Kallax shelves on colorful background for Cubby Nursery awards
Credit: Illustration: Amrita Marino; Photo: IKEA
Cubby Nursery Awards 2024

We Asked 1,000 Parents to Share the Most Helpful Storage Items They Used in Their Nursery (and They’ll Work in Any Space)

published Apr 25, 2024
We independently select these products—if you buy from one of our links, we may earn a commission. All prices were accurate at the time of publishing.

Parenting is hard, but discovering what baby essentials to buy shouldn’t be. If you’re looking for nursery ideas, you may be focused on pinning all the baby boy nursery ideas or baby girl nursery ideas you can find, but don’t forget about nursery storage. Between books, diapers, clothes, and toys, versatile, useful storage that grows with your kid is an equally-important part of setting up a nursery. Regardless of the nursery theme you’re going for (forest, space, equestrian, or otherwise!), the following storage products have proved their worth time and time again.

Why You Should Trust Us

This is a best list that comes with real chops. Cubby is helmed by a small yet vibrant team of design-savvy parents who are unusually invested in finding the best products for life at home with kids, beginning with the nursery. Faith Durand (SVP of content at Apartment Therapy Media, two kids, pro pinner of all the things), Cambria Bold (executive editor of Cubby, two kids, hobby designer, avid product researcher), and Laura Schocker (chief content officer at Apartment Therapy Media, one kid and one on the way, small-space/city-living expert) have 40 years of digital editorial experience between them. They’ve already read about, researched, and purchased many of the baby products that you, as a soon-to-be parent, are wondering about right now. They’ll tell you exactly what you need to know about what to get. 

If they don’t know the answer, they know plenty of people to ask — fellow editors, parenting experts, designers, and Cubby readers — so you can be sure that these recommendations come from real-life experiences.

Most importantly, we don’t just “office test” these products (read: order a bunch and shake ‘em around in our office “lab” with a fake baby doll) because that is helpful to approximately no one. The products we recommend here are ones we or fellow parents have actually purchased ourselves for our nursery and used for at least a few months (and sometimes way longer). The rave reviews are real.

How We Chose These Products

We asked readers (and parents!) of Apartment Therapy Media, which includes Cubby, Apartment Therapy, and The Kitchn, to tell us what storage products they used for their nursery. We received over 1,000 responses. We took the most recommended bins, baskets, and bookcases from the survey and then assessed our own firsthand experiences with the product. If the product came strongly recommended by our survey parents and/or was personally used for a significant period of time (with positive results!) by one of our editors, it made it to this list!

Credit: Chloe Berk

The Best Bookcase for the Nursery: The KALLAX Shelf Unit from IKEA

To no one’s surprise, IKEA made a strong showing in the nursery storage category, with hundreds of parents praising its many affordable storage basics — and none more than the KALLAX shelf unit. This cubby- or cube-style bookcase (the best bookcase style for toys, as we’ve written about before) has so many advantages. You can place it standing up or on its side; the cubes can accommodate everything from storage bins and books to toys, clothes, or diapers; and the price just can’t be beat. 

What Parents Said About the IKEA KALLAX in our Survey

“We bought an IKEA KALLAX, which we initially used to store books and PJs (with bins). My kids are now 2 and 6 and we still use that bookcase in their shared room, now on its side. It stores books and toys and they love to build elaborate LEGO scenes at the just-right-sized top.”

“We use the IKEA KALLAX cubbies in the playroom/nursery with bins because it keeps the mess and chaos less visible.”

“I like things to look tidy and to be organized, so we used a lot of baskets to sort items and store things … I got a cube bookcase from IKEA (KALLAX, 2 cubes by 4 cubes) and laid it sideways on the floor in the closet. We could stack things on top and hang clothes above it. Makes great use of out-of-sight storage.”

“IKEA Kallax is great — we used drawer inserts to store onesies, socks, and other small items. We used storage baskets for toys. Once kids got older, we removed drawer inserts and used them for books and toys.”

“IKEA KALLAX shelves have been perfect for our Montessori-inspired setup and I would recommend that to anyone.”

“We did not do any traditional nursery furniture besides cribs. Our IKEA Kallax shelving unit with the matching straw IKEA baskets helped keep everything visually calm, organized, and easy to put away.”

