Babies require a lot of stuff—especially considering their cute, miniature size. I had a realization about this fact in the middle of my pregnancy with my first. My cousin invited me to go through the baby gear in her basement, carefully labeled and organized in bins, to select some hand-me-down supplies. Looking at bouncers, play pens, and baby gates, I felt a wave of overwhelm. What are these things, and why are there so many of them? Did I really need them, especially in my diminutive Brooklyn apartment?
The answer to that last question was…sometimes. Living in small homes makes choosing the right baby gear even more essential. Here’s how to navigate selecting baby supplies that will make life easier without creating clutter.
Some creative thinking can go a long way. We opted for setting up a changing station on top of our nursery dresser instead of buying new furniture just for diaper changing. With a soft changing pad and some cheerful baskets for diapers, wipes, and other supplies, it worked seamlessly. My breastfeeding pillow doubled as a cozy spot for the baby to hang out. We also set up our Pack 'n Play, which we used as a crib when we traveled, in our living room as a makeshift play space—with plenty of toys, of course.
Cribs and highchairs can be incredibly bulky, but there are more smartly designed safe-spacing choices than ever before. Take Ingenuity Sun Valley, a just-launched highchair, which is now available at Walmart. It’s a full-size highchair with a much smaller footprint than many others, and it has a slim-fold design for easy storage, so you can slide it into a closet or against the wall when you’re not using it.
It has the perks of a much larger chair, and then some: removable, washable fabrics—a huge perk for inevitable messes—and an innovative locking Twist & Dine Plate, which makes mealtime fun and fosters self-feeding skills. This is the perfect choice for any small kitchens. Another small-space idea: a highchair like Sun Valley can serve as an extra space for your little one to sit and play with blocks or just hang out with the family.
Finding places to put away the clutter of toys and supplies is a brilliant way to make a space feel bigger, more organized, and more peaceful. We found cheerful baskets at Home Goods and Costco, ideal for stashing baby toys and blankets. We hung up colorful hooks for hanging up coats and baby clothes. A pegboard is a cheap and fun way to create more storage for diapers, bibs, and other odds and ends. Bookshelves can hold baby essentials while simultaneously making a cute design statement.
Look up—using vertical space makes your square feet go farther. Storage cubes, ladder shelving, and built-in shelving units are all smart options to fit more in the space you have. Loo down—space under beds and cribs doubles as excellent storage space. Just slide underneath in a basket or bin and, viola, it’s gone.
When we had our second baby, we ended up putting his bassinet in the living room. It was close enough to our bedroom that we could be there quickly, but we loved having a door we could close. When he graduated to a crib, he started to share a room with his big sister. We weren’t sure how it would go, but it works great (for the most part). First thing in the morning, I often open the door to the two of them looking through books, playing, and singing together. It gives me a few more minutes to get my coffee—plus, it makes my heart happy.
In the age of easy ordering, there’s no need to stock up on solutions to problems that you’re not sure if you’ll have. Each baby, family, and home are different. You can use your baby registry to ask for essentials you know you’ll need, like diapers and onesies, then wait to see if that playpen, sing, or bouncer really feels right.
Here’s to joyful, cozy babyhoods and parenthoods in whatever space you have.