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What's Convenient and What's Necessary: Having a Baby in a Small House

When I became pregnant with our first child, my husband and I were living in a small two-storied apartment, which we called the studio. The downstairs was the kitchen, living room, and office. The upstairs was the bedroom and bathroom. The entire place was about 336 square feet: the size of a two car garage. So when we began registering for baby gear, I didn't want anything but the basics. Here's what I discovered was necessary. 

For the first 3 months you need only concern yourself with the baby’s basic needs: eating, diapers, clothes, sleeping, transportation, and medical needs.

1. Eating: I kept the following supplies next to the chair where I nursed/pumped: burp cloths (you can just use towels, though), a breast pump, lanolin (nipple cream), a stop watch, reading material, and breast pads, which you wear under your clothes for the first few weeks so that if you leak, you don’t leak onto your bras. Some people need them longer. If you’re returning to work, you’ll need a case of bottles (5-10) and a nursing cover.

2. Diapers: For a changing station, which ended up just being our bed, I had: diapers, wipes, diaper rash cream, and a changing pad, which protected our bed from pee and pooh. If you use cloth, you’ll need a waterproof sack or pail for dirty diapers. We used disposable for the first 3 months while everything was so new. During that time we used our kitchen trash to dispose of diapers. Now that we use cloth, which by the way is WAY more work, I need no extra supplies aside from the diapers. Baby's bottoms don't stay as dry when using cloth, so having some baby powder is a good idea.

3. Clothing: You may find yourself changing baby more at the start as you figure out how to make diapers fit properly. Depending how often you'd like to do laundry, you'll need about 5-10 outfits for cool weather and 5-10 for warm weather. Keep in mind that drool and poop stain clothes yellow, so white outfits aren't ideal. Unless you’re planning on sleeping with baby, I suggest getting 2-3 sleep-sacks and/or 2-3 swaddling blankets.

4. Sleeping: At night I used Fisher-Price's Rock N' Play Sleeper, which has a small footprint. Here it is next to our queen-sized bed.

However, as soon as the baby was able to roll over (about 4-6 months), I upgraded to a co-sleeper (seen below), which is a small crib that can sit level with your bed. Ours didn't fit next to our bed, so we used it downstairs as another place to put the baby. One side flaps down giving you easy access to baby. If you use this, get 2-3 sheets and 2-3 mattress pads. No bumpers necessary.
Once baby was able to sit up, I upgraded again to a full sized crib. If you'd rather avoid finding a new place for the baby to sleep every few months, start off with a crib. If baby is going to be in another room I strongly recommend a baby monitor. I was anti-baby monitors at the start because I was convinced that only paranoid mothers used them, but when I was gifted one, it was a huge stress relief. It’s just too easy to worry at the beginning. 

5. Travel: car seat. If you want to go ultra minimalist, no stroller is needed; however, a baby carrier is the next best thing. We had a stroller that our car seat snapped into. This way, if baby was sleeping in the car, I didn't have to disturb him to get out and go shopping or what not. 

6. Medical needs: a humidifier (or when the baby is congested put him or her in the bathroom while a hot shower is running), baby Tylenol, thermometer, baby ibuprofen, and baby soap (normal soap and lotion can be used on a baby too, though). If you’re really concerned about space you don’t need a baby bathtub. Just use the kitchen sink with a towel for padding. Besides, as soon as the baby is able to sit up, he or she can sit up in the sink. We used a Baby Bathtub Bather for the first few months, which flattened and fit behind the couch.

It's nice, but not necessary to have different places to put the baby those first few months. We used a Boppie pillow, which can also be used in nursing too, and a jumper called Merry Muscles, which hung from our spiral staircase. Both are easy to store. We also used a Bumbo chair, which is not easy to store and can't be used until baby is able to hold up his or her head.

After the baby could sit-up, move, and walk, several more items came in handy. The bummer is that these items had to sit around the house unused and taking up space until the baby is ready to use them. If this frustrates you, as it did me, opting to gather these things at garage sales or just borrow them from friends to see if they’re worthwhile is a good option.

1. High chair: we got one with no footprint. It attaches to the side of the table and is good for traveling. You can use towels with ribbon for bibs but baby bibs are convenient. We used teaspoons and dessert forks for baby silverware.

2. Pack and play: I didn’t register for one. I regretted it later. While it does take up space and is heavy to carry, it was worth it to put my mind at ease when traveling. I’m also a believer that teaching baby to be comfortable being in a confined space is a good idea.

3. Sippy cups

4. Child proofing: plug inserts. We put rubber bands around our cabinet doors as opposed to installing hardware. We also made use of a baby gate. 

5. More Clothes: Again, depending on how often you want to do laundry you'll need 5-10 outfits for the following growth stages: 3-6 months, 6-9 months, 9-12 months, 12-18 months, 18-24 months. As soon as baby can crawl, usually between 6-12 months, baby will be getting his or her clothes much dirtier and you might find that having more outfits is necessary. Also, having pants that don't show dirt is ideal.

If you’re really concerned about space, here are things you don’t need: mobiles, bouncer seats, special nursing pillows, teething implements (use ice or celery or a cold cloth), bottle drying rack, bottle brushes (just put them on the top rack of your dishwasher, if you have one), pacifiers (take the hospitals), nose bulb (take the hospitals), swaddling blankets (take the hospitals, although having a few extra around is nice), scrub brushes (use wash clothes), entertainment centers, toys (everything is a toy at the start), tiny fingernail clippers (adult sized ones work), and towels (use your own).

Again, this was a minimalist approach. If you have a colicky or gassy baby or one that doesn't sleep well, you might find yourself throwing your minimalist ideals out the window. I lasted about three and a half months in that small space before the clutter made me crazy, and we moved into a two-bedroom apartment. 

With baby number two, I realized that I was willing to have the primary-colored paraphernalia (baby rocker, noise machine, Baby Einstein entertainment center, gas relief drops, anti-gas bottle, ear plugs, and baby bouncer) in order to keep the baby from crying.  The stuff didn't matter anymore. You might find yourself giving up many of your child-rearing ideals too just to keep the child from whining. Watch out! Having kids might just make you a big-old hypocrite.


MommaMina said…
No one faults a young mom who has figured out a way to do things for herself that makes her feel accomplished and on top of her world. Age and experience keep us all changing. If you didn't change, something would be wrong.
A hypocrite says one thing and practices another.
Your first rules have changed; you have learnedly made room for different ways. Hoorah.
Further on and further in!
Unknown said…
I remember Luanne saying, in a devotional at a baby shower, "if you want to know how to raise kids, ask someone who doesn't have any! For me, after having seven, I'm just not sure." I like that!

Nice, useful blog. It also gives a snapshot of what you've got and what you do. :-)
Grandma Seelye said…
I think this would be very helpful to expectant moms. I like your mamas comments. Your ideas change as situations change, which is as it should be.
Steve Berke said…
I enjoyed reading your article. Please make more interesting topics like this on.
I'll come back for more :)

From Japs a researcher from Beddingstock gel memory foam mattress

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