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10 nursery essentials: the ultimate guide to baby nursery must-haves

With a baby on the way, you may have the pushchair and car seat sorted, but what do you need to buy for the nursery? To help you get everything in place for your baby’s arrival, here’s our top picks for your nursery shopping list.

By Gemma Wilcock | Last updated Aug 16, 2023

mother holding baby in nursery

One of the most exciting parts about having a baby is getting the nursery ready. But while you may have lots of great ideas about the décor, it can be trickier to know what you actually need to put in your baby’s room.

Getting the right items will make life a lot easier when your baby arrives. So to help you get prepared, we’ve researched the ultimate baby nursery must-haves, as recommended by Mumsnetters, and the products we think both you and your baby will love.

1.    Cot

A nursery wouldn’t be complete without somewhere for your baby to rest their head. They’ll (hopefully) spend a lot of their early life napping and sleeping, so be sure to choose a cot that not only looks nice but is safe and sturdy for your growing baby.

Generally, a cot is suitable for babies from the age of six months so you may want to use a crib or Moses basket for those early days when you’re advised to keep your baby close at night.

Traditional slatted cots can be lowered as your baby grows and are suitable up to around age two, but you can buy a cot bed that converts to a toddler bed which will last longer. If you’re short on space, look for a cot with storage underneath.

Read next: The best nursing chairs to buy, as recommended by mums

Mumsnet recommends: Mamas & Papas Petite Compact Cot

mamas and papas petite compact cot

“The Mamas & Papas Petite Cot is actually really good - I had it with my first and it fitted easily next to the bed or could go at the foot of bed if you prefer.” Difficultusername

Smaller than a standard cot, the Mamas & Papas Petite Compact Cot fits easily into your room for those first months when you want to keep an eye on your baby at night. You can use it from birth up to 12 months and it has two height settings, so you can then move it into the nursery until you’re ready to swap it for a bigger cot.

As it’s bigger than a Moses basket and bedside crib, the Petite Compact Cot allows your baby plenty of room to grow. We like that it’s traditional in design with slatted bars - neutral yet stylish for complimenting any décor. Do note that you’ll need to buy the mattress separately.

Price: £89

2.    Cot sheets

While it can be tempting to buy a fancy bedding set, all you really need for your baby’s cot is a sheet for the mattress, and blankets or a baby sleeping bag to keep your baby warm.

Classic cot sheets are made from 100% cotton, which is breathable to help keep your baby cool during the summer and warm during the winter months. While you can use a flat sheet, a fitted sheet is better as it will stay in place if your baby is wriggling about at night.

Good quality sheets should also wash well without bobbling or losing their shape, which is important if your baby is sick or has a leaky nappy at night. For this reason, make sure you always have at least one spare sheet clean.

Read next: The best nappy bins to buy, as recommended by parents

Mumsnet recommends: Primark’s Fitted Cot Sheets

primark fitted cot sheet

“For the cot, I have a mattress protector and then a fitted sheet over the top. Make sure you buy more than one mattress protector!” Caterina99

Made from 100% cotton, Primark’s Fitted Cot Sheets come in neutral colours to compliment any nursery. They come in a pack of two so there’s always one on standby in case of an emergency bed change.

The sheets fit standard cots measuring 60cm x 120cm. We love that they’re made from sustainable cotton as part of the Primark Cares initiative, which supports the people who make their clothes and helps to protect the environment.

Price: £6

3.    Baby monitor

A product that features at the top of most new parents’ shopping list is a baby monitor as it allows you to keep an eye – or ear – on your baby when they’re in another room.

While traditional audio monitors listen in on your baby during nap times and at night, video monitors allow you to see what they’re up to when you’re not around. Many of the latest devices can be used through your smartphone so you can check on your baby from anywhere in your home – and when you’re out too. Some even have the two-way talkback function so you can interact with your baby.

Monitors can also alert you when your child rolls over and provide information such as room temperature, humidity and sleep reports to help identify any issues that could be affecting your baby during the night.

Mumsnet recommends: BT Smart Baby Monitor

BT smart monitor units

“We have a BT video monitor. It's handy as you can talk to your baby through it as well as hear them. So on several occasions when DS has stirred, I've been able to sing a few lines to him over the monitor and settle him rather than get up.” Meow1989

The BT Smart Monitor is a wifi video monitor with lots of great features for checking in on your baby, whether it’s through the parent unit or the easy-to-use BT Smart Controls app.

The app allows you to see and connect to your baby using the two-way talk back feature so you can say goodnight wherever you are. The audio is very clear and the parent and baby units are compact and lightweight for moving around the home.

