minimalist nursery ideas

Minimalist nursery: 5 must-haves for your baby’s room

I thought I’d do something a little different today. I’ve had in the back of my mind to do a nursery mood board/color scheme for the blog. But to be honest, I really don’t know where to start—because it’s actually not really my thing. We are minimalists when it comes to our home décor, and C’s nursery is no exception!

So I thought I’d explain a little about our approach to decorating for a baby. But, I also want to have some fun with this, so you’ll also find some décor ideas for a minimalist nursery.

By the way, none of the links in this article are affiliates.

Enjoy a nice, hot cup of coffee with me as we get in touch with our inner whimsy for once!

5 easy minimalist nursery decor ideas

When to set up the minimalist nursery

There’s this thing called the nesting instinct. According to What to Expect, nesting is “a burst of energy women often get in the last few weeks of pregnancy that inspires them to clean and organize the house in preparation for baby’s arrival.”

Nesting isn’t exclusive to pregnant women, either. Birds and mammals do it, too! The general idea is to prepare the nest for the arrival of your baby.

Responding to your nesting instinct can take many forms:

  • Meal prep: batch cooking, making freezer meals, etc.
  • Organizing: purging unwanted items, tidying, finding new ways to categorize your things
  • Cleaning: not just everyday cleaning, but deep cleaning… finally tackling those nooks and crannies
  • Preparing the nursery: and that’s what we’re going to talk about today!

You might feel the urge to “nest” a few weeks before your due date. For me, I think it was even earlier, during my 2nd trimester with C. I suddenly had the urge to go around the house and Marie Kondo the shit out of all our stuff! In particular, I remember giving away my nail polish collection of 100+ shades. #noregrets

While I did purchase what I thought were necessary baby items, I did not set up C’s nursery quite yet.

First, I felt superstitious. I had already lost a pregnancy and I didn’t want to set up a baby nursery that might never be used, in case I lost this pregnancy too.

Second, we made the decision to keep C in our bedroom, and we were in no rush to put her in her own nursery. This was largely due to my desires to a) breastfeed her long-term, and b) not have to walk into another room every time she woke in the night. Room sharing was our very practical solution.

But you might have other ideas! Maybe you want to prepare a nursery ahead of your baby’s birth. There is certainly nothing wrong with that—in fact, I think it’s a great idea!

The best time to do it is when you feel like it. I used my nesting instinct to purge, organize, cook, and clean. You might also use yours to prepare the nursery. Go for it! Work with your natural tendencies, not against them.

baby bed or crib

What you really need for a minimalist nursery

As I mentioned, I had a very minimalist approach to acquiring baby items. If I were to do it again, and prepare the nursery before my baby’s birth, while still keeping minimalism in mind, here’s what I would get:

1. Baby bed

You’re going to need a sturdy baby bed. There are different styles, but we wanted one that our baby could grow with, so we went with this wooden one from Ikea.

We like that it’s made of wood, a natural material, and that you can regulate the height of the mattress.

At first, we used it in our bedroom. After a few, er, unauthorized modifications, it fit right next to our mattress. Once C moved into her own room, we put the third side back up. She loves this bed!

2. Diaper changing station

One of the best purchases I made before C arrived was similar to this diaper changing station combined with a baby bathtub from Bébé9.

Just lift up the changing mat to use the bath. It’s a real space saver, as well as a back saver! The station is high so that you’re not bending over. We still use it for C today, even though she’s tall and will soon be out of diapers.

Another great feature of this changing station is that it has plenty of storage beneath it: 2 shelves. I can fit:

  • a stock of disposable diapers
  • all the muslin cloths and outer shells for our washable diapers
  • washcloths and wet wipes
  • bathtime toys
  • some cleaning items and personal care tools
  • and an extra set of clothes.

However, this handy unit lives downstairs in the bathroom. When C was born, and she slept in our room, I was often up several times a night to change her. I was not about to trek downstairs to my changing station, so I set one up right in our bedroom.

