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How to Live in a Small Space with a Baby

After years of  living in a small space, 740 square feet actually seemed roomy to my husband and me. Is that weird or what! But when we found out we were going to have a baby, we had to rethink our organizational needs and figure out how we were going to add another person and his belongings in our little loft.

Surprisingly, it was pretty easy to make room for our baby in such a small space. Even when he became an active toddler with lots of energy and toys, our tiny loft was still very livable.

If you find yourself wanting more living space as your family grows, see if you can just get by with less stuff.

living in a small house with a baby

Here are a few tips that worked for us.

Tips for living in a teeny-tiny house…with a Baby

Contrary to what the big baby warehouses and our present culture leads us to believe, babies don’t need much. It definitely takes some restraint for the parents-to-be (all those cute things can be so hard to pass up!) but if you have a plan in place, you can bypass all of the extras and only bring in the necessities to your small living space.

Based on our experience, here are a few of the must haves, bonus items, and a few things you really can live without when living with a baby in a small space.

Must Haves for a Baby

Bed - Babies do need a place to sleep! But, there are options other than a big, fancy crib that converts into a toddler/twin/queen/etc. bed. It may take some searching, but using a streamlined approach to bedding will let you keep more livable space.

A pack ‘n play (playyard) can work great as a baby bed. That’s what we did! We used this one and it worked perfectly for 18 months. It even included a newborn insert and changing area. Our baby slept soundly but we could easily pack it up for a house showing or when guests came over. 

pack n play for small space

Blankets – We had some amazing friends who made beautiful, handcrafted blankets for our son. Unfortunately, most of them weren’t used. We really just used one to swaddle and one regular blanket. That was enough. Keep in mind though, that our little space was very comfortable in temperature and our little guy wasn’t a fan of being covered. Your circumstance may be different, so keep that in mind. You could always use blankets you already have.

ClothesBabies don’t need 28 outfits. Really, they don’t. Of course it’s so hard to pass up these adorable teeny, tiny clothes. But, when people tell you babies grow fast…believe them! They really do and will be changing sizes before you know it.

You can get by with a few onesies (to wear around the house), a couple of pajamas, and a few cute outfits for them to wear when you want to show them off. Just be ready to wash them often.

Bibs – 2 bibs should be enough. We had stacks and stacks of them and most of them didn’t even get used. Since you’ll be washing clothes often anyway, just throw the bib in the load as well.

Body Wash/Shampoo – Don’t stock up on baby shampoo! One bottle that combines it all will be enough. That stuff lasts forever!

Diapers – Of course!

Bottles – I’m sure some people may disagree, but I really think you only need a couple of bottles (especially if you nurse). For a baby that uses bottles exclusively, more bottles would be nice. But in a pinch, you really can get by with two…you’ll just have to wash them more often.

If space is an issue, you don’t need a bottle rack either. You might appreciate a scrub brush though!

Carseat – Yep, you need a car seat. It’s the law!

Love, Love, Love – Yes, love is the most important thing!

Bonus Items for a Baby

Boppy – I had a bobby and l.o.v.e.d. it….it was worth every inch of space it took up! It’s not necessary, but it’s certainly helpful when nursing, holding, or even to let baby lay and play.

Stroller - You can certainly get by without a stroller but it is nice to be able to have a place to put your baby down when you’re out and about. Using a sling (preferably one that folds up flat…like a Moby Wrap) is another option to keep your hands free…and even work off some baby weight in the process!

baby wearing with the Moby Wrap

Bathtub sling – Babies can be washed in the sink so you don’t HAVE to have any kind of tup. But LOVED using this fold and store bath sling. It kept our baby secure in the tub. But when it wasn’t in use, we could fold up to the size of a small book and store it easily in the bathroom cabinet.

Unnecessary Items for a Baby

Changing Table – If space is an issue, let me assure you that a changing table is not necessary. You can change a baby just about anywhere. Just lay a towel or blanket on your bed or the floor and get to work. Of course, I don’t have to tell you to not leave the baby alone on the bed. Just be prepared before laying the baby down and be the careful parent you always are.

Baby Towels – They are so cute; especially the ones with hoods. But, if you’re tight on space (or cash for that matter) you don’t need baby bath towels. The ones you use for yourself will work just fine.

Diaper Genie – I know you don’t want your house smelling like a dirty diaper, but you don’t need a special contraption to keep it that way. A plastic bag from the grocery store will work just fine. Tie it up tight and put it in the regular trash (or immediately to the outdoor trashcan if you have a sensitive nose).

High Chair – When I say high chair, I mean a traditional high-chair. Babies don’t really need these until several months down the road.

When they are ready for a high chair, there are plenty of options that are perfect for small spaces like a booster chair or this foldable travel seat.

Please let me assure you that I’m not an expert in all things baby. What I do know is what worked for us living in such a small space. I would absolutely love to hear from you though!

What baby items could you have lived without if you lived in a tiny place and what did you absolutely need?

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  • Birthblessed! Parenting for life July 14, 2011, 10:34 am

    Hey! I may be considered somewhat of an expert, and I LOVE your list…. in fact, I clicked on that highchair thing, because I still get visitors that need high chairs and this looks like something I could keep in the buffet drawer. And is it washable? Bonus. I often would use my Mayawrap sling as a seatbelt on a regular chair, too.

