How to Make Room for a Baby in a Small Apartment
Welcoming a little one into the world is an exciting occasion. Whether this is your first child, or your sixth, making room for a baby can be challenging when you live in a small apartment. Don’t despair just yet! You can make plenty of room for your family’s new addition through repurposing existing items, sticking to the essentials, and using space creatively.
[Edit]Repurposing Existing Items
- Take stock of baby items you have. If this is not your first baby, begin by identifying any existing baby items you have, even if they have been used for other things, such as cloth diapers being used as rags.
- If you are unsure about needing or wanting any of your baby supplies, set them aside for donation. Small spaces don’t allow for lukewarm feelings about baby items.
- Set aside baskets and crates. Baskets and crates are excellent for storing the many things that come along with having a little one, so round up every storage container you have. Store baby items in baskets and crates on top of dressers, bookshelves, or mounted shelves to minimize clutter and keep your space tidy.
- If you don’t have baskets or crates, most thrift stores boast a hefty number of both. Visit your local secondhand store to find baskets and storage containers such as crates and jars that best suit your home and storage space.
- Hold on to your storage jars. Storage jars range from mason jars to left over jam jars. Hold onto your leftover glass jars, and use them for baby bottles (mason jars have several options for nipples and sippy cups), hair bow holders, and homemade baby food jars. Baby items stack up quickly, so having a place to store all of your baby’s necessities is pivotal.
- 4-ounce mason jars make great baby food storage jars, as do old baby food jars and small, reusable yogurt containers.
- If you do not have storage jars, you do not have to rush out to buy some; instead, gradually hold on to any jars you accumulate over the coming weeks and months.
- Use an existing dresser. Instead of trying to squeeze a new gadget into your limited space, create a small baby changing station on top of a dresser you already own. Instead of purchasing a new dresser, you can set aside a drawer (or even half a drawer) of your own space to place the baby’s clothing in.
- If you find that your baby’s clothing will not fit in the dresser you already have, you can hang small shelves above the changing station to store socks, onesies, burp cloths, and other necessities.
- Work with existing blankets and rags. Dedicated swaddling and burping rags are not strictly necessary. You can make use of blankets and rags you already own. Swaddling is ideal with square blankets, and burp rags should be soft enough to wipe a baby’s delicate skin. Search through your blankets and towels to find suitable options.
- If you truly do not have any suitable blankets for swaddling, stick to the basics, and purchase 2-3 muslin swaddles. These can be used as swaddles, nursing covers, and floor blankets for tummy time.
- Set aside a space for baby in a corner of the room. If you live in a studio, or don’t have a room set aside for a nursery, create a “nursery” in the corner of your room. This can include a crib and a changing station, along with under-crib storage containing your baby’s clothing or diaper items.
- Nesting hits many moms in the 3rd trimester. If you do not have a dedicated nursery, setting aside a small corner will help curb nesting instincts.
- Make toys with what you have. Your baby does not need all of the latest toys with sounds, buttons, and lights. Most children are happy playing with pots and pans, wooden spoons, and other things you have lying around the house. Limiting your toy intake will ensure you aren’t swimming in baby products, and will give your child a chance to engage in imaginative play.
[Edit]Sticking to the Essentials
- Purchase diapering tools. Diapering tools cannot be done without, so make this a priority. Diapering necessities include a one-week stash of diapers (for disposable diapers), or 15-20 cloth diapers, wipes, rash cream, and a diaper pail.
- While some stores will have various gadgets such as diaper warmers, these are not necessary, and will clutter up a small space.
- Be sure not to skip a diaper pail. A small space can be overwhelmed by the scent of soiled diapers quickly.
- Have enough clothing to last one week. Babies do not need wardrobes packed full of clothing items. Have enough clothing to last your baby one week, in addition to special items such as warm hats, sun hats, coats, swimsuits, and mittens. While the baby aisles lining most stores would suggest otherwise, a week’s worth of clothing will last your baby at least long enough to get another load in the washer.
- Having fewer items will mean more frequent laundering. However, more frequent laundering will likely save a lot of stress when it comes to saving space.
