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Space for the baby

Aug 02, 2023

Hannah Ybarra

We have to make many adjustments when a new baby comes into our lives, but the most tangible is the space they will need. While a large nursery or even a separate baby's room is not always an option for everyone, one way to create enough space is to think of four zones for your new little one. Babies need a space to sleep, a space to play, a space to eat, and a space to be changed. Those four zones can be designed for the space you have. Remember that your home is about to be their home as well, and just like we settle into the space we have, so will your child. Don't worry about needing more or having that perfect Pinterest nursery; you can make any size space functional and welcoming with a few fun designs. 

Let's tackle each space one by one. If you have a traditional nursery room, you can combine the four spaces into the room's four corners. If not, you can situate the spaces around your home where they fit. 


For Sleep:

This is the simplest space. All you need is a functional crib or bassinet. Where to put it depends on your space but not under a vent and pro tip, not in the morning sun. Your little one's sleep those first few months is erratic, and you don't want external forces adding to the mayhem. You can pick the bassinet and crib that is best for you. Remember that if your child is born with reflux, their doctor may recommend them sleeping on an inclined sleeper, so be mindful of that as you select the size of your crib. I like to keep clothing in the sleep space. Putting a small dresser here and making space in a closet for a few items that need to hang is perfect for storing all those little clothes. As your child grows, the dresser needs to grow as well; however, if you are limited on space, having just the things you need for them in these first months is an excellent way to ease yourself into sharing the space. 


For Meals:

I moved around a lot when I was nursing my babies and giving bottles. What you need for this is less about the baby and more about the parents' comfort. You want to settle into the experience of feeding the baby, so a good chair in the corner of a room where the parent or whoever feeds the baby can relax. Feeding can be an intimate bonding time with your child. A child who feels rushed or distracted won't eat as well. Our oldest had a tongue tie, and the experience of the first few months of nursing was tremendously painful and unproductive. She lost weight, and we had to work long and hard with a lactation consultant. Having my husband's big chair with my basket filled with nipple guards and snacks and water, and a speaker for music made it easier for me to work on what the lactation consultant had me doing and begin to enjoy that time with my daughter. Setting up a portable station in a basket is terrific for that exclusive nursing and bottle-fed year. 


For Play:

Again this space is very simple. A small basket of toys on a rug or mat is sufficient. When the baby begins to crawl and pull up, the space will need to be adjusted. Baby proofing becomes necessary when the child is moving on their own, and investing in a pack-n-play or a playpen is wise for those moments when you have to run to the bathroom or grab another cup of coffee/tea/extra large red bull. It is cliché, but remember that babies are learning at an incredible rate and are interested in everything around them. We put all the Tupperware in a bottom drawer, and our girls loved to open and close the drawer and throw the Tupperware everywhere. Having kids is messy; every day, they will find new ways to surprise you with their investigations. You might find a box of tampons in your toilet or a potted plant tipped over, and I know you will want to cry because I did but keep your sights on the future. They will grow up, and you can share all these stories of mess and exploration with them to remind them you have witnessed their lives. 


For Changing: 

Changing is the most technical of the spaces. It is a catch-all space for after baths and meals for dirty diapers, spitting up, and anything in between; remember that potted plant? Yeah, half of that is in their diaper; surprise, Dad. This space also calls for lots of organization. Here it would help if you had wipes, changes of clothing, diapers, cream, and a toy to distract and prevent wayward hands from grabbing. (Tip: if you tuck babies' arms across their chest and button the bottom of the onesie up over the shoulders, you can lock those pesky pincers down, but this only works for the first few months, and then the tiny Houdini rises to the challenge.) Here is also a space where you can get creative. We mounted a pegboard painted gray to the wall and hung hooks and wire baskets big enough to hold all our changing accessories. We hung a mobile out from the board to distract the baby while changing and used paper flowers to decorate the edges of the board. This defined the space and was so functional. It also looked adorable, and I got compliments on the (stolen ;) ) idea.


Last but not least, this is YOUR child coming into THEIR home, where they can take up space and be comfortable. They will learn and create so many memories in this space; what you have for them is enough. It's hard to remember looking back on it, but when they first come into your life, home, and heart, they are so small and wonderful it is easy to make room. Just remember to save a spot for the Diaper Cake!