Inside: learn how to organize the nursery closet step-by-step plus the best closet organization ideas and tips for a beautiful yet functional space
The nursery closet is an important space in your baby’s room. Little though they may be, babies come with a lot of gubbins so an organized closet is essential. Otherwise it’ll quickly become cluttered and chaotic and start to drive you bonkers! There’s always so much to do once baby has arrived, the last thing you want to do is be hunting down x, y, z with one hand, fussy baby in the other.
In this post I will show you exactly how to organize your nursery closet both for function and for fashion, with the 25 best nursery closet organization ideas and tips. These will help you keep your baby’s nursery neat and tidy while looking good too.
Several of these baby closet organization ideas are illustrated with pictures of the closet in my twins nursery. Yup, I needed to squeeze baby boy and baby girl clothes into a small and narrow space. I think the results speak for themselves – but I’ll let you be the judge of that!
Happy closet organizing!
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What are the challenges of storing baby clothes in the closet?
Well, there’s going to be a lot of them and they’re all very small… If you’ve had a baby shower or have friends or family with babies already, you may already be inundated with a ton of tiny clothes – that was me the last time around.
By the time I had my boy-girl twins, babies 3 and 4 most of my friends were done with having babies and were offloading baby clothes onto me, left right and center. The clothes mountains were a challenge to navigate for quite some time, until I’d organized their closet.
It’s not only the sheer volume and their tiny size – but you may not know exactly which baby clothes you need and how often you’ll need different items. Frequency of use can help determine exactly where and how to store things, which we will get on to.
What baby clothes and gear need organizing and storing?
Before starting to organize the nursery closet, you need to figure out exactly what clothes and other gear you have or still need to get. From there you can decide what you want to go in baby’s closet versus what goes elsewhere.
Everyday clothes & accessories
Onesies, sleepers and bodysuits are the most commonly used items for newborns and will likely make up the majority of your baby’s wardrobe in those early months. So a standard “outfit” will probably consist of a bodysuit/onesie (short-sleeved vest with no legs) with a sleepsuit/one-piece (long-sleeved with legs) over the top.
How many outfits does a newborn baby need? This depends on your baby, as well as how often you do laundry. If your baby spits up a lot or has reflux, you could go through 6+ outfits a day, that was my first daughter.
By contrast, her older brother easily went the whole day in the same outfit. So I used far fewer clothes for him. My twins were somewhere in between, probably averaging 2 or 3 outfits a day.
Of course, you’re not going to know this until your little one arrives. So as a rule of thumb, assuming you do laundry every 2-3 days, 10 outfits should do it. So 10 onesies and 10 sleepsuits.
Then there are mittens, and hats (a few of each, since they fall off and get lost easily).
Newborn sleepwear & outerwear
Swaddle sacks and/or swaddle blankets are great for helping baby to settle as a newborn, then when they’re older sleeping bags are the way to go.
Finally, outerwear: padded pram suits with inbuilt mittens and a hood should cover it.
Special occasion outfits
Like meeting family members for the first time, Christenings or holiday parties.
Here, we’re talking about that cute flowery dress and cardigan set and those adorable red corduroy trousers with matching shirt and waistcoat. Cute, but not practical and probably not all that comfortable for a newborn either.
Baby shoes can also be added to the list here – until your baby is walking, shoes are not necessary.
To sum it up, here are all the different baby clothes that you’ll need as a minimum for a newborn:
- 10 onesies
- 10 sleepsuits
- 3-5 pairs of mittens
- 3-5 hats
- 5+ bibs
- 10+ burp cloths
- cute outfits for special occasions and photos
- 3-4 swaddle sacks and/or swaddle blankets
- 1-2 pramsuits
Safe sleep guidelines recommend that babies sleep on a firm flat mattress, in a clear cot free of loose blankets pillows, toys, bumpers and sleep positioners. So if you thought you needed to buy any of those things for baby, you don’t.
