Babies are the smallest members of the family but still manage to take up a lot of space. Even if you try to keep the baby gear from taking over, you’ll likely find that the “must haves” are enough to make your place feel more cramped than ever.
The fact is that unless you want to wear your baby strapped to you 24/7, you need some place to put her down. And unless you want her to sleep in your bed with you (which some do), you’ll need somewhere for her to sleep. And as she gets older, she’ll need some decent place to play where she can learn to roll over, sit up, and eventually crawl. All of this takes space you might not feel you have.
How can you make the room for your new addition when you live in a small or even medium-sized place? We recently did—bringing our daughter home to our 900 square foot townhouse—and have learned a few tricks along the way.
First of all, it’s good to keep things in perspective. According to Grist, Americans’ idea of what’s an acceptable amount of space has transformed radically in the last 60 years. In 1950, the average American family of 3.54 people lived in a home of 983 square feet—the size of a normal two-bedroom apartment in a city today. Today’s average family of 2.67 people lives in a home of almost 2,500 square feet.
So when you feel your place is “just too small” for a baby, take another look at how you’re using your space.
You’ll want to make sure everything you have is worth the space it takes up. Do you have redundant baby gear or things that you don’t use regularly? Do you have things you think you need but really don’t?
Do you keep things around after you’re finished using them “just in case”? I personally kept the co-sleeper next to the bed long after our girl had moved to her crib just in case she needed it again. Now that I’ve folded it up, I can see it’s best to cut the strings and move such things out.
A lot of the stuff babies need—diapers, clothes, blankets, towels—can be stored in drawers and on shelves. Think about going vertical on storage—using bookshelves or wall shelving to keep all this stuff in one place. For example, we use a hanging canvas shoe rack in our coat closet to hold all our baby’s winter gear.
When in doubt, rearrange. Our baby needed a decent play mat after my trick of having her play on our bed ran its course. We rearranged the dining room, carving out one side of the room for some foam tiles where she can sit and learn to move around. The dining table, which used to be in the middle of the floor, is now flush against one wall, and the room actually feels bigger despite one half the room being baby-only.
How have you made space for your baby? Did you need to move to a bigger house, or have you made do with a smaller place? What tips do you have for new parents who are getting ready for a new arrival?