Small Apartment Living: With Babies

Today, I am so happy to have the beautiful Mandi of Messy Wife, Blessed Life over to be a part of the Small Apartment Living Series.  So many people struggle to love their small space, but it’s possible with a few tips and tricks!  Mandi goes one step beyond me today by giving incredible guidance for raising a baby in a tiny living space.  Her advice is very helpful and I will definitely be using it in the future!  Ok enough from me, let’s hear from the expert…


I’ve been loving Olivia’s series of tips on “Small Apartment Living”.  Since getting married three years ago, my husband and I have been living the small apartment lifestyle (except for that year we lived with my parents).  In December 2011, we added our daughter, Lucia, to our family.  Having a baby in a small apartment added a whole new dynamic to it.  If you haven’t noticed, baby gear is big and when you’re going to have a baby, it seems like you need every single baby item sold in stores.

While I don’t claim to be an expert, I’ve been toying around with the idea of sharing my “apartment baby” tips for a while and Olivia’s series seemed to be a perfect fit.  Here are a four questions to help you figure out how to best prepare for baby in your small space:SAL Baby

Do you need it?  Tons of baby products are not necessities.  Sure they may enhance convenience, but how convenient are they truly if you don’t have room to store them?  An accompanying question is “How long will you use it?” If the answer is less than six months, you may want to forgo the short-term convenience for space.
  • Baby bath tub: We lined the sink with towels until she was big enough for the bath tub – or more often we just brought her into the shower with us.
  • Bouncer/swing: These work great and are lifesavers for some families, but they really aren’t necessary (and some babies don’t like them anyway).  The bouncer especially only seems to fit babies for a very short time (3-4 months at most).  These are also big space wasters.
Do they serve more than one purpose?  If you determine that you do need something, make sure that you get something multi-functional. Don’t take up precious space with something that will only serve one purpose for a limited amount of time.
  • Pack ‘n’ plays: They can function as a bassinet for the early months, a crib/playpen when the baby is older, many have a changing table attached, etc.  (They also fold up – see below.)
  • Changing tables: I’ve seen cribs with built-in changing tables on the end and I’m also a fan of placing a changing pad on top of a dresser as a space saver.
Can it fold? Many baby items come with foldable versions that can be stored away in small spaces when not in use. 
  • Changing table: I looked for forever for a foldable changing table before I found this one from Ikea.  (We already had a tall dresser to use for baby, so we couldn’t do the changing pad on top trick.  We have always kept it out, but it’s nice to know that if we need to, we can fold it and put it away – which will be particularly useful for storing it between babies). 
  • Bath tub: If you do decide you need a bath tub, there are foldable options. 
Is there a smaller version?  It may take some searching, but there are smaller versions of all the old standbys available.
Some other ideas:
  • Look for “travel” versions of baby gear.
  • Find creative storage solutions: closet organizers; over-the-door organizers and hooks (including this over-the-door stroller hanger); wall shelves, etc.
  • If you do go the full-sized furniture route, make sure to pick pieces that optimize storage (cribs with a drawer underneath, changing table with many drawers/shelves).
  • Store items where they will be used, not necessarily in baby’s room (bath toys, toiletries, and washcloths in the bathroom; toy box – or storage ottoman – in the living room if that’s where the play happens, etc.). This also keeps down the clutter since there is less distance between where they are used and where they are stored.
  • Buy baby gear as you need it, so it’s not sitting around long before it’s useful.  For example, you won’t need a high chair until 4 or months at the very earliest. This doesn’t solve the problem of storing items after you need it if you plan to have more children, but that’s a topic for a post all it’s own.
If you have any other tips/products that make apartment living with a little one easier, I’d love to hear them!


Mandi is a 20-something wife and mother.  She fancies herself a writer and shares the joys and challenges of marriage, parenting,
and Catholic womanhood at Messy Wife, Blessed Life.  When she’s not blogging, she’s probably sleeping, wrangling a toddler, selling Lilla Rose hair accessories, or playing word games, all in the small space she calls home.


  1. Great post. We borrowed a lot of the big items that you don’t use for long: side sleeper, bumbo, swing, exersaucer, etc. it was so great to just give them back when we no longer needed them. Thank God for generous friends.

  2. Amen. There is soooo much extraneous baby stuff out there. It’s a little ridiculous what you think you “need” in order to have a baby. We are doing the minimalist thing around here and I think everyone is more the happier for it. I saw this post and thought, “Olivia made a post for me!” 😉

  3. What great ideas! I espcially love the idea of a high chair being able to attach to the table and not having it take up that extra floor space! Keep these small living ideas coming! 🙂

  4. Great post! We too have been living in a small apartment with a baby. It’s really not as bad as it seems. We had to tell family “no” to a lot of things becase we didn’t have the room. We have a crib, but don’t actually use it as we cosleep.

  5. Olivia, I tagged you for a “Scrumptious Blog Award” today. 🙂

  6. I hope all is well 🙂

  7. People who choose to have babies in small apartments don’t consider their neighbors feelings at all. I’m student dealing with a baby in the apartment next door and it’s almost as though I had a baby on some occasions. This thing cries incessantly at all hours without abandon. Ah the joys of parenthood while working on your dissertation. Thanks so much!

    • Wow, perhaps they don’t have the means to get another apartment. Or perhaps they are unable to be released from an existing lease. I get it that you’re a student but if you had a neighbor who constantly had loud parties would that change your tune? Once you have a family of your own I’m sure you’ll understand the financial responsibilities and hardships that it comes with. Maybe your children might even be bother a student-neighbor as well.

  8. Came here via Kendra’s answer me this, and clicked on this post (have yet to read more). It might be helpful to know the square footage/rooms, etc of these apartments in question. A 450-500sq ft one bedroom is considered large for an apartment where I live. Looking for insight on such situations.

  9. Hey Olivia, I just wanted to let you know that since I let my domain expire, now anything linked to messywife (dot) com goes to a kind of unsavory site. You can replace the “messywife” in the links to “catholicnewlywed.blogspot” and they’ll go to the right place. Sorry!

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