Other baby gear
Besides clothes, the list of baby gear that you already have or plan to get could be pretty endless. Here are the essentials that you’ll need to find a home for, potentially in baby’s closet:
- diapers and diaper cream
- thermometer and medicines
- crib sheets and towels
- books and toys
- breast pump, storage bags etc
- bottles and bottle sterilization equipment
- pacifiers and teethers
- baby wrap/sling/carrier
- bows and headbands for baby girls
What do you put in a baby closet?
So there’s a lot of baby stuff, that much we’ve established! Next steps, deciding what to put in the nursery closet versus somewhere else.
That all depends on how big your nursery closet is, what other storage you have in baby’s room as well as how easily accessible your different storage solutions are. Things you want to access daily, like everyday baby clothes, need to be in the most easily accessible places, whether that’s in a dresser in the nursery or a drawer unit in the closet.
What I store in my baby’s closet vs the nursery dresser
The twins room is large and has a big dresser in it but their closet is small and narrow – you can walk into it, just, but I’d hardly call it a walk-in closet. In the nursery dresser are larger items that I don’t want to access every day; it’s a lovely antique pine dresser but the bottom three drawers do not slide out easily, you need two hands for those ones. Sheets, sleeping bags and next size pram suits are stored in those.
(The two top dresser drawers, which are smaller and do slide easily, have swaddles and all the diaper changing kit, since I also use the top of the dresser as a change table.)
I keep baby clothes and all the things I need easy access to in the closet – although it’s small and has to store double the amount for two babies, there’s enough room because it’s well organized and there’s no unused space.
Inside the closet is a small drawer unit which has been rather under-utilized until now – it’s very old but seems to have finally find it’s calling as a baby closet dresser! The drawers are not much good for anything, but the tiny clothes of a small baby and slide out really easily. With one hand I can easily grab a sleepsuit out the dresser drawer, while holding baby in the other.
Do you hang onesies?
To hang or to fold? The choice is really function versus fashion. Baby clothes look so adorable, it’s tempting to want to hang them all up, but it’s more practical to store everyday clothes in a small dresser or drawer unit within the closet.
Why fold onesies?
- It’s a much better use of space than hanging clothes on a hanging rail.
- Hanging baby clothes can be a bit of a pain, since they’re so tiny! It can be fiddly trying to get those little hangers into the sleeves.
- When you’re in a hurry, packing away endless amounts of laundry, you can simply shove the clothes in the drawer and shut it, you can skip folding or neatly rolling them all, and no one’s any the wiser. (Yup, this is the only way I put baby clothes away lately!)
Only hang the special occasion/impractical but cute outfits that you’re going to use a handful of times as well as matching outfits, that can be kept together a little easier by hanging (put the top on the hanger and clip matching pants to the bottom).
Pack away all other clothes into drawers or other boxes etc.
How to decide exactly what goes in the closet
Now you know what baby clothes and gear you have or will need to get, the following questions will help you decide exactly what to store in it and how.
Up to what age baby clothes will you be storing in the closet?
If you have a lot of hand-me-downs and have lots of older baby clothes, as I did, you need to decide how many of these i.e. up to what age, will be stored in the nursery closet. This will depend on how much space it has.
If you have a small nursery closet, then you may only want to store clothes up to, say, 6 months in the closet. You can store older baby clothes elsewhere in the house e.g. attic, guest bedroom etc. This will make it easier to manage and organize baby’s closet and keep it tidy.
What other baby gear needs organizing into the closet?
Again, this will depend on how big the closet is and what other gear you need to organize. Also consider that some items will be used and stored in other parts of the house once baby has arrived.
For example, baby slings or carrier and pram suits, will likely live hanging by your front door if you use them frequently and if you end up using bottles, then they and the sterilizing equipment, will have a permanent home in the kitchen or utility.
What other storage do you have or can you make available in baby’s nursery?
