Tips for Raising a Baby in a Small Space

We’ve all asked the question: for being such tiny little things, how can babies require such a large amount of stuff?

For many of us, our homes are not spacious enough to house every baby gadget and gizmo without being overrun. If Marie Kondo has taught us anything, it’s that most of us thrive better in an uncluttered environment.

So what are we do to when the stork blesses us with that tiny bundle of joy?

Some people may decide to move to a bigger house. Many people, however, do not have that option or desire to go that route.

I don’t have all the answers to the space dilemma, but my husband and I were forced to wrestle with this ourselves when we had our daughter. Even though most of our friends were beginning their families in comfortably sized homes with designated nurseries, this was not going to be the case for us in our one-bedroom home. However, we figured families in New York City or many other countries have babies in small spaces all the time, so surely we could, too.

If you’re in this situation yourself, here are a few tips that may help:

1. Realize that you don’t need everything—not even close to everything.

As soon as you announce you’re pregnant, Facebook begins flooding you with baby product advertisements. It’s as if Mark Zuckerberg himself is expecting to come to the baby shower. In the frenzy of baby excitement, everything looks like a necessity, too. But it’s not.

Sure, some things are a necessity. Diapers, yes. Wipes, yes. A safe place for baby to sleep, of course. Three different versions of rockers/bouncers/swings, no.

The infancy stage especially is a challenge, and I’m a huge fan of quality products that help these early days to be more enjoyable and peaceful. However, every baby and family is different. What one website review claims as the saving grace of early motherhood might collect dust in another family’s home.

Case in point: someone lent us a particularly popular and expensive baby rocker. We got one thirty-minute nap out of it.

If at all possible, try to borrow items to see what works best for your family and living situation. Some baby stores, like ZukaBaby, even offer rental of items. If you fall in love with something, then you’ll know it’s worth the money and the space it’ll take up. If not, send it back and move on.

We also found it helpful to wait until each new baby stage to gauge whether we truly needed something. Each stage passes so quickly that what seems necessary one day becomes outgrown the next. I was convinced we needed a certain floor seat that looked like an adorable frog and had it in my Amazon cart for weeks. Then before I knew it, my daughter was sitting up on her own, no froggy seat needed.

2. Look for multifunctional baby products.

Some of my favorite products that I recommend and give as gifts to new parents are the ones that have multiple functions.

Instead of a high chair, we used a portable floor seat with a removable tray like this one. We loved being able to move it wherever we wanted to prop up our daughter (honestly, I don’t know why I ogled that frog floor seat when we already had this). Since we could secure it to a dining chair, we did not need a high chair and could easily stash it away when not in use. Even if we have a larger house with a future baby, I doubt we’ll choose a high chair over this. Plus, because it was so easily portable it was fantastic for eating at others’ houses, too.

I also enjoyed having this nursing/grocery basket/high chair/car seat cover. In addition to its many primary uses, I loved how soft it was for when our daughter needed a blanket while we were out.

My absolute favorite type of baby item might have to be muslin blankets. They swaddle beautifully, are large enough to lay out on the floor for play time or diaper changes, work well as nursing covers, and don’t take much space when folded. Their large size allows them longer usage than other baby blankets as baby grows, too.

Looking for some great muslin blankets with adorable Southern designs? Check out Little Hometown. Their swaddles are just darling.

3. Opt for smaller versions of baby products whenever possible.

Yes, certain items are necessary or at least quite useful. For any large pieces of furniture, pay attention to the dimensions and look for pieces on the sleeker side.

Maybe, instead of a changing table, your family will function more smoothly with a changing pad secured to a dresser.

Your baby will need a bed, but it doesn’t have to be a full crib. Mini cribs offer enough space for a baby while taking up less of your limited square footage. This mini crib even has wheels and folds up for easy storage if necessary. If you do opt for a full crib, look for one that has drawers underneath it so that it can double as storage for clothing and blankets.

Portable play yards are another option especially if you want to go the multifunctional baby item route here since they can pack up for easy travel. Some even have a changing table option, too.

For bath time, we found an infant tub that unfolds flat to be a practical option because we could easily store it away without taking up much space.

4. Choose colors that blend well with your living space.

To help toys blend with your living space, try decorative baskets under an end table or tucked in a corner.

If you’re concerned about your living room looking overrun with baby items, consider getting products in neutral tones that can blend in with your décor. Colorful pinks or blues are adorable but will stand out much more if the items will be mixed in with the rest of your living room or bedroom instead of in a separate baby room.

Yes, babies love color, but exposing them to exciting colors can still be achieved through age-appropriate books and toys and baby gear that strikes a balance of neutral tones and color. I love the Skip Hop Silver Lining Cloud Activity Gym for its balance of soft whites and grays with pops of color.

When we created our baby registry, we chose neutral tones for as many items as possible. As we weren’t finding out the gender of our baby before birth, we planned to register for gender-neutral items anyway. However, when we gave it thought, we realized choosing neutral tones that could blend in was the best route for us regardless.

5. Get creative with storage and display, and cycle toys and books.

If your baby’s play area will be in your living room, consider keeping a couple of storage baskets that blend with your décor to hold some toys and books. Then, cycle the contents of those baskets.

When limited on space, a separate baby play area may not be an option, so try mixing in some toys and books with the rest of your display.

Baby doesn’t need every toy and book he or she owns available at all times. Just keep enough out for some enjoyable playtime and stash away the rest. After a while, switch it up. This has the added benefit of keeping the toys and books “new” for baby, too.

6. {Try to} limit the clothes.

They’re adorable and typically much less expensive than new clothing for yourself, so splurging on baby clothes can get out of hand quickly. For the sake of space, though, aim to get only enough to get you through laundry loads comfortably plus a little extra to allow for weeks that get a bit extra crazy.

Babies grow quickly, so stocking up on too many outfits means that some won’t get much use. This isn’t a huge deal in the grand scheme of things, but when you’re pressed for space, the surplus of items can cause more stress than they are worth.

If you’re planning to raise a baby in a small space, hopefully, some of these ideas can be helpful to you or at least inspire some tactics that can work well for your family.

Regardless of even the most perfect organization strategy, a new baby will still seem to take over the home, which is fine. After all, it’s baby’s home, too.

What are your favorite tips for organizing and displaying baby items?

Maria Bruce
Maria was born and raised in New Orleans and now lives in Metairie with her husband and two-year-old daughter. She studied English and theology at Franciscan University of Steubenville in Ohio and then did missionary work in Belize for a year and a half following college. After returning to New Orleans, she taught high school religion and English for several years and received her MA in British literature and professional writing from UNO. She now works as the Communications Director for Woman’s New Life Center and also helps her husband run his business. She’s a fan of reading, writing, tea, the Oxford comma, running, dining out, and being a wife to her longtime best friend and mother to her sweet girl.


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