You can also pair The BT Smart Monitor with your Amazon Echo or Google Home and use voice commands to play a choice of five lullabies or check the temperature of the room. We were also impressed by the long-lasting battery.

Price: £119.98

4.    Night light

If you don’t want to be fumbling around in the dark during a night-time feed or nappy change, a night light will come in very handy during the first few months or years of your baby’s life.

Instead of having to turn on a bright lamp, a night light gives off a soft warm glow and can also help soothe your baby (or toddler) at bedtime if they don’t like a totally dark room. You can get simple plug-ins, lamps, character night lights and designs that also play music or project stars onto the wall.

If you want to be able to move the night light around, look for one that’s battery-operated.

Mumsnet recommends: Primark’s Moon and Star Projector

“We have a star projection lamp and a small night light and it's fine for me. I can see what I'm doing and it still keeps everything nice and relaxed. I just feed sitting up on the bed and DS always settles back down well after the feed.” Lana1234

Primark’s Moon and Star Projector is both fun and functional. Part of their Friends Together collection, the night light can be used as a projector to beam stars onto the ceiling and walls for calming your baby. When it’s time to sleep, you simply add the opaque silicone cover for a relaxing glow.

The light comes with a rechargeable battery so you don’t have to worry about where to plug it in, and you can easily move it around your home or pop it in your suitcase to take it on holiday.

Price: £16

Check out this product in your nearest Primark store

5.    Sound machine

Helping your baby get to sleep can be one of the hardest parts about being a parent. Many swear by white noise to soothe tired babies and help them sleep longer as it blocks out any distracting background noises.

There are white noise apps, cuddly comforters and sound machine boxes that emit white noise to help your baby get to sleep. Some can double up as a night light and can play other sounds such as nursery rhymes, lullabies and nature sounds. Look out for sound machines with multiple volume settings so you can choose how loud you want it.

Mumsnet recommends: Primark’s Owl Soothing Sound Machine

owl soothing sound machine

“Have used [a white noise machine] for my two and three-year-olds since they were babies and have absolutely no intention to stop. Volume is now much lower than when they were younger but it’s loud enough so that things like me entering the room, the doorbell ringing downstairs etc don't wake them fully.” Riddles26

This cute owl will not only complement your nursery but also help to soothe your baby at bedtime. It comes complete with four built-in nature sounds, including white noise, shush, ocean waves and three lullabies. With multiple volumes, you can make sure to always get the right one for your baby.

The owl’s tummy also lights up to add a calming effect to bedtime. It takes two AA batteries and warns you when they’re running low, and we like that it comes with a built-in carry strap for moving around the nursery or from room to room.

Price: £14

6.    Changing mat

There’s one thing you’ll be doing a lot of when your baby arrives and that’s changing nappies. A changing mat - a padded, wipeable surface with raised edges – provides a comfortable place for your baby to lie.

Emergency nappy changes can strike at any time – both day and night - so keeping a mat (as well as nappies, baby wipes and creams) in your nursery means you have everything to hand when needed.

To save your back and prevent you from being hunched over on the floor, it may be worth investing in a changing table which can sit on top of a chest of drawers or shelves to double up as extra storage for all your baby’s adorable new clothes.

Read next: The best baby changing mats to buy, as recommended by parents

Mumsnet recommends: John Lewis & Partners Elephant Changing Mat


“Both of mine were John Lewis and are fine." Bananabus

A trusty favourite with Mumsnetters, the John Lewis & Partners Changing Mat is good quality and affordable. It comes in a range of neutral shades to suit any nursery, such as this adorable elephant design.

The mat is sturdy yet comfortable and it doesn’t split or fade easily so should stand the test of time. The raised edges keep your baby safely in place during their nappy change and, most importantly, the phthalate-free material can be quickly wiped clean – a must for all those leaky nappies! We think it’s a great all-round changing mat at a very reasonable price.

Price: £13

7.    Sleepsuits

You may already be filling the nursery with cute baby outfits but, in those first months, the items of clothing you’re likely to use most are sleepsuits.

An all-in-one with poppers or a zip opening, a sleepsuit is easy to get on and off for multiple nappy changes, and will make sure your baby stays warm and cosy both at night and during the day. The built-in socks keep their feet toasty and some designs have mitten cuffs to keep their hands warm too.

Sleepsuits are available up to the age of 24 months (you may want to change to a sleepsuit with grips or no feet when your baby takes their first steps) and can be bought in multipacks, which is handy when a baby can go through four or five outfits a day.

Mumsnet recommends: Primark Newborn Baby Babyworld Sleepsuits

babyworld sleepsuits

“I loved the zip ones. I always without fail did the poppers up wrong and had to start again.” Polkadotpixie

Lining up the poppers on a baby sleepsuit during a nighttime nappy change can be incredibly tricky, so we love that this two-pack of Primark Babyworld Sleepsuits comes with a zip for easy dressing and undressing.

