11 essentials and 'nice to haves' for the nursery

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 Photo: Rad Design Inc

Coming home from hospital with your new baby can be a daunting experience for first-time parents, but if you've planned ahead and have everything in place, all you'll have to think about is meeting baby's minute-by-minute needs, and taking care of your own in the process. The more organised you are, the less stressful the transition will be … and before you know it you'll be into a routine that suits the whole family.

These ideas will make sure you've thought of everything.

1.  A comfortable armchair
When you're getting up every few hours to feed your new baby, having a supportive chair is essential. Whether baby is feeding from bottle or breast, caring for your back is vital in those early months. An armchair like this will be a welcoming, tranquil place to sit, and being able to put your feet up is an added bonus.

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2. A fabulous mobile
Your baby won't be able to see very far when he's first born, but before long he'll be gazing about and grasping for things with those new-found hands. Hang something worth reaching for above his cot.

3. A change table
Save your back and use a change table for those endless nappy changes and clothing swaps. Buy a purpose-built change table, or make use of a chest of drawers like this one – then all you'll need is the change mat popped on top.

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4. A bassinet 
Whether it's a bureau drawer or a beautiful cane basket, a bassinet that can be moved from room to room is a handy thing to have if you want to keep an eye on baby wherever you are. Many parents feel more secure when their babies sleep in their bedroom with them for at least the first few months.

5. Plenty of storage
It's surprising the amount of storage one small baby needs, so it will pay to have a well-organised system. A whole drawer can be dedicated to nappies, wipes and creams alone, and then there are the wraps, clothes, blankets, sheets and toys. Need I go on?

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6. A floor rocker
You probably won't want to carry your baby around all the time – all parents need a break – so a rocker can be worth its weight in gold. Hanging out the washing? Take it with you. Going to a friend's house for a cuppa? Throw it in the car to make life easier. And when you're cooking in the kitchen, your baby will love to watch you work from the comfort of her own rocker.

7. Bathtime necessities close to hand
Bathing baby would be much easier if you had four arms instead of two. Keeping everything you need within arm's reach is the next best thing, whether you're bathing him or her in the sink or wheeling in a portable bath.

Remember to never leave your bub or toddler alone in or around water.

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8. A tummy time rug
When babies are put to sleep on their backs, tummy time is encouraged to strengthen all those muscles your baby will need for optimal development. A soft rug like this will prove irresistible for them.

9. Soft lighting
When you're changing nappies or feeding baby in the middle of the night, the last thing you need to do is flick on a bright overhead light. Minimise the disruption to both of you with a softly lit lamp.

10. An adorable set of sheets
Ok, so this one is not strictly a necessity – the baby isn't going to notice one way or the other what kind of sheets are in the cot. But you will, so make sure you love them. There are some super-cute bedding options out there for baby, and why shouldn't you choose something that brings you a little joy?

11. Pet barriers
Even if you think the safety gate can wait, being able to keep your dog away from the baby when you need to could prove a sanity saver.

By Joanna Tovia