How to Raise a Baby in a Small Apartment
Kids require a lot of things. Certainly there are people who can provide for their kids in a minimalistic way, and even if you abstain from buying any toys and keep clothes simple, you will still end up with more stuff then you've ever imagined. This is because of a little known secret about children: they get bigger.
While they keep growing, clothes, toys, and gear that was once desperately needed suddenly needs to be tucked away. When you have a small house, the sheer amount of things that babies need can quite frankly feel suffocating. With limited space, it's even more important to make some careful considerations when determining what to register for, where to put things, and what kind of home you want for your family.
I've been raising my son in a relatively small house. Our city apartment felt cramped when it was just my husband and me, but with our son, we had to be careful about everything we bought and how we decorated. Having a baby should be a joyous occasion, not one that raises concerns over how the baby is going to fit into a space. With a little planning and accommodation, that tiny house will feel like a palatial home.
Ahead, eight tips to help you raise a baby in a small apartment.
Use Friends and Family Wisely
First and foremost, be honest with your friends and family about your desire to not burden the house with things. While you may have a strict five-toy-limit, your Great Aunt Sally might not care. For a lot of toys I was gifted that were too large for my space, they lived at the grandparents' house.
Additionally, borrow whatever you can. One of the hardest parts with kids is the obscene amount of stuff they leave behind as they get older. If you borrow as much as possible, you don't have to worry about how you're going to store it later.
Consider Sharing Some Space in the Beginning
My husband and I were adamant that our son would have his own nursery right away, but in hindsight that wasn't entirely necessary. For the first couple months of his life he may have started out in his room, but would end up either in a bassinet or co-sleeping with us.
It may not be ideal, or even an option for your family, but keeping the baby in your bedroom for as long as you can stand it might be helpful in preserving space and sanity. Since this is also the current recommendation to help prevent SIDS, it also serves a practical sense.
Be Aware of Sound
We have crazy squeaky floors. They're the kind of floors that, while beautiful, announce your presence with only the slightest foot tap. We also have to be careful about TV volume since our nursery is right off the living room.
Sound travels in small places, and even though you'll get by without an audio monitor, it can stink that you're unable to watch TV above a whisper. Some kids aren't bothered by noise, but if your baby ends up like mine, you're going to have to find a place to relax that's far away from them.
Rethink Communal Space
In an ideal situation, every home would come with a solarium, an office, and at least one extra bedroom. In a small living space, that's just not happening. When you're dealing with minimal bedrooms, unfortunately, everyone needs to be accommodating.
By creating flexible spaces, each room can pull double or triple duty. An office or living room can hold a crib, even if that requires some movement on behalf of the adults throughout the day. Being flexible will make everyone feel better.
Stock Up on Boxes
One thing that is common in all of my friends' houses is that they are all replete with boxes. So many boxes. When babies are younger, the boxes will be filled with extra bibs and diapers, and when they get older they become filled with everything you could imagine. Missing bottle? Check the baskets. These will help you feel organized and make the place look clean, even if you're bursting at the seams for space.
Small and Collapsable Items are Your Friend
Despite your initial feelings in the hospital, you're going to want to put down your baby every once in a while. The frustrating thing is that you're going to essentially buy items that they will use for at most a year. Things like rockers, Jumperoos, and baby gates will be necessary — lifesaving even — because you can't hold them all day.
However, make sure to find devices that are collapsible and can be easily stored under sofas or beds. If your space just isn't large enough to keep baby gear out all day, you should be able to swiftly grab them out from under their hiding space.
Rethink the High Chair
High chairs can be a beautiful statement piece for a dining room. However, most homes on the small side don't have one, or if they do, they're not working with very large dimensions. Consider getting a high chair that can fold up, or one that can attach to the table. Since they'll only use a high chair for a short time, you'll be grateful for having a small one when you're trying to cram it into a closet somewhere.
Hide Toys in Every room
When that sweet baby is older, be prepared to hide toys in literally every room. Toys in the bathroom? Definitely. Stuff hidden in the kitchen? For sure. Since you're not going to be giving your child a playroom, finding a way to store and place toys in every room will be necessary. If you don't, they will stash their things where you don't want.