My husband and I live in a small apartment. We have 940 square feet divided up between two bedrooms and two bathrooms, a large kitchen, a small living room, and a spacious utility closet for a full-sized washer and dryer. While our apartment is the perfect size for the two of us plus the dog, it’s going to be a tight squeeze once we add a baby to the mix.
Right off the bat we had to nix the traditional nursery. Our second bedroom is tiny (I’ve literally had larger closets), and we both work from home quite a bit and have jobs that involve a lot of time spent on computers. We both need full-sized desks for our computers, and there is nowhere else in the house where they will fit. (They barely fit in the second bedroom.) Since we have no magical way of producing a third bedroom or any space that is big enough to put a full-sized crib, baby having a room all their own is pretty much out of the question.
So far, what we’ve decided to do to accommodate baby until our lease is up in July and we can find a larger place:
I made the executive decision long before we got pregnant that I wanted to use a cosleeper for the first few months of our baby’s life. I plan to breastfeed, and I felt that the cosleeper was a safe way to have baby close at hand for those night feedings. I didn’t relish the idea of crawling out of bed several times a night and stumbling into another room in the dark to breastfeed to begin with, so the fact that this compact baby bed will nestle right up against our bed and take up far less room than a traditional crib actually works out quite well without even having to be a compromise.
I wasn’t planning to use a changing table (total waste of money in my opinion), but my husband insists that if I want his help cloth diapering, we need a changing station near the toilet to minimize the opportunities for poop-to-skin contact. (Yes, he’s in for a rude awakening when baby gets here. I’m almost looking forward to the first massive blow out our baby has to see how he’ll react.)
The solution to our problem was the Baby Diego Bathinette. It’s a 2-in-1 bath tub and changing table that we can set up in the second bathroom right by the toilet and that we can fold up and store away when we need the second bathroom. This will give us both functionality and help us maximize space. Plus, I’m looking forward to having a free-standing bath tub instead of having to awkwardly squat to get the baby into and out of my tub, especially if I end up having to have a C-section.
One thing we did manage to do in the second bedroom was completely empty the closet to make way for baby’s clothes and smaller toys. We did this by getting rid of my husband’s work bench, replacing it with a tall and inexpensive wire storage shelving unit from Fred Meyer, and moving everything that was in the closet or the bench onto the shelves. (We also sent a whole car-load of unnecessary crap to Goodwill.) Clothes that need to be hung can now go on hangers on the rack, and for everything else, we’ll fold them and put them away in a Trofast shelving unit from IKEA. It’s the perfect size to fit into our narrow closet, and I like the fact that we can get different sizes and colors for the plastic drawers, which will be excellent for storing different types of items. The Trofast shelving unit is comparatively inexpensive, easy to clean, and when we do have more space, there are a lot of other inexpensive matching items we can pick up to maximize storage as baby gets more stuff.
No, we’re not planning a massive shoe collection for our newborn. We’re planning to cloth diaper, and since shelf space is at a minimum, I figured this would be a good way to utilize one of the few open spaces in our apartment. Each cloth diaper can be rolled to fit in a shoe pocket, and the rack in total will hold about 2 days worth of AIO (all-in-one) cloth diapers for newborns, which I’m hoping is about how many AIOs we end up having. I’m thinking we’ll probably put it over the back of the door in the second bathroom, since that seems to be the room that’s going to end up being diaper central in our house.
We’ll probably use this froggie hanging storage bin set from IKEA (“Fabler Groda” for those of you who are IKEA savvy) for our prefolds and covers. I’m still not sure how exactly we’ll handle our cloth wipes. I have a cloth-friendly warmer, so I may just put that in the second bathroom and keep it well-stocked, and keep the rest somewhere in the bedroom for quick prep or stuffing in a diaper bag on our way out the door. Ideas are welcome if you have any! 🙂
For all of our shampoos, powders, diaper-friendly rash creams, wipe solution, and safety/first aid items, we’ll keep them stored away in this. I really love this caddy. It’s not only very pretty, but it also has so many compartments with lots of different sizes to keep everything organized. This is probably just my extreme type A-ness, but I always feel a little more peaceful when there is a place for every thing and everything is in its place. I also like that if we’re going for a weekend trip to Grandma and Grandpa’s, it’ll be easy just to pick up the whole thing and load it into the car. I won’t have to worry about messing with our usual routine as much if we’re someplace else.
Other storage concerns:
- Baby wash cloths will go on the shelves that are already in the second bathroom, which are currently reserved for guest towels. We doubt we’ll have many guests staying the night once the baby arrives, so we won’t worry so much about whether we’ve always got a fresh supply of towels in there.
- Baby hooded towels will probably end up on hooks on the wall in the second bathroom above where we’ll use the bathinette.
- Ditto for the wet bag for dirty diapers.
- I’m still not sure what we’re going to do about big items like the swing, the bouncy seat, or the play mat when they’re not in use. I’m hoping we get a lot of use out of them, though, and that I won’t feel too overwhelmed by having them occupy valuable floor space in our already cramped living room. If anyone has some good suggestions with how to store these items when they’re not in use–and a storage system that would make them easy to access and put away–I’d love to hear them.
So there you go. Some of our ideas for overcoming our space constraints. The hope is that for the first 4-5 months, our little girl won’t have that much stuff and won’t really need that much space. Even though in some ways I’m kind of sad that we won’t get to have the big, fancy nursery with matching furniture, coordinated bedding sets and pastel paint on the walls, trying to fit a baby into our small apartment has been a reminder to me that babies really don’t need that much and won’t care either way whether they had a pristine nursery for their first couple of years. Our space challenges have kept us frugal and focused on the things that we really need.