If you have a nursery dresser, this can be used for all sorts of baby things, freeing up space in the closet. However, if your nursery is a squeeze and you don’t have a dresser, panic not. There are some great storage solutions that will help create extra space in the nursery:
- storage boxes or baskets for under baby’s cot
- hanging closet organisers for the wall or back of the nursery door
- shelves or shelf units with storage boxes or baskets
- wall hooks with hanging baskets
Finally, what existing furniture or storage solutions will fit into baby’s closet
Do you have any furniture elsewhere that’s not being fully utilized? As mentioned above, the centerpiece of the twins’ nursery closet is a small dresser with tiny drawers, perfect for baby clothes. A bedside table with drawers could also work well in a nursery closet.
The best nursery closet organization ideas
Now that you know what you’re going to store in the closet, it’s time to get organizing! Here are some great baby closet organization ideas that will help you keep your baby’s nursery neat and tidy while still looking cute. (Because this post is all about organization, I’ve even organized the ideas into different categories… I’m an organizer by nature, I can’t help it! )
Nursery closet organization ideas for PRACTICALITY
Most importantly, the closet needs to be well organized so it’s easy to use.
#1 Keep baby’s everyday essentials within easiest access
So onesies and sleepsuits should be the most accessible, preferably in a drawer unit that’s easily opened with one hand, for the times when you are holding baby in the other.
All your diaper stuff will be at your changing table or diaper station, so unless that’s in your closet, we’re not including those things.
Other frequently used items for a newborn are hats, bibs and mittens so these need to be in easy reach.
#2 Sort and label any next size up clothes and store out the way
There are lots of gorgeous photos of rails of clothes, sorted by size and separated by pretty closet dividers. Potentially that means clothes that won’t be used for 6+ months will take up valuable space in one of the most accessible places.
I’d recommend sorting and storing older baby clothes by size, into clearly labelled containers, and packing them in a less accessible space, like the top closet shelves.
For the first year, baby clothing is normally sized in 3 month increments, with the exception of the smallest “small baby” or “newborn” clothes that only last first month or so. So, keep these ones easily accessible, pack the others up top.
#3 Have an easily accessible storage box/basket for outgrown clothes
When an item of clothing has been outgrown, put it straight into this storage box/basket once it’s back from the laundry. Try to avoid letting outgrown clothes mix in with baby’s current clothes as you’ll find yourself trying to put too small clothes on your baby again. Dressing baby’s isn’t fun, you don’t ever want to have to repeat the exercise.
#4 Once baby has outgrown more than half the current size, move to the next size up, don’t mix
Don’t start mixing in the next size up clothes before packing away the current size. Make the switch across the board.
So once baby has outgrown most of their newborn clothes, remove these from the outgrown basket, add the newborn clothes that still fit to the pile and either gift on immediately or store elsewhere, e.g. in the attic, for future children.
Then simply grab your 0-3 month box and unpack them.
#5 Have an easily accessible “keepsake box” for memorable baby items
Have a special box or basket just for special keepsake items. You might want to keep their hospital wristbands in there, as well as some of their tiny baby clothes that you’re particularly fond of. Try not to save too much – the stuff quickly mounts up!
Having learnt my lesson with my first two babies, this time around I went for very small keepsake boxes, which also have a bit of history: two mini-suitcases as seen in this picture, as it happens, one is from each of my Grandmothers. I just love them!
#5 Have a sensor light inside the closet
In case of a middle-of-the-night blowout, or to avoid turning on lights in the nursery when you’re trying to settle baby, a discreet sensor light is a worthy investment. These are relatively inexpensive and will make your life so much easier! I like these ones that are magnetic and rechargeable – simply put on a shelf in the nursery.
#6 Use bow and headband organizers
This cute baby bow and headband organiser will make it easy to organize your baby girls hair bows and other hair accessories, like headbands, and look lovely too.
#7 Add extra closet shelves to make storage units more easily accessible
Open shelves are ideal for storage boxes and baskets but once stacked are tricky to access; when you want something from the bottom unit you’re going to have to remove the ones stacked on top.
So if those units are going to store baby items that you need regularly, install extra shelves to make them easy to access.
