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Setting up a Baby Nursery on a Budget

Posted by Karen Faulkner on
Setting up a Baby Nursery on a Budget

You've found out you're pregnant and probably preparing lists of things you're going to need for the new baby. Wouldn't it be helpful to know what is a need and what you can do without? I've been a registered midwife for over 30 years and I can help you navigate all of this parenting malarkey like a total pro. And save you a heap of money.

A Cot

This is a must buy and it's something your baby is going to use for up to three years. It needs to be SIDS (red nose) safe and conform to safety guidelines. If you buy a second-hand cot you will need a brand new cot mattress. Using a second-hand mattress has been linked to an increase in SIDS risk. Your baby can use a cot from birth, so you don't need a bassinet. A great option is to but a dock-a-tot or snuggle pod into the cot to help the transition to the fourth trimester.

Cot prices can vary from as little as $299 AUD for an IKEA cot with $49-99 for a mattress. Tasman Essentials sell a Palermo cot for a very low $199 from eco-sustainable wood and a mattress for $99.95. Buy a mattress protector and your mattress will last a long time. A lot of cots transition to a toddler bed. The IKEA cot and the Tasman Essentials cot both transform into a toddler bed by removing a cot side. This gives you the best value for money and means your cot can be in use till they grow too long for the cot, usually by age 3-4 years.

A Feeding Chair

Before you had your baby, most of you would have been surprised at how much time you would spend sitting down, feeding your new baby. You will spend maybe as many as 8-10 hours sitting feeding! Breastfed babies feed 6-8 times a day and often for an hour at each feed. Babies are quite heavy little bundles often weighing in at 3.5 – 4.0kg mark. Imagine the pressure that cute little bundle is going to place on your back, your hands and wrists and your neck.


You will find yourself aching and hurting in a whole lot of new places. Pregnancy releases a hormone called Relaxin and this hormone literally makes your joints relax, become supple and more prone to damage as we overuse them. I’ve heard many mums having to attend the chiropractor, physiotherapist for back pain or the hand clinic for wrist splints.

A really comfortable breastfeeding chair with a footstool is crucial for successful breastfeeding. Up to 50% of breastfeeding problems are caused by incorrect positioning, which in turn leads to incorrect attachment and nipple damage. Ouch!

If the mother feels comfortable and her back is pain-free, her milk will flow more freely.

A good cost-effective feeding chair is the IKEA PELLO for $79 and matching footstool at $49.

A Chest of Drawers with a Foam Changing Mat

Nappy changing tables can be helpful but they are a hefty price to buy. A great alternative is to buy a secondhand Chest of Drawers and place a foam changing mat on the top. You can easily save $200-300 dollars on this one alternative.

Storage and drawers are very useful and keep your organised with changes of small baby clothes, nappies and bedlinen.

A Bedside Table and Reading Light

This is a useful nursery essential for those long nights feeding your baby to reading bedtime books at bedtime. A bedside light helps keep the light down low. Dim lighting is essential for triggering melatonin and helping the transition from day-to-night.

Blackout Blind or Curtains

The darker your baby's bedroom is the better their day naps will be. A really cost effective option is to put tinfoil on the window, this is easy to do and cheap as chips.

Breathable & Natural Fibres

When buying any sleepwear and bed linen buy only natural fibres. These include Cotton, Bamboo and Merino Wool. The reason why I recommend using natural fibres are they allow for breathability. Keeping baby warm but avoiding overheating. Babies lose their body heat four times as fast as an adult and they get cold between 3 and 4 am.

Layers of blankets can help you manage your baby's temperature easier. They need a cool nursery and plenty of layers for warmth. In Winter I'm a big fan of only using merino wool sleepwear layers. This will not only save your heating bill but will also help your baby feel snug and toasty warm and actually sleep more soundly.

If you have a grandma or aunty who likes knitting ask them to knit some merino wool jumpers or cardigans for Winter. You can layer your baby up in these to help boost the performance of your sleepsuit. Or maybe they can crochet a wool blanket? Both ideas would be incredibly useful. Cotton is a poor heat retainer. Your baby will sleep much better in layers of wool blankets rather than cotton. Superfine merino is also great for sensitive skin and prevents eczema.

Basic Baby Clothing

You will need onesies/babygro's, vests/singlets, cardigans, hats for winter when out and about and lots of burp bibs. Muslin sheets can come in useful for wrapping and swaddling. Basically lots of white or gender-neutral clothing. The ideal amount is one on the baby, one in the wash and 4-5 in the drawers. It's better to buy bigger than smaller and rather than buy newborn buy 0-3 months and 3-6 months. But remember friends and family may want to buy your baby clothes and things for your nursery.

Baby Monitor

A baby monitor is not essential and is an item you can easily do without. These range from $59 to $99 for a basic model. There are still some parents who do not use them and remember in the 'olden days' we used our ears and these are as good as any baby monitor.

I hope you found my list of baby items to help you build a nursery on a budget useful. There will be more coming on reviews on baby technology including monitors and electronic breathing and heart rate sensors. And remember having all the latest expensive gadgets doesn't make you a better parent. Love does.

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