Friday, December 9, 2011

Space-saving gear and methods

So we don't live in a giant house (unfortunately, since we have so many kids) but it's not tiny, either. However, with each additional kid, the walls close in on us more and more. Out of a lack of space and a desire not to be tripping over baby and kid stuff as much as possible, I've had to figure out some ways to space-save. I'm sure there are thousands of additional ways to accomplish this goal, but here are a few to start with.

    • Instead of a giant, full-sized high chair, get a baby seat that attaches to the table, like the Chicco Caddy Hook-On Chair. I used this one and it has been great, except for the fact that Brandon no longer wants to remain seated in it. He wriggles out of the straps that go across his belly, in spite of our making them so tight his face turns slightly blue, and he stands up as if he's accepting an Oscar. But before his Academy Award-winning days, when he remained seated, having this chair was awesome because not only did we avoid cluttering up our dining area, he got to sit with us at the table and feel like a big, cool kid instead of an outcast shoved in the corner, staring at our backs (for those of you who actually care about that kind of thing in the first place). This is also a great alternative to the booster highchairs that strap to the regular chairs, if you have a 4-seater dining room table and those four chairs are already claimed, like in our case.

      • Buy a travel-sized swing versus the regular ones that encompass a minimum of 15 square feet of floor space. The travel ones are also smaller in price, as an added bonus. If your babies are anything like mine, they won't even like baby swings anyway, so going smaller was an overall good choice. I've also seen these Graco ones that are basically a frame that the infant car seat pops into. They look pretty small and fold up, too. 

      • If you're really tight on space, a Porta-Crib/Pack 'n Play (at right: Graco Pack 'n Play - Morgan) works well in place of a regular crib, and like the travel swings, are also less costly. My younger two have mostly slept in Porta-Cribs for varying reasons, and they work really, really well. As a double space-saver, get a style that comes with the little changing table attachment, although those only support smaller babies - but I have some changing-table alternatives listed farther down. Plus, like their name implies, they're portable! So in a pinch, it's been nice to be able to take the baby's bed with us. 

      • For the older kids - bunk beds. Especially the kind that allow for storage underneath. And I am especially wowed at these triple bunk beds, that I just saw here. This "tip" is pretty obvious, I know, but I've stopped assuming that everyone is capable of basic common-sense, myself included.

      Evenflo Classic Johnny Jump Up - Frogs.Opens in a new window
      • Instead of the kind of jumperoo that's in a metal frame, get the johnny jump-up kind that hangs in the doorway (like this Evenflo Classic Johnny Jump Up - Frogs at right). Yes, it's a real pain in the ass to attach and unattach the thing from above the door every time, but if you have a kid who needs to jump and no space for the kind in the frame, this is your alternative. Plus, this Johnny can travel with you!

      • A changing table alternative is getting a diaper caddy, like the Prince Lionheart Table Top Diaper Depot pictured at right, and an underpad and changing your baby on the couch (or toddlers on the floor, like we did), or placing a curved changing table mattress on top of the dresser and doubling up the dresser's use. I do feel compelled to point out that if you use the top of a dresser, there typically are no safety railings so please utilize that sometimes elusive common sense and employ safety measures! 

      • Put the dresser in the closet, or get closet extenders. The dresser in the closet works great for boys since they rarely have any clothes that need hanging, and if yours does, then you need to rethink the kid's wardrobe. I don't think it'd be too easy to use both this and the dresser-top-as-a-changing-table method, but knock yourself out seeing what works.

      Product Details
      • If you don't have room to store an infant bathtub (although inside of the regular bathtub works pretty well for that), get one of those giant baby bath sponges instead. I've never used one, but a friend of mine with even more kids than me used one for her last daughter and swore by it. This one pictured is the Summer Infant Comfy Bath Sponge. Another choice: the Summer Infant Deluxe Baby Bather - it's like a reclined chair that fits in the sink or regular bathtub. Again, I haven't used that either, nor am I plugging for Summer Infant... just trying to throw out some ideas.

      • Try to find the 2- or 3- or even 4-in-1 products that would fit your needs. For instance, I saw that Graco makes a 2-in-1 swing and bouncer and Fisher Price makes some kind of 4-in-1 EZ Bundle system! I've never used either of them, but you get my drift. 

      • If at all possible, buy furniture that doubles as storage, like these ottomans that are basically big toy boxes with comfy lids. I've seriously wanted to tear up the cushions on my couch to see if I can sew in some hinges and store stuff in the frame. Which is ridiculous only because I can't sew. 

      And really, if space is a problem, consider that you probably don't need half of the stuff that you think you do. Babies are pretty simple and really don't require much, contrary to popular belief. Besides, most of the stuff will only serve to annoy you and the baby with the shockingly loud volumes, and bring about near-seizures with the flashing lights and extraordinarily bright colors and patterns. 

      Have some fantastic ideas/methods that have worked for you? Please feel free to add them below!

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      1. You must be the 2nd mommy I've read to recommend the pack n play as fulltime crib. And now I know a changing surface comes with! THANK YOU. Ditto on the table seat.

      2. We put our daughter in the her door bouncer for the first time on the weekend. She's not really heavy enough to make it bounce so she just kind of hung there. Gently pirouetting, totally out of control with a big grin on her face. I honestly cannot remember the last time I laughed so hard. I had to lie back on the floor and try my hardest just to breathe.

        Thanks for the tip re: the chicco hook on chair too.

        1. Aww, that's so cute! Brandon kept bouncing himself to sleep in his, and it was so funny to watch him rest his head against the ropes and kind of sleep-bounce, or just straight up pass out on the tray.

          You're welcome for the hook on chair tip! I loved that thing!

      3. I absolutely LOVE the triple bunk bed idea for when my boys are a bit older. Unfortunately it will take some work (or fortunately, for customization issues) because there is NO WAY we can afford the $2000 for the one I looked up, so we would have to build one (which would, of course, be thoroughly tested before I would let my kids sleep on it, lest it collapse and crush a child/leave a child with broken bones/impaled from falling off the top). Also, I'm very curious about your couch/storage area idea there. It can be done! Thanks for the ideas.

      4. I love the bunk beds as well. In fact I saw your link over there and came over here to check your blog out. I might just have to build that bunk bed even though I only have the two little one's at home to use it. My daughter is 2 and still in a toddler bed. My son is 5 and has a cool loft bed with a metal slide to romp up and down. I do have two grandchildren who quite possibly could be sleeping over at Mimi's house when they're a bit older! Thanks for the great advice! We had the Summer bath sponge with our youngest and highly recommend it!


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