LABELLING ideas for baby’s closet – for more practicality
More closet ideas on the theme of practicality, these ones are all about labelling!
#8 Use self-adhesive index card pockets on storage units to hold labels
These self-adhesive label holders are all about practicality, simply peel and stick to any plastic closet storage boxes and slip the label in. When you come to change the contents of the box, you can easily switch out the old label for a new one.
#9 DIY your own labels for drawers and storage boxes with bunting, ribbon and scrap book paper
Pretty nursery-themed labels are a quick way of adding some personality and style to necessary practicality in your nursery closet.
Below are the ones I made to label the closet dresser drawers which holds onesies and sleepsuits. I cut out onesie and sleepsuit shapes in blue patterned scrap paper for my baby boy twin and this floral pattern for my baby girl. Perfect for those who don’t understand baby clothing terminology (my husband) and those who are still learning to read (my older kids)!
#10 Chalkboard paint the front of the closet dresser drawers
I absolutely love this one and would definitely have gone for this if I wasn’t going for the vintage look. Simply paint a patch of chalkboard onto the front of each dresser drawer then you can write what’s in each drawer. As baby grows and you have to reorganize, you can simply rub out and re-write.
#11 Use closet dividers
If you do decide to hang most of your baby’s clothes or have a lot of special occasion outfits, organizing baby clothes by size is a must using closet dividers like these. This will make it much easier to find the right outfit when you’re in a hurry.
Alternatively, make your own – here’s a tutorial to make DIY nursery closet dividers.
#12 If you don’t want to mark the outside of a drawer, label the top
This means the label will only be visible when you pull the drawer out. I find this sufficient for the large nursery dresser, since it only stores things used less frequently. It works particularly well for wide drawers, as you can see in the picture.
Closet organization ideas that make it look CUTE
Just because it’s a closet, you still want to make it look pretty and, if possible, fit the decor of the nursery.
#13 Give the closet a fresh coat of paint before you start
Either color match it to the nursery or go white and bright – that’s what I did with the twins closet and what a difference it made.
#14 Personalize your baby’s closet with their name or initials
Adding your baby’s name or initials inside the nursery closet is a really sweet way of personalizing it and adding some lovely decoration too. You could try some bunting, like I have below, wooden letters or how about some resin flower letters?
#16 Get a set of matching hangers
Lots of baby clothes come on plastic hangers, I simply cleaned off the sticky labels and reused them. But for a neater look, you could invest in a set of matching hangers. Here are some lovely baby velvet hangers, which not only look the part but are non-slip too, making it easy to hang up that cute jersey top with matching pants.
#17 Add some nursery themed wallpaper
A quick and easy way to add personality and style to the nursery closet is by using some nursery-themed wallpaper on one of the walls. This is only worth doing if you have some bare wall space or open shelves where the wall is clearly visible. If the nursery closet is going to be full to the brim with storage boxes, obviously you won’t see the wallpaper.
#15 Hang special occasion outfits on hangers
These are the cute ones that look good but aren’t particularly practical. Have these on show to add to the decor.
#18 Choose nursery storage units, shelves & hooks that coordinate with the nursery decor
Whichever nursery theme you’ve gone for, you should be able to find storage boxes, baskets and wall hooks that fit with that look. I found these adorable brass bear hooks on Ebay and they fit so well with the vintage decor.
#19 Put baby booties and other cute items out on display
If you have enough space in the closet, you could dedicate a shelf to pretty baby things, like first booties, scan photos or something of sentimental value, like old fashioned trucks and vehicles from when your parents were kids.
SMALL & NARROW nursery closet organization ideas to INCREASE STORAGE
Is your nursery closet the size of a broom cupboard? My twin’s closet is! So here are some small nursery closet organization ideas specifically for tiny closets.
However, whatever the size of baby’s closet, I’d recommend making use of every inch of spare space now. The older your baby gets, the more they will end up needing – their stuff just seems to multiply on a monthly basis! So you may as well get ahead; don’t leave any closet space unused.
