Designing a Baby Nursery (When You’re Sharing a Room)

Before we had our first baby, Anneliese, I carefully arranged a special room just for her, even though we knew we would have her in our bedroom with us most of the time. With a 3-bedroom house, it was easy for her to have her own spot. Of course we had the master bedroom, and the second bedroom was our “office” and craft area. The third room was going to be a playroom for my in-home childcare, until we found out I was pregnant and we scrapped that plan.


How to design a baby nursery when you're sharing a room - making space for your new baby in the master bedroom.One thing that I thought would be absolutely necessary was a nursing/pumping “station.” In truth, I rarely used this area. Anneliese nursed so much that I never had time to pump (I had planned to try pumping in between to increase my supply), and I didn’t want to be confined to this chair while she nursed. Most of the time I was on the couch in the living room or in bed with her.

So while a nursing station is cute, it’s far from essential.

From the beginning, her room had a Montessori floor bed, not a crib. Everything within her reach was child-safe, and “explorable.” While she didn’t sleep in this room much (we moved when she was 5 months old), some naps took place here, and I loved watching her have playtime on the floor bed in front of the mirror.

But what if you’re sharing a room with your baby? Maybe you don’t have the extra room for a separate nursery, or you’re going to wait until baby is sleeping through the night before having him share a room with his sister (cough). Maybe you just like to have baby close by and you’ll deal with making a separate space for him when he’s older… That’s all well and good too.

You can design a baby “nursery” even if you share a room.

To me, you only need a few things for your newborn baby’s “place” in your home.
  1. A place to sleep.
  2. A place to nurse.
  3. A place for diapering.
  4. A place to store tiny clothes.
  5. Something special to look at.

Here are what my 5 essentials looked like when Joseph was a newborn:

  1. Joseph’s place to sleep was his cosleeper when he was new. He slept really well in it, up against my bed at first, but after a little while I noticed he nursed better if I was alert and sitting up, versus just pulling him to my side from the cosleeper. So…
  2. I moved the sleeper away from the bed so that I would have to fully wake to nurse him. I could help him with better posture, breast compressions, and so forth, and put him back in his cosleeper when he was finished nursing. When I started pumping and we were bottle-feeding him for a while, having his sleeper away from the bed also helped me sneak back to bed without waking him after I finished pumping. So my bed was his place to nurse, separate from where he slept.
  3. His place for diapering was a changing pad on top of the dresser. It has tethers that screw into the back of the dresser, so that it won’t fall off, and we could keep our diapering things in the top drawers and on top of the dresser. Everything in one place. I say “was” because my 6 foot tall husband really prefers changing pads at a comfortable height like this, whereas I am comfortable changing babies pretty much anywhere. Since my husband took care of the majority of nighttime diapers in the first months, I went ahead and set up this changing area for him. Because if your husband is on board with diapering, you want to make it the best diapering experience of his life.
  4. I bought a new dresser before Joseph was born, a Hemnes dresser from Ikea, the same style Anneliese has in her room. My dresser was small and rickety, a cheap thing we had gotten from Target years ago, so I had been wanting to replace it anyway. Joey’s things are in one half of it, and mine are in the other half. It works just fine, because most of his things are tiny and most of mine are hung in my closet.
  5. I found this gorgeous laser-cut bamboo mobile at (watch Plum District for vouchers so you can get more bang for your $ there!) and knew it was perfect for my little boy. I hung it above the changing table, and he still loves to watch its shapes twirling gently. I still change him on the changing pad sometimes, even though I’m a “wherever/whenever” girl when it comes to diapers, just so he can watch these sweet creatures dancing.

