Cheap Nursery Ideas! Create a Warm, Cozy Nursery on a Budget

Posted on Feb 7, 2012

Welcome to The Free Baby’s nursery:

Baby Nursery

In this post I’ll show you my nursery (albeit my temporary one since we are currently renovating our home) and share with you some of the stories about how I pulled this off without investing much more than $600. I say invested because if you remember my Bugaboo Cameleon post, you know that almost all of the products purchased/acquired for the nursery have value after you are finished with them too.

The Nursery, your baby’s first real place in this world and the centre of all your pre-baby nesting activity. Pulling together your nursery is an important part of most people’s baby preparation activities and can be a great bonding experience between you, your husband and even family and friends. The idea is to create a safe and warm place for your baby to sleep, play, read and snuggle. It also sets up the environment for your baby to settle down and eventually learn to sleep, so essentially it can be important for parental health as well.

Tracking down and buying items for your nursery can be an overwhelming and pricey experience. Lots of retail stores showcase all the newest nursery trends, marketing to new parents with sales numbers in mind. However with a little smart thinking, some creative energy and a pragmatic attitude, all this can be attained without having to break the bank.

Invest in the Right Things

One of the most expensive items that can be found in my son’s nursery is the crib mattress, making up more than half of the budget for the entire room. I felt that this was the single most important item, not for its aesthetic appeal but for its materials, construction and durability. This is because your child spends so much of their time in such close contact with their mattress so it was very important to me that the mattress be free of any PBDEs (chemicals found in fire retardants) or any other off-gassing chemicals. When I was shopping for the mattress, I was unable to find a used one with my requirements, so I had to splurge a little on a new one. I did a lot of research and ended up going with a mattress made with coconut coir, wool and cotton, handmade by Natural Mat. It is completely chemical free, very breathable and offers great support. The best price I found for the Natural Mat Coco Mat was on Amazon (Make sure to click to the cheapest one at $324.99, they ship to Canada!). There were several other cheaper options that I also considered like the Naturepedic No Compromise Organic Cotton Classic 252 Crib Mattress at $259 and the Willow Natural Coconut Palm Crib Mattress at only $179 that I think would be a great choice!

Buy Used When you Can

Another essential item for any functioning nursery is the crib. I had been watching Kijiji for a few months to find the right one. I was looking for something that was solid wood, canadian made with non-toxic finishes. Eventually one came up that matched all my criteria for only $50! Using Kijiji can be fun, but can take a bit of time and sometimes you have to act quickly when the right one comes along.

Do It Yourself and Have Fun Doing It!

Most of the art in my son’s room was made by me and my sister as a fun little art project. We found some great deals on clearance frames at Winners and then went to work with our imaginations. We just cut out some animal shapes from some card stock paper and put them into the frames.

Don’t Overspend on Short Term Items

You can easily spend $300 or more on a bedding set for your crib. While many of them are adorable, I don’t think they are all that necessary to raise a happy healthy baby. Considering bumper pads and blankets aren’t even recommended for babies due to suffocation concerns, you really only end up using the sheets and maybe the bed skirt. While shopping the clearance section at Winners for the picture frames I also found an organic cotton crib sheet for $5. I have been very happy with my savings on bedding and my son’s education savings account has reaped the rewards of a larger contribution because of it.

Change Pad, cloth wipes, Cloth Diaper

Every nursery needs a changing area and you could easily spend a $1000 dollars or more on a specialized changing station. I was tempted to go this route, but when I started to think about the short time I would use a change table, I realized that just using a low dresser would have more uses once baby is out of diapers. This option is much more useful over the long term and many people have extra dressers kicking around. There are also plenty of used dressers out there for sale. I had an old Ikea dresser in the basement and inherited a little set of drawers through a friend who was just going to throw it out.

If you aren’t going to go the route of cloth diapers (see my previous posts comparing cloth to disposables) I would recommend that you at least try to use cloth wipes. My favourites are made by Quilter’s Nappies, they are really soft, well made and come in so many cute prints. I have always just used a bit of water that I squirt onto the wipes with my very own peri bottle (this of course comes free with any hospital labour delivery in Canada hehehe).

Dutailier glider, ottoman, wetbag

You can’t cloth diaper without a wet bag, a brilliant product, that easily holds all of my dirty diapers (and their smell) between washings. There are a lot of different brands/styles out there but I decided to go for a Planet Wise Hanging Diaper Wet/Dry Bag because they were very highly rated on and well priced. If you aren’t in a rush you should be able to find one on sale online like I did!

Use Your Local Library and Hit Up Community Baby Sales

My son absolutely loves music and dancing so we decided to put in my husband’s old stereo that he rarely used anymore. My son also loves books and they are an important part of his nap and night routine. The best deal on books around is to use your public library! $12/year for access to as many books as you want! The next best deal I have found on books is at community baby sales. I picked up a whole stack in the fall for less than $5 and they were mostly in perfect condition. I am going to post some links on community baby sales but I would suggest google your area to find dates times and locations of some near you!

Refurbish Old/Used Items

Having a chair in the nursery can be critical when dealing with the sleepless nights. It is also a great place to snuggle up and read books before bed. Dutailier is one of the premiere glider brands with some models retailing for over a $1000 (when paired with a matching ottoman). I found my Dutailier set on Kijiji for only $100! However, I wasn’t a big fan of the colour and condition of the fabric on the chair, as it was quite faded, but the solution to my dilemma proved very easy: new slip covers! I found a great retailer online called 2creativeladys with a shop on Etsy who took my Dutailier measurements and made me the greatest set of custom slip covers for only $65! They describe themselves as girls of the 50’s who are all about UPCYCLE and RECYCLE. I loved their product and I love their philosophy, money well spent!

Nursery Window Coverings, Toy Storage

So you are probably wondering why I showed my window coverings as free – I say this because they came with our house when we bought it, so although we did exchange money in order to get them we didn’t directly buy them. The message here is that you should always try to use what you already have before you go out and buy something new. Even if something isn’t exactly what you want you can often modify it to fit the bill.

There is another little side table/dresser in the room that I picked up at a garage sale for $5. It needs a paint job but for now it gives the room an antique look.

Lastly, although this has nothing to do with saving money I think it is important to have some plants in a baby room because they improve air quality. Check out this list of top 10 air filtering houseplants by NASA.

Let’s do the Math

If you don’t count my splurge on the mattress, this nursery actually came in under $400 dollars, which I think is a sweet deal. As I said earlier this is an investment since I feel that most of my items will hold much of their value for many years to come and can one day be passed on to my friends and family or even sold.

I would love to hear about how you saved money on your nursery! so don’t forget to write.


  1. ouija board
    February 8, 2012

    Free pampers gifts to grow points
    Enter code: TWITL9E8XAGTG12. -expires 2/9

  2. Keely
    February 10, 2012

    What’s the brand/name of the solid wood canadian made crib? I am also on the kijiji hunt!

    • TheFreeMommy
      February 10, 2012

      Thanks for the question!
      The crib is a Luna Sleigh Crib made by I have been very happy with it so far!
      Best of luck on your search, I am sure a good one will pop up soon:)


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