#19 Install wall hooks or rails with hanging baskets or bins
There’s normally an abundance of unused wall space in the closet, particularly on the inside of the sidewalls. You need to use this vertical space, particularly in small closets. Install wall hooks or, if enough width, a rail.
Then you can hang baskets and bins, for small items, like hats, mittens, teethers and so on. The Ikea sunnersta rail with hooks and bins works perfectly for this.
Once baby is older, simply remove the baskets and use the hooks for bigger items of clothing like coats and dressing gowns. Or if you want to display headbands or ribbons, you can simply hang them from the rail with multiple hooks for a cute and super organized look.
#20 Invest in a storage unit/organizer for the back of the closet door
These come in all shapes and sizes these days. There are closet organizers with multiple pockets, designed for storing adult shoes – good for small baby items – and ones with fewer, much larger pockets – good for books, soft toys, or cloth diapers.
#21 Use shallow storage containers or trays under the bottom shelf or dresser
If you have a dresser with legs inside your nursery closet, or shelves, be sure to try and use the space underneath.
#22 Install a second temporary closet rail for more hanging space
Drawers are the most practical way to store everyday baby clothes, such as onesies and sleepsuits. However, if you have a lot of clothes you want to display you can install a second rail. Most closets are designed with adult clothing in mind but baby clothes are small and take up very little vertical space, so you should have plenty of space below your existing rail.
However, I’d recommend buying a temporary and adjustable closet rail like this, or making your own.
The advantage of a temporary rail and adjustable rail is that once baby is wearing bigger clothes, you can simply lower your second temporary rail down and eventually remove it altogether.
When organizing my twins’ nursery closet, I made a second, temporary rail which hangs from the main closet rail using some pretty ribbon. My husband simply drilled a hole through each end of a short wooden pole, through which I threaded the ribbon. Cute and simple!
#23 Invest in the Elfa system
The Elfa system may be pricey but may be a worthy investment for small closets. They’re custom made to your exact specifications but won’t involve lots of drilling and tricky installation – extra shelves and hanging rails are hung off the main closet rail.
The Elfa is also extremely versatile as you’re able to move shelves and rails around as your storage needs change, so will last through toddler hood and beyond.
BUDGET nursery closet organization ideas
#24 Repurpose & reuse
If you’re after storage boxes see what you already have at home that you can use. If you’re going for the vintage look and/or are keen on upcycling and reusing, the following are great for storage:
- Large hat or gift boxes
- Sturdy vintage suitcases
- Old wicker baskets and hampers
- Old wooden tea chests or wine or fruit crates
- Large decorative biscuit & cake tins
- Old tissue boxes or coffee cans – perfect for all the little things
- Old diaper boxes – here’s a tutorial to cover them in wrapping paper and turn them into sturdy and pretty storage boxes
I love these old tea boxes which came from my Grandmother, all the way from Ceylon – you can still the Ceylon text. I use them to store baby bottles and other old toys.
#25 Use clothespins instead of clip hangers
To keep two-part baby outfits together, you can invest in clip hangers like these. However, clothespins attached to a regular hanger will do the job just as well.
#26 Check out your local dollar store
They offer great storage solutions such as drawer organizers and clear storage bins in all different sizes, as well as pretty accessories like bunting You just never know what you might be able to pick up for just a few dollars.
All the best ideas for nursery closet STORAGE SOLUTIONS
#27 Invest in a closet organizer or two
Even if you manage to recycle and repurpose, you’re likely to need to invest in one or two different types of storage solution when organizing baby’s closet. These will also help maximize space in the closet, so are great baby clothes storage ideas for small spaces.
If not, below are a selection of the best closet organizers for the nursery – some have been mentioned before in conjunction with other organization:
Hanging closet organizer
These come in different shapes and sizes, to hang on the back of the door, on a hook on the wall or on the closet rail. So first decide where it’s going to hang and then what you want to store in it.
- A shoe closet organizers like this are great for small items like hats, mittens, stuffed animals and toys.
