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.
- 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.
- 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!