Armed with the knowledge that we would be moving within the first 8 weeks of our baby’s life, we chose to forego a nursery. Instead, we decided the best course of action was to have all of Baby's stuff (and oh boy, do they have a lot of stuff!) in our room. After a couple of months of living with this arrangement, here is my rundown of the must-haves, the nice-to-haves, as well as some successes and flops for us.
So, if you’re planning on keeping your baby in your room for any period of time, here are some considerations:
First things first: Have a good idea of exactly what you're planning to use the room for: Getting Baby dressed during the day, or only at night? Diaper changes? Bedtime routine? Feeding Baby? I suggest making a list of all the things that take place in the room/will take place once your baby moves in, and ranking them from most to least important. Next, make a list of items needed to facilitate those activities (A rocking chair/glider, a changing table, a laundry basket, etc.). Let the design come from this ranking. If you sacrifice function for design, you will not be happy - Especially with a new baby. The last thing you need to worry about is your space not meeting your needs.
For example, when thinking through the function of our bedroom, we needed it to store our clothes (preferably a dresser) and have an area dedicated to diaper changes (preferably a changing table). Knowing we would be doing lots of middle-of-the-night diaper changes, it was more important to us to have an easy-to-use diaper changing station than a dresser for ourselves. In an ideal world, we would be able to have both, but due to the size of our room, we had to choose. All of our clothes are now in the closet, and Baby's things are in the area of the room where a dresser could have gone. While our clothing organization system is currently not ideal, we were willing to make the sacrifice as the diaper changing station was more important to us.
No matter how long you plan on sharing your room with your baby, these are the things you will need to have.
ESSENTIAL #1: A place for baby to sleep
As my mom often reminds me, babies will sleep just about anywhere. She has even joked about putting babies to bed in a dresser drawer (not that she would do this). But, in the name of safety, there are some better alternatives.
A crib is an obvious choice here. If you don't have space for a crib in your bedroom, or don't want to set it up in one room only to move it a few months down the road, OR the thought of your tiny little nugget all alone in his or her big crib makes you weepy, there are lots of good, cozier options on the market. A play yard is the option that will give you the most bang for your buck here. If you have the space, I recommend this option because you will be able to use it beyond just the first couple of months, and it's super portable! You can even get some that have a changing station/bassinet combo. This seems ideal for those first couple of months. Unfortunately, our space couldn’t fit a play yard, so we looked at smaller alternatives:
- Moses basket - I love the idea of a Moses basket. Not only do I love the timeless look of them, but a tiny newborn all swaddled up in one is the picture of cozy to me. Ultimately, I couldn’t bring myself to justify the price tag for a product that could be replaced by a laundry basket. Also, did you know you’re not supposed to carry a Moses basket by the handles with a baby inside? What is even the point of the handles? I wanted something easily portable, so this was out. (Even though I do still love the idea, and will very likely reconsider my stance in the future).
- Co-sleeper - Co-sleepers seem to provide the easiest access for middle-of-the-night feedings as they either attach to your bed or are right next to the bed. This was so appealing to me, and there are lots of great options for co-sleepers. This one in particular has a cult-following and lots of great reviews. However, I wanted something that could go next to our bed or be easily taken elsewhere in the house because I am all about options. Size-wise, these seem to take up less space in a room due to where they are placed.
- Bassinet - This is the classic room-sharing sleeping solution! There are tons of options on the market, and they seem to have higher weight limits than Moses baskets or co-sleepers, meaning you are able to use them longer. We went with this bassinet as it has wheels (making it super easy to wheel wherever we want it on the first floor!), is small enough to fit in our bedroom, and I find it to be quite cute. Let’s be honest, cuteness is a major factor. After over a month of use, I have only one complaint: One of the most appealing things about this bassinet was that it could be flipped upside down to become a changing table. For our small space, this seemed like the perfect gimmick. However, both Husband and I found it very difficult to flip from bassinet side to changing table side, and vice-versa (even when not holding a screaming newborn and using two hands!), so we have never used the changing table side. But I love that I can wheel it right next to our bed during the nighttime, making it kind of a bassinet/co-sleeper hybrid.
ESSENTIAL #2: A diapering station
I am a huge proponent of having a fully stocked diapering station on each floor of the house - and even in all rooms that get heavy use. This is especially true for wherever baby will be getting changed during the nighttime. There is nothing quite like groggily taking a dirty diaper off at 3 AM only to realize that you don't have a clean one to use, and running to your nearest stash with your bare-buns baby, praying they don't relieve themselves at that exact moment.
In our room, we have been using this cart to stock all diapering essentials. Extras are kept on the lower two shelves (along with other frequently-used items), and the basket on the top shelf has diapers, wipes, diaper cream.
This basket is perfect for keeping diapering supplies within reach, but it's become our bath time basket as well. These pictures were taken pre-Baby, so what's in the basket has slightly changed to maximize its utility. In addition to diapering supplies, it now holds baby soap, washcloths, and a baby brush. On bath night we just grab the basket and take it to the bathtub. That way, we can have all of our bath and diapering supplies in one place.