- Buy as you go, not years in advance. Sales can be extremely tempting, but avoid purchasing things out of season, instead purchasing only what you need at any given time. Having tons of clothes for each stage of your baby’s life will place a large spatial burden on your home, while buying as you need to ensures you have plenty of room for your growing family.
- Forego newborn shoes. They are unnecessary, and take up a lot of space. Instead, purchase thick, warm socks.
- Install multiple-use pieces. Avoid purchasing single-use items, and opt for multi-use ones. This could be as simple as using a crib with drawers built in, to purchasing baby bottles that can be used as cups a few months down the road.
- Many baby strollers come equipped with the ability to carry car seats, then change into regular strollers as your child grows. These will cut down on space.
- Use collapsible strollers, high chairs, swings, etc. Larger baby gear can take up a lot of room, and take over a home quickly. Whenever possible, opt for collapsible items, including strollers, high chairs, and swings. If possible, enlist a simple (small) umbrella stroller, high chairs designed to sit on already-existing chairs, and travel swings.
- Although umbrella strollers are not safe for use with newborns, you can have an umbrella stroller for 6 months and older, while using a baby carrier for the first six months.
- Pack’N Plays can be used in the place of cribs, and some models even have a bassinet and changing table attachment included to further cut down on space.
- Borrow what you can. To cut down on space, you can borrow gently used items from family and friends. Prepping baby tools this way allows you to take items into your home only when they are needed, and free up space the moment they are no longer necessary.
- When using secondhand items, make sure all screws, pins, and joints are tight and secure. Over time, screws and nails can work themselves loose and create a safety hazard.
[Edit]Using Space Creatively
- Use the walls as storage. Baby clothes are adorable, so why not use them as decoration? To free up some space in the closet, you can hang your baby’s clothing items on hooks on the wall, along with toys and shoes.
- Small spice racks can be great for wall storage of smaller items.
- Avoid hanging anything over your baby’s crib, in the event of a loose bolt or other unexpected hazard.
- Maximize the space under the crib. If you choose to use a crib, the space under the crib should be taken full advantage of. You can use wooden crates to store baby books and toys, or small baskets to store diaper supplies and spare clothing items. This space is also great for storing collapsible baby items such as swings and strollers.
- This space does not have to be dedicated entirely to baby things. If you’ve begun sharing a dresser, you can put your displaced clothing in bins beneath the crib.
- Place furniture in the closet. Cribs, dressers, changing tables, and more can be placed inside of the closet in the baby’s room to maximize space and minimize clutter. This is best achieved by first removing the door and corresponding hardware to maximize the entry way.
- If you prefer to have some privacy in the closet, you can hang a curtain to separate the closet from the rest of the room.
- Closets can also be great areas for hidden storage such as shelves and multiple hanging rods. As you store things in the closet, organize everything to prevent clutter and frustration.
- Use all rooms for storage. A baby doesn’t need a designated room for storing all of their things. Store things according to use. Baby bottles, bibs, burping cloths, and breast pumps can all be placed in kitchen cabinets, while diapers and wipes can be stored in the bathroom in over-the-toilet storage bins or hanging cabinets.
- The bedroom really only needs to house your baby’s sleeping arrangements and clothing. Virtually everything else can find a logical home elsewhere.
- Store baby items vertically. Instead of splaying all of the diaper supplies out on the surface of a desk or table, enlist the help of some kitchen storage items, and store baby items in vertical containers, whether that means hanging a vertical storage rack on the wall or placing stacking baskets on top of a cabinet or dresser.
- Vertical storage affords you the opportunity to be creative. You can repurpose a hanging fruit rack to store diapers and wipes, or a 3-tier cake stand to store lotion, medicine, and other small necessities.
- Take advantage of over-the-door storage options. Hanging storage options range from the small (a single hook), to the massive (a door covering boasting over one dozen compartments). Make your doors work for you and use them to store your baby’s clothing, diapering essentials, medicine, and toys.
- Door hangers are also available for cabinets, and can be used to store baby towels, rags, and burp cloths.
- Do what is best for your family, not what others say you should do. You know your own needs best.
- Try to look at your space with fresh eyes to come up with new storage and decorating ideas.
- Avoid looking at inspiration sites with large homes, as these spaces will not fit your home. Instead, glean inspiration from small spaces.
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