Expecting parents following nursery timeline for new baby

Nursery planning may bring you sheer joy, utter anxiety, or a little of both, depending on the day. To help you plan your ideal baby room and make it all happen, this nursery timeline places emphasis on the absolute essentials, followed by the more optional secondary items to do in later months. This way, if your little one arrives before all the baby bedroom accessories are in place, you can rest easy knowing the fundamental nursery items you need are ready and waiting.

Baby Nursery Safety Considerations

Before you plan, here are some of the latest nursery safety guidelines to keep in mind:

  1. Room sharing: For your baby’s first six months, Health Canada recommends placing the crib or bassinet in your bedroom.[1] Not only will this make nighttime feedings easier, but it’s also been shown to reduce the risk of SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome).[2]
  2. Cribs and bedding: Leave the crib mostly bare.[3] Just a mattress and fitted sheet are all babies need to snooze comfortably. (Keep them warm with a sleep sack or swaddle blanket.) Health Canada does not recommend heavy blankets, bumper pads or sleep positioners.[4]
  3. Windows and blinds: Situate the baby crib away from the window and out of direct sunlight (overheating is another risk factor for SIDS). Gather up window dressing cords with a tight fastener, like a binder clip. Also check that blinds are from 2009 or later, which is when Health Canada began regulating blinds for lead content.[5]
  4. Storage: Secure dressers and shelves to the wall with anti-tip straps or brackets—babies grab and pull when you least expect it.
  5. Secondhand items: If you’re buying or using a secondhand crib, Health Canada recommends they be less than 10 years old.[6] Look for any loose parts and sharp edges, plus give the crib a shake to check its durability. Also, as of December 26, 2016, drop-side cribs can no longer be manufactured or sold due to safety concerns.[7]

Nursery Timeline

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Weeks 16 to 20: Establish your budget

A decorated nursery

Nursery décor planning has a way of eating up every penny, so prioritize big-ticket sleep items like a crib or bassinet (or both) and their accompanying mattresses. Also, tack on waterproof covers and extra linens—you’ll thank yourself later for having spares.

Next, think about must-have furniture items such as changing tables, dressers, shelves and nursing chairs. Do you need a separate changing table or is a dresser with a non-slip change pad more convenient? Will great-grandma’s rocking chair still be comfortable at 2:00 a.m. (and 3:30 and 5:00 and 6:42…)?

Now consider these secondary baby nursery shopping items:

You might also like this diaper station checklist, which helps you set up your changing table and diaper bag.

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Shopping Tip
By comparing different baby nursery brands you’ll not only find the best price on products, but you’ll also get a better sense of what you prioritize as a new mom (like specific bells and whistles or just the basics). We have some excellent guides for the Best Cribs, Best Strollers and Best Car Seats to get you started.

Shop Changing Tables and Dressers

Weeks 20 to 24: Measure the room and choose your theme

An expecting couple measuring their nursery

With nursery dimensions in hand, you’ll be able to choose furniture that fits the room, which can sometimes open up the budget by eliminating expensive large items. If you’re doing the measuring yourself, grab a tape measure or consider investing in a laser measure that does the job in seconds (plus, it’s kind of fun!). Remember to include windows, doorways and trim in your room sketch, which may impact furniture placement.

Knowing the room’s dimensions can also help narrow down your nursery theme: By deciding on furniture first, you can then pick out a complementary colour palette and build up a sweet baby boy nursery, an adorable baby girl nursery or a gender-neutral nursery. Looking for nursery décor suggestions? Here are 10 Easy Baby Room Ideas to help spark your imagination.

Measuring checklist:

Weeks 24 to 28: Order furniture

Expecting parents and pregnant mom assembling a baby crib

Order nursery and baby furniture no later than your 28th week to avoid stressful delivery delays, plus you may need time to assemble items. Once furniture is in place, you’ll then be able to visualize where you’ll need storage solutions like shelving, baskets and bins. A few other helpful furniture hints: If you’re shorter or taller than the average mom, think about a comfortable height for the changing table. And load up on pillows—even the perfect nursing chair or glider will need extra supports for your back and arms, or to prop your baby into the right position.

Furniture checklist:

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If you’re going to be in your house or condo for the next few years, consider buying a crib that also converts into a toddler bed.

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Weeks 28 to 32: Paint walls and put up wallpaper

Expecting parents painting their nursery blue

There’s just something about a fresh coat of paint and sweet nursery wallpaper to liven up a baby’s room, but this is not a critical step if you’re running out of budget, time or energy. To freshen up the room with minimal effort, nursery wall stickers can match almost any theme and help make the space feel baby-ready.

Painting and wallpapering checklist:

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Safety Tip
Even when using low- or no-VOC paints, the room should have two months to air out before your baby comes home. If you’re the one painting, wear a mask to reduce chemical exposure and keep windows open for as long as reasonably possible, weather permitting.[8]

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Weeks 32 to 36: Get storage solutions

Drawer dividers in a baby nursery

People love to say “babies don’t need much,” but it’s amazing how quickly tiny clothes, cute toys, books and diapers take up the entire baby nursery—and beyond. As any apartment- or condo-dweller knows, the secret to small-space living is efficient storage.

Storage checklist:

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Weeks 36 to 40: Wash all the textiles and linens

Pregnant mom folds baby clothes

While every woman and every pregnancy is different, most moms feel pretty zapped in the final few weeks of their third trimester. With your bundle of joy about to arrive, we recommend a literal laundry list of any textiles and linens your baby might be snuggled up against, like crib sheets, swaddles, tummy-time mats, newborn clothes and more.

Baby textiles checklist:

Now put your feet up, stay hydrated and rest easy knowing all the essentials for your baby’s nursery are ready and waiting.

Shop Soft Goods for the Nursery

Article Sources

  1. Health Canada. Safe Sleep Tips.
  2. Caring for Kids. Safe Sleep for Babies.
  3. Health Canada. Is Your Child Safe? Sleep Time.
  4. Health Canada. Is Your Child Safe? Sleep Time.
  5. Institut National de Santé Publique du Québec. Babyproofing the Nursery.
  6. Public Health Agency of Canada. Safe Sleep for Your Baby Brochure.
  7. Health Canada. Cribs, Cradles and Bassinets.
  8. Consumer Reports. Eco-Friendly Nursery: How and When to Paint Baby’s Room.