- For bigger items, such as cloth diapers, try this back of door organizer with much bigger pockets.
Wicker baskets like these are ideal for storing baby items in the nursery closet as they look lovely and natural, plus they’re easily accessible. You can even line them with pretty fabric to match your nursery decor.
For a vintage industrial look, wire baskets like these might be exactly what you’re looking for. They’re also fairly practical as you can easily see what’s inside.
Clear plastic boxes
Clear plastic boxes like these are sturdier and more practical than wicker baskets. If you buy a set, they’re normally stackable which is great for the top closet shelf as you can stack and pack away boxes with items you don’t regularly access, like next size up clothes. Boxes containing items you need daily are better off unstacked, for easy access.
Foldable lidded boxes
These foldable collapsible fabric boxes with lids pack away flat when not in use and have lids so you can stack if necessary.
Closet drawer organizers
If you have a dresser in the nursery closet with large drawers, you may want to divide the drawers up with drawer dividers like these to make them easier to organize.
Stackable shelving unit
A stackable shelf unit like this is a great way to use vertical space in the nursery closet and can be rearranged as and when needed.
Closet rail dividers
For when you have different ages of clothing hanging up, these closet dividers will help you easily organize and navigate the closet.
Ikea sunnersta rail with hooks and bins
The Ikea sunnersta rail plus hooks and/or plastic bins will make good use of any spare wall space in the closet. Install the rail and attach hooks to hang hairbands, burp cloths etc, or for bigger items attach plastic bins.
The Elfa System
The Elfa system is perfect for changing needs since it can be reconfigured or added onto with just a few simple steps. Plus, you’ll get to maximize that small space in your room.
Ready to get cracking and organize your baby’s closet?
I hope you’ve enjoyed these baby closet ideas and organization tips and now have a plan in mind to make that space cute as well as functional. I’d love to hear what you think of my own efforts!
Nursery closet organization FAQs:
When should you organize baby’s nursery and closet?
Most parents like to start organizing and planning baby’s nursery around the 20-week mark but if you’re not feeling ready to nest just yet, there’s no need to worry. Baby’s don’t need very much at first and although it’s nice to be super organized ahead of time, it’s by no means, essential. Although I love to organise, deciding what to put where and what to buy is where I fall down. So I only finished organizing the twins closet and nursery by the time they turned 3 months! Of course, as soon as they were born my time disappeared into a black hole so it was a slow process.
How do I organize a nursery closet on a budget?
There are plenty of ways to organize your nursery closet without spending a lot of money. One way is to use things you already have around the house, like old hat boxes, suitcases, baskets, and crates. Another way is to buy second-hand storage solutions and upcycle. Check the list of nursery closet organization ideas for inspiration.
Can you put the changing table in the nursery closet?
You can put the changing table in the nursery closet – it’s nice to tuck it away out of site. However, it will take up a lot of space. A better option might be to use a freestanding changing station that can be moved around as needed. Alternatively, you could consider using a chest of drawers or dresser and simply put your changing pad on the top. You can now get changing tables that clip onto the top of baby’s crib, freeing up valuable space in the nursery and closet.
What’s the best way to store baby clothes?
Folding or rolling and stacking into drawers is my preferred way to store baby clothes as it doesn’t take up a lot of space and if it’s a bit untidy no one will see! Folding and stacking on open shelves is also good as you can easily see what you need (but also see untidy folding!)
Hanging baby clothes takes up the most space and it the least practical but great for cute-looking clothes that look good on display.
Check whether baby’s nursery will change uses in the near future
Do you want to make permanent changes to the nursery closet, by adding built-in shelves and extra hanging rails? Or perhaps you’re living in a rental property or know that in a year you’ll be moving baby in with their sibling and the nursery will become a guest room. So then you want to avoid any permanent changes.
How do you organize a small closet with a lot of stuff?
The following list of nursery closet organization ideas will also be very suitable for small and narrow closets. To be honest, it doesn’t matter how big the closet or nursery is, you will always want more space – you always want to maximize on storage space.