

The activity tables/centers, where your child can sit at at them and engage in activities all around them are amazing, and I highly recommend getting one. The problem is, it’s another baby item that is useful only for a short time frame, plus they take up a lot of room in storage. Chances are your friend has an activity table she would love to pass off to you for a while, and free up some space in her closet.

Gender neutral nursery in grey and white

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Things You Can Skip

While the internet may let you think you need everything under the sun in your baby’s nursery, that is not true. There are a number of things you can skip because they are either unsafe or just not practical.

Elaborate Crib Bedding

While crib bedding like bumpers and a comforter can seem like a cute part of incorporating a decorative theme in your nursery, it is the first thing to skip when budgeting for a nursery. Not only is elaborate crib bedding like this impractical, but it has also been deemed by many leading professionals and organizations as unsafe for babies. Instead, invest in a cozy sleep swaddle for your baby, to keep them warm and also safe.

Changing Table

A changing table is an additional piece of furniture that many families find impractical. Instead of taking up space and money with a table, you can get a changing pad to use on top of an existing dresser, or on another existing area in your home. We used a changing pad on top of a small dresser, and had a portable changing pad available for quick changes on the floor, couch, stairs or wherever else it was practical.

Diaper Pail

To get straight to the point, just toss those dirty diapers in a lined trash can with a foot-operated flip lid that seals in those odors and skip the additional step of a diaper pail. A diaper pail can be a total pain to clean. If you want an easy-to-use alternative, hang a grocery bag from the door handle each day and transfer it to the trash every night. You do not need an extra-large pail to throw dirty diapers in, which you later have to move and clean.

You Can Decorate a Nursery on a Budget

As you are preparing your for baby’s arrival, remind yourself to always enjoy the moments as you plan. Don’t get overwhelmed with making things “picture perfect” for your nursery. Prioritize the most important items, stick to your budget, and make preparing a space for your baby a fun way to anticipate the happy change coming for you and your family.

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About The Author

Chelsea Skaggs

Chelsea Skaggs is a postpartum advocate and coach who is committed to helping women kick the pressure to be "Pinterest Perfect" and have real, raw conversations to acknowledge and empower the postpartum experience. She provides small group coaching, eCourses, online communities and helps other women start motherhood-centered businesses. She believes that normalizing and empowering all the changes in life after baby can change the world and leads that effort at

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