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When we found out we were expecting, the thing that I was most excited about, other than of course having a baby, was getting to decorate the nursery for our little one.
I spent hours on Pinterest, comparing this year's trends, oohing and ahhing over beautiful pictures of nurseries and making my plan for how amazing ours would be.
But the thing about living in rural, almost middle of nowhere Australia is, cheap avocados aside, everything else is super expensive. Like reeeeeeally expensive.
So as much as I wanted a Pinterest-worthy nursery for my first, the huge price tags to find some of those items out here would make it difficult. Plus the fact that we are in Australia on temporary visas, and may eventually have to leave, meant that it would make more sense to be sensible about my spending.
Now that doesn't mean that it can't still be a beautiful nursery.
But it did mean keeping it to only the essentials to create our dream nursery on a budget.
So if you are also looking to create your dream nursery on a budget, no matter the reason, this is an easy list to keep you on track, the way that it did for me.
This one is kind of a no-brainer.
Babies sleep a lot - at least you hope they'll sleep. So they obviously need somewhere to do all this sleeping.
Enter the crib.
When we were looking at cribs, we wanted to buy one that had adjustable heights, and that preferably could be turned into a toddler bed eventually. Both of these requirements were so that it would last longer before we would need to consider buying some sort of replacement.
Luckily, most cribs these days come standard with both of these needs met.
We ended up choosing a 5-in-1-crib, which we thought was an amazing deal. It's a crib, toddler bed, day bed, and a headboard and footboard for a twin bed. Your child's bedding needs are taken care of for years.
What can I say? I love a multi-use item.
We considered getting a mini-crib on wheels instead. It is recommended to have your baby sleep in your room for the first year and we didn't feel that a bassinet was worth getting as well - It would only last while the baby was tiny and was just another expense.
In the end, we decided that although it would be a bit cramped, we could just move the full-size crib to our bedroom during that time.
Another option, if you are short on storage space, is a crib with built-in storage, usually underneath or to the side. We were lucky enough to have plenty of closet space in the nursery, so this wasn't necessary for us. However, it could be something to consider if you are not blessed with a roomy closet in your baby's room.
Again, a bit of an obvious one. What good is a crib without a mattress in it?
There are two basic types of crib mattresses - foam and inner-spring.
Foam mattresses are usually a bit cheaper, but don't last as long and probably aren't as comfortable after being used for a while, as anyone who has ever slept on a futon could tell you.
Spring mattresses are a bit more of an investment right now but will last a lot longer and be less expensive in the long-term. They last about five years, compared to a foam mattress' three year life.
We chose to go with an inner-spring mattress, as it was only slightly more expensive and would hopefully last much longer.
Whichever type you choose, make sure that it is firm and meets your country's safety standards. Squishier bedding like memory foam has been linked to SIDS, or Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, and it is better to be safe than sorry in this case.
As a side note, it is also a good idea to buy an inexpensive waterproof mattress cover or five if you are hoping to keep your mattress in good shape. There's nothing better than a good ole messy blowout to ruin the chances of that inner-spring mattress surviving until it's time for the crib to be made into a toddler bed.
I wrote changing area as opposed to changing table because I am no longer a true believer that a traditional changing table is necessary or sensible.
Unfortunately, I realised this after we had already bought one.
Could I go back and make a better purchase, I would have simply bought a low dresser and a non-slip changing pad.
This setup just makes so much more sense for extra storage as well. While we have tons of closet space in our nursery, the actual room is quite small. With the chunky changing table taking up so much precious space, we no longer have any room for a dresser so we're kind of stuck with making the best out of it.
The dresser setup is also much easier as you can store the diapering items in the drawers, which makes the nursery less cluttered and keeps them right in front of you for easy access.
Babies are great at timing their blowouts for when you are least prepared. And no one wants to pick up a dookie-covered infant while they root around for some baby wipes. Even if it's your own dookie-covered bundle of joy.
When you think about it, a changing table is a one-use item that is only practical while the baby is little and not very squirmy.
But use a dresser and pad setup? - Bam! Multi-use once again.
I think I'm seeing a bit of a theme.
I thought very carefully about whether a nursing chair would be necessary for us. Originally, I thought that it would be a waste of resources and space in the nursery. Why would I need to have a chair in there when I could just walk out to the living room and sit on the comfy couch to nurse?
Then I started getting up six times a night to go to the bathroom and I realised I have no idea how my house is laid out when I'm half-asleep and in the dark.
A few stubbed toes and bumps on the head later, and I decided it probably would be a sound investment to have a comfy chair in the nursery across the hall where I could have a night-light to save my poor toes from more pain.
There are plenty of options available depending on your needs.
You could, of course, splash out on a proper nursery chair. Usually they are basically a comfy armchair that doubles as a rocking chair.
Now, while I am all for items that do a double duty, to me, these chairs aren't necessarily a great option for a nursery on a budget. I mean, what do you do with it when your baby is no longer, well, a baby? It's not like rocking chairs are that comfortable to sit in unless you like feeling slightly off-balance when you're trying to relax. They are also often much more expensive than their non-rocking counterparts.
We instead chose what we felt was a much more practical alternative - a basic, high-backed recliner. Still super comfy but able to be repurposed once no longer needed for the baby.
Maybe not as exciting as a rocking armchair but we're having a baby - how much more excitement can we take?
Plus, everyone ends up happy - My husband ends up with a brand new man-cave chair when it's no longer needed in the baby room. And I don't have to worry about mangling my tootsies on my way to the couch in the dark. Win-win.
So, there you have it, the only four items that you truly need if you are creating a nursery on a budget.
With a crib, mattress, changing area and nursing chair in the room, all of the essentials are covered, but that does not mean that you can't add to my list. These are just the basics. Feel free to add items if your budget allows for it and it makes sense for your own situation.
For me, I plan to have a phone charger set up next to the nursing chair for those long feeding sessions to keep me entertained. It will also help to have a charged phone to use as a flashlight as I bumble my way back to my bedroom in the dark.
Some of my friends couldn't imagine living without a white noise machine in there, or a baby wipes warmer. You do you.
Also keep in mind that this list does not include smaller necessities such as bedding, clothing and diapers, all things that your baby will also need. So keep some room in your budget for them.
No use having a the essential furniture covered if you haven't also covered the smaller basics.