    We had a babybed but didn’t use it- just the pack n play. Baby slept in our bed or in the pack n play. Yes, on clothes. Just don’t need that many. It’s better to throw something in the wash as soon as it’s dirty anyway, and baby clothes are so small that even after a week you don’t have a full load- the longer you wait to wash the outfit, the more likely it will be stained. Speaking of, don’t waste money on “Dreft” or other “baby” laundry detergent. Just use whatever you use.

    I bathed my babies in the kitchen sink- as a bonus, that meant that the kitchen sink didn’t get piled with dishes and clutter. And my back didn’t hurt. Speaking of keeping the kitchen clean- yes I bottlefed babies (I never made a full supply so had to supplement every feeding) and only ever used 2 bottles. I needed the 2nd bottle for travelling more than home. At home it was easy to wash the bottle immediately after the feeding, and it was clean for next time. Now that there are 7 kids, they are still trained to use only 1 cup a day, washing it as needed throughout the day.

    Great tips! I think it’s my first time on your site, came from WFMW.

    Reply
    • iDreamOfClean July 14, 2011, 1:29 pm

      Thank you so much for stopping by! I’m thrilled to have an “expert” (and that you are with 7 kids!) agrees that you don’t really need to buy the entire baby store. Granted, it’s really hard not to when everything is just so cute…but it definitely saves some hard earned cash by showing a bit of restraint.

      The highchair is washable and keeping it for guests is such a fantastic idea….I’m going to have to keep that in mind for future visitors!

      Reply
  • diane July 15, 2011, 1:32 pm

    Love your list :)
    I am due in january and living in a tight space… I have an older son who is 13 so things have changed since he was a baby. Thanks for your list!

    Reply
  • shelley September 4, 2011, 3:22 pm

    2 bibs? are you serious! I could get through 20 bibs a day with my babies! Both had really bad reflux, what went in came back out, the bibs and muslins cut down on clothes washing, but even with that I went through 3 outfits a day!

    Reply
    • iDreamOfClean September 6, 2011, 12:47 pm

      When living in a small space, you really do learn to live without a lot of things that one typically thinks is necessary for raising a baby. However, all babies are certainly not the same. And, hey, if having 20 bibs saves you from washing 20 outfits, that’s definitely a better use of space and time!! :)

      Reply
  • shelley September 7, 2011, 8:44 am

    Sure thing! I even had to buy disposable bibs for a long haul flight-they were a life saver! Imagine arriving on your hols with a full load of laundry to do!

    Reply
  • 'Becca December 12, 2011, 3:53 pm

    Nice list! We didn’t use bibs at all, so babies definitely do vary! I totally agree that baby towels aren’t necessary. The ones we were given weren’t very absorbent anyway.

    If you are not embarrassed being naked in the presence of your baby (who just recently came out of you, after all) then you can bathe him in your lap. Complete instructions are in my tips for expectant parents.

    Reply
  • Shannon December 27, 2011, 10:55 pm

    Thank you for this. I’ve been searching for useful information on the net for a while now and this was the most useful so far! I clicked on a bunch of the links you listed and found other great stuff as well. Due in March and live in a small apartment in the city…

    I’m definitely NOT getting a high chair, but rather a clip on one, something like this phil and teds i think http://shop.philandteds.com/feed/metoo-high-chair-phil-and-teds.

    The baby will sleep in our bedroom probably for a year so I’m still debating on what to do for that…most likely a small graco pack n play lite.

    We are also storing diapers (bought on sale) and bigger items at the in-laws as we have NO storage space or locker in our building.
    It will work, it’s just a matter of reorganizing and making better use of the space.

    Shannon

    Reply
  • Leslie December 29, 2011, 12:11 pm

    Love this list.
    It certainly does vary by baby. My little guy had reflux too and we went thru a bib each hour, and several outfits per day, for both him and us.
    The only thing I can think of to add is a nursing cover. Not so much for living in a small space, but we were on-the-go frequently and I was glad to have it.

    Reply
  • Carolyn July 16, 2012, 3:47 pm

    Thank you so much for this! We like our downtown living, but are feeling pressured to get a “bigger place” for when the baby comes. My husband and I know, deep down, that you can raise a baby anywhere. It’s so nice to hear reassurance ::sigh of relief:: that a baby doesn’t absolutely need all the stuff that’s marketed to them! Much appreciated! :)

    Reply
  • Erin Hall {i can craft that} August 21, 2012, 3:49 pm

    This is so true. There are SO many more items that are useless though. A duck that tells you if the bath water is too hot? Stick you hand in and see! Rocker/glider? Hardly Ever used it. Such a waste of space (luckily ours was given to us used). I cant believe the amount of Stuff that the all powerful ‘they’ say you need.
    However for us a stroller was a necessity. I have a bad back so baby wearing would only last so long and we only have 1 car and I had to go out several times a week to get groceries. I needed stroller that had a big basket for shopping, a basinette to keep baby flat when little (and double as a place to put light weight groceries around baby (carefully and with observation obviously)). We actually slept our daughter in her stroller in our room for the first 3 months until she moved to a crib as her stroller had the basinette and was rated for 8 hours of sleep. It was great!

    Reply
  • Samantha April 17, 2013, 10:16 am

    Nice to have – Swing or bouncy seat
    My son had some bad croup when he was little and those slightly upright seats were great to let him breath and rest and give my arms a rest. They are, by no means, necessary in small spaces though.
    Also, for a little while my friend skipped the crib and used a pack and play. It had a netting option to raise the “bed” height when her kid was small and a removable diaper changing section and could fold up if she needed the space for something.

    Reply