How to Create a Nursery on a Budget

budget nursery

We’d all love to welcome our newborn babes home with a comfy, cozy, magazine-worthy nursery — but the truth is most of us can’t afford it.

Baby stuff is expensive — like, really expensive. And between the cribs, clothes, diapers, and other must-have necessities, it can be easy to rack up a hefty bill in just a single shopping trip (or Amazon purchase.) Adding in all those other fancy trimmings and trappings? Well, that can bust a soon-to-be parent’s budget in no time.

Fortunately, tight purse strings don’t have to mean a scant nursery. It just means you need to get a little more creative with your pre-baby shopping. 

Need help creating your little bean’s home sweet home without breaking the bank? Here are seven ways to do it.

Use your registry carefully.

Even if you don’t have a baby shower, you should still have a gift registry. Many times, family members, friends, neighbors, and even coworkers will want to lend a hand as you start this new stage in life — and a registry makes that easier. 

When registering for gifts, stick to the nursery must-haves and minimize the fluff. Think cribs, bed linens, swaddles, diapers, a changing table, and a sound machine. Avoid putting clothing on there (they’ll grow out of it quickly) and leave the books, out-of-season PJs, and other toddler items out. Save those for the first birthday!

You should also consider using an online registry like BabyList or get one through Amazon. This makes gift-giving easier and more convenient (especially for those who live far away.)

Get creative.

Not everything needs to be bought from a store. In fact, a huge chunk of nursery decor can actually be handmade. Hit up a craft store for simple decor you can paint and adorn yourself, and forgo the expensive wall art for framed photos or book covers you printed off the web. You can even use stick-on wallpaper to create fun accents (and avoid tedious painting). If you have a friend or family member that knits, ask them to knit you a baby blanket or stuffed animal to make the crib feel more welcoming.

Go second-hand.

You only use baby items for a few months — maybe a year or two, max. This means moms and dads everywhere are just brimming with barely used baby goods, including everything from clothes and toys to bottles, blankets, and footie pajamas. If you have friends or family members who have had kids in recent years, reach out and see if they have any items they’d let go (or that you could buy for a reduced fee). You can also try second-hand shops (there are even some kid-centric ones), or hit up NextDoor or the Facebook Marketplace. They’re both great places to find gently used baby and toddler items in your neighborhood.

Use what you have.

Take a long, hard look around your house. Do you have furniture you’re not really using? Any storage containers, shelves, or decor you’ve got stowed away or could repurpose? Try to look beyond their current state when assessing furnishing. Would a coat of paint or a new stain make it more nursery-friendly? Could you repurpose that old dresser or desk into the perfect changing table? Think of ways to transform your old items into something new.

Pool your efforts.

Let your extended family know you’re on the hunt for nursery items. If each one of them taps their own network, leverages their personal talents and scours their attic, you should end up with a pretty good haul before the little one is born. Don’t forget to ask your social circle, too. Post a call out on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram and see if anyone has nursery items they’d be willing to donate.

Consider a trade.

Have a friend who’s in need of a new desk? Trade yours for their eldest’s crib that’s up in storage. Know your cousin is looking to have their website redesigned? Offer up your services in exchange for their Baby Brezza and Diaper Genie. Find someone who needs something you can part with (or a service you offer), and trade off for baby items, nursery decor, and more.

Keep it reasonable.

Finally, keep a rein on your shopping list. Remember that baby items are only in use for a short time. By toddler age, they’re onto new toys, new clothes, and new preferences, and they might even require a new room altogether (especially if they’re becoming a big brother or sister). Don’t overspend on decor, and stick to necessities that will make your and the baby’s lives happier, healthier, and safer.

Own a House?

If you own a home, you might consider a cash-out refinance to help pay for your nursery needs. This would allow you to tap the equity you have in your home, giving you cash to use as needed. Want to learn more or see if you’re eligible? Contact a loan officer at Embrace Home Loans today.

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Aly Yale

Aly J. Yale is a freelance writer focusing on real estate, mortgage, and the housing market. Her work has been featured in Forbes, Bankrate, The Motley Fool, Business Insider, The Balance, and more. Prior to freelancing, she served as an editor and reporter for The Dallas Morning News. She graduated from Texas Christian University's Bob Schieffer College of Communication with a major in radio-TV-film and news-editorial journalism. Connect with her at or on Twitter at @AlyJwriter.