July 20, 2014

Ages, Stages, and Babies in Apartment Spaces

When my husband and I found out I was pregnant with our first child, we were elated. We were so excited to start a new chapter and had always wanted to welcome a child early into our marriage. I came home from work the day I found out, and walked into our 600sf, one bedroom apartment.

It hit me like a slap in the face: we needed to upgrade.

I put a lot of pressure onto my husband to agree with my 'need' to move into a two bedroom. I wanted the experience of decorating a nursery. Where would the baby's cloths and toys go? Where will the crib go without a nursery? How would we pick a baby theme and color if there was no space to coordinate?

Looking back, I wish I would have calmed down. I wish I would have just been joyous to have an apartment in such a nice area of San Diego. But I, like many parents before me, got sucked into what I will henceforth refer to as the Babies R Us Vortex, or BRUV for short.

As it turns out, babies don't need their own bedroom. They don't need their own closet. They don't need a swing, bouncy chair, two strollers, a garage, an SUV, their own blender, and whatever else the employees at the BRUV insist you add to your registry. Do these things help with taking care of an infant? Sometimes, but there are quite a few examples of 'must have' baby items that are quickly recalled, or deeply criticized by pediatricians and developmental specialists. In my first ever list-oriented blog post, I'd like to outline a few ways that you can reduce the impact of baby items, which will reduce clutter in your space hopefully making apartment life with a baby much more pleasant.

1. Baby Gyms- I used a baby gym for both of my kids. It provides a cute place for baby to play, but a blanket on the floor does about the same thing. Gyms also have activities to keep babies entertained while lying on their backs, which isn't the desired position for baby to be spending their awake time. The blanket on the floor alternative can be made even more apartment friendly if it is a blanket that can be 'stored' as a couch throw when baby is not using it.

2. Toy chests- A hollow bench or couch ottoman is a much more apartment friendly way to store baby toys and necessities (like diapers).

3. Nursery- This is the biggest hurdle to jump. You do not need a baby nursery. Staying in a smaller living space as long as possible allows more time to save up for future goals. Also, having a smaller apartment means less time spent cleaning. I could literally clean our entire one bedroom apartment in an hour. Getting around the nursery is pretty obvious: set up a sleeping space for the baby in your room. It is honestly ideal to have baby in the same room, because the baby will be waking frequently at night. Having the baby close to you will allow everyone to sleep better.

4. A bounce seat and a swing- Having a safe, comfy place for the baby sit while you take care of yourself (shower, eat, use the restroom) is very helpful. Pick one, not both. We got thru two babies (one with colic) with one bounce seat, and no swings. We also still don't own a rocking chair. The swivel chair in the office works nicely.

3. Multiple strollers- Someone will recommend to you that you need multiple strollers: A snap-n-go, a full sized, and an umbrella stroller. Having that perfect stroller to fit your specific travel goal for the day would be awesome. But where are you going to put your strollerssssssssss? Do all three fit in the trunk of your car? If not, getting one multi-purpose stroller that grows with your child will save you space in the end.

The most important thing to remember is that babies grow... they will grow out of their crib, out of their swing, out of their cloths. Every time you buy something for your baby, ask yourself, "Where will this go when the baby grows out of it?" This was the most logical way for us to decide what to buy for baby when we were living in an apartment (that didn't have storage space). It's also important to remember that you have to live in your apartment too. An apartment cluttered with baby items starts to look more like a daycare center, and less like a home for both babies and adults.