As far as a place to change baby, there are lots of different options. I am a fan of putting a receiving blanket on the floor and doing diaper changes there. But for ease of use, and in the interest of making diaper changes as easy for (a very tall) Husband as possible, I decided it would be best to have a dedicated changing table. We used the IKEA Kallax for this. This changing pad fits almost perfectly on top of it, but hangs over slightly lengthwise.
ESSENTIAL #3: A Storage System
How much of Baby's stuff you choose to put in your room is totally up to you. If you are setting up a nursery and just having Baby in your room for the first few weeks, I would imagine most clothes/linens/etc. would go in the nursery, and only nighttime essentials (swaddles/a few pajamas/bassinet sheets/etc.) would be kept in your room. Since Baby doesn't have a nursery in our current home, we decided to put all of his things in our room. (This excludes things that won't be used while we're living here - so anything that is needed beyond the newborn months is packed away in our basement).
We have used the IKEA Kallax to store all of Baby's things, and I love it! It gets bonus points for being a versatile piece of furniture that will be easy to use elsewhere in the house once it's no longer needed as a changing table. It - plus the cart that is next to it - holds all of his clothes, towels, blankets, diapering essentials, and extra linens. Cute bins/baskets have become my go-tos for easy and organized storage.
Regardless of how much of Baby's things you are planning on stocking in your room, the important thing is to have a system in place to allow all of the things you need to be easy to find and easy to use. It goes without saying that this system and what is actually useful in your life with a baby will likely change once the baby arrives, but having a system in place makes a huge difference!
ESSENTIAL #4: A quality water bottle (and someone to keep it full)
Early parenthood is hard. You’re stressed, sleep deprived, and likely recovering from some major physical events. Staying hydrated is - in my opinion - one of the easiest and most important things you can do to take care of yourself. Not to mention I was constantly parched in the first few weeks after birth. I had several water bottles stocked around the house, and always took one to bed with me. Some nights I would tell my husband that his only job was to keep my water bottle full. You can obviously use whatever cup/bottle you want, but I’m a big proponent of the straw. It just feels right. Whatever you use, keep those fluids comin’.
THINGS THAT ARE NICE TO HAVE
You can make do without these items, but they will probably make your early days of parenthood easier.
NICE-TO-HAVE #1: A nightlight
New parents talk about being up a lot at night, and I guess I always thought the were exaggerating a little bit. I don’t anymore. Even if you are blessed with the best sleeping baby of all time, you will still be awake and active (hello feedings/diaper changes/changing entire outfits after a spit-up) at all hours of the night. A nightlight that is easy to use, portable, and gives off light bright enough to give you confidence you won’t find remnants of that late-night dirty diaper in the light of day, but dim enough to prevent totally waking everyone in the room up, will be your best friend. I started with this cute moon light that comes with a remote control, which did the trick, and I am a sucker for all things I can control without even getting up from my seat.
But at a certain point in the evening, even working a remote was too much for me to handle. So I ended up ordering this nightlight and cannot say enough good things about it! It is the easiest thing to use, has adjustable light, and is super portable. Arguably the best $19.99 I’ve ever spent! Ever.
NICE-TO-HAVE #2: A monitor
We had registered for an audio-only monitor, and pre-baby I had no intentions of setting it up before moving. I assumed the baby would be sleeping wherever I was in the house whenever nap time fell. However, once I was up and about, I very much saw the value of putting the baby in our room to nap while I took care of things around the house or took a quick shower. Having the monitor set up was perfect for this.
NICE-TO-HAVE #3: Baby decor
If you also have a nursery in your home, you probably don’t want to add any baby decor to your bedroom. BUT, if you’re like me and are bursting at the seams to make a nursery but are unable to do so, I highly recommend making a couple of “baby areas” where you can put any would-be nursery decor. I kept this limited to areas where Baby’s stuff is kept, as I didn’t want his stuff to take over our whole room, or for our room to feel like a baby’s room.
NICE-TO-HAVE #4: A white noise machine
If you’re room sharing, chances are there will be people up and about while your baby is in your room sleeping. There will likely be conversation and you might even get dressed/undressed while your baby is in there. Having a white noise machine is very helpful for blocking these things out and keeping your sleeping baby asleep.
Our clothing storage is far from ideal. Given the space we have, and all of the things that have to fit in our room, I think we are making the best of it. If we were as diligent as I would like to believe we are about putting clothes away, our closet-only storage probably could work well. But we fall slightly on the messy side of the spectrum when it comes to clothes, and we like to have a catch-all surface for this very purpose. Shockingly, having a baby did not change this. Given more time, we probably could come up with a solution. But given how temporary the situation is, we are just grinning and bearing it, and trying to force ourselves to be neater people.
I’m really happy with everything we have for Baby in our room. I feel like we used the space we have very efficiently; made good choices as far as having a changing station,and place for baby to sleep; and all of his things are organized in a user-friendly way. Nighttimes have gone as smoothly as we could hope in our room. I’m also happy with the amount of baby decor - you can tell a baby is in there with us, but it doesn’t look like we put our bed in our baby’s room. Keeping the baby stuff in our room’s color scheme (whites/neutrals), and limiting baby decor to the baby areas was key in preventing the baby from taking over.
Once we do move, I am very much looking forward to Baby having his own room and getting to organize and decorate a nursery. But these first few weeks have been so sweet all together in our room.
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