“IKEA KALLAX cube storage — this thing is a WORKHORSE. You can add drawers or cabinet doors if need be. We still have the original one and it has held up beautifully despite making multiple moves to new houses. Another nursery item that easily grows with your kiddo and you can use it for other things for years to come.”

“IKEA KALLAX bookshelves when laid on their side are perfect for displaying children’s toys and are easy for them to reach once they are mobile. I now use a 4-cube KALLAX as a mini wardrobe for my baby so she can put away/take out her own clothes when she is older.”

“The IKEA Kallax was super handy both as a display shelf and also to store clothes and toys in.”

“The simple IKEA Kallax units are very versatile for holding books and toys (great for Montessori rotation) and are compatible with many kinds of baskets.”

Two Great Alternatives to the IKEA KALLAX Shelf

If you don’t live near an IKEA, two other highly recommended, cube-style bookcases for the nursery are the ECR4Kids 8-Compartment Storage Cabinet and the West Elm Parker Cubby Bookcase, with one parent calling the Parker Bookcase “a bit more elevated” than the IKEA KALLAX. Cubby’s Executive Editor, Cambria Bold, bought the ECR4Kids 8-compartment storage cabinet for her kids’ play area many years ago, and can attest to its quality: “It was incredibly sturdy and well-made, and I liked the natural wood finish more than the white of the KALLAX at the time.”

Credit: Pehr

The Best Bins for the Nursery: Pehr Canvas Storage Containers

Available in multiple sizes and shapes and both pom pom and stripe variations, Pehr’s canvas storage containers are designed to fit inside standard cube bookcases (like the KALLAX). Their simplicity is ingenious: You can use Pehr bins for every age and stage! While you might store diaper cloths in the early months, later on you could use them to corral LEGOs or dirty socks. “We love love love the Pehr storage bins,” said one survey parent. “They are so cute and functional. We’ve used them for many different purposes.”

Cubby Contributing Editor, Laura Fenton, also loves the Pehr bins, as she wrote about in her review of why Pehr bins are the best toy storage bins. As she writes, “One of the key reasons I love Pehr bins is that they are just the right size. I find that bigger bins are problematic because kids can’t find the toy they are looking for and when a big bin gets dumped, it’s a huge cleanup project. If one of our Pehr bins gets tipped over in playtime, it’s not a huge mess (all six bins is another story). There are certain toys, including craft supplies, that need a smaller, hard container, but for vehicles, Magna-Tiles, blocks, stuffed animals, and dress-up clothes, I find the Pehr bin to be the perfect size.”

Credit: Zoe Pickburn

The Best Floor Baskets for the Nursery: FLADIS Seagrass Baskets from IKEA

If you’re looking for floor storage baskets, you can’t beat the FLADIS seagrass baskets from IKEA. These soft, flexible baskets are roomier than the Pehr bins, but just as versatile. In fact, we named the FLADIS baskets the best IKEA storage basket for toys, and we stand by it. We particularly love the FLADIS’ large handles, which make it easy to pick up and carry from room to room. 

A Great Alternative to the FLADIS Baskets

If you can’t get hold of the FLADIS baskets from IKEA, this seagrass basket from H&M is a good dupe, and only $5 more.

Credit: IKEA

The Best Rolling Cart for the Nursery: The RASKOG Utility Cart from IKEA

Many of our survey parents recommended a utility cart for all kinds of baby and nursery storage needs, specifically the RASKOG cart from IKEA. “It helped hold all of my snacks, pumping supplies, pacifiers, etc,” said one survey parent. “I could roll it from the bed to the couch to the cradle and it was perfect.” Another one of our survey parents called the cart a “hero,” saying, “We had one for both of our kids and used it for diaper/cleaning stuff and toys and books. They are still in use in new ways (one is currently an art cart and the other is holding a collection of stuffies) and will continue to be for years. I love this cart so very much.”

Here’s how one survey parent organizes her RASKOG cart in the nursery: “Diapers, wipes, hand sanitizer on top shelf; thermometer, nasal aspirator, nail file etc. on middle shelf; and extra milk storage bags/breast pump parts/random stuff on bottom shelf.”

A Great Alternative to the RASKOG Cart

If you can’t get your hands on IKEA’s RASKOG cart, this 3-Tier Rolling Cart from The Container Store is a terrific alternative. As one survey parent said, “The Container Store rolling cart was lovely for early diaper supply storage and has transitioned into a toddler art cart.”