Preparing for Baby : Your Baby's Nursery, Your Baby's Medicine Cabinet

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Your Baby’s Nursery

This is where the fun starts! Although the expense of furnishing a nursery can be daunting, most parents enjoy the process of decorating. There are plenty of ways to get the baby equipment you need on a budget, and also lots of things to bear in mind to ensure that the décor is safe for your new baby.

Nursery equipment

  • A Moses basket, crib, or bassinet (optional)—many babies sleep better in small confines in the early days, but these are soon outgrown

  • A full-sized crib, with a new mattress—you may wish to use receiving blankets to swaddle your baby, to make her feel cozier. You can also purchase a crib divider that attaches to the crib with Velcro tabs

  • Bedding: 3 mattress pads, 3 fitted sheets, 2–3 blankets (if you use blankets, tuck three sides under the mattress and position at or below the baby’s chest); crib bumpers and heavy blankets are a suffocation risk

  • Changing area—a purpose-built changing table is not essential; any hard surface at hip height will work, including the top of your baby’s dresser or your baby’s crib; the safest place to change your baby is on the floor

  • Changing mat—go for one that is easily washed

  • Baby monitor

  • Basic toiletries

  • Newborn diapers

  • Mobile over the baby’s crib

  • Music box to play soothing tunes

  • Soft rug or mat made of natural fibers, for tummy time and playtime

  • Bouncy seat, which can be moved from room to room

  • Night light

  • Black-out shade to ensure your baby’s sleep is not disturbed by sunlight

  • Comfortable chair for feeding or nighttime comforting

  • Dresser for storage (some cribs have built-in storage)

  • Diaper pail—preferably with a tight-fitting lid


  • Choose a low- or zero-VOC (volatile organic compound) paint, which does not contain the unhealthy chemicals contained in traditional paints; or go for natural paints made from water, clay, chalk, plant dyes, and beeswax

  • Opt for hardwood flooring paired with a rug made of natural fibers, or choose a low-VOC carpet, and clean with a HEPA-filtered vacuum cleaner—carpets harbor dust mites, dirt, and allergens, and emit VOCs into the air

  • Choose all-wood furniture with non-toxic finishes; furniture made from particle boards or veneers can release gases such as formaldehyde

  • Make sure there are no strings, electrical sockets, or electrical cords near your baby

  • Give the ceiling some consideration: if there is something stenciled or painted on, or hanging from the ceiling, it will fascinate your baby

Your baby’s crib

  • Choose a frame with a non-toxic finish, such as beeswax

  • A crib with adjustable height will ensure that your baby can use it until she is ready to move into a bed

  • Choose a drop-side crib, which will allow lifting access without placing undue strain on your back

  • Even if your crib is secondhand, buy a new mattress—look for one with all-organic cotton filling or wool casings, and avoid mattresses that contain the fire-retardant polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs)

  • Bedding should be washable, and preferably 100 percent organic cotton; it should never contain flame-retardant PBDEs

  • Teething rails can help prevent damage to the crib when your baby starts to look for things to chew on

Your Baby’s Medicine Cabinet

Putting together a well-stocked medicine cabinet will ensure that you are ready when illness or discomfort strike. Keep everything together in one place, well out of reach of little fingers. You won’t need all these items right away, but it’s good to be prepared.

  • Diaper rash cream—rashes are inevitable for babies; diaper creams containing zinc oxide are best for soothing irritated skin and providing a barrier

  • Petroleum jelly—this is useful for dry skin, diaper rash, and eczema, and provides a good barrier; if you prefer to avoid petroleum products, look for a natural balm that contains beeswax

  • Teething gel

  • Baby acetaminophen, which is good for fevers and pain relief—it’s usually only appropriate after two months of age; always read the label

  • A rehydration solution—use this on the advice of your healthcare professional in the event of diarrhea or vomiting

  • Antibacterial cream for cuts and scrapes

  • Baby-safe sunscreen—preferably organic

  • Medicine syringe or dropper, to ensure that your baby gets the right dosage, and you can squirt it in gently

  • Nail clippers or scissors

  • A thermometer—there are a number of varieties available

  • Cotton swabs to clean the folds of the outer ear (never put these inside the inner ear canal)

  • Cotton balls to clean the eyes and wipe away any buildup on the neck folds

  • Band-Aids and adhesive bandages in both baby and child sizes

  • A good first-aid manual specialized for the treatment of babies and children

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