All you need is:

  • A changing mat (something you can wash or wipe clean)
  • A small stock of diaper changing items (diapers, wet wipes)
  • Somewhere to put the soiled diapers (a small trash can or a plastic bag you tie up)

You could change your baby over your bed or on the floor if need be—no special furniture required!

3. Baby clothes storage

Baby clothes are teeny tiny! You could use a closet and hang some things, but I always found it easier to fold up all those tiny clothes.

We purchased a small vintage dresser with 4 drawers. I still had boxes and boxes of baby clothes lying around, but I kept the current rotation of C’s clothes in this dresser.

4. Toys/books storage

My best tip for storing toys and books is to make them accessible to your baby! Get some cube shelves like these from Ikea. Not only will baby be safe from trying to climb up to reach something high on a shelf, but the items you put in your baby’s field of vision will attract her to explore them. Trust me, it’s so much easier for you and more rewarding for your baby when she can reach the objects she’s after.

For books, try to get a bookshelf—again, low to the ground—but also that displays the cover of the books instead of the spines, like this one from Ikea.

5. Mat or rug for the floor

To encourage movement, give your baby time every day to just lie on the floor on her back. She’ll develop her neck muscles which will allow her to lift her head, then she will begin to turn over from her back to her belly and vice versa.

It’s so much easier to encourage your baby’s movement when she has a large, flat space where she is unrestricted. You can place a mat or rug on the floor to support her. Put the low shelves with her toys and books around the edge to encourage her to move towards them.

floor mat or flat surface

Our own minimalist approach to the nursery

So I already mentioned that C stayed with us in our bedroom initially. But at a certain point, I felt it necessary to move her into her own room. Why?

I felt like she was sleeping for longer periods of time, but when we were in the room, turning on the light or talking would wake her up… whereas before, those things hadn’t affected her sleep at all. So I began to feel like we were disrupting her good night’s sleep.

Into her own bedroom she went! C was 10 months old at the time, and I was still breastfeeding her. It was high time to have fun with her room and do some decorating!

I still kept her nursery very minimalist. Off the list above, she had her bed, low shelves for toys and books, and a carpet.

We had been gifted some décor items which I was then happy to put up:

  • A hand-drawn calligraphy of C’s name which I put on her bedroom door
  • A nightlight that displays a woodland scene
  • A frame with C’s newborn hand- and footprints
  • Hanging paper butterflies
  • Stuffed animals, plush toys, and lovies

It might seem weird that we really didn’t make any purchases for C’s nursery. I guess we are just minimalist on another level! To be honest, I don’t like dusting extra things, I don’t like buying things we don’t have a use for, and I knew we’d be gifted some things anyway. But most of all, babies and kids don’t need store-bought decorations.

Still, I can completely understand the fun and whimsy expectant parents must feel when picking out nursery items. So I am going to live vicariously through you. I’ve done some online window shopping and here’s what I think it would be fun to have in a nursery…

minimalist nursery ideas

You are still allowed to have fun with a minimalist nursery.

Here are some nursery items I don’t actually have, but would definitely enjoy!

Give the minimalist trend a go for your nursery.

This post was a bit meandering, but I wanted to get out my thoughts on minimalist nurseries.

Obviously, “minimalist” is a sliding scale. It means something different to each of us.

What I really want to get across is that, while it’s admirable to stick to your guns as a minimalist, don’t miss out on the fun bits of having a baby! If you feel like making your baby’s nursery extra-special, allow yourself that whimsy. Find your own balance, and have fun!

Do you love planning? Want more lists? Then check out my other articles here on Mamas Café Society:

What are your must-have minimalist nursery essentials?


About the Author

photo of me

Jessica is an American expat living the dream in Normandy. She is wife to a French hubby and mama to a Franco-American daughter, born in 2018, and one whippet. Passionate about all stages of writing, this Francophile created her blog in 2020 to help others navigate motherhood with a focus on conscious parenting and bilingual parenting. Bonne lecture !

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minimalist nursery must-haves

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