What your 5 essentials could look like:

  1. A family bed on the floor, a king-sized bed with rails so baby won’t fall out, a crib in your room, a basinet next to your bed, a cosleeper attached to your bed, a (safe, made for babies to sleep in) hammock near your bed, a separate mattress on the floor in your room…
  2. A special chair in your room, your bed, a beanbag chair (hey, it could work), or baby’s floor bed (twin or bigger, so you can lie with baby to nurse)…
  3. A changing pad on the dresser like mine, a changing table in the hallway right outside your room, a Patemm Pad on the floor or at the end of your bed, an area in your bathroom (if yours isn’t miniscule like mine is), a blanket on the floor…
  4. A shared or separate dresser, baskets in your closet (one for night clothes, one for day clothes, one for tiny things like socks and hats), a drawer that slides under your bed, the shelves in your night stand, baskets in a small bookshelf, or hung in your closet on hangers.
  5. A framed photo of your family, a mirror, a special mobile, a painting you made just for baby…

Do you share a room with your newborns? What do you consider to be necessary or helpful in your room? What do your five essentials look like?

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  1. My 3 month old daughter is quickly out growing her cradle. right now it sits on a bedside table that’s a little too small for it. I’d like it on the floor but I feel like I’d step on her in the morning. Our master bedroom has a chest, dresser with oversized mirror, queen bed (and box but no frame), and the nursing glider with ottoman. There’s not a lot of room for reconfiguration really. I also wonder/worry about her fingers in the glider once she’s more mobile. What about the drawers? There is a walk in storage closet that has her things which is a use-able size. if there wasn’t a water heater in the one corner and the fact that her dresser is actually kind of big. I’m not sure what would be best or how to go about it. Thoughts and advice would be great! Thanks =)

    • My kids surprisingly never smashed their fingers in the glider… the dresser drawers though? yes. But just a couple of times before they learned how to close the drawer carefully, and then they didn’t get pinched by the drawers again.

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  5. Jun goal, 2009· pertaining to new mother and father, welcome to parenthood, and for those preparing to use the outdated rocking mount and also baby’s crib hidden make deep amongst some other …baby nursery

  6. This is so parallel to my experiences with my two kids! For baby girl #1, we had a full-blown nursery set up months in advance (complete with unused nursing chair πŸ˜‰ … with baby boy #2 (now only 3 months old), he shared our room for the first few months, and his own nursery room has been coming together in pieces (mostly hand-me-downs, of course). It’s funny how perspectives shift as you grow in parenting experiences, isn’t it?? πŸ™‚


  7. I’m late to comment, but thanks for this post! It took us a long time to figure out my son greatly preferred a mattress on the floor to his crib. It’s still so rare to see that method, I appreciate seeing another mom sharing it.

    I’m expecting #2 who will be in our room until I’m ready to move him, and while we have the basics I forgot to put something up for him to look at. I was just thinking I should do something with the bare walls the other day, but never thought about it from the baby’s perspective. thanks again! πŸ™‚

  8. […] Abode: Designing a Baby Nursery (When You’re Sharing a Room) For many families, a separate room for a new baby isn’t necessary until that child is a year […]

  9. We live in a two-bedroom house on base, so our 4-month old son has been sleeping in our room since he was born. We have our bed pushed into the corner, and have a crib for him in the other corner. He spends most of the night in our bed side by side nursing, but is a flexible, nurse-anywhere kind of baby. We do diaper changes on our bed, on the floor, or in the crib, depending on where he is at the time. We have a mobile over his bed, and pictures of airplanes on the wall over his crib (securely anchored) since I’m a pilot. His clothes are in a little tiny baby dresser my grandpa made for me when I was little.

  10. We had a co-sleeper on the bed (Amazon for 200)… it was basically a big pillow to keep the baby from falling off and was attached to a sheet that I layed on top of (She slept with us the first year, moved her to a mattress floor in her own space at about 18 months). When she was colicy we moved the plug in swing into our room and she would sleep in that a few times (Happiest Baby on the Block reference). We also had a Koala brand organizer in our closet… used some baskets in the slots to hold her hats/socks/wipes/cloth diapers, etc. and then I hung up the clothes she was wearing at the time in the slot above. Hand a hanging wet bag on the door for night time diapers, and just used some maternity mattress protectors that doubled as protection for me and a changing pad! A CD player with a couple CDs of white noise and French (theory on keeping the path ways of pronunciation open in early childhood). A rocking chair in the corner! I think that was about it!

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