If you’re worried about irritating your baby’s delicate skin, the sleepsuits come with a zip guard for added protection. For older babies who are taking their first steps, the feet have slip dot soles to stop them from slipping (starting from nine to 12 months).

Made from 100% super soft sustainable cotton, which is washing machine and tumble dryer safe, these sleepsuits come in cute patterns and colours from birth to 18 months.

Price: £8

8.    Bodysuits

Another must-have for your baby’s wardrobe is a bodysuit - a versatile piece of baby clothing that can be worn as a vest under clothes, as a T-shirt with bottoms or for bed on warmer nights.

Available with long or short sleeves, it’s good to have a range of these in different styles, colours and prints. The poppers will ensure you can easily change a nappy and bodysuits with an envelope neck make undressing a wriggly baby a whole lot easier – especially when a leaky nappy strikes.

Mumsnet recommends: Primark Newborn Baby Animal Print Bodysuits

animal print bodysuits

“Vests/bodysuits are like a T-shirt with an extra bit covering the nappy. I tend to use them under everything as they don't ride up. Long sleeved ones are also good under dungarees or a dress as a contrasting layer. And I use them to convert short-sleeved T-shirts to layer T-shirts on cool autumn/spring days or if I've bought/received clothes out of season.” BertieBotts

With seven in a pack, you’ll have more than enough bodysuits for your baby’s daily outfit changes. Primark’s Newborn Baby Animal Print Bodysuits are made from 100% super soft sustainable cotton with nickel-free poppers for protecting your baby’s delicate skin.

The envelope neckline will help you get your baby dressed quickly and easily and the Friends Together collection has a range of cute designs and colours for mixing and matching with other clothes. The bodysuits are washing machine and tumble dryer-friendly too and available from newborn to 18 months.

Price: £7.50

9.    Pyjamas

If you want to add a bit of variety to your baby’s nightwear, you could opt for a cosy two-piece pyjama set. As with bodysuits, look for pyjama tops with envelope or popper openings on the shoulders to make undressing younger babies easier.

Most sets don’t have feet so these may be better suited for warmer months or when your baby becomes more mobile.

Mumsnet recommends: Primark’s 2PK Pyjamas

“Mine wore pjs from three months. We found them easier and quicker to take on and off.” RandomMess

Your baby will look adorable in these ‘cuddly and cute’ animal print pyjamas from Primark. The set of two mix and match pyjamas are made from 100% cotton so they are super soft on your baby’s skin.

The elasticated waistband and cuffed legs help keep your baby snug and comfy during the night, with a popper shoulder opening (up to nine months) to make those early hours outfit changes quick and easy.

Available in different colours and playful prints up to 18 months, we also love that we can throw them in the washing machine and tumble dryer for a quick wash.

Price: £6

Check out this product in your nearest Primark store

10. Hooded towel

Most babies love splashing about at bath time and, as a parent, we love those post-bath cuddles when they’re wrapped up in a towel. As babies only start to regulate their temperature from about 18 months, a hooded towel covers their head to ensure they stay warm when it’s time to get out of the bath.

Look for towels that are soft and absorbent for drying your baby’s delicate skin. You can find a range of hooded towels in a variety of styles, such as with cute animal ears, colours and patterns.

Mumsnet recommends: Primark Baby Ivory Animal Print Jersey Hooded Towel

hooded baby towel

“A hooded towel. Super cute, super useful and can be used for a long(ish) time.” Bellaphant

Made from 100% snuggly soft cotton, Primark’s Jersey Hooded Towel is both cute and cosy. Part of the Friends Together collection, it has a neutral animal, rainbow and cloud print.

The super absorbent material is gentle on your baby’s sensitive skin, while the hood will keep their head snug and warm for those post-bath cuddles.

Price: £4

When should I start preparing my nursery?

This is totally up to you. Some parents like to be organised and get everything ready well before their baby’s due date, while others prefer to wait until nearer the time. A good time to start thinking about preparing the nursery is after your 20-week scan, when you may know the sex of your baby and can start thinking about how you want to decorate.

In your second trimester, you should also feel more energised and you’ll still have plenty of time to shop around for the best products and wait for things to arrive – furniture can take weeks to be delivered. You may want to get all the essentials in place by 36 weeks just in case your baby decides to make an early appearance.

How we chose our recommendations

Most of our recommendations came from Mumsnet users themselves. We searched the Mumsnet forums for posts about which nursery essentials Mumsnetters really rated. We also drew on our own Mumsnet Reviews testing to feature a